Sharing meals with visual artist Jennifer Lanski during my writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center last year gave me a new appreciation for art and drawing. I was all ears when Jennifer shared ideas for a new time/temperature series, and when I heard That series will be opening as an on-line exhibition tomorrow, I asked the artist to write a guest post to describe what it’s all about.
2014 in 2015
by Jennifer Lanski
Last Wednesday I woke up with an achy body and a sore throat. After a shower and breakfast, seeing that it was grey and the forecast predicted rain, I pulled on all my rain gear and went out to draw.
- Because I’m crazy?
- Because I’m an artist?
Answer: Because I had drawn every single day this year, and I was not going to wimp out on my project now. At the end of 2013, I decided to draw every day in 2014 as an extension of my time/temperature series. I draw outside with the length of the drawing, in minutes, determined by and equal to the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at the moment I begin drawing.
I can’t give one overarching reason that I committed to draw outside every day in 2014, but I can list a few motivating factors:
- I wanted to explore my new neighborhood, having moved to Fairfax, Ohio from California only 6 months earlier.
- I wanted to be allowed the time and space to draw; to demand that from my family, myself, and the world.
- I wanted to make myself be outside every day, despite my instinct to huddle inside through the long, cold, grey, winter months.
- I wanted to challenge myself.
- I wanted to see how this daily project would develop.
- I wanted to see how I’d respond to the struggles that would inevitably come from taking on this project.
- I was interested in what it means to be an artist in the world in the 21st century. So I wanted to put myself, as an artist, into the world to find out.
At first, some people stopped to see if I had fallen. Why else would someone be sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of winter? After a few months, some people started to recognize me. One day I heard a man say on his cell phone, “Oh, there’s the painter lady.”
Recently, the Fairfax Police saw me drawing, considered me a “suspicious person,” and demanded my social security number. Later, I thought, really, I’ve been out here drawing every day for months, and this is the first time the police notice?
As 2014 was coming to a close, the question of how to show the work kept nagging me. I had been convinced by other artists that I needed to show every drawing from the project — the good along with the bad. (Yikes!) But how? And where?
One morning I woke up and suddenly had the solution. I would have an online show, but instead of showing all the drawings at once, the show would change daily and run for the entire year of 2015. Thanks to my tech-savvy husband Daniel, this will actually happen. Starting tomorrow, January 1, a new drawing will appear online each day of 2015. The drawing that appears each day will be the one I drew exactly one year earlier.
So of course this means that to see the show in its entirety, one has to visit the website every day in 2015: a neat parallel to my drawing every day in 2014. The project opens tonight after midnight, when my drawing from January 1, 2014 will be available at www.2014in2015.com When the day is over tomorrow, the drawing I did January 2, 2014 will replace the first one – the January 1, 2014 drawing will no longer be available. People who just visit the website once in a while will get a glimpse of the overall project, just like the people who happened to see me drawing now and then over the course of the year.
Anyone can visit the website, no matter where they are geographically. The only drawback is that my work never looks as good digitally as it does in real life. But so far I have no physical space in which to show all the drawings. (I hope that will change.)
I know some of you who follow the Safe & Sound blog are blind or have visual impairments, but maybe there is something you could get out of these drawings, too: along with every day’s image I will print a “transcript” of the small text that appears below each drawing. You’ll discover the place, date, time, description of the weather, the temperature, my clothing, and then sensory and environmental information from the experience of drawing that day. I met poet Evie Shockley at the Vermont Studio Center when I was there again in July, and she said my text was poetry, though I’m not sure I would go that far.
Back to Beth: Jennifer’s first drawing goes up tonight at midnight, and then for the entire year you can go to www.2014in2015.com every day to see/read about a new drawing (the image she drew that same day last year). I’ve made a resolution to visit 2014in2015.com every morning so I can start each day with Jennifer’s poetry. Would love to have some of you blog readers join me, and if you can see, I’d especially appreciate having you weigh in here from time to time to let me know what you think of her drawings and the experience of seeing a new one each day.