Monday, September 23, 2013

SHARE SEEDS at San Jose Museum of Art

San Jose Museum of Art invited me to take part in their multi-stage program Around the Table that will look at the politics of eating.

I will be represented with a SHARE SEEDS station. In fact the station was launched at the San Jose Museum of Art months ahead as a way to announce their upcoming programs. Since shipping a station made of scrap wood to San Jose seems a bit ridiculous SJMA built it on site according to our downloadable DIY instructions, using scrap wood from their workshop. After the show the station will be adopted permanently by another San Jose location.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

thread 3 - Part Theater / Part Demonstration

The third thread involving basketmaking with bale straps evolved into SWEAT - part theater and part demonstration, where I made baskets as a durational performance over a period of several days. SWEAT was first staged at Access Gallery in Vancouver in April 2012 and 3 months later as a part of KIOSK, a series of off-site public art projects organized by the Burnaby Art Gallery. Downloadable instructions were also produced on these occasions. 

SWEAT also included a relational component. For each performance I salvaged the bale straps from the streets, as well as from neighboring shopkeepers who save them for me.  Some have agreed to do so in exchange for a finished basket, others have agreed just because. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Basket Weaving 101

Numerous types of violence occur/red along with the destructions of the commons. One of which is the disruption and denigration of knowledge and skills that support autonomy from capitalism. Out of the many skills that sustain subsistence life, it is interesting that basket-weaving has come to be the most belittled. In this regard, I saw my recently acquired basket making skills to be an opportunity.

I offered myself up for workshops to whoever would accept my invitation. The first was a group called [Ladies Tea Party]. I was initially scared by the name but it turned out to be a group of retired and/or un/under-employed women who meet every Friday at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver. I did second my workshop for Mary Babcock's class. Funny since Mary is the head of the Fibers Area at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and an expert weaver. The image above is a still from a (dizzying) YouTube video made by one of Mary's students Michael Hippolito. 
The third was for Kickstand, a community cycling resource centre where we attempted to make bike baskets - not completely satisfactory on the handle bar since the basket would tilt forward if the load (i.e. 6-pack) was too heavy. I did solve this problem a few months later by modeled the basket after a pannier instead.

The fourth, the most successful, was held with Field House Ensemble, organized by artists Cindy Mochizaki. 

Last but not least, I made an exchange with Vivi - a personal tutorial for the most delicious apple pie. This whole thing is a bit ironic since a part of what I love about being department chair is not having to do as many photo demos. And 'demos' end up as a central force of my creative practice!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Accidental Encounter with Bale Straps

It's been over a year since I updated this blog. Shameful really. I will attempt to catch up. 

I was on sabbatical from August 2012 to 2013, based primarily in Vancouver, Canada.

In August 2012 I'd wanted to get a case of tomatoes to make sauce so I went to visit Annie Moss who owns an organic foods distribution company. While there I noticed heaps of baling straps. These single-use straps are found around nearly every box shipped across the globe. Binding box to box, paper to paper, and everything to pallets. Even though Annie intends to recycle them the waste factor irked me to no end. I gave myself the task of figuring out how to reuse or upcycle them. After countless youtube videos and cut up fingers I managed to make a basket using a basic weaving technique common around the world. This gesture led to several interrelated threads, the first being an experiment with bartering. 

I brought my first basket to Annie and made her a proposition – with her trash I would make her a basket each week, and she would let me have as much ‘seconds’ as I want. Seconds, in their terms, mean fruits and vegetables that are a little too old or misshapen to resell to stores. Annie agreed. I get so much food that I play vegetable Santa for several friends and families on a regular basis. Annie gives the baskets to the workers and her favorite farmers and vendors. Annie was my first bartering partner, leading to others. Many baskets later, still not a cent has changed hands.

I hope to be able to find straps upon return to Hawai'i, to continue to make baskets and barter.

All this said it is important to note that bartering is not at all about reclaiming the commons. David Graeber's book Debt: The First 5000 Years is helpful in explaining. Through copious evidence Graeber debunks the common myth that primitive bartering was the origins of monetary economies. In fact it was the other way around (see chapter 2 "The Myth of Barter").

After learning from Graeber about the flaws of my assumption I experimented with other ideas using the bale straps and basket making. Ideas more in sync with the politics of Eating in Public's (the other me). Subsequent posts will provide more information. 

Instagram Feed - one turns book cover

I think it was September or October of 2012 that I reluctantly signed up for Instagram - because of Kris Ikegami's insistence. Unexpectedly it became a consistent thread among my sabbatical activities. At minimum it has proven to be a great way to maintain my basic camera capture skills in framing and such. At best, I hope, at the end of my sabbatical, to edit it down to a small portfolio or book. If you would like to be alerted of what happens, please sign up for my mailing list at the bottom of this page.


Susan Schultz, editor of the fabulous but ever poorly funded Tinfish Press, asked me if I'd ever want to do another TF cover. I was its official covergrl at one time afterall. I let poet Vera Lee and Susan loose on my Instagram feed and they chose the above image for Vera's book "Diary of Use", now available via Tinfish Press


Long time collaborator Susan Schultz completed her second book that track her mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease. Since I did the cover of the first she invited me to create one for "She's Welcomed to her Disease" as well. We met over coffee in Makiki and she handed over a photo album of her mother's. The resulting covers are a matched set, both using snapshots as an entry into the loss of memory, self. Both books are available at SPDbooks

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hyphen Article and Interview

San Francisco artist and writer Weston Teruya writes about Gaye Chan's work in a Hyphen article entitled The Language of Seeds and Tents. Also for the same journal, Weston interviews Chan about art, politics and community.