Jenn's a duster

I need a break. I should probably use a mask. I've been spray painting for the past hour. I am fascinated with spray paint and tagging. I really want to learn how to do this. A few years ago was when I started wanting to explore the hazy realm of graffiti. Two weeks after this new want I found myself in Russia next to some teenager and he was showing me how (not on public property... nice record that would've been - "American Pastor found desecrating public property in urban square with local band of taggers" - though, I'm sure, a great story that would be) He was working on a board. He let me spray a couple of lines and then gave me a cardboard box and some chalk. Not a very glamorous beginning. I apparently did not have the makings to start at "great".

I've messed around with the stuff a lot, feeling a little defensive everytime I show up at the walmart counter with 10 new cans. "Ma'am, can I see your ID?" "I promise, nice Walmart lady, I'm not huffin the stuff" - it looks a little suspicious. Clearly nothing good can come from that many cans of spray paint. None-the-less, spray I do.

In May a friend in Minneapolis asked if I would make some banners for a series their church was doing. I did two banners, 9 and 6 feet, gathered my arsenal of aeresols and went to it. Perhaps it was the fumes and the fact they were finished at 6am on a sleepless night, but I felt good about how they turned out. A week later I was in Australia at Juggler's Cafe feeling a bit more like, "why do I bother?"

Peter opened the garage door and we entered a long corridor that would be an alley between buildings if it weren't a passage made for them. The walls were completely covered and layered with images that were like nothing I'd ever seen. The smell of paint cans and brick wall (yes, that is a specific smell) was enchanting. After about 40 feet the corridor opened into a courtyard with walls maybe 15ft high and I was hit with sensory overload and it was great. Taggers had been invited over and over again to make these huge walls their playground. I felt like I was gorging myself on images and I would soon have to purge.

When I was in high school I found out about the Egyptian's philosophy of images and heard about something called horror vacui - fear of space - which is why there's no space left unfilled in their pyramid art. This experience left me feeling very much like what I imagined the Egyptians feeling. Every space was covered with something. I have a bit of affinity towards this philosophy myself which may have been why I had something of an emotional response to this all as I entered. It felt like a sanctuary.

I'm wheezing a little bit while I'm breathing right now. Lungs repair themselves, right? I grew up living in a house of smokers, left fairly unscathed, but I'm sure I'll die of lung cancer do to my artistic pursuits. Is that ironic?

Somebody just walked into the room and said, "it smells like spray paint in here". I'm a good football field away from where I'm working on the piece, but it's all over my hands, my jeans and the smell has seeped into my jacket simply by association. "It's me" I confessed, and slowly raised my hand.

I think my head's a bit heavier now, I'm probably coming down a bit from any impairing fume inhalation... time to get back to it.


pk said...

Nice Jenn - weaving your intellectual side in and out of your playfulness. You truly are an artist.

Kayla Rotz said...

Jenn...my fellow Russian Phesant woman! Its been so long. I love these blogs and how we are all getting reconnected. I hope all is well and yes...Topeka is where I am from!

Andrea said...

Your wheezing laugh which I love so well will be all the more lovely to hear with the help of your artistic endeavors come December. Spray away! :)

David Drury said...

I love your moment at the cash register getting carded because of huffing suspicions.

In my head I saw you with an evil smirk (or was it a high?) as you pulled out the liscence.


Jenn Swift said...

Paul, did you ever get to meet Peter while in Brisbane and get over to Juggler's?

Bethany said...

You can come to Canada anytime Jenn, and we can spray away together. My results may look crappy, but I'm sure I'll feel just great anyway! Ha! Love ya girl and it was so great to chat last night again. Thanks for your comments about my silly rambling blogs. Chow. Bethany

Jenn Swift said...

Kayla - are we pheasants?

Krista Marie said...

oh funny...I noticed the pheasants thing right away, and with Andrew being the hunter he is I vividly saw you and Kayla (bless her, however she looks! :)) as beautiful colorful birds...from Russia.
Darling...space can be nice! Simplicity can be beautiful...but alas...you are a hand, and I, an eye.
:) LOVE YOU, Peaches!!

Kerri said...

Hey Jenn! Wow, it's been a long time since I've heard the phrase "Russian peasant women"! Although with Korban Miller as my choir director now, I do get my share of Profisms regardless. By the way, for any Chorale people reading this, Tanya is pregnant and about to have the baby any day! Jenn, I'm so glad to hear about your goings-on. I've thought of you often. I'm with Kayla...this blogging thing rocks!