Last night I had a First Friday Open Studio event at my studio in the State Theater Building with my good friend Shirah. We split the studio walls down the middle and put her work up on one half and mine on the other. We did not have many visitors, a few good friends who stayed for a bit but not many outside folk. What we did have, however, was an opportunity to power clean the studio and hang up all of the work that has been going on in the space.
I've devoted the last couple weeks to a bunch of totems, which I can draw at home. Working at home is becoming more and more useful as my wife approaches her 33rd week of pregnancy. Meanwhile I've been filling in the time with several books on the Navajo, Athapascans and some of the Northwest Tribes. It is strange to be reading Navajo legend while working on totems. Their tribe didn't make totem poles, sand paintings, yes, but no totem poles. However, the legends and spirit of the nation has been influencing me a great deal. The Navajo are only known as the Navajo in that the Spaniards residing in the Southwest named them as such. They refer to themselves as the Dene, or people of the earth.
This clash of identities is compelling to take on in the respects of being an artist. During my open studio I asked that my shop be called The Mighty Lark, which is my art making moniker, but the building operator put me down as Michael Lewis and called my business name Mighty Lark. I do not really think of the Mighty Lark as my business. I am the Mighty Lark, just not when I am cooking or teaching, only when I am creating artwork and living with my pieces. With this in mind, my own personal mythologies are starting to come out in force in my new series of totem pieces. I am going to hang them as an allover pattern and try to take up an entire wall.
Here is an image of them in progress.
The work is coming along, as is my research. I finally feel as though I am heading down a path that I understand and desire to take viewers down. This is a big step. All of my blog posts in the past six months seem to mention something about big steps. I don't know if everything that I mention really is a big step or not, but it does feel good, and big, today.