Friday, December 16, 2011

page 519

The pillow above is what I use when I am so sleepy from writing Ulysses onto the gloves that I can't keep my eyes open. It happens especially on days when I have already driven my son and other kids to school, worked at the library, walked the dog a couple of times. I'll sit down to write and I have to force my eyes to stay open for each letter of each word. When the amount of effort is just too much and making the writing too slow I'll grab the ugly pillow off the chair and put it on my desk, right over whatever glove I am working on, take off my glasses, turn off the television or the audio book and close my eyes. Usually I fall sound asleep for ten or fifteen minutes and most of the time it does the trick.
At first when I wake up from my power nap I feel kind of groggy, but soon I have the focus and the energy to continue writing at a much faster pace.
I could probably be doing more than I am right now. I have had a lot of "free" time. But I feel like I need to make other sorts of art as I work on this project in case someone wants to buy something or needs something for a show.
I second guess almost every single thing I do. My art, this project, my housekeeping efforts, my past, my future and everything in between. That makes me tired, and so I grab the ugly pillow and sleep off the doubts.
Two days ago I was rejected, again, by RISCA. That stands for Rhode Island State Council for the Arts. I was rejected by a jury of my peers for this years grant for drawing or printmaking. I have never gotten this grant though I have applied more than a dozen times. It's not really a grant. It's really a contest. Anyway, I was so depressed that I gave myself a sort of sick day and decided to just draw whatever I wanted to draw and eat whatever I wanted to eat (scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese, toast with strawberry jam), and take my dog for long walks. It helped a little bit. I didn't need the ugly pillow at all. I had angry energy, sad energy and I worked all day long, until I had to pick up my son from school in the evening.
I did need the pillow today, but no matter how many doubts I have about everything I do not doubt for one instant that I won't finish this project.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

Page 475. 
Right now the section of Ulysses I am copying is easy breezy. Many of the sentences are very short. It looks almost like the format you'd see in a play, and therefore, unlike the previous section, I am moving pretty quickly. I am doing almost two pages a day...sometimes a little more. Of course I feel guilty. I feel like I should be doing three or four pages a day right now. I should be zipping right along, but I can't bring myself to work on this more than an hour and a half a day. 
If I could eliminate guilt and worry and anxiety I would have so much extra space inside of my head. 
Late this afternoon I finally wrote out a short note asking to be paid for artwork that had been sold last April. I wrote the note on my i pad last week. I let my husband and a friend look at the note and edit it, slashing it to half it's original size. My husband took away all the bits about me feeling badly, about making sure the person who owes me money knows I don't hold any ill will, knows that I am probably more concerned about his emotional state than my financial state. But when the note was stripped of all the sticky goo I let it stay that way. Short, sweet, business like. I need to put it in the mail tomorrow. It is already stamped and the person it is addressed to should have it by Wednesday.  I already feel guilty about adding to his financial burden, even though if he sold every drawing of mine he has at the gallery it would add up to less than three thousand dollars. Anyway, I did write the note and I am going to send it and guilt won't stop me, because I feel more angry than guilty. 
As for writing more, I feel like I am doing enough for now. Maybe when I am really close to the end I'll do more. Maybe not. Haruki Murikami wakes every morning at around 4:00 a.m. and works each day on writing for five or six hours. It makes me feel guilty for not waking to do the same. If I did that I would be done with gloves each day by nine or so, and I could use studio time to make drawings, instead of sacrificing one for the other. But at four in the morning I want to be asleep. And Murikami goes to bed at nine, which would never do in my house. I would never see my husband and barely see my son. And that would make me feel more guilty. 
Oh well. Maybe I can figure out a way to use all this guilt to spur me to action. 
In the mean time I continue along, getting things done, slowly, but most definitely surely.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Page 417
It has gotten longer between posts. The pages I am writing in Ulysses are covered with type...long words, short words, almost no paragraph breaks. Just page after page of thick, dense type. It hasn't been that fun to transcribe lately. In part this is because I don't have an audio book at the moment. Stories can take my mind off of what I am doing until I become lost. The last book I listened to was The Sun Also Rises. I had always hated Hemmingway, but after a while of listening to William Hurt read about Jake and Brett and Spain, bullfights and fishing I found myself looking forward to going back to it, and therefore to writing on my gloves. When I finished listening to the book I was sad...I miss those characters.
A lot of the time I listen to television when I write. The best show to listen to is Sex & the City because I have seen all the episodes numerous times, they usually make me happy, and I don't really have to pay much attention to the plot. But that isn't always on (unless someone knows of an all Sex & the City channel I may have missed), so much of the time I listen to the news, which seems sadder and more upsetting each and every day. Between the economy, Obama's worrisome poll numbers, and the lunatics running the republican party, I can barely stand to pay attention. It is like watching a Stephen King book acted out on the screen as a reality show.
I am writing almost a page a day right now. I had been doing more, but between the back to school schedule for my son, plus the denseness of the pages, plus the lack of distraction, I have slowed down a bit. I think on page 428 things lighten up in Ulysses, and maybe, with any luck, it will be the same out there in the news world. I can only hope.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Page 383

I am so, so close to the halfway mark, on page 290. It's been difficult these last couple of weeks. The pages are so dense with type. Barely a break for a paragraph, and pages 282 and 283 were full of giant words combined in such a way that I can't even believe it is English. Why did my dad love this book so much? Why did I never ask him?
For this portion of Ulysses I have been listening to The Sun Also Rises. I thought I hated Hemmingway, but I don't hate this novel though I don't love it. It irritates me when the female character (and in this book there is really only one woman, in a sea of hovering men)in any book  is gorgeous, stunningly beautiful, mesmerizing, etc. I mean, very few people are so beautiful, and can someone really fall in love just because of beauty? Maybe so. It is just so far removed from my life. But to my surprise I have loved the descriptions of the place, especially the parts in Spain, and even the fishing. It is clear to me that Earnest knew so much more about fishing, war, and bullfighting than he did about women. And the drinking. Oh la la. I feel like I should have a tumbler of scotch anytime I listen to his words.
Anyway, it's been a nice contrast to the long, difficult pages of Ulysses that I am now writing. And it isn't going to get any easier for at least forty more pages. Still, reaching the halfway point should count for something.
Meanwhile, hurricane Irene is heading our way.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Page 363 - August 5, 2011

There are only 27 more pages to write until I am halfway through this project. Sometimes when I am writing on a glove my mind wanders to the time when I will be really a few pages from the end. But no matter how much time I have each day to work on this, even if I do get a residency (not likely) it is going to take at least another year, and probably closer to two. I pretty much work on it every single day, writing anywhere from a page to a page and a half. In a way it's a good thing that it is so time consuming. There is something peaceful about the time it takes to do this. I can't speed through it. It just takes a lot of time to write word after word after word, onto a rubber glove that needs to be turned over each time I run out of space on one side. Write and write and write, then turn. Write and write and write, then turn. The glove is a little smaller down towards the fingers but also more difficult to write on, because of the thumb sleeve, which starts higher than the other finger sleeves. So, no matter what this is just very time consuming and labor intensive. And I can't make the book fewer pages than it is (783).  I have learned how to incorporate this hour or hour and a half of writing on a glove each and every day, same as I spend time each day brushing my teeth, showering, doing the dishes, walking the dog, eating and sleeping. The time has always been there. If I weren't doing this I might be doing more of my other artwork. But probably I would waste it. I could probably even find two hours a day to do this, but what's the rush?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

sunday. June 26

Page 323
So, I have passed the three hundred page mark. My next milestone is page 390, which is the half way point of my edition. I should be keeping track of all the audio books I have heard while doing this project. Right now I am listening to The Septembers of Shiraz. It's a beautiful, poetic book, about a  Jewish family who lives in Iran, after the shah was thrown out. There is a father, a mother, a daughter, and a son. The son lives in Brooklyn, the father has been thrown in prison for crimes he has not committed, and the wife and daughter are left to their own devices. It's one of those books that one might put off because it is serious, and it forces you, or me anyway, to think about things you don't want to know happen to this day. People put into and tortured in prison, for perceived crimes against some new government. But it is beautiful, and I am glad I have it to listen to while I write Ulysses, most of which passes right through me.
Sometimes I feel ashamed of my lack of lightness, but at least along with my tendency to want to think about the dark side of life, I do have a sense of humour.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Milestone

June 11, 2011: page 304

So, I have made it just past page three hundred. It feels as though each one hundred page segment goes a little more quickly, though right now I am slogging through some pages that are very densely worded, so it is slow going. I am trying not to think about doing it, let alone finishing it. In this sort of long term project it is better to just do it, as the slogan says.
I did get a shot in the arm this morning, in the form of an e-mail. The editor and publisher of Booklist had written a column about his struggles to read through Ulysses, which he finally did after a few failed attempts. It was a funny and heartwarming column and it also taught some things about the story in Ulysses that I would not have realized on my own. As I write out the pages on my gloves I often have the television on, or an audio book, so I am listening while I am writing. Also, I read three or four words at a time and then write, three or four more words, then write some more. Even if it were a more conventional story with a linear path it would be hard to understand what I have been reading. But Ulysses is so odd, so full of long sentences that barely have a beginning and end, that I have only a slim grasp of events taking place. I wrote a letter to Mr. Bill Ott, the author of the column, telling him that I enjoyed the column and explained a little about my glove project, including the link to my website. I sent it snail mail, and then pretty much forgot all about it.
But there in my spam box, of all places, was an e-mail from Mr. Ott that began with "Thanks for your absolutely fascinating letter. I think it's the most amazing piece of correspondence I've ever received in 30 years at Booklist...". Needless to say, this is the sort of e-mail response a girl could get used to! He went on to tell me that he would like to write about the letter and the project. Of course I told him that I would assist in any way with these plans.
The response to my Ulysses glove project has been stronger among people in the literary field than in the arts. I wish I knew how to create a bit more buzz among my visual arts idols. MOMA, can you hear me? Still, I am grateful that Mr. Ott wants to bring this work to the attention of others. For now, that seems like an excellent opportunity and also a great reason to continue.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bad Pens or Bad Gloves

page 292.
I have been having trouble either with the pens I am using, or with the surface of the gloves. Recently, only with the last few boxes of gloves, the glove surface is rejecting the pen. Instead of writing easily, almost as easily as on paper, the pen catches and the ink isn't a nice, smooth black. Instead it is sort of mottled and it is making the process even more tedious than it normally is.
So, today my husband is buying me new pens. I hope this helps, but I have a feeling it's the gloves, not the pens.
I am only about one hundred pages from the half way point of Ulysses, which seems close in a strange way...close to what, I don't know, but close.

Today, on Memorial Day, I am thinking about soldiers. American soldiers mostly, but also soldiers from other countries. all those people gone, killed. I know that the media thinks we, especially liberals without children fighting, are sort of oblivious to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I suppose I am in a way....I don't follow maneuvers and strategies. But I think about those who are fighting far away, all the time, and I wish they could all come home today. Alive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

If nobody sees your art, is it still art?

Page 276.
I have been dutifully writing out one page daily of Ulysses on a glove. Sometimes I write a little more than a page. I feel like I am making progress, but as I do it I always wonder who will see this when it is done, aside from my family and a few friends. Will it find its way into a gallery? A museum? How will I present it?
Meanwhile I have also been working on the slinky drawings. I bought large (for me) paper last week. I had a day or two where I felt my imagination offered infinity possibilities. I felt that if I had the time to draw and draw I could create new work endlessly, great work, astounding work. It was a nice feeling.
The reality is that everything I do takes such a long time that the ideas pile up inside my brain and rarely make it on to paper. And if they do, then what? In my mind I see ideas for exhibits...rooms filled with slinky drawings of every size plus small more narrative drawings. Sort of Kiki Smith combined with Sol Lewitt and a dash of Louise Bourgeois (in my dreams!). But there are no rooms. I mean, there are rooms. But the owners and curators at those rooms have not been calling me. Each show I have I think might be the turning point, but so far it really isn't. I do have an exhibit coming up, in the fall. Maybe this time I'll be lucky...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is Bigger Always Better?

Ulysses: page 264
The pages have been pretty easy to copy lately, or is it, transcribe? Still, I stick to just over one page a day. I could do more, but have not.
I read a nice article/essay by the publisher of Booklist magazine, Bill Ott, about his attempts to read Ulysses. He tried many years ago, decades actually, and didn't make it as far as page 100. But now, he is listening to it, and is almost halfway through. I have a feeling his book version was the same as the one I am using, because he said it had 783 pages, which is exactly the number of pages of my library copy. When I am done with this project I shall have "read" Ulysses, but not understood much of it. Most of what I learn, I learn through reading about it when others write about it. I know it takes place on June 16th. I know it is mostly the thoughts and snippets of conversation of Leopold Bloom. I think Bloom's son is dead. I think Bloom may have cheated on his wife, Molly. I think the end of the book is Molly's...eighty four pages with only four, unpunctuated sentences.
Part of the reason for doing this insane project, is that it will be my version of big. So much of what I see in museums and galleries is BIG. BIG paintings, BIG sculptures, BIG installations. When I draw, I draw small, and always have. But I think that to be recognized as an artist you have to do something's BIG. I can work on one glove at a time, on my small studio desk, or on the kitchen table, but when this is finished, there is no doubt that it will be BIG. Let's hope this BIG project makes some people take notice of my smaller work.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 1st

Page 262.
While I wrote Ulysses the movie All About Eve was on the television in my studio. There is hardly a better film to have on while working. The conversation is perfect...everything about it is perfect.
I only did a little over one page because I always have to think about whether or not to work on drawings. Today I wanted to keep going with my series within a series, the paintings on math papers. These are a few I'm doing with hearts and words, about saying the right thing and the wrong things. Also, I started a new slinky drawing and once I get going on those I become a little obsessed.
I thought about people who had a moment where they went from obscure, to famous. I thought of David Sedaris and also, more recently, Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame. What must it be like to know that you are getting the thing you wanted? The attention, the money, the chance to be a success? I admit that while there is a tiny part of me that believes it's still possible for me, for the most part I feel like it is not going to happen. But if it does, I think it will be this glove project that turns things around. If not, I suppose I won't have to buy dishwashing gloves till I die.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Page 260.
Today I spent hours doing things other than art work, but all of the other things seemed necessary. I did manage to copy another page of Ulysses, and start a new slinky drawing.
There are many things I wish I had more time for. I wish I had time to watch more movies. Movies feel like they should take up more space in my life but I rarely go out to a movie and hardly even ever watch them at home. But tonight I did watch Untitled, a funny movie about the art world. Some of it made me laugh out loud.
I spent some time moving things around in my studio, and packing completed gloves. I have around four shopping bags full of gloves, well over 100. I wrap gloves, five to a sheet, in glassine, put them in a grocery bag, and put the bags in my closet. It amuses me to have bags of rubber gloves with tiny writing.
Maybe tomorrow I can do more than a page again. No hurry though. Who will show these?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Later. . .

Two pages complete, in one day!
Strange words, "imperthnthn, thnthnthn, bootsnout", and all of those in one sentance.
Now going to watch The Killing with my little family. If I had no television I could do another page, even though I have had a vodka gimlet straight up.
Tomorrow, I begin page 259.

A Productive Day

April 28?, 2011
Today, my only obligation was to myself, a very rare, very wonderful gift on a Friday. I had ideas for two drawings that are part of a series I'm doing on very old paper from a very old math text book. I almost began work with writing on the gloves, but decided to do the drawings instead.
Sometimes writing on the gloves can be a form of procrastination. Even though this project is difficult in that it will take an eternity and it's a bit mind numbing, it always feels like progress when I write more. So, I can fool myself into thinking I am being creative even though I am not really...or I am, but I also need to create work that is more completely my own. Since I had ideas it felt right to get to them, see if they would work. I am going to be in a show in September and I feel like I need more work for it, because the drawings/paintings I'm doing are tiny, images above. At any rate, these two pieces came out pretty much as I hoped they would, which is rare these days.
I did get to write on the gloves too. I finished a page pretty quickly. The writing in the book on this page and the next couple of pages are short sentences, sometimes just a word or two. I ought really to be able to complete two pages today, and am on my way to doing that.
So, like I said, I had a nice day.
Of course I did a little housework too. I am terrible at totally ignoring dirt and mess. I didn't go crazy. I did a load of wash, did some vacuuming. But I walked away from the dust bunnies on the bookcases.
Oh, and Kate's dress was beautiful, in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011

Page 256.
I was rewarded after all those pages of densely packed type with a page that had only one paragraph, so I feel a little ahead. I wish I could manage two pages a day instead of one, but that is probably unlikely in the near future. Still, It's something to shoot for.
Tonight I wrote on my gloves as my son did his biology homework. We took turns playing music from our respective computers. It's nice...I was able to do more than usual and it gives me a bit of a warm and fuzzy feeling to work alongside my teenager.
The next few pages of Ulysses look fairly easy to transcribe, so maybe I really can get a little more done. I heard on an n.p.r. Podcast that Mark Twain worked from 8:30 a.m. Until 5:00 p.m. every day during the summer in Elmira. Not a lot to distract in Elmira but still, it puts me to shame. I wonder how many pages I could do if I did it all day. I don't think I could do it for eight hours, but three? Four? Did Mark Twain have to make lunch? Walk the dog? Doubtful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Artist Statement for the Ulysses project.

Oh No! I forgot this most important piece of the puzzle.

Ulysses and the Gloves

            I have begun a project that addresses the crosscurrents between my need to make visual art and my awareness that my world view is shaped by reading (the instigator of empathy) and writing (a source of self-discovery). It has become increasingly critical for me to use words in my work in a meaningful and beautifully visual way. In this new piece I will engage not my own words but those of modernist master, James Joyce. Words once considered dirty; filthy; no better than household scum. 265,000 words so unclean that they were prosecuted for obscenity in the United States, and for 12 years after their first appearance in print, considered unfit for publication in the United Kingdom. I’m referring, of course, to the text of Joyce’s groundbreaking novel, Ulysses.
            My father died in 2007; Ulysses was his favorite book. I remember that he kept numerous copies in our house when I was child, and when he could he went to the annual Bloomsday reading of the book, which takes 24 hours. A reverence for reading—Ulysses in particular—is one of my family legacies; cleanliness is another: work of keeping the house free of every kind of filth.
            It’s from the intersection of these two legacies that my new piece derives. I am in the process of writing the entire text of Joyce’s Ulysses on pairs of workaday yellow rubber gloves—however many pairs it takes to copy the entire book. I expect it will use over 400 gloves in all, and will take me at least two years to complete. It may sound crazy, but I’ve not felt this passionate about my art for a long time; this is something I will do for myself, first and foremost. If others see and share in it, all the better.
            For me, yellow rubber gloves suggest the simplicity and quietness of most people’s lives—especially women’s lives. As cleaning tools they come into contact with the filth we generate on a daily basis, and are designed to protect us from it, to keep our hands pristine, dirt and germ free. Rubber gloves are the objects that not only distance us from the byproducts of human existence, but help us (help working women) make those byproducts—the waste, dirt, dust, stains, stools, footprints— invisible. By contrast, Joyce’s Ulysses called the very same muck to the fore of literature, put it on display, and told us that this is it: this is who we are and what we make. This is life.
            Writing the text of Ulysses by hand—by my hand, in my careful, calligraphic script—on the surface of hundreds of yellow rubber gloves is my way of asserting that we can never really make our filth disappear; like my ink it, too, is indelible. It’s also my way of questioning, like Joyce, whether the soot of our lives really is filth after all, or perhaps instead the raw material of art, and by extension, if the endless, unmeasured and unacknowledged work of women across decades, centuries, millennia is not, like modernist literature, a kind of performance art in itself.
            Finally, this project allows me, as an artist who pieces together bits of found time in a crowded life for thinking, reading, writing, and making art, to create something epic. I am not James Joyce, but the act of writing on the gloves—a difficult and time-consuming undertaking—makes me feel close to him and his words as well as to my father. I speak aloud every word to myself as I write it: an act of near-total artistic and solitary absorption.


April 26, 2011

Page 253.
This has been a long, difficult two pages to transcribe. Most of the time I barely know what I am writing. I memorize two to four words at a time, trying not to make mistakes, though if I do, I just keep going. This page doesn't even have an indentation for a paragraph break. It's just a continuous band of type. I've worked for about forty minutes, but am going to take a break and do some more later. My goal for today is just to finish this page.
Meanwhile, there is a news feed on my television. Big deadly storms in the Midwest, floods, tornadoes. Chatter about the royal wedding (big snoozefest as far as I am concerned). More publicity for Donald Trump who seems to want to argue with every celebrity he can find.
I'm going to try to work on a large slinky drawing I thought was finished. But there is something not right about it. It needs more...words to go on my gravestone.

Monday, April 25, 2011

the Ulysses Glove Project

This will be a blog devoted to my Ulyyses Glove Project. I am copying the entire text of James Joyce's Ulysses on to workaday yellow rubber gloves. I've been doing this for over a year now and I am on page 251. People ask how many gloves I have and honestly, I'm not sure, but probably around 125. I get approximately two pages on each glove, depending on how dense the text is on that particular page. Anyway, this is just the first post. After this mundane start I'll get into the grit of emotions I have while doing this crazy thing, and keep track of my progress. Welcome.