Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Okay, for some reason there is a fire under my ass right now. I am feeling alive and inspired, which is STARK contrast to the way my boyfriend & some of my friends are feeling. There is a lot going on around me, good and bad, but for once it isn't altering my mood. In fact its making me feel sort of appreciative, inspired & focused.

In times past, I've always been greatly affected by my friends' & family's mood. But lately, it hasn't. Maybe I've learned to block some of it and really focus on myself.

Woke up wanting to cook! Lately, I haven't had much of a need to cook...been buying food out and just throwing away food containers, which is MUCH more convenient than having to wash dishes. So that pretty much told me something...my mo jo is back!

There are days when I CRAVE ART! Today is one of those days.

As of 4 months ago, I've been working as the Art Coordinator to the Boys & Girls Club in Port Hueneme, Ca. Its a coastal city right next to Oxnard, where I grew up. This was the oldest Boys & Girls Club in this part of Ventura County, so old in fact that this was called The Boys Club, before they incorporated "Girls" in the name.

I love my job! I really do, but there is a lack of refinement that I am looking for, or maybe its NOT refinement, because I wouldnt really describe the kind of art I like as refined but there is a degree of difficulty and sophistication that the art I like has that, art made by kids does not have. But I do appreciate the creativity and off the wall madness that children have that most adults DO NOT. But nothing replaces being able to look & view art that is made by artist who have the same passion as you do.

So, I went on one of my FAVORITE websites of all time, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/. What I love about this site is its a place for you to see the homes of many different kinds of people, some are artists and designers, architects & some are just regular people who have a strong interest in home decor. Its a lucious thing to be able to view the homes of others and draw inspiration from what you see. Sometimes you can "borrow" ideas and sometimes you come up with your own based on what you see. If you've NEVER seen this site, YOU HAVE TO! It will change your life.

Today I saw this incredible house tour by Amy Butler ( http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/house-tours/amy-and-davids-creative-textile-labhouse-tour-145530 ). OMG! I think its a great home! Just like Amy I love natural elements (wood, metal, shells, stone) & LOADS of color and patterns! She is a woman after my own heart! Both her and her husband are creative & it just makes me warm inside to know that there are successful couples who manage to live and work together in a beautiful fusion of style! I saw how she hung some great prints & textures on her wall, most likely an inspiration wall and it really turned me on! Her husband had his own sort of inspiration wall & it was equally as awesome but of course more of a masculine twist. And I thought, "Why can't I do that at work, in my own classroom, where I can see it EVERYDAY?!".

And that's exactly what I am going to do. I will start on one end of the wall  & work my way to the other side.

ALL artists welcome...if you are in Ventura, LA & Santa Barbara Counties and want to help me with this project, I'd glady accept a helping hand (and materials) !  ;)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Lately, I've had my mind on connections of all sorts: emotional, physical, mental, mechanical, chemical,  and animalistic connections and all these things lead me to think about love.

Love is a small word with such a big meaning. And all the meanings are slightly different to each person. Why is that? Is it because Love is personal? Because it seems to me that people have defined love as being something universal. Or maybe it is that LOVE, which is universal, has this personal definition of Love to each being in general.

I was looking at the harbor in our patio and was focused on the wood work and the beam of wood across the top and how they are held together by a metal piece & large screws. I see it as being two pieces of wood that were artificaly binded by force. So much different from pieces of wood w/ niches or grooves that fit perfectly together & make a very strong bond.

There are flowers all over our house, in the front and back yards. My mom have been planting flowers and plants of all sorts since we moved into this house in 1984. I was looking at the roses in the front and seeing each rose plant has their own kind of flower. Flowers from the deep magenta rose bush are all very similar, they aren't the same, but they are very close. One can see they are from the same "family" and that they are related to one another in a way that is different fromt the rose plants on either side.

For some reason observing things that are bound have been firing something with in me. I am not even positively sure of what any one thing it is, but I am sure it is a combination of things.  One, I think, losing my mom has definitely something to do with it. She is my life source, even if she is no longer living. She is the one that gave me life and gave birth to me. She raised me, nurtured me and loved me. And I like to think that even if she isn't around, she still loves me (not loved me, because real love never dies). Two, connections have become a deeper meaning to me because I haven't found my (love) connection. As a human being, I think we all are social, but more importantly we are naturally, instinctively meant to love & reproduce. And although I would like more than anything to one day reproduce, I have not yet found my match.

My struggle with this is, knowing that I may never find that match. Does this mean I should go for part 2 before I get to part 1? Time is running out. I know I still have time, because I am 30, but really, thats very short. As women approach mid 30s, they get nervous, especially when they want to have children. This leads me to the analogy about the arbor and the artificial way that the beams are brought together  (w/ force) with a piece of metal & screws. Do I want to do the same and bring something together by force in order to get the desired end result?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

B.A.B.E.-Build-A-Baby Enterprises

My goal in life has always been to have balance, and when I don’t have balance I do everything I can to achieve it. But I also realized as I have gotten older that everyone’s version of balance varies from one person to another. Since I turned 26 years old, one of the things that has been a pressure in my life, is the struggle for finding what I am passionate about and having the family I had always dreamt of having. I am not sure if it is a gender issue or if it is a cultural issue, or maybe it is a combination of both, but I not only want to finish my education, I want to have a successful career and a great family, where I can be a great mother.

At 28, when I decided to become a full time student and artist, the issue of motherhood became very prominent in my personal, academic and professional life . That biological clock that I have heard women talk about started to haunt me. It felt like chasing time when I was going after my dream, because I didn’t realize my dream until I was 27. I had to face the fact that even though I was only 28 (soon turning 29 at that time) that I had about 10 years left to find the right man and have children.

I know that many women have had children after they turned 40 with out help of medical technology, but the reality is, it is much harder to have children when you are 40. Not only is a woman’s eggs old, it is much harder to conceive, there is a much higher chance of miscarriage and having a baby with down syndrome and many other complications and disorders that I haven’t even mentioned.

All of my concerns & issues with motherhood started to come out in my art. I kept sketching out the female reproductive system. I would often read articles on pregnancy and motherhood. I am just fascinated by the whole subject. It was the summer of 2008 when I went to take a class taught my Deborah McKinnon at Ventura College that I started to have a clearer vision of what I wanted to do. Maybe it was this freedom that Prof. McKinnon allowed my classmates and I to have that allowed my mind to roam. My ideas came to me one night in the form of a dream.

In my dream I was pregnant. It was a crazy dream, and I say it was crazy because the father of my baby was my ex-boyfriend, Joe, the love of my life. We broke up when I was 23, over 5 years ago! Joe is now married and has more children. I had not seen or spoken to Joe in three years, so it seemed very strange that he would be the father. What made my dream even more disturbing was that I gave my baby up and I gave it up to Joe and his new wife. I had had a baby boy. I remember feeling very sad and confused in my dream. I didn’t want to give my baby up, but felt I had to, but I did want my baby to have a piece of me and I made Joe promise to name the baby after me by giving him my last name as his first name.

When I woke up I felt very emotional. I was sad, confused, angry and shocked. I love children and I would especially love my own, so why would I give my baby up? This dream really got me thinking. There was something obviously inside of me that wants to come out. Its like this piece of art that already exists, and I don’t know it yet, and it’s ready to be born of my hands. So, I immediately started to write in my sketch book about what I had dreamt, what I felt, and sketched ideas for what this piece of art should look like.

My first idea was the image of a baby in the womb. I had seen a book a long time ago, when I was a little girl. It was called A Child is Born. It was the very first book my mother bought about pregnancy when she was pregnant with me. My mother had kept it and I had discovered it and was totally mesmerized. I would read all of the book in a matter of a few days. I looked at all the pictures, but one of the pictures I loved the most was the image of a fetus inside the womb. It didn’t quite look like a baby just yet, it kind of looked like a translucent tadpole. The baby was already fully formed, but its skin didn’t quite look the way it does when it is born. So, this is the image I had in my mind. In real life it would translate into a clear balloon, the fetus would be sitting in there with something that looked like a viscose fluid, and it would be hanging from a rope that looked like an umbilical chord. This reminded me of a pinata, and then that’s when I thought, I should make this into a pinata! I felt like a mad doctor!

As the weeks went by in the summer and I talked with Professor McKinnon and some classmates, more and more ideas started to flow. I had babies on the brain. My ideas and visions started to become more off the wall and creative. Others would just think they were plain ole weird. But I was excited. Then something else happened. I was reminded of the lady I had made friends with when I worked at the Santa Barbra Kinko’s as a business printing specialist.

This woman was in her 50's, very beautiful, dark hair, tall, well educated, with an air of sophistication & very well off. I can not recall her name now, lets call her Mrs. B. Mrs. B and I became very friendly. She was an interior designer and wanted to order business cards from me. The first time I took her order, we talked briefly. She came in a few more times to Kinko’s, each time, we got better acquainted. One day Mrs. B came in stressed out and told me some personal things.

Mrs. B’s 37 year old daughter was in a rush to get married. Her daughter was a scientist and entrepreneur. This brilliant daughter of hers pioneered the technology for a woman to freeze her own eggs and give her biological clock more time. Ironically enough, her daughter was engaged & was rushing her wedding so that she didn’t have to use the technology she helped invent. She sprang the idea of getting married in Santa Barbara, at her mother’s home, right in the backyard in just a matter of three months. This caused Mrs. B a lot of distress. That is when she came to me to order wedding invitations for her daughter. When the wedding invitations were finally done, Mrs. B and her daughter came in to pick them up. I finally met her daughter. She was tall, beautiful, blonde and didn’t look 37. She wasn’t as warm as her mother was, but she was nice. For some reason, I never forgot this.

When I recalled this memory a series of thoughts happened. It opened up a whole world to me, technology and babies! All these things that existed, some of them new technologies and some are just ideas in the works, all started to work together in my brain. I know that sperm banks exist, I know that invitro fertilization exists, I know that women can now freeze their eggs to delay the process of reproduction, I know that the human genome has been completed for a few years now, basically a human being can be designed with just a matter of manipulating some genes! I wanted to dive into research to find out more.

It is amazing how the universe works. As I am doing more and more research on the subject of medical technology, fertility and babies, more information seems to find its way to me.

The fall after I decided I wanted to use this subject for my Capstone project, I had to enroll in a BB requirement for the university and the only class I could crash was Biology of Cancer, which turned out to be a great class and I learned a lot. I learned not just about cancer, but about diseases in general and genes. I was totally fascinated. We discussed the human genome project and gene therapy, and how it will help to cure diseases by knowing more about how diseases work and how they stop it, but this knowledge opens up many questions & possibilities, that aren’t always good, in fact they can cause such disarray in the natural order of things.

Could these expensive and designer babies be the end of the world or at least the world as we know it? How will this change science? How will this change society? How will this change the economy? How will this affect the interpersonal relationships of men and women? Will the generation gap get wider if the parents become older and older when having children? Will this create a disconnect between family members? I haven’t any real answers for any of these questions, but I thought it would be interesting to open up a forum for discussion on many levels, this is my reason for doing this piece.

Coincidentally, during the start of Capstone, a woman in San Diego gave birth to octuplets, the first woman to have octuplets, so the news was pretty big. Usually news like this is big but then dies down soon afterwards. Well, the woman, Nadia Sulleman, had been working with a fertility doctor to get pregnant with multiple babies, but the thing is, she already had six children all under the age of 7 years old. She had 6 fertilized embryos frozen. She had them implanted 9 months previous and of the 6 embryos, two of them split and that is how she had 8 babies. The controversy over this woman has increased as the media has gotten a hold of more personal information. So, Sulleman is a single mother, who lives with her parents, she is unemployed, and she now has fourteen kids under the age of seven, under one roof of a three bedroom house. The cost of the births and the hospital stay for Sulleman and her new eight babies will cost between $750,000 and $1,000,000! The concern for Californians is that since she has no source of income, this is something that tax payers will end up paying for. People around the country, the media and other television personalities feel that she made an irresponsible decision.

I was watching the news one morning. I heard more on Nadia Sulleman and her bazar situation. She claims that the father of her children are the same man, a Mr. David Solemon, whom she named on the fourteen childrens’ birth certificates. Nadia’s father claims that, there is no such David Soleman. Also, there are questions about whether Nadia really went to a sperm bank. She may not have gone to a legitimate sperm bank and if she didn’t, well whom ever the father is, is actually financially responsible for all fourteen children. If Nadia Sulleman lied on the birth certificate about who fathered her children, then she is also possibly facing time in prison, a pre-determined amount of time for each falsified document, numbering fourteen, for each child she gave birth. Which only complicates this strange story even further.

One of the other things mentioned about Sulleman that shocked me is that of her first six children, three of them were deemed handicap, due to some complication in pregnancy or birth. She is already receiving federal aid to assist in the rearing of these children. How could she think that, with six children she already has, three being special needs children, she can have more children, raise them with a happy, normal life, where she can give them enough love and attention, let alone having eight more, all the same age?!

There are so many things to consider here. Let me recap. She is a single mom, unemployed, living with her parents (with no siblings because she is an only child) in a three bedroom house, with fourteen children under seven years of age, eight are newly born babies and three have special needs. First of all, children cost a lot of money. The hospital stay alone for having one child, with out insurance is outstanding. The clothes, diapers, formula, baby food, toys, bedding and medicines for children can add up. Even if money was no object is it really possible for one person to care for and raise fourteen healthy (mind, body and soul) children? I don’t think it is. And more importantly Nadia Sulleman doesn’t think it is possible either.

Nadia Sulleman has been interviewed a number of times since her name has been released by the media. In one interview she was asked if it was normal to have fourteen children and if she could take care of all fourteen children herself. She said that for herself, wanting and having many children was normal, but that she could not possibly care for all fourteen by herself and that she needed assistance. Well, there you go, she answered the question that has been on everyone’s minds... "if you can not care for your fourteen children, whether you had the financial means or not, why did you have all fourteen?".

Sulleman has been a topic to focus on that is a real life situation of what I find fascinating. Is Sulleman a result of what is happening to American society: A break down in family structure, an elevated dependability on the rest of society to care for & raise those children, capitalism and consumerism is more important than questioning the dreams, desires & fantasies of the consumer? Since Sulleman has been making headlines in January 2009 with the birth of her octuplets the world has been examining the subject of babies and technology. When I do research every week for this project, I find that there are more and more articles, books, interviews and segments on tv about fertility, gene therapy and the manipulation of genes to provide the traits that are desirable. Babies are no longer children, they are commodities & a status symbol.

Having a child is so "trendy", having a perfect child is even more trendy. People go to fertility doctors more now than ever, and some people just do no want to adopt, they want surrogates or want to have invitro-fertilization with the choice of the child’s sex, hair color, eye color, having a few genes altered, for a stronger, disease-resistant, more desirable breed of baby. There are solid reasons for wanting genes altered, such as a very rare and deadly disease may run in the family or issues of fertility for the male or female (or for same sex partnerships), or their window of time to have a child naturally has run out. This lead me to think, "are we going against nature if we try to find ways around this?".

My first idea for this piece was a clear balloon, in which the fetus would be sitting in there with something that looked like a viscose fluid, and it would be hanging from a rope that looked like an umbilical chord. This reminded me of a pinata, and then that’s when I thought, I should make this into a pinata! Then I thought to make a pig pen that looked like a play pen that could hold many babies, like animals waiting to be bought and slaughtered. My next idea was having the babies in a refrigerator, I want it to feel tight and cramped, like meat in a butcher shop. I want the concept of these designer babies to feel real to the audience. That is when I started thinking about the idea of having a store front window and putting the babies on display. I wanted to purchase dolls from the thrift store (dolls that were once loved & played with, suddenly discarded) and reinvent them. I wanted to paint the dolls and make them anonymous, void of any character, but bejewel them with fake stones, sequence or beads. Each doll would be jeweled differently, to give them a one-of-a-kind feel, based on the traits that are "desireable".

When I thought of this early concept I was strongly influenced by Kiki Smith and Nikki de Saint Phalle for the way this will look. It is Kiki Smith based on its subject and the creepiness factor and Nikki de Saint Phalle based on its very colorful presentation. I don’t think this was a conscious thing, I think it was a very subconscious, an administrator from Ventura College pointed this out to me when I spoke about the idea.

I presented my project for the first time in Capstone & it was well received. I think I expressed myself clearly and honestly, and many people had things to say and suggestions for how to convey the message I wanted. Someone suggested that I had the babies growing out of a tree in which they were attached with wires that were to be like veins and the veins bundled up to make the trunk of the tree and would appear to look like the double helix in DNA structure. Another person suggested that the babies be connected to a computer of sorts to show that diagnostics were being performed to show issues or causes. It was suggested that the babies be pulled out of a machine by way of a claw, like in an arcade or a baby vending machine. I thought these were really all great suggestions.

What I decided to go with was one of my original ideas of having a store front window display. I wanted it to look like something you would see out of a mall to emphasize the commercialization of babies, but also the commercialization of fantasies and how corporations capitalize on the vulnerabilities of others. I feel that nothing is sacred anymore. Something that is supposed to be so beautiful, has become big business.

I created this fictional company called Build -A-Baby Enterprises, B.A.B.E for short. I created a large poster for the background of the display, which is made up of images of blood, skin & bone cells, DNA and the fertilization of an egg. On the floor of the display I would put a soft fleece baby blanket with the words, "miracle baby" and "sweet baby" on it, I thought it was funny. I would also make babies out of plaster. I had created a mold for this toy I had purchased, that is about 5 inches tall, I figured that is how small babies are in the womb during mid-pregnancy and I would put the plaster babies in a long vase that looks like a test tube and fill it with water. Outside of the store front display would be a double sided order form to create your own designer baby. The order form includes some off the wall questions, but valid questions of how to design a personalized baby.

I feel this really captures the essence of what is important to me, the issues of technology, commercialization, family, motherhood, time and having it all. Is having it all really possible? And if it is possible, is it natural? Think about it and you decide.

Extended Fertility: &
Good Morning America Feb. 11, 2009
<http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6853259 Top Buzz Feb. 11, 2009

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006). Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report: 2005 Preliminary Clinic Data by State and National Summary. Available online: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/ART2005/clinics05.asp.
Al-Inany H (2005). Female infertility, search date April 2004. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Speroff L, Fritz MA (2005). Assisted reproductive technologies. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th ed., pp. 1216–1274. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2006). Guidelines on number of embryos transferred. Fertility and Sterility, 86(4): S51–S52.
Schieve LA, et al. (2002). Low and very low-birth-weight in infants conceived with use of assisted reproductive technology. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(10): 731–737.
Ludwig M, Katalinic A (2002). Malformation rate in fetuses and children conceived after ICSI: Results of a prospective cohort study. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 5(2): 171–178.
Gaudoin M, et al. (2003). Ovulation induction/intrauterine insemination in infertile couple is associated with low-birth-weight infants. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 188(3): 611–616.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Bad" Project

I created a book about bad thoughts. I designed the book to look worn by using different colored pens, pencils, markers & banged it up in general. I left the book in the Arts building at CSUSM for an hour to give people an opportunity o have a voyeuristic experience of reading the "private", bad thoughts of anonymous participants. I took photos of some of those voyeurs.

"Good" Project

I stood at school for an hour giving away snack items often found in vending machines. I attached a card with my name & blog url on it. I gave snacks to students who promised to write me an anonymous post with a confession. I told students that I was doing this as part of a community art project. Most people were happy to participate (mostly they were happy to get free food) and some people fulfilled their promise. Stay tuned...