On June 16th, I had a party to celebrate finishing my Ulysses Glove Project. I am not good at having parties. I like the idea of it, and I want my muses to be Gertrude Stein and maybe Florine Stetheimer. But mostly I am anxious from the second I make it known that I am having a party, right through the following day.Still, I thought it would be a good idea to have people around who have supported me and encouraged me, as well as some people who might be able to help me get this project shown. I saved the last six sentences of Ulysses to write at the party. They are beautiful lines, from Molly Bloom. I don't have the book in front of me, but I know the lines include yes I said yes I will yes. As I leaned over my last glove, pen in hand, I was so hot. My face was hot, my hair was hot. I felt like one of those cartoon characters who is sweating from every pore. Out the eyes, the nose, the top of the head. I had such a surge of relief when it was done....as though an infusion of oxygen had been blown into my lungs.
I should have said a few words, but I didn't. I mingled and chatted and drank champagne and did not eat any of the food I had paid for. I think I had two strawberries, two crackers, a half an inch of pate, and a piece of broccoli.
When it was all over I had to get right back in to mommy mode, head downtown to pick up my son from Pride festivities and deliver him to a party in Johnston. I am always trying to imagine Picasso or Richard Long, Richard Serra, Warhol, or any big time artist having to make mental switches like that. I think I might be able to imagine Roz Chast having to to do it.
This project is about so many things. One day I will write down all the ingredients that make up the Glove Project. I do have an official artist statement, but that is for grants and residencies, for parties and publicity. It does give the general idea, but there is much, much more. One important piece of it has to do with what I see as a mostly female concern with being able to be a shape shifter all the time. When I began this project I wanted to create something epic. But I knew I needed to be able to do it on my own terms, with my limited time and space, my lack of funding or star power. I needed to be able to be in the car pool, to walk my dog, do the wash, clean the house.
This project is so personal. I need to re-read the book Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, which I think I read twenty years ago. I seem to remember that the main character was an artist. She had an exhibit when she was past middle age and all the strange parts of her life, the roads not taken, the turns and random choices, the decisions of her parents and family, went into the artist she became. For me, the Gloves are everything I have been doing since childhood. They include being taught handwriting by nuns in parochial school, feeling like I am not skilled enough to draw what I want to draw, not brave enough to make something big.
Anyway, the party is over. Now I need to get this project out in the world. The next party, for my opening, should be really big. I'll try to eat something. I'll try to relax, and enjoy all of it.