Outside it was frigid today. The cold felt bright, intense, brittle; reminding me of Wisconsin. As soon as I sat in the car the cold sank into my hips and they ached. Winter's cold is not a friend to my body, it tightens and resists the cold, pulling in on itself to try and keep the hearth going.
After my last meeting wrapped up I quick looked at CK's blog, which is allowed on the network at the office and contains her most recent Twitter posts. I saw that her office was not warming up at all, it was a bit past 11AM so I checked to see if she wanted to get lunch. We met up in the Park Blocks and headed over to Blossoming Lotus for delicious lentil & wild rice soup and a very tasty maple glazed tempeh sandwich (messy, CK laughed at the sight of me with stuff on my chin).
I finally saw her office, walked over with her after lunch. I liked the way the window saw the edge of the Chinatown gate, as seen from across a rooftop. On the way back out I realized what the smell in the building recalled -- being in the Wright Art Hall at Beloit. I worked in the Wright, as a attendant in the museum my freshman year, and ultimately as the assistant to the Wright Registrar.
I spent days going through the records of the collection. One project involved affixing the small images taken from cut up proof sheets onto the actual paper record. While working on this project with the modern art print collection I would often be unable to correctly determine the proper orientation of the image. I'd have to take the record, the tiny photograph and a magnifying lens back into the stacks with me, locate the original piece of artwork, figured the orientation of piece and affixed the photograph to the paper.
It was both a tedious task and an utter delight. I viewed photographs of much of the collection, especially the modern art. Working in the museums, I also worked and researched in the Logan collection, also meant that I had numerous occasions to hold priceless pieces in my hands. Old things, amazing things.
Once I took a spinning a weaving class down in the basement of the Wright. Hours spent bent over a 4-harness loom or setting up a back-strap loom using the banister to tie off to for tension. When I last left Beloit one of the looms was holding a half-finished project of mine. Rose colored cotton, chosen mostly for affordability, done in an simple open-work lace. Then plan was to continue the autumn of what would have been my senior year, only I never went back.
CK's office is in a building that smells like the Wright. A dry smell hinting at plaster, paint, pencils, paper... creation. The building evoked memories, many of them precious.
Pulling on clean, cotton gloves to handle artwork or artifacts. The smoothness with which the huge drawers containing prints slid out. The feel of the ceiling mounted storage, the shift of it as you opened them apart like enormous pages. The chill of the ceramics storage in Logan's basement -- particularly there. Many hours coming in from the cold outside to descend into the dry, chill ceramics room. Bundled up, sitting on the concrete making meticulous notes about the Peruvian pieces I was researching for my thesis.
The scent of the medium of artistic is very rich for me I realize. It feels like yearning sometimes, wanting to create. I want to create artwork for CB & HB when I take Jukai next autumn. I am able to picture it in my head but I feel confused as to where to begin.
I imagine the impression of a gate as the back of the piece, with words from the Flower Sermon running on the edges, "I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma Gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures." A wooden artist's model of a hand holding a flower. Perhaps the flower is made of beads on wire, making the flower easy to twine about the hand. Somewhere there is a smile, just the hint of it, Mahākāśyapa's moment of realization. I've thought about the base being an enso with the hand rising out of it.
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