I had the opportunity to talk with Mako about the importance of beholding and belonging, slow art and generativity. We reflected on what it is to do work that remains unseen and how bees are models for artists of what it is to live a purposeful, inquisitive life.
Lots of links to share with this conversation:
Culture Care Podcast
Slow Art Book
All Saints Princeton liturgical paintings can be seen (Sundays worship is at 10:15) at the church.
Community of Jesus
Culture Care Monthly Newsletter
Mako's next exhibit opens on 1/20 at Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University
Julia's next exhibit opens on 1/24 at Kresge Memorial Library at Covenant College
I was recently interviewed for a Canvas Rebel feature. They use a submission form, common among interviewers, with lists of questions to choose from. I like doing these kinds of interviews because it gives me opportunities to reflect differently on my work and process, forcing me to get specific and think about audiences outside of the one that I am accustomed to addressing daily on Instagram. I get to choose which questions to answer AND I get to edit my responses. The published interviews don't always flow smoothly and I wonder about that as the question that is posed gets transmutated into an "interview" format, but my answer does not. It's weird. I don't know what to do about that, but want you to be aware if you choose to read the interview.
In your life, what is a question that sticks with you? Is there one that you mull over and return to? Has there ever been a question that changed your life? How so? Do you wish you had never heard that question? Are you grateful for it?
Recently Mako Fujimura and I conversed about the importance of staying with things that challenge you, what it means to create in a destructive world, and how artists are always inhabiting the tripartite reality of past, present, and future. If you are interested in some further reading on these topics, (or books that were directly mentioned) here are some books to check out.
Recently my students remarked on the stacking of artworks in this painting. They were unfamiliar with the original gallery style hanging that was so prevelent in centuries past. This painting was itself created to be instructive and illustrative of great art. It got me thinking about the silofication that we talk about as a result of social media, but what if it started happening sooner. What if our removing artworks from dialogue with each other on walls also contributes to this effect? How would you curate a gallery salon-style? What sources would you place in conversation together? How does dialogue improve with greater context and diversity?
I read my 500th book of the year this week. It was really good! A memoir reflecting on the difference between cult and culture. Unfortunately it is published by St. Martin's Press, who has failed to address racist content put forth on their social media platforms by an employee. Because of the failure of St. Martin's Press to address their harmful content, I will not be sharing my review of that book. If you want more information on this ongoing situation I recommend you watch this video.
That being said here are some other books to consider:
The Perfectionist's Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Morgan Schafler A excellent guide to different types of perfectionism and how it can be worked with.
(another book I want to recommend, but do not condone the ideology of the author; this is a separate issue from the boycott, but equally important) My primary takeaway from this book is the concept of trust between an artist and their audience and the actions that are able to happen as a result.
Listen Like You Mean It by Ximena Vengoechea A practical summary of active listening techniques.
Another Book printed by St. Martin's Press. An integrated reflection on life and death.
The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei A dystopian space opera with beautiful supportive themes.
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff Distinctly voiced and immersively written. This book is a case study in effective rhetoric.
Why note the absence when there are clearly other books and ideas to recommend? Because accountability is important.
These books have provided me with much space for reflection on the purpose of community and conversation. Parker's book focuses on as the tag line state "how we meet and why it matters." Guzmán offers "I never thought of it that way" as a bridging phrase between those with differing viewpoints. While Vengochea gives practical techniques to employ when trying to hear what others are saying. In fact there is a decided practicality to all of these books. Each is researched and thoughtful. They definitely go on my required reading list for "How-to Adult Thoughtfully."
For twenty years I have referenced this line by Edward Hirsch "Let every line be its own revelation" from his poem, The Horizontal Line (Hommage to Agnes Martin) thinking that it was an elegant way to express the idea of paragraphs being conveyed by singular marks. I recently re-read the poem and realized that my whole understanding of opera Divina (painting as prayer) comes not only from my ecclesial monastic studies, but likely originates in my understanding from this poem and specifically this concluding section.
As part of a group exhibition at Concordia University Irvine I was asked to give a brief reflection on my work in the show. I am including the text here.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my work with you today. My name is Julia Hendrickson, and I am a professor here at Concordia. I am a printmaker working in the Abstract Expressionist tradition with a distinct emphasis on process.
The foundation of this series began a few years ago when I was on a Zoom call with a precocious three-year-old. We were painting together and she was asking lots of questions, as is her right as a three-year old, which meant that my focused attention needed to be directed at her and not necessarily at the painting. What could happen was a fingerprint at a time. A simple gesture, that evolved into patterned prayers, meditations on connection. I painted on dry paper in sketchbooks and then dry paper in large rolls, 30ft long rolls. A shift happened when I wet the paper and then fingerprinted onto it dancing with the blooming touchpoints, allowing for real-time adjustments of the image. After gaining proficiency with this working method I returned to my familiar practice of adding salt to wet imagery. The hydrophilic and hydrophobic reactions highlight the directionality that the water application introduced and construct highly textured images.
As for the content of these images, this Droplets series is a reflection on two concurrent epidemics in America. First, SARS-CoV-2; as someone with a complicated immune response to illness, my life has been drastically altered by the presence of these viral droplets. The second endemic that the Droplets series focuses on is gun violence and subsequent blood splatter. Something I am all too aware of as a university professor. As I realized the content of these paintings I removed my fingerprints from the paper and created through splatter and drips; making no direct contact. This is reminiscent of the distance that many take when talking about these challenging issues.
The paintings remain unframed in the traditional sense. For a long time I didn’t understand my reluctance to framing. I had the means and ability, but the work resisted it. It wasn’t until I read Amanda Palmers book The Art of Asking, where she explains about the exquisite trust and vulnerability that develops between a performer and their audience that I understood. The pieces are an experience in trust. The sheets of paper remain unprotected. They rely on the viewer to treat them with at minimum benign neglect, and at best, utmost care and consideration. Thus adding to the interpretative elements of the two epidemics while implicating the viewer in the process.
While the process of making these paintings appears effortless, they are splatter paintings after all, they are not. They are carefully choreographed collaborations between material and intent. The monochromatic color scheme constructs a meditative space where the viewer has room to explore free from the distraction of compliment and contrast. Every element is collaborated with allowing for the coalescing of form and meaning. Thank you for your careful consideration.
Ordinary Time 2023
400 is a significant number. Even if it were only grains of sand, you would certainly notice if that was in your sock. And I have now read over 400 books this year. My updated goal for the year is 500 even though it seems I am on track for many more than that. But as I look at other things I am committed to for the fall season 500 is within the arena of probable. Sometimes I don't know how it is possible that I have read so much this year and still done all of the other things I have done (hundreds of paintings, over one hundred Instagram posts, hundreds of miles of walking), but then I think about things I haven't done (commuted to work, gone to the movies). As with any noteworthy goal, choice is a primary factor. I choose to read six days a week. Sometimes I would rather mindlessly scroll, or binge-watch a show, but most of the time remaining focused on getting to achieve this long held dream of reading 365 books in a year is enough enticement to continue reading, in addition to the joy of reading and delighting in stories. Now that I have passed the 365 goal it is intriguing enough to see just how many books I will get to read this year. Here are some of the best books (of the last 100) that I have read.
Chain-Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah An excellent "fiction" reflecting on the prison industrial complex and live entertainment. Lots to consider.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick How would your life change if you knew when it would end?
The Overstory by Richard Powers A multi-perspective narrative concerning the interconnected nature of trees (and humans).
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson A delightful submersive fantasy. The total world construction is what places this among my past 100 favorites.
A Stone is Most Precious Where it Belongs by Gulchehra Hoja A poignant personal perspective on a Uyghurs experience as a political refugee.
Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden by Camille T. Dungy A beautiful reflection on community and self-sustaining practice.
The People's Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine by Ricardo Nulia A considered case study by a doctor reflecting on insurance as a barrier to care in the experiences of 5 patients.
New Rules Next Week: Corita Kent's Legacy through the Eyes of Twenty Artists and Writers An encouraging read for artists and educators.
Doorway to Artistry by Esther Lightcap Meek A philosophical exploration of creativity presented as an extended metaphor on hospitality.
The book discussion group I faciltate just finished Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking. It is an in-depth prowl through cultural understandings and appropriations of walking, particularly who can walk and where. We had robust discussions and introduced some creative reflective practices too. Two of those I include for you below if you want to participate in some play.
Prompted by section three of the book:
Design your walking book cover: what colors, vibe, images would you include
Design your walking protest poster (either the informational one, or the one you would carry day of) Concern location (which city would you place your protest in, colors, images, causes)
Prompted by the book as a whole:
Paul Klee is attributed with the sentence "A line is a dot that went for a walk." What would your line look like? What images would it traverse? What would be excluded?
Each of these prompts was allotted 15 minutes and we mostly relied on digital media (Canva, etc) to collate our images in that time frame.
These are two of the potential book covers I sketched up. The modern naturalist cover emphasizes my utilization of a walk as a time of observation. The 5-7 miles I walk every day yields an abundance of flower and sky photographs, while the text of that cover emphasizes the momentary and spacious essence of walking. The text-based cover reflects on my steady walking habit which at times is excessive (half-marathons everyday... perhaps a bit much). AND it references the expansive experience of walking, along with the amplifying investigation of perusing the same paths day after day.