Friday, January 30, 2015

Fortune Friday #32

A person with a determined heart frightens problems away.
Lucky Numbers: 1, 3, 4, 15, 20, 30

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mental Monday #8

A day at The National Folk Museum of Korea, Summer 2014
Understanding the mind of a culture requires traveling through its memories.
 ~s. coley

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Collectible, Rare, and Valuable
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul 
This summer I visited Seoul, South Korea to do research and learn more about their long history of paper making.
handmade paper,  Seoul, South Korea
While there, I was invited to a tea ceremony at the Bongeunsa Temple near the bustling Coex Convention and Exhibition Center.
You can see the skyscrapers just outside Bongeunsa Temple, Seoul
I had already visited Haeinsa Temple and the all female Donghaksa Temple near Daejeon, but I never had time to stop and really meditate.

 At Bongeunsa Temple, I received a private tea ceremony and tour.
Tea Room, Bongeunsa Temple
Calm and peaceful, the moment I stepped into the tea room, I felt my high blood pressure go down.
All thoughts of the outside world were gone.  We spoke softly, listened carefully, and sipped tea.
I discussed my art projects and prayers were said.
It has taken me five months to finally process the experience of the tea ceremony.

C-Books.  Collectible, rare, and valuable.

Gentle, organic structures, full of life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fortune Friday #31

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.  ~Emily Dickinson

Lucky numbers: 1, 2, 23, 31, 54, 56

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What is . . .

. . . a masterpiece?

Is it the idea, the technique?
Is it the material, the style?
Is it the form?
Is it the right balance . . .
National Museum of Korea, Seoul, S. Korea - Summer 2014
 . . . of color and rhythm?
Is it soul?
Conversations, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Winter 2015
Is it the passion that goes into the creation?
Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany Summer 2012
Is it still?
. . .  makes the viewer feel?

Is it the exhibition space?
Is it the viewer?
Anselm Kiefer, Wege der Weltweisheit: die Hermanns-Schlacht, Städel Museum, Germany
Is it a masterpiece if it stays in the closet,
underneath the bed?  Or hangs in a gallery?
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia

Will books, libraries, institutions, ancient cave walls
reveal the secrets of what makes a masterpiece or
must we find out on our own?
Louvre Museum, Paris, Summer 1992
Is it the life long sacrifice of creating dreams?
Does the artist know?
Or does she exit without ever knowing?
Documenta 13, Charlotte Salomon's art, Kassel, Germany, 2012
Panel description of Charlotte Salomon's artwork, Documenta 13
Perhaps a masterpiece is the pursuit of immortal truth.

What is a masterpiece to you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mental Monday #7

Week #10, Class # 20
Fuzziness of Fear, linocut on journal page
My journal entry reads, "There are several layers of fear. I didn't realize it until now. Just when I thought I was okay swimming in  9 feet of water, something triggered my fear. Weighing more than I could possibly carry, she suddenly leapt into my stomach, like unexpected bad news when you thought everything was fine.  The fuzziness of fear . . . " 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Think before you think,"

grandma used to say.  Growing up, I really didn't understand what she meant by this.  It was so complex back then.  
etching, handmade paper, graphite, linocut, and thread by Suzanne Coley
Another birthday, another year, and the meaning of this saying begins to make sense. Thoughts, those private moments in which we reflect, make sense of things, generate ideas, imagine how things should be, are important.

Grandma's "think before you think," was her way of saying you have the power to control not only your behavior, but the thoughts that generate it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fortune Friday #30

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.  Be one.
~Marcus Aurelius

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Orphic Kisses

Inspired by the Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, Orphic Kisses is an ongoing series that explores passion and love.

Orphic Kiss I, the first image of the series based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
Created with original linocuts, illustrations, collaged papers, graphite and acrylic.
Through his mother Calliope, muse of epic poetry, Orpheus inherited the gift of music and verse. With his lyre, he could charm anyone and anything, even birds and the branches that they rested on -- everything.
Orphic Kiss II inspired by the passion of Orpheus & Eurydice
He fell in love with a beautiful nymph named Eurydice and they quickly married.  On the day of their wedding, it came to light that someone else was captivated by Eurydice's beauty. His name was Aristaeus, and he wanted her.  The chase was on.
Detail of Orphic Kiss II (linocuts, acrylic, illustration)
Eurydice ran away from Aristaeus, only to get bitten by a serpent and die. Nothing could console Orpheus. Newly wed, he couldn't live without his bride, so he did the unthinkable: He headed to Hades, the kingdom of the dead, to get her back.
Orphic Kiss III by Suzanne Coley, January 13, 2015
Closed to the living, the doors to the underworld were opened by Orpheus's mesmerizing music and he was granted permission to bring her back. But there was a catch, Eurydice had to follow him in silence, and he couldn't look back until they both were in the world of the living, the light.  Just when he reached the light, but before she had emerged completely from Hades, Orpheus's desire to see her became so strong that he turned back to take a look.  In that moment, all was lost.  Eurydice disappeared forever.

With this series I imagined the vibrations of Orpheus's melodious voice and charming lyre as he traveled through the dark and dangerous underworld to retrieve the love of his life. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mental Monday #6

The mind loves the unknown.  It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.     ~ Rene Magritte (1898 - 1967)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fortune Friday #29

Let us never negotiate out of fear.  
But let us never fear to negotiate.  John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


A tree produces the same type of leaf year after year.
 Yet, each year I see something new.
Impressions. . .
One-of-a-kind botanical print by Suzanne Coley

Monday, January 5, 2015

Finding Bruce

When I entered the National Museum of African Art to see the Conversations exhibition,
the sunlit massive atrium promised a religious experience, cautioning me to pause.
Photographs were not allowed so I pulled out my sketch book and began to observe and record. 
Art by Buce Onobrakpeya, photographed with permission
I was curious how the museum's artworks would "read" next to the artworks owned by Camille and Bill Cosby.  What type of experience would this be?
Divided into six sections, approximately 100 carefully selected pieces of African artworks were exhibited with 62 pieces of African-American artworks owned by the Cosbys.  
Plastograph by Bruce Onobrakpeya
It was in the Power and Politics section that I came across some of the most provocative pieces in the show.  Psychologically probing, with historical & political undertones, they seemed to generate more questions than a glance could answer. 
Original text by Wole Soyinka & D.O. Fagunwa with illustration by Bruce Onobrakpeya
These works included, but not limited to, Senzeni Marasela's Covering SarahWilliam Kentridge's Head,  and Johannes Phokela's Cuts.

Bruce Onobrakpeya's Have you Heard? piece was described as a "deep etching on paper". Technically complex, his bas relief etching of three African women, standing in the moonlit night, seemed to jump off the wall and whisper the secrets of Nigeria to all who stopped in front of it. 

It is with Bruce's magnificently etched labyrinth that I realized it was a good thing that photographs weren't allowed.  First of all,  I would have probably spent too much time taking photos and not really looking.  Secondly, viewing art in person can be a thaumaturgical experience: Artists use color, texture, structure, and shape as a form of communication, offering deeper meaning to observers.

Thirdly, you can engage in all types of conversations with other visitors.  (I met two Togolese women visiting DC, and their perspective of the exhibition was so interesting that we ended up visiting the African Mosaic exhibition on another floor.) 

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