Saturday, March 22, 2008

Flow (through) Blue, China






























Two years ago my mother moved into an assisted living apartment and my five siblings and I spent several weeks cleaning out our childhood home in Warwick, RI, to get it ready for its new owners. My mother took enough belongings with her to furnish her apartment, we all took things to keep, we gave things away, and we trashed the rest. My parents had built the house and lived there since the early 50's. There was so much stuff in that house. Cleaning out the homestead and saying goodbye to it was an emotionally difficult task, but my brothers and sisters and I felt good knowing that the young couple who bought our house would bring fresh new life to it.

Seth Horrowitz and China Blue both teach at Brown University and they are sound artists. When they moved from NYC to our humble home in the suburbs, they told us that it was nice to be near nature. This seemed comical to us, because the house sits in a sort of Bermuda Triangle of Noise, between the railroad tracks, Route 37, and Greene Airport (good grist for the Sound Art mill!). But there are trees, flowers, squirrels and birds; paradise compared to the inner city!

While doing some renovating, Seth and China Blue found a few items that had been hidden way in the walls in a small room that had served as my Dad's office: two postcards my grandmother sent to me and my sister Susan in 1962, a framed photograph of three kittens, and a mobile made by one of us kids. China Blue put all these things in an envelope and mailed them to me. This was a real sweet gesture: someone else would have thrown the stuff away. I didn't recognize a thing, but my sister and I surmised that I had made the mobile when I was about 8 years old. It's made out of a Kleenex box, the heavy white string we used to tie up the trash, and recycled paper from Narragansett Electric Company where my Dad worked. This was a wonderful little package to get in the mail. The mobile was a nice reminder that I have been making things since I was a girl, and the letters from my Grandmother, who has been gone for many years, seemed as if she had just sent them.
I own several pieces of my Grandmother's Flow Blue china, which I cherish. I thought it serendipitous that I received this "hello" from my Grandmother through a woman named China Blue: it was as if Gram's message flowed through China Blue!
Posted here is a piece of Flow Blue china that I found on-line (my dishes are all at my house in Woolwich), and a self-portrait I did years go, with the Flow Blue china on the hutch behind me.


Self with Gramma's Flow Blue, 1988
pastel and pencil on paper, 15" x 22"
collection of Carolyn Simmons

5 comments:

Rob S. said...

Martha,
Your "personal art history" makes for a unique and fascinating presentation. I am enjoying your blog immensely, and hope that even when your site is back in full effect, you will continue with this. Any artist that stumbles across this - be they student, hobbyist or professional - would be inspired by the way you truly live your art.
The portraits of your students, friends, and self are so very incisive and distinctly yours. I think this is where my fandom truly lies. Wonderful stuff. And, I have to be honest here, it takes something special to attract my eye if it's not old-school realism, and you have done so. No mean feat!
Alex Rheault is a mutual friend. I hope to see you over at drawing room one of these days.
Best,

Rob Sullivan

Martha Miller said...

Hi Rob

Thankyou for dropping in and for your supportive feedback - I appreciate it! Is Life Drawing still happening on Thursday nights at drawing room? I have those nights free now, and really need to get back to working from the figure. Thanks for the reminder! Maybe I'll see you there soon!


take care!
Martha

Rob S. said...

Indeed, it IS still happening! In fact, it has seen a sudden surge in attendance. Alex would be thrilled to see you there, I'm sure of it. It's 6-9 on Thursday nights, and has been a boon to my craft, undoubtedly.

-R.

Martha Miller said...

Great! Perhaps I'll see you there soon!

China Blue said...

Martha:
Oh so nice to see all of those beautiful treasures on your site and to read the story! I am so pleased for you that they brought you such happiness. It was great to discover them in the walls of your home!
China Blue