Make - to take from the outside and bring it in | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Make - to take from the outside and bring it in

By Jenifer Wightman

Follow by Hideo Mabuchi

To make my "mud paintings", I place mud in a clear vessel, bringing the soil's biotic and abiotic agents together into something of a microbial zoo for public consumption. When I told Tim I wanted to install a new mud piece here, he said: you should talk to Hideo --a previous resident-- he gathered clay from Djerassi.

Hideo Mabuchi, a scientist and sculptor, has made this wonderful piece "Follow" that is described in the Djerassi Art Map: "Notice how the riverbed is cool, sheltered and inviting. Nature calls us to work here. Gravity (pulling) and rocks (channeling) bring water, shade, sanctuary and art follow".  While that is a beautiful and apt description, I personally find this piece delightfully funny: a Modigliani-like vase weighted with large blocks hangs with decomposable ropes from a fallen tree that transects a gorge. So many forces, meeting, in 1 spot! In this case, the maker has made sure the made will be re-made. 

I wrote to Hideo asking about making clay. Here are my cliff notes:

1) find and collect the vole mounds (that is clay!),

2) wet the vole moundings,

3) run the slurry thru screen door mesh (1/4" then mosquito grade)


4) Pour into a T-shirt and dry in the sun. 


To be honest, I had no plans or desire to make clay at this residency. Plus, clay is so dense that it is not necessarily good for microbial life - not enough pore space! But curiosity won: just shovel up the vole earthworks and make clay? Yes!

As a conceptual artist, I am often happy just thinking a thought. Making however, brings knowledge into my body. There is pleasure -- a joy in learning from the materials. I think that joy is multivalent: force and resistance. sensory integration. call and response of material wills. pattern recognition.   discovery. understanding. 

My first research job was as a college freshman in Bob Murphy's lab at Carnegie Mellon; we studied endocytosis -- how a cell eats. The cell membrane invaginates and enfolds the external heterogeneous environment into a membrane pouch internalizing the outside. Making feels like that -- scattershot of heterogeneous experiences all driving my neurons to fire simultaneously; the world --out there-- finding their way in. Participating with them, integrating, makes Sense.

Perhaps the most rewarding part is the sense of proportion - what it takes for my body and my will to gather, process, and make so that when I am given something, I can corporeally sense the making that has been given. 

So, Thank you Voles, Hideo, Tim, Valerie, Land, Water, Pumps, Screens, Buckets, Lights, Electricity, Shovels, Brooms, WoodBlocks, Rolling Pins, Glass, Wire, T-shirts, Bungee Cords, Cardboard, Rulers, etc etc for letting me live in.