Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dead animals and arsenic

Pics from a behind the scenes tour of Kristen's office/shop in the Education Department.

Imagine having a 30-foot shark diorama as your office decor... I did see some heavily patterned customized cubicles at Office Max on my last trip to Organizational Candyland, but I think an underwater specimen beats that hands down. Kristen's surrounded by the portable taxidermy known as The Field Museum's Harris Educational Loan Center that tours schools to spread knowledge of wildlife and habitats. Having worked in Rare Books and Special Collections at NIU, I have a real affection for doing grunt work among incredible or mundane documents in time. Add to the mix, my childhood obsession with petting creatures, taxidermied Wood Duck or live cat... and I was happy to see Kristen surrounded by power tools and curiosities. Getting to see Kristen is a treat in itself- she's the sole being in DeKalb that stopped by our house without calling to warn us first. I miss that.

If you are headed to the Field, I would recommend dedicating a large chunk of time to the Aztec World. I didn't wait to watch the video intro--- the objects themselves were spellbinding. I wish I was still in DeKalb and could hear Professor Jeff Karl Kowalski's lecture before heading out on the NIU Art Museum's "Get-On-The-Bus" trip to the show. Incredible!

Also, take a stroll down to the Children's Cafeteria for the sea life dioramas. The Narwhals (again not pictured out of reverence) are worth the admission charge. Brad couldn't pass up taking some shots of the Walrus, and their Suessical faces and Trompe-l'œil backdrop. After seeing how well our house in DeKalb is staying clean in spite of time, I shouldn't be so amazed that the dioramas are not dusted.

Ahh... I don't miss the snow banks but I do miss being so close to Chicago. There's quite a bit to be said about familiarity in crowded places.

Keep the old

Brad and I came back to DeKalb to drop off installation materials and visit some friends. We had a busy weekend of driving to Chicago, driving and stopping and driving through Chicago (gotta love St. Louis traffic after a trip back to Chi-town), and then coming back home.

The Art Center Highland Park had great interior space and a friendly staff. I really appreciated having the opportunity to store supplies there, so I don't have to worry about lugging it around Chicago without a car in March.

I forgot how easy it is to get into studio headspace while on long drives at night, so that aspect was productive as well. I was also pondering how music is not an artform where one may ask
"Why make it? What's the point?" Perhaps because it is more comfortably appreciated ( if you don't have music snob friends)?

Re:Music... In reading the Tale of Genji, music was an amusement of those in the imperial palace. Today we are so spoiled with personal devices and recordings that I don't know if the isolation of being the only one listening is as rich an experience as a shared one.

The Field's "Aztec World" exhibition dazzled me with transformations of stone into live objects and the glimpses into another worldview. We raced through the exhibit after meeting Kristen and Chris for lunch and a tour of Kristen's new office...

The shared late night and breakfast table are two events that make one feel incredibly welcome. I hope our hosts enjoyed the Missouri gift of Colossal Chips. The hospitality, conversation, and laughs, I'll really treasure.

I am putting my nose to the grindstone, as classes begin in a week, but grateful for good friends, new and old, and several new opportunities that have presented themselves in the past few months.