Making of Two Monoprints by Isabel Winson-Sagan

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The title is “I Am Body.” It was done as a palimpsest, over two poems by the artist:

“I Am Body”

I dream of having sex with the dead
Skeletal, flesh departing slowly, laughing face of bone and mirth.
He is a kind lover.
And I am a body.
I am not separate from myself.
I am not at war.
This disease is not my enemy, insidious, inside my very skin, tears me apart.
My brain screams, every second, every day, “Pain! Pain!”
I wake up screaming.
But this is MINE.
This is me.
I am not at war.
I am a body.
I will not overcome, defeat my own bones.
The dead man is kind.
He does not notice.
“It’s not normal,” they say.
“If you only work at it, you can be free”
/Protestant bullshit, Calvinist work ethic built America but it cannot make me believe in a war against myself./
I am body.
I am alive.
And my dead lover waits for me to realize
how the veil between our worlds
is so very thin.

***

“Race War”

There is a race war
In my mind.
I am in a peaceful place
Lama mountain behind
Birds cooing in the early light.
But the mountain
Is on fire.
Smoke fills
The inside of my mouth, tickling, searching.
Farmers thresh the fields
In this pastoral paradise.
The mountains burned 20 years ago
And now,
Black men are being shot
Black women are dragged from their cars and beaten
There is a race war in my mind.
The mountain is burning
Why is my body a battlefield.
No one can apologize for existing.
I never thought that this would happen again,
In my lifetime.
How do I get out?
How do I stay?
If everything is only you,
Why am I burning.

This print was also done during the residency at Herekeke.

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Title from a poem by Miriam Sagan: “sober as the Devil and drunk as God.”

Themes

Isabel and I made a list of the themes we were working with at Herekeke Art Center.

color
insideout
exposure
qualities of darkness
magic mountain
intrusion
goat’s eye
sacrifice
food chain
animals
insects
replication
children
offspring
ghost image
nostalgia
deja vu
awash in memory
universal vs. specific
is the mountain hard or soft (ghost images are softer)

Stay tuned to see her monoprints and text posted in a few days.

Broken School Bus: Poetry & Photographs

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the broken school bus that goes nowhere
meadow of grasses, purple peas, queen anne’s lace
acequia burbling from its pipe
island of trees
the road makes an incursion
as does your camera, tripod
a way of seeing

before me
sun setting
as if on the page
of a nineteenth century novel
in this light
everything
is transformed
out of narrative

you turn
to photograph
the direction
we haven’t come from—
Lama Mountain

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Top photographs & text by Miriam Sagan
Bottom two photographs by Isabel Winson-Sagan
Herekeke, NM

My Mother-in-Law Was an Abstract Expressionist

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I mix the color. Ink the roller. Ink the small plastic sheet. I rub it with a rag, cardboard, my thumb, left fingers—it’s action painting in miniature!
Suddenly I’m flooded with the presence of my first mother-in-law, Abbie Winson, now deceased. She was an abstract painter, trained by Hans Hoffman. I believe she painted a few summers in Provincetown. She was a link for me with the glorious romantic lineage of the NY Abstract Expressionists. Her work was vibrant and often joyful. She herself, like so many artists, was an introvert, even shy.
Of course as my daughter Isabel’s grandmother she must have influenced Iz in many ways. Iz worked alongside Abbie in her studio from the time she was tiny. There is a lot of permission there for a girl—a grandmother who is an artist.
Apparently there is permission for me too—I just didn’t know it. If Abbie wanted to be Hoffman or Kline (and I’m not sure she did—it seems she mostly wanted to be herself) then I just want to be her. The 1950’s in Manhattan is my early childhood. I love the visuals of that time, from furniture to wallpaper. My little monoprints are a homage to that aesthetic—from here on Lama Mountain.

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Notes From The Forest Fire

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I’m in an artist’s residency in the southern Rockies, collaborating with my daughter Isabel.
Where am I really? The days of being a Romantic poet in a bucolic setting seem to be over (probably a hundred years ago). There is rural poverty and oppression in Hardy’s novels, but still, the city is worse. And I’m in an eco-system beleaguered by global warming and drought.
This mountain burned twenty years ago. It’s burning again, the scrub oak that sprang up. I’m pretty afraid of wildfires because I have only one fully working lung and I try to avoid the smoke. Yet the fire is contained, now smoldering. On National Forest land the fire can’t be fought with chemicals in the same way it is one private land. A helicopter has dumped water. I feel a huge love and gratitude for the four guys up there working to contain the fire.
And yet I’ve read enough Gary Snyder to know that western forests need to burn to be healthy. This forest fire is a hundred percent not about me. Yet it impacts me. In this it is pretty much like every other problem I’m facing right now—an ill friend, a demented frail family member, world events.
I sit in an old comfy arm chair on the front porch. I should sweep, but housekeeping is never my strong suit. I myself am full of contradiction. I want to: write, work in the print studio, run off to Questa to see if there are ice cream pops in the general store.
Isabel has been teaching me a lot. She gave me lessons on her camera. Taught me to make a monoprint. Yet sometimes I want to quibble with her, even boss her around. Or watch Mad Max with her.
It’s too easy for me to say—just go with the flow, to pick peace and grooviness over confrontation with this world. It’s too easy to say—well, reality is shit, how can I be so happy here in this gorgeous setting drinking my coffee when people are dying in the street the world over.
I’m quite convinced there is a Middle Way not just because I’ve heard its rumors but because I see it moment by moment before me, whether or not it leads me to Questa.

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