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Monthly Archives: March 2012

My oh my, have I been a busy bee this week. New job, new gallery critique, new photo projects… Is Danielle hanging by a thread? Possibly. I did forget that yesterday was Thursday and so almost forgot about today’s FPF. But I didn’t! So here it is:

This is a termite-eaten paperback copy of Foucault’s Pendulum. Rosamond Purcell captures images of everyday items that are somehow damaged or shown in an unfamiliar way. Whether a book eaten by bugs, a squished doll, or an object viewed from odd angles, Purcell shoots things not because they are beautiful, but because they interest her.

I find this image to beautiful in a sad sort of way. I have an intense love of books and it pains me to see them forgotten or misused, but the patterns that the hungry little termites have created in the pages and among the words are beautiful, a bit like a three dimensional topographical map, and it is a unique and interesting thing to see.

Here is a link to an interview with Rosamond Purcell in which she shares a bit about her process and motivations. Take a peek and then let me know what you think: Are images of decay beautiful? Do you think they are worth documenting? Why would decay make an ordinary object more interesting?

I can’t wait to see what you have to say! Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

-DH

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I have not always enjoyed writing. There was a time when I would only write if I absolutely had to, I disliked every moment of the process, and could find nothing of value in my work. This was a time of forced formulaic writing, the days of 5×5 essays, and the oppression of creative grammar. My only outlet was a varied vocabulary which led to criticism for an overly verbose writing style. Writing did not allow me to express myself. Words and topics were fed to me and I could appease the authority only if I hog-tied my creativity and my voice to keep it from interfering with the precious rules.

So, writing was not my thing. I was okay with that. I had other hobbies that I enjoyed and which allowed me to express myself. I didn’t need to write. Or so I thought.

I would occasionally get this itch to write but I would try to talk myself out of it. I wasn’t a writer. I knew that I wouldn’t produce anything worthwhile and it would just be a waste of time. But the drive was there, so I started writing free verse poetry just to stop the words bouncing around in my brain. My approach to poetry was to play with words and sounds and rhythm, and it was a good outlet, mostly because I refused to adhere to any sort of rules. I used punctuation to give cues for reading aloud, like musical notation, and collected words for their sounds, focusing on alliteration and balancing soft and percussive sounds to evoke whatever it was I wanted to capture. I started using my poetry notebooks as photo albums with the collections of words acting as snapshots. I captured trees, rain, the way the air feels right before a storm, anything that spoke to me. I enjoyed the experience of writing poetry and I was happy with many of the pieces I created, but I still couldn’t think of myself as a person who could write well.

Then I had to write a college application essay.

I dreaded it. I fretted about it in the same way I fret about auditions. I looked at the prompts I had to choose from and couldn’t begin to think of how to approach them. I could crank out a rote piece of junk for class no problem, but this mattered. Someone was going to read this and care whether or not it had quality, not just that I followed some guidelines.

One prompt was formed around an Amelia Earhart quote, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” It was an open prompt, just the quote and the request to explain in a page what she meant by it or what it meant to me. Even in my anxiety, I was intrigued by this quote because, though I hadn’t heard it before, I had always believed that the sentiment was true. And eventually something came to me. Reflecting on the quote made me remember moments when I had felt this way and I recalled my most recent vacation: a road trip to the North Carolina mountains.

If you have ever driven through the mountains you know that it can be a wonderful way to spend a few hours, as far as car trips go. If I must spend an extended period of time in a car, I had better have something lovely to look at, and the Blue Ridge mountains and surrounding rural countryside never fail to deliver.

I remembered and I was on fire. The words poured out of me as I recalled the journey, the “adventure”, that for me embodied what Amelia was trying to say. As I wrote I was able to express a point that had been clear to me for a long time and that I was, in my burgeoning adulthood, trying to make a guiding principle in my life: that a goal in itself is important, but just as important is how you get there. The goal is an achievement, but what have you done, gained, experienced along the way? If I spend a huge amount of effort to achieve a goal or reach a destination, shouldn’t the experience of getting there be something that I can treasure as well?

I wrote until I had said everything. I edited. I crafted. I didn’t even know what it meant to craft a piece of writing at that point, but, looking back, that is the only way to describe what I did. This mattered to me. This quote, this sentiment, this belief mattered to me. What I had on the page was me. I have never been prouder of anything I have ever written.

This was the first step. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this opened the door for me. I wrote a huge amount of poetry during the following year and a half, and I was able for the first time to allow someone else to read some of it (a big thing for the girl with zero confidence in her writing). I still didn’t think of myself as a “writer” exactly, but somewhere inside a switch had been flipped and I knew I could do it and that it could become something that I loved to do. Now I am experimenting with the idea of being “Danielle the writer”. That’s what this blog is all about. I am writing about things that I care about and at the same time allowing it to be an experiment to discover whether or not the outside world thinks it’s any good.

I am loving every minute of this journey. I would love to have the opportunity for this to be a part of my professional life, but even if I don’t reach that goal, this adventure in self expression and sharing what I love with the world is more than worth the time I invest.

And that brings me to you, Reader-Friend. This was a long post, I know — one I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks, and actually not what I originally set out to write — but I discovered as I was writing what I needed to say. I’d love to hear what readers and my fellow bloggers have to say on this topic. I always wonder if others have struggled with writing in the same way I did (do).

As always, thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that you will continue to visit and enjoy this journey with me.

<3
-DH

Boone, North Carolina. D.Hitchcock 2007

What. A. Week.

I have been on spring break this week (My last one probably ever. Insanity.) and what with needing to be a grownup and stuff, I’ve filled my time with apartment hunting and job interviews! And as of Tuesday I am officially employed! It is such an exciting process and I have some really great apartment options, so yay! I can’t wait for everything to be finalized and moving day to come.

But I’m on the verge of chicken counting now, so on to FPF.

This is a fun one. Points if you guess the artist before you scroll down.

It’s Andy Warhol! Did you guess? You probably did.

I really like Andy Warhol’s polaroids. In true Warhol fashion, they are shots of everyday things made to look like something special. This is one of my favorites. I like the composition and the lighting — it almost looks like the receivers are bungee jumping into the shot from all directions, suspended by their cords. If you’d like to see more, here’s a link with a bunch of his still life polaroids for you to enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy spring!

-DH

I hope everyone had a lovely St. Patrick’s day and that there aren’t too many cases of the Irish flu going around! My weekend has been busy, but wonderfully productive. Big grownup stuff going on, man. Also, I was super excited that my cupcakes recipe was posted on my favorite food blog! And to top off this wonderful weekend, I have another local art review for you today!

I recently attended a gallery show, “Day Job”, at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and wrote a review about a couple of pieces that caught my attention. I strongly recommend the show overall as it is very interesting, especially for people who are in the position of being a working artist and having to work a day job to pay the bills. So, most of us. In any case, the show runs until March 24th and I have linked the gallery website below for more information. If you are in Atlanta, don’t miss out! Enjoy the review.

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s exhibition, “Day Job: Georgia” showcases the work of fifteen Georgia artists whose art is closely linked to their different jobs. The pieces shown vary in medium and style, but each, from a textile designer’s drawings, to a landscaper’s photographs, shows how the work that the artists do to pay their bills effects how they create the work that they love.

Two of the paintings shown were by architect Valentina Custer O’Roark. These pieces, 004 of 999+ and 008 of 999+, are imaginative, whimsical, and engagingly detailed, incorporating abstracted architectural elements with vibrant color to explore structure, thought, and emotion. O’Roark warps recognizable objects and images, such as windows and building-like structures, into swirling, organic shapes. Upon closer inspection, however, these shapes are as carefully drafted as an architectural design, having beams and walls and windows to support the larger look that first draws the viewer in. The precision of the pieces is astounding. It is obvious that every line, every brush stroke, has a purpose and this endless detail brings one to study every millimeter of the work. It almost mimics the experience of travelling in an unknown city – the traveller is compelled to try to commit everything he observes to memory, from the way the sky was reflected in the windows of one building, to how small he felt next to the imposing height of a skyscraper.

O’Roark aims to visually combine ideas of order and spontaneity by breaking down and reconstructing architecture to free it from the real world limitations of current technology and building materials. The vibrant colors and dynamic patterns inspire the viewer to visit, but the details prompt him to stay. These paintings are like a city for the mind, where there are no building codes and the laws of physics are secondary to the power of the imagination.

Check the ACAC’s website for more information on the gallery and the show. I hope you get the chance to attend! Scroll down to see the other O’Roark painting and some details of the pieces that I shot at the gallery.

-DH

Detail

Detail

Detail

Detail

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day! The Irish quarter of me (Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh. Oy.) has been restless all week, so this weekend had better watch out! In the meantime, how about our weekly Found Photo? It has nothing to do with St. Pat’s, but it is still really cool.

Meet Matt Wisniewski:

This image is from his photo series “Wreckage“. This is my favorite of his projects that can be viewed on the website. Something about the way the non-human elements are integrated in the images is so very striking. The projects showcase skillful manipulation paired with beautiful portraiture. Ordinarily I might be put off by a portrait worked over in this way, but the edits appear so natural it is as if they were always meant to be there.

Take a peek at his other work and feel free to share your thoughts!

A small update: I am slowly but surely catching up with the rest of my generation on the technology front. I am now on Twitter. You can find a follow button in the right column if you would like to receive updates on projects I am working on, upcoming blog posts, or just to connect. Bear with me while I figure out how it works (because I am an 80-year-old only pretending to be 22) — I love hearing from you guys!

Have a wonderful St. Pat’s weekend! May the road rise up to meet you, and remember: What butter and whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for!

Love and Shamrocks,

-DH

It’s funny how the older I get the shorter a year feels. I’m sure it’s just a function of gaining perspective, but it strikes me as odd that when I look back on the past year it seems like it has gone by so fast. So much has happened, and although there have been some rough patches, I have been happier overall than I have been in a long time. I owe much of this happiness to my best friend of four years and partner in crime who, a year ago today, I decided had charmed me sufficiently to agree to be in a relationship with him. It took him asking and me putting him off three times, but it ended up being one of the best things I could have done for myself in 2011. That is what is important to me today, and maybe you will get a restaurant review out of it if the place we go for dinner tonight is any good.

Here’s to many more happy days!

You know what else is happy? Cupcakes.

Here’s the cupcake recipe that I mentioned in last week’s FPF. I created this recipe for another happy day — my roommate’s birthday — because when I asked him what sort of cake he would like, his response was, “Guinness. Duh.” And who am I to refuse the birthday boy? I was very pleased with the recipe and since the cake is vegan* it’s almost healthy if you don’t count the frosting. And if you are vegan, or want dessert without the added calories, this cake is delicious even without a topping. The beer gives the outside of the cake a nice bite in the crust with a tender crumb.

*Guinness is not actually vegan, I was surprised to discover. If you are vegan, you can use Guinness Extra Stout (the only vegan Guinness product) or some other stout/dark beer. You can also replace the beer with leftover brewed coffee! Also, in the interests of clarity, though I figure it is obvious from the name, the frosting is not vegan either :)

Vegan Stout Cake (Cake and Frosting recipes developed by me)
Makes 24 cupcakes / One 9×13 cake / Two 8 inch round layers

The dry:
2.5c flour
1.5c sugar
.5c Cocoa
2tsp baking soda
.5tsp salt

The wet:
2/3c oil
2tbs vinegar
2c Guinness (allow to settle after pouring to ensure accurate measurement before adding to batter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. There will be a lot of bubbles from the beer and the reaction of the baking soda and vinegar, so it will look odd at first, but mix away! Do not, however use an electric mixer. Bad idea. Also don’t overmix. Once mixed, pour into greased and floured cake pans – either cupcake pans, a 9×13 cake pan, or two 8 inch round pans for a layer cake – and bake for 20 minutes (30-35 for 9×13). Frost with Whiskey-Guinness buttercream, if desired, and stuff your face.

Whiskey-Guinness Buttercream

1/3c butter
3c confectionary sugar
2/3c cocoa powder
1oz Whiskey
1/4c Guinness (enough to reach the proper consistency – not too liquidy)

Break out the electric mixer! Cream butter, cocoa, and whiskey. Add the sugar a little at a time, adding beer halfway through (once the mixture is too thick to beat), until all combined. The frosting should not be runny at all. If it is, add more cocoa powder. Too thick? Add more beer or whiskey. Only add about a teaspoon of extra liquid at a time, though, as it will thin out quickly. Have leftovers after frosting the cake? You can store it in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for a few months. Or just eat it with a spoon.

I know today’s post is a little out of the norm for The First 10,000, so thanks for reading, and I hope you get a chance to try these cupcakes. They would be perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

See you Friday with FPF!

-DH

I promised some original work, and here it is!

This set takes images of everyday objects and situations and depicts them in an irrational way, the way a child might imagine them to be when afraid. I wanted to take some of the typical childhood fears — under the bed, in the closet, those hidey corners in the kitchen — and explore what we might see if those fears were true. By playing with shadows and placing objects where they do not belong, I have attempted to capture those moments of seeing something out of the corner of your eye, something that startles. In our day to day, when we look again there is not a shadow, no hand reaching out to grab us, but in the moment we react to our mistaken sight. My goal was to capture these monsters that might have been.

I had a lot of fun creating these images and I hope you enjoy them. Stay tuned this week for FPF and a super awesome cupcake recipe!

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment and tell me what you think. Constructive criticism is an artist’s best friend!

-DH