Olga de Klein - Visual Artist

The other day I totally fouled up one of my works on wood panel.  Tried to fix it with paint, cover it up with yarn, but whatever I did, nothing worked. Peeled off the photograph and was left with a sticky mess.  It was one of those aggggrrrrwwww moments.  Perfectionism...my worst enemy.  

But some mishaps turn into something completely unexpected.  While in Culebra, PR in June, not having the right aperture and exposure (nor a tripod), this image was captured. An accidental photograph, which, when downloaded made me go wow... 


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This morning I spent some time in the attic looking for boxes with old photographs.  Blame it on "vernacular photography".  Sorting, scanning, reminiscing, wondering - and it all spanned from the early 1900's to snapshots very familiar to me.  Dots, connecting, disconnecting, and connecting again. A kaleidoscope of images that threw my head into a ping-pong spin...


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What is vernacular photography? According to photographic historian Geoffrey Batchen, it categorises "every photograph that cannot be comfortably incorporated into an art historical narrative." By his own admission, this includes “the vast majority of photographs ever made”. Never realized I am using vernacular photography in some of my work. Until today when I saw this article in Mutualart.com (http://www.mutualart.com/OpenArticle/Vernacular-Photography--The-Art-of-the-F/F4F5AAE6800A8987?utm_source=newsletter_b&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_artfocus)

Now I feel tempted to start browsing flea markets or garage sales for boxes with old photos.  It might be easier to weave stories around snapshots of people I do not know than those of family members, distant and close. The picture below portrays two of my grandmother's sisters, my mom (center) about 9 years old, and many people I do not recall.  It was my great grandparents wedding anniversary and the year was ca. 1927.  And that, just by itself, is quite a story! 

 


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Old doors at Architectural Exchange, Chattanooga, TN, waiting for new owners, while reminiscing about times they opened and closed, opened and closed.  Decades of stories kept in, and left out.  They stand there, stoically, unaware of their exposed measurements, all wanting to fit in...


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The other night, sitting on my front porch, the falling sun rays directed my eyes to this incredible spider web.  The intricate patterns, the lines, the unusual conformation, the sum of which translated into a mesmerizing piece of art right there in the yard of my neighbors. Artists at work all around me!


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A look at my worktable took me back to the apartment in Amsterdam, where I grew up.  Grandma, sitting in front of the stove, clicking the knitting needles, mom's feet rapidly moving the pedal of the sewing machine, making me an outfit from an old dress...roots, unseen, sprouting again...and the sluices of my memory bank are all of a sudden wide open...


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The floor of my studio is covered with yarn.  There is a clump of it laying near the window, a kaleidoscope of colors that feels good - it belongs there. Threads go in and out, under and over, connect and disconnect.  Pull a piece out, don't worry, it will not come apart, take the scissors, snip, snip, and tie one end to the other. And if you'd like, just dive into it!


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In the studio, cleaning up after finishing a project. What is next? I look at the paintings on the wall. "I can never do that again" immediately flashes through my head. A persistent self sabotaging thought process. The observer in me responds, "you do not have to," and for a while I argue with her...

I create. I create because that makes me feel alive. Experimenting with different media, talking to other artists in the building where I have my studio, taking a deep breath. Getting the "that's it" impulse, turning up the music, moving toward my work table. A little dance, shaking all loose. Getting lost in a no time zone and feeling the adrenaline surging through all pores. It is time to stop thinking...

 

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