Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend bits

Allie's bday 
Birthdays have always been treated with the appropriate amount of reverence. Celebration is commiserate with age and major milestones surpassed, and the wishes of the birthday girl or boy are almost always honored.

Who am I kidding? We just like to celebrate, and this past weekend was no different. Allie just happens to be visiting from Germany, and we were lucky enough to get to celebrate her 28th year. The formula was pretty simple. Start with dinner at an Irish bar. Toss in a little sangria from the Spanish place across the street, and end the night with some rock and roll. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All quiet on the western front

And so it begins...

Things are likely to be quiet here for the next couple of weeks as I finish packing up my apartment, tackle some major work deadlines, and hang out with visitors from afar.

This past weekend was a whirlwind, and believe it or not, this is the only picture I managed to take. Allie blew into town from Germany on Saturday afternoon, and we spent the rest of the weekend running from place to place. Target, Anthropologie, Chipotle, Urban Outfitters...I was one tired girl. We also went out to dinner with the #31DDD girls on Saturday night. Despite the fact that you apparently can't get a table for eight people on a Saturday night at any restaurant in Fairfax Corner (even if you're willing to wait over an hour), we still had a blast. I love reconnecting with people you haven't seen for a while and making new friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scenes from a weekend

  by Serena McClain
, a photo by Serena McClain on Flickr.

Such a full weekend that seemed so incredibly short. So much of my weekend was filled with packing and various move-related things. I managed to pack up a significant chunk of my apartment, all the while managing to find time treat myself to breakfast and sneak out for belated Christmas celebrations with two of my dearest.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kara Walker: Hirshhorn Twitter chat transcript

Do you guys like chats or talks hosted via Twitter? The jury is still out for me. If you're looking for an example on how to do it right, you should check out @Hirshhorn. I love how they pair a well-moderated online chat with a series of other artist events to allow you to engage with artists on a number of levels.

I'm rambling! What I really want to share is a transcript of today's @Hirshhorn Twitter chat with Kara Walker. I was stoked to hear that she was going to be showing there. Her pieces are so powerful, political, and convict you. I seriously enjoyed her responses today and appreciated how she seemed more than willing to cut through the crap.

Caveat: I transcribed the chat to share here. It's entirely possible I missed things. Also, I only included the Q&A portion (no comments to KW that weren't addressed).
@CanningMichael - What effect did the Whitney show have on your studio practice afterwards?

KW - That show traveled for about a year and a half to different venues, and during that year and another year beyond, I was in a slump and a quandary about how to keep my work moving forward. Part of the difficulty had to do with not feeling capable of escaping my "fame". And I found myself trying to avoid making large silhouette installations.

@CityAthena - What is the most unexpected reaction you have gotten to one of your art pieces?

KW - Is having your work removed from a gallery "unexpected"?

@amhill - Why does the silhouette have such power?

KW - Our shadows have a lot of power because they are abstract representations of our bodies. And the silhouette, an a cutout, is an abstraction of that. In some ways the silhouette cutout is an attempt at objective truth. 

@MetEveryday - What are the most unsettling and inspiring aspects of the art world for you as a contemporary artist?

KW - The most inspiring - or let's say the best thing - about my experience in the art world so far is having the opportunity to try out all my ideas and find audiences for them. Perhaps the weirdest aspect has been working with institutions with big PR departments. Being followed by photographers.

@RA007THOMAS - In your process, is it first a mental sketch or a pencil drawing?

KW - Usually I begin my process with a combination of reading, writing--a kind of quasi research-based process--and from there I start sketching in a sketchbook and work my way up from there to larger work, sometimes film and video and sometimes the large silhouette installations.

@aziza - 1st, i love your work. here's the question: what do you hope ppl take away or learn from your work?

KW - I don't think that I'm setting out to make work that solves problems in a cozy and narrative fashion. If anything my work poses lots of problems about the way we mythologize race, the way those mythologies carry over into our daily intercourse.

@BlaireGoesToNYU - What do you do with all of the extra paper that you cut the silhouettes from?

KW - Usually the mice in my studio eat it.

@suzisart - Do you have plans for the 150th Civil War/Emancipation anniversary?

KW - Isn't that over with?

KW -  I've just been asked in the studio about the 2006 exhibition I curated at the Met in New York called "After the Deluge." I was given the opportunity in late 2004/early 2005 to put my work in one of the smaller contemporary galleries at the Met. After about a year of hemming and hawing it occurred to me that having this venue was kind of an outlet for a semi-political set of questions. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the city was flooded, there was a lot of talk among artists, as usually happens in the face of catastrophe, about what an artist can do. So I chose that venue to be the site where I could ask questions, present images, and maybe try to visually contextualize the tragedy we saw unfolding in New Orleans. 

@vmfa - Civil War commemoration ongoing until '14. As a topic, it is still alive.

KW - I've been working with the subject of the Civil War since 1994. My work's been shown in Atlanta once in that time, and for the most part the reaction in the South to the work that I've been doing has been tepid or timid.

@jennygolightly - What was, in yr opinion, the most politically-charged work you've ever created? What work is most near & dear to yr heart?

KW - For the most part, the reaction to the work is politically charged, because it's charged material, but I can't think of one piece specifically that stands out from the others. As for the near & dear question, there's the first piece I made at the Drawing Center, "Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart." Partly, this was because it was the first time I had the opportunity to make a large-scale piece. I wasn't sure I could do it before that moment.

@suzisart - AW's shadows is large scale spectacle, as are your installations.Are you as intrigued by pop culture?

KW - A lot of the work is a direct reaction to pop-cultural representations of slavery, race, racism, etc. Warhol's kind of blunt honesty, his ironic distance was a point of departure for my thinking about how I wanted my work to be read.

@LadyTerror - i love hearing early stories of childhood exposure to art and art processes of kids. what are your early memories of making art?

KW - Hi, LadyTerror! My earliest memories of making art were when I was probably about two-and-a-half. My dad's an artist and he was always giving me materials to work with, chalk, acrylic paint, etc., so we have lots of pictures floating around of little me drawing on the sidewalk in front of the house. There was a lot of effort to hold on to my early abstractions.

@MusNightwalker - what other artists do you like to see your work exhibited with?

KW - I really prefer to be exhibited alone.

@ablackgirl - Re: The End of Uncle Tom Any connection to it and the way you see yourself in conversation with other Black women artists?

KW - If you're talking about the piece I made called "The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven," it's really a work that's in conversation with Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was specifically asking myself, "What is the author's relationship to the characters she creates? Does she have a responsibility to them or do they operate as free agents outside her control?"

Monday, January 09, 2012

I'm moving...take my stuff!

488-sq ft
For nearly five years, I've lived in a 488 square-foot studio apartment. It's the first apartment I've had that is all my own. This cozy lab has allowed me to experiment with my style and has given me a space to figure myself out. Halloweens, birthdays, dinner parties, Rock Band nights, Gilmore Girls marathons, photoshoots...this space has seen it all.

This studio has also started to seem incredibly small for the last couple of years. Don't get me wrong, I don't need a ton of space. I appreciate how it forces me to make tough choices before bringing things into the house. Still, I dream of being able to shut a bedroom door. I want to throw another party. So, when the opportunity to upgrade to a one-bedroom apartment in my same complex came up, I jumped on it (almost literally). I move in under a month!

In order to pare down a bit before moving, I thought I'd see if could give away a few things and move with less. If you want any of this, claim it in the comments.

letterpress drawer (similar to the one linked)
random box of books (that I haven't read)
random box of yarn
blue and brown floral shower curtain
yellow batik shower curtain
owl scarf rack
set of metal robots
set of urban vinyl toys

P.S. Will also be offering these same things to work peeps.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Stumbling through Staunton

ways to make returning a rental fun

This weekend I decided to make the most of an annoying situation. Do you remember that 54-hour train ride back from Texas (I'm not going to let you forget it 'til I show you the video)? Well, this shrinking violet had had enough and got off the train in Staunton, Virginia. Instead of sucking it up for the remaining six hours (that isn't a typo), I rented a car and just drove the 2 hours home. I knew I needed a rental car for work and, in my train haze, decided I'd just figure out getting the rental back.

This probably wasn't the most strategic decision I've made. The train made me do it!

Luckily, Ravena was nice enough to agree to follow me down to Staunton for the epic car return. The great thing is that Staunton is charming and has so many things to see and do. With a tasty spiced hot cocoa from Mugshots in my stomach, we did a bit of window shopping. There are more than just a few shops downtown. In just a block and a half walk, we passed a chocolatier, thrift shops, galleries, and even a children's shop called Grandma's Bait. I think my favorite thing that we passed was a tiny boutique hotel called The Storefront. No lobby or accoutrements, it's simply your hotel room. Guess where this girl is staying during her next meeting in town?

I think I may have found my next Searching for Stars Hollow location. :-)

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Today by Serena McClain
Today, a photo by Serena McClain on Flickr.

I took this photo as I was leaving work for the #janphotoaday and found it so representative of this week. Missing bow (it's under my desk), orange tights (thanks, mom), and feet that are still swollen from more than 54 hours on a train.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been a bad week. It's just been a busy, tiring week following a holiday. I'll spare you stories of 3AM fire alarms, windchill in the teens, and a computer that is being cranky. ;-)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Finding my mornings, a goal for the new year


I kept my New Year's resolutions simple this year. I usually develop a list of like ten things I want to take on/habits I want to break. Too much ambition can be a recipe for failure. While I fared pretty well last year, I wanted a simpler list to tackle in 2012.

My goal for 2012 are mornings. Specifically, I want to consistently get up early enough to actually have enough time for a morning routine that includes makeup, breakfast, and some prayer or devotional time. A typical morning for me is hitting the snooze button roughly 5-7 times, brushing my teeth, throwing on my clothes and bolting out the door (usually 15-20 minutes after I finally pull myself out of bed).

I was inspired to make this a goal after reading about Inspired to Action's Hello Mornings Challenge. While Kat's challenge is geared toward moms, I think it's just as beneficial to the single career girl. The Hello Morning Challenge doesn't officially start until mid-January, so I'm using these first two weeks to slowly stop using my snooze alarm as a crutch.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

All that glitters

Got a little glitter obsessed yesterday

Debating whether to glitter up the whole shoe

NYE favors

Did everyone have fun ushering out 2011? I usually find the pressure of New Years Eve incredibly stressful. I dislike the whole societal pressure to have an amazing time this one night of the year. I do think celebrating the end of a season with friends and family is worth it though.

I got a little crazy with the spray adhesive and glitter yesterday while prepping for the evening's activities. I spotted this tutorial and knew I had make some to hand out at the bar. Once I busted out the glitter, it was all over. I wanted to glitter everything. Cue my shoes. I've been crushing on glitter oxfords despite how 2011 they may be, but I haven't been able to find a pair in my size.

I took my glittery bows out to an Irish bar in the wilds of Virginia to meet up with friends.