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Apr 3, 2013

No Name Woman

No Name Woman

Excerpt from The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston:

"Don't tell anyone you had an aunt. Your father does not want to hear her name. She has never been born." I have believed that sex was unspeakable and words so strong and fathers so frail that "aunt" would do my father mysterious harm. I have thought that my family, having settled among immigrants who had also been their neighbors in the ancestral land, needed to clean their name, and a wrong word would incite the kinspeople even here. But there is more to this silence: they want me to participate in her punishment. And I have.

In the twenty years since I heard this story I have not asked for details nor said my aunt's name; I do not know it. People who can comfort the dead can also chase after them to hurt them further-a reverse ancestor worship. The real punishment was not the raid swiftly inflicted by the villagers, but the family's deliberately forgetting her. Her betrayal so maddened them, they saw to it that she would sufFer forever, even after death. Always hungry, always needing, she would have to beg food from other ghosts, snatch and steal it from those whose living descendants give them gifts. She would have to fight the ghosts massed at crossroads for the buns a few thoughtful citizens leave to decoy her away from village and home so that the ancestral spirits could feast unharassed. At peace, they could act like gods, not ghosts, their descent lines providing them with paper suits and dresses, spirit money, paper houses, paper automobiles, chicken, meat, and rice into eternity essences delivered up in smoke and flames, steam and incense rising from each rice bowl. In an attempt to make the Chinese care for people outside the family, Chairman Mao encourages us now to give our paper replicas to the spirits of outstanding soldiers and workers, no matter whose ancestors they may be. My aunt remains forever hungry. Goods are not distributed evenly among the dead.

My aunt haunts me-her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes. I do not think she always means me well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water. The Chinese are always very frightened of the drowned one, whose weeping ghost, wet hair hanging and skin bloated, waits silently by the water to pull down a substitute.

Categories research studies

Jan 9, 2013


Researching and brainstorming for a potential outdoor piece that references rock art:

"People do not often realize that some marks on rock were created not only by people, but by supernatural and divine forces, too. Rock art in the Americas is often located at sacred sites, points of emergence, crossroads, or were placed at the time of some extraordinary event. The images served as reminders for humanity of valuable lessons given to them by divine means."

"Being a part of the primary source by lineage, we see "She-Who-Watches" [petrograph in Horse Theif Lake, WA] as a mnemonic artifact that marks and provides a connection to both ancient and personal history."   Through oral history and lineage, the petrograph serves as a connection between ancient and personal histories, functioning both in the past and actively in the present.

"Many heirlooms found in family collections serve a similar purpose.  The design and markings are a form of writing.  And, while it is often said there was no widespread use of a written language in the pre-contact epochs of Native civilizations, this is simply not true, especially if one looks to petroglyphs throughout the land, site landmarks, the elaborate designs in wampum belts of the Haudensaunee people and the wood back books of the Lanape in the Eastern Woodlands... Navajo weavers use patterns to help the person remember a sequence of songs, prayers for protection, or a significant event. The weavers wove little bits of shell or feathers into the designs and referred to myths that would aid and protect the owner."

Excerpts from "The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze" by Joe Feddersen and Elizabeth Woody

Woody, Elizabeth and Joe Feddersen, "The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze," in Jackson Rushing [ed] Native American Art in the Twentieth Century. London and New York: Routledge; 1999: 174-177.

Categories research

May 24, 2012

An Approximate View of Reality

"In an attempt to fill in missing gaps, the brain is forced to rely on partial fragments, inferences, outright guesswork, and often (most disturbingly) other memories not related to the actual event.  It is truly reconstructive in nature, much like a detective with a slippery imagination. This is all in the service of creating a coherent story...

"The brain constantly recieves new inputs and needs to store some of them in the same head already occupied by previous experiences.  It makes sense of its world by trying to connect new information to previously encountered information, which means that new information routinely resculpts previously existing representations and sends the recreated whole back for new storage. What does this mean? Merely that present knowledge can bleed into past memories and become intertwined with them as if they were encountered together." (p. 129-30)

From Brain Rules by John Medina

NOTES FOR PAINTINGS: Paint observations from disconnected times and places into a singular work more deliberately rather than incidentally.  These disjunctions don't necessarily need to be image-based, perhaps?  Emphasize tension between conflicting perspectives within a painting/place. Also play with tension between working from observation (present) and imagination (memory) within the same painting.

Categories research Tags brain, memory, science, reality, painting,