a lamp made out of a scale model of a sturgeon

Like a lot of people who moved to Burlington for college, Art Hop can be a time of nostalgia in addition to celebrating the humanities and arts. At Champlain College, where I went, art students were required to attend and speak to artists about their art, their experiences, and to do their best to learn something. While it’s been more than a couple of years since I’ve been able to attend – I’d managed to go every year for a while, but then I tended to be grappling with my chronic illness – this year I made it a point to go. And while it has cost me, I’ve also been able to learn about and appreciate the art and creativity of my neighbors.

I am so, so grateful for SEABA for putting this together year after year, and to all the artists who invite the public into their studios to look at their hard work.

A New Friend

Sage Route Art is in the E1 building recently profiled in Seven Days. I don’t know Terry Zigmund of E1 very well, but I remember avidly reading her beautiful collection of quotes that she would post frequently to the Winooski Front Porch Forum. Sage Route is a studio mate, Camielle Josephine, and I almost missed her since her workspace is in a tiny loft. She came across me when I was up there about to sort through her sticker bowl. She had above her desk some of the most charming drawings of moths I’ve ever seen, with careful and delicate attention to the large eyes and soft antennae and wings.

Camielle was a wonderful person to speak to and she pulled out a run of massive, gorgeous moth stickers that she also sells on her website. Additionally, she’s been working in block print, so we got to talking about using the patches she’s been making – I got two, one to go on a quilt I’m repairing and one to use as a pocket on the next bag I crochet. We had apparently both struggled in learning the opposing craft – she knitting and I crochet – so it was fun to be able to bond over the struggles of trying to learn a new skill that is so close, yet so different from what you knew before.

It didn’t come up, but that kind of thing often reminds me of what it’s like to try to learn a new language in a family, another operating system, or another vendor’s router.

Queer Art Balms My Soul

This installation about binaries, division, and viscosity so enthralled me. I thought I had made a note of the artists names but I don’t have that in my things, I just know that they share a studio with @biggirlco and I don’t even remember if Gretchen collaborated on this. I remember that it was an intergenerational collaboration and that these themes on queerness and the self reached me in a way that more conventional art rarely does. There’s something important, vital and nutritious, about seeing something that very specifically creates and evokes the feeling of a queer experience. And as part of a larger conversation that we have in the United States about what it means to be an acceptable member of society and who gets the full benefit of citizenship and personhood, it’s just a powerful experience to be in this filmy room filled with these tiny, suspended microcosms of what it means to be a queer person in this day and age.

Listening to a Weaver

This truly fascinating installation is a technical wonder. There are multiple looms whose warp threads all connect into a single plane, and the plane itself is warped and threaded through this overhang. The artist who was there, who I think was Pamela, did offer for me to try out the thread-heddle loom I was looking at, but I was so invested in it because I was trying to see if I could determine how it worked without moving it. My guess was fairly close! She also took the time to show me how the different types of sheds and patterns are achieved on all the looms that were present, and to explain some of the things I hadn’t understood about how Jacquard looms read cards to change state.

Making My Way Home

As for the rest of my experiences, they were of a time and a place. There are some types of experiences that lend themselves better to quiet reflection than relation, and that too is part of what I have been missing in the yearly pilgrimage to the Art Hop, and in not having strong ties to an art community in the other weeks and months.

On my way back up the southbound side of Pine Street, I could feel the exertion of being outside in the heat, doing more physical activity than usual, the noise and commotion around me taking their toll. I ducked into the Maltex building briefly, and cursed that I had decided to park closer to downtown and walk. Because I’m not that disabled and I could do it. But I would have been way more comfortable if I hadn’t, and a piece of medical equipment was coming loose from my body with the sweat. I stayed a long moment in the air conditioning, waiting for my heart rate to settle, ate a low-FODMAP / low-glycemic snack. When that particular piece of medical equipment comes loose, it can cause nausea and dizziness as the brain tries to interpret the signals it receives that something is somehow migrating out through the skin. I did eventually manage to get home, but I had to retire the sensor early as it fully came off on the walk to the car. Disappointing, considering how expensive they are.

But in the end, it was worth it to go see why life is worth living, and feed the soul my body tries to hold in this world.