CONSTANT – cube performance with faun and a pan flute


2014-08-06 21.07.43

I have been struggling about what to call my performance, which, until now has been affectionally referred to as “The Cube.”  …Though, the structure itself and the actions taking place tonight hold more than that title can carry.  Thus this statement

The structure is made up of old windows to create a haphazard home.  I am situated alone within it – the window panes at times seem like bars of a cage, holding me as an isolated spectacle away from the musicians.

My costume consists of a button-down, sheer, white business shirt over a white sports bra. My high waisted panties and white tube socks reference Karen Finley’s controversial 1989 performance We Keep Our Victims Ready in which Finley smears chocolate syrup, red candy hearts and cake all over her body wearing nothing but simple white cotton panties and tube socks.

During my performance I will throw paint against the windows, slather it along the walls and scratch it off the window panes as the band performs their set.  The handling of paint is visceral and primal, almost gruesome.  In the beginning I will be able to see out, but as I paint and the performance continues, my visibility, as well as the visibility of my body in the cube, will be obscured.  I am further removed from the objective gaze but still continue to leave visual artifacts of my actions through paint. The resulting imagery is not pretty nor decorative – the improvisational handling of material violates the home structure, leaving it a sticky, sapped up, paint-coated mess.

While the cube is made up of glass walls, there is no “glass ceiling”.  On the topic of gender issues, this reads to me that, while women are now given opportunity to rise, there are still social phenomena and gender role expectations at play that restrain, confine, and isolate us. It is disheartening to me that many women in my generation are afraid to declare themselves or their work feminist or simply don’t think it is relevant to mention.  I have great respect for the work of women in and outside of art and acknowledge the opportunities they have created for me.  While my work is usually not feminist in subject matter, I paint a lot of mountains, I do consider myself feminist.  This particular performance is feminist.

But, the evening as a whole, not just my performance, is critical of traditional gender roles. The band is taken off of the stage and arranged in a circle facing one another, inviting the audience to walk around.  This arrangement can be interpreted as “feminine” (round, circular), challenging the traditional “masculine,” or linear, performance structure which situates the entertainer raised and at the head of the room facing out, creating a hierarchy of band over audience, and then another level of hierarchy within the audience (who is closer, etc.).  The contrast of the group of male musicians in a feminine orientation and the female, me, in the more rigid cube, wearing a business shirt, painting in a traditionally “masculine” method (action painting, made famous to the general public by Jackson Pollock in the 1950s, is a violent and aggressive handling) creates a gender balance.

This of challenge of gender roles and social expectations and is indicative of the sort of feminism I seek support.  Not a “no boys allowed” mentality, but rather one that strives for the definition of the word: equality of gender, and further, equality of all people.  I strive for a feminism that isn’t afraid to acknowledge and assesses what obstacles still exist, how they exist, and works to transcend the confines of the past to create a more balanced future.

For me, writing this statement is a way of acknowledging that social constructs, tendencies, “roles” still exist and that to acknowledge them empowers me to make informed decisions on how to challenge and obscure them.

I have decided on the title “CONSTANT” for my performance, in part for the scientific reference (the constant in an experimental study, the element that stays the same), but also for the definition “that which is stable.”  For me, people and our bodies are the constant, the stable. Our actions are the experiment.  Through our actions and decisions we are empowered to reconstruct our spiritual and social selves, as individuals and as a collective.

performance is tonight, august 8, at the goat farm in atlanta, 8 pm, $8




making things

Tried my hand at making a few arty gifs for the gif show at mammal gallery.   Pretty fun…



daniellebrutto_BIRDS 1


These black and white ones are from video documentation of my performance “Darkness” in 2011.  I blindfold myself and stayed in bed for 3 days.







art-speration, art-splanations

I have been looking up embroidery, trying to decide if this is a medium I’d like to indulge and incorporate, or if I already have enough on my plate. I feel like it’s a natural progression of where my work is at already…but sometimes my ideas move faster than my output can handle. I look back and feel like I wish I had more work to evidence each of the concepts I digested at any given point. Will my mind ever slow down? There are worse things I guess…

I found this really great place NEAR ATLANTA! called Japanese Embroidery Center – I will let them describe themselves:

“The Japanese Embroidery Center (JEC) is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Japanese embroidery through the pursuit of Nuido™, The Way of Embroidery. The word Nuido™ is made up of two parts; Nui, or embroidery (also shishu), and Do, the way of Nui refers to the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge. Do refers to the development, and constant discovery, of the spiritual components of the art of Nuido™. Nuido™ has three aspects: the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge (rationality), the development of artistic sensitivity and awareness (sensitivity), and understanding the spiritual aspects of shishu (spirituality), resulting in a state of peace, calm, and harmony.”

I am definitely drawn to the intention and ritual, the idea of meditation before working, having a sensei, everything about it really. And good on them for getting over here and further taming the wild, American beast. An information video on the site said the hardest thing about teaching students in the States was getting them to shut up during class – we can be so obnoxious as a culture, like a toddler. –I probably, wont be able to get in and take a class until next year, but I’m glad to know it’s there for me when I’m ready.

I love that the  students of the Japanese center learn gardening and appreciation for nature’s role in their craft.  It isn’t really clear whether or not they are introduced to silkworms and if that’s what they are working on maintaining in their garden, or if they are simply growing their own food.  Either way, I think hands-on interaction with the earth is essential in maintaining a tradition and culture of ‘big picture’ understanding.

There may come a time when I will only use found material.  This is hard for me because I love paint so much, but as a medium, it’s completely artificial…or at least in the ways I indulge it.  I want to find a more sustainable, but simultaneously archival, way around this.  I know I can make my own pigments out of plants and household items, but the way I’m painting currently, this isn’t really practical.  The dilemma itself really is the greater umbrella concept of my work: the intoxicating trap of artifice and the quest for ways to find the purest relationship with the natural world possible, coming from an honest evaluation of where we stand today on our journey as humans on earth.  I’m not too beat-up by the conflict as it applies to my personal work though – I’m confident I will arrive naturally and gradually at solutions that make sense and support my ideals.

…So do I paint on the fabric and then embroider on top? or do I pour paint on top of embroidery. Probably BOTH! Playing with stitches will be added to the bank of stuff to play with while I’m in Vermont. OH! This is perfect considering I will be meditating and yoga-ing daily. So excited.

the featured image:

from the series Red Sky at Night by Rebecca Ringquist — Bounty, 2011, 60 x 32, Embroidery and machine stitching on found fabric


real life stuff, yolkspace

So it has been decided.  The name of my home gallery/studio/eventspace/what-have-you is officially YOLKspace.  Despite all the uncertainty, “yolk” was the original idea – funny how it always works out like that.

YOLK – I think of it as a sort of incubation chamber of concepts, a source of vitamins and minerals.  We will see what the future holds….


art show, real life stuff

Last night was the opening of my show “Peaks” at Studio No. 7.  It went so well, I don’t even know what to do with myself.  Friends, family, family friends, all the good stuff.  Perfection.

Sorry for the crap picture quality.  Wasn’t a top priority of mine I guess.  Stay tuned for pictures of new paintings!


my whole family on one couch


my cousin Kyle, his girlfriend Iris, and I


Radcliffe Bailey and I



ALIEN (the movie) / more thoughts on MONSTERS

art-speration, art-splanations

Last night I saw Alien at Plaza to continue my research on monster movies, gender archetypes, evolving myths and what have you.  Now I’m doing a little research to follow up.

I have ordered the book The Dread of Difference for a little further reading – more specifically to read the article “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection” by Barbara Creed.


On a less reputable search result note, THANK YOU WIKIPEDIA!

“A monster is any creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is often hideous and may produce fear or physical harm by its appearance and/or its actions. The word “monster” derives from Latin monstrum, an aberrant occurrence, usually biological, that was taken as a sign that something was wrong within the natural order.[1]

The word usually connotes something wrong or evil; a monster is generally morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, and/or a freak of nature. It can also be applied figuratively to a person with similar characteristics like a greedy person or a person who does horrible things.

The root of ‘monstrum’ is ‘monere’—which does not only mean to warn, but also to instruct, and forms the basis of the modern English demonstrate. Thus, the monster is also a sign or instruction. This benign interpretation was proposed by Saint Augustine, who did not see the monster as inherently evil, but as part of the natural design of the world, a kind-of deliberate category error.[2]


art-speration, art-splanations

The other day I took myself on a hot date to see Godzilla at Plaza Theatre.  I entered with the usual assumption: I’d see a classic, old movie and indulge a little nostalgia for recent human past.  I was excited to find that elements of the movie actually tie nicely together some of the ideas I am trying to work through in my paintings, as well as further solidify and connect interests I haven’t formed informed explanations for.  For example: I have always felt a pull towards Japan.  I am interested in ritual and process and find these attributes are a bit atrophied in USAmerican culture where emphasis on quantity and speed overwhelms quality; I am still seeking sources to justify and support these claims. Anyhoo, Godzilla shined a light on a whole other aspect of Japanese philosophy//other phenomenon I had no idea I was headed towards.  Check out these pics I snuck…









– gender and family issues – that whole love triangle between Emiko, Hideto and the scientist Daisuke
– The self sacrifice of the scientist Daisuke at the end. He destroys his notes, knowing that his discoveries could be used for good, but their potential for evil and dangerous applications make them unfit to share with mankind.
– anti-H bomb propaganda and morality of the sciences was a delightful and unexpected enhance my own personal claims.
– Japanese philosophy about the balance of the masculine and the feminine. The bomb as a symbol of masculinity, nature as the feminine – the disruption and retaliation of nature on man. Ultimately the feminine restores balance.

Mutations, monsters, archetypes and evolving myths in the modern world

A lot of the ideas that struck me,  gender-issues, ideas of family structure, etc, are all further discussed in this article by Jerome Shapiro ( Reading through this has helped shape and inform some of the points mentioned above and also have got me wanting to rip apart monster movies.

Agitated nature-scapes in contrast to the serenity / majesty of historic depictions of landscape in painting, photography and drawing. I reflect on a landscape interrupted by human “progress” – technology, strip-mining, clear cutting forests, irresponsible agriculture, pollution, trash, waste, consumer culture. I am trying to depict a space that is unbalanced and victim to the indulgence of the masculine (if we’re relating it to the philosophy of harmony and balance of the dual forces: feminine and masculine) and judeo-christian notions that nature is at our disposal. Maybe I will take the ideas of the feminine, represented as silk, weaving and healing acting as calming balance to these landscapes. But then what are the gender role stereotypes I am indulging in doing this? How can I see “masculine” and “feminine” as compartmentalized concepts that exist in relation to one another in duality, but also have attributes of the other with in themselves? …THE YING YANG lol.  The cocoon may be a place for incubation, the womb a place where change and growth can be made, but it is also a sort of prison, isolated.  I want to emphasis and explore the ideas of gendered constructs in their extremes as unbalanced, not that the feminine is inherently positive and the masculine negative, or the opposite, which is a bit more ingrained in our language and in our tradition, at least in the Western world.



A quick recap from the last installment of the “positive state of production” saga.  —How to optimize output:





STEP 4: TRY AND MAKE IT FEEL GOOD – abandon useless guilt – trade pacification for delayed gratification

I am eternally invested in the process (of everything.  painting, making things, living.).  I guess a hyper-tendency to over-analyze could/should be directed through my action channels in a way that will help me radiate more *positive* energy– I am becoming more and more aware of how it surfaces as neurosis, anxiety, frustration, pain, and anger.–  It’s time to start poking little holes in my soul’s Light Bright, if you will.  Maybe fill ’em with little Vitamin D bulbs: a bunch of little ultraviolet happy lights.  how.pleasant. (((..does this mean I need to abandon sarcasm?)))

Another topic of interest trending in my mind at the moment:  DUALITY.

made a book–back on the blog

making things

I have awoken from my absence and am back on the blog!

Yesterday I bound a book that I started years ago.  It goes to show: I may not finish the things I start right away, but I do eventually finish them….

We set up a little product photography station at my house, so I thought I’d snap a few pics.  Enjoy my attempt at “stuff neatly organized” complete with some real out there photoshop retouching.  I considered doing a step-by-step how-to-do for this, but you can google bookbinding on your own time.





INSPIRATION: “fragility of goodness” martha nussbaum”


watch this video or else read some’uh’duh good parts I transcribed below

18:45 thoughts after discussing the story of Hekuba –  “The condition of being good is that it should always be possible for you to be morally destroyed by something that you couldn’t prevent.  To be a good human being, is to have a kind of openness to the world – an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances – in circumstances that for which you are not yourself to blame.  I think this something really important about the condition of the ethical life that it is based on a trust in the uncertain, a willingness to be exposed – It’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel.  Something rather fragile, but whose particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.”

21:10 “Tragedy happens only when you are trying to live well.  For a heedless person who doesn’t have deep commitments to others, Agamemnon’s conflict isn’t a tragedy.   Someone who is a bad person could go in and slaughter that child with equanimity or could desert all the men, let them die.  But it’s when you are trying to live well and you deeply care about things you are trying to do that the world enters in in a particularly painful way. And it’s in that struggle, with recalcitrant circumstances, that a lot of the value of the moral life comes in.”

22:08 “The lesson certainly is not to try to maximize conflict, or to romanticize struggle and suffering.  But it’s rather to see that you should care about things in a way that makes it a possibility that tragedy will happen to you. If you never trust any people, or if you don’t trust the political setting, which is certainly something I see very often in my students, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want to tell them to live their lives with such a seriousness of commitment that they’re not adjusting their desires to the way the world actually goes, but they’re trying to rest from the world, a good life, the good life that they desire. And sometimes this does lead them into tragedy.”


My compassion for others is partially rooted in the fear/understanding that I have, we all have, a breaking point. The possibility will always exist that I will lose my faith in humanity, but still I forgive.  I think I forgive, because not only have I been hurt, I have hurt others.  I’ve been hurt because I have made myself vulnerable and I hurt others in attempt to stay honest.  This Nussbaum interview made me realize my tendency to make myself vulnerable is rooted in my love and passion for life.  And maybe I forgive so much because people who are clumsy with themselves maybe have been hurt, because maybe they too have a passion for life and just need to be nurtured, like she said, a plant.  and maybe we’re all in this together and it’s our responsibility to tend to one another when we have the capacity, and everything is a mess and they’re IS a point of no return – and someone can become so damaged that they cannot regain their faith in the world. I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I know I am really glad for her and her thoughts and I want to read more about what she has to say.  I also am really excited about the story of Hekuba and would like to draw it out.  HAPPY FRIDAY

MULLED ART: dig myself out

art-splanations, revelations

what i’m interested in regards to painting:

  • spontaneous gesture
  • obsession
  • compulsion
  • neurosis
  • self picking at
  • self flagellation
  • internal vs external
  • alienation
  • power struggle
  • power play
  • bursting at the seams
  • over-pouring
  • drips
  • drops
  • splitters and splat
  • paint as blood
  • paint as skin
  • paint as mud
  • paint as its own wild animal
  • paint as snot and scabs
  • paint as scum
  • grit
  • grime
  • wabi sabi
  • paint as easy to handle
  • paint as hard to hold

this list makes me feel like i should be more abstract…

….it also makes me want to paint more portraits.



by: hannah helton

ART RANT: angry about art fees

art rant

I hate applications, they infuriate me.

But it’s much more than that.  Applications are just a trigger.  I guess I feel about it the way certain great nation folk feel about having their picture taken.   I lose a little bit of myself every time.

Ultimately, I mother.fucking.hate.this.system – the art world in general…

I guess I’ll start with the first and most basic issue: APPLICATION FEES.  I don’t think enough people outside of the art world know about this.  It’s pretty simple: you have to pay to apply to different notable art thingies (residencies, gallery shows, etc). … Because, you know, artists make enough money to shell out $40 here and there all willy-nilly.  I understand the galleries aren’t making much money either and ultimately they need to pay people for the time it takes to go through all the applications or whatever, but fuck that noise.  I DONT WANT TO HAVE TO PAY YOU TO LOOK AT IT.  This is so deeply degrading I can’t even stomach it.  In my sound mind I should consider it an investment.  I should say to myself, “This is just part of it, play the game, get your work out there.”  But these rationalizations only further infuriate me.  I don’t want to think of art as a game.  I don’t want to comply with “the way things work” like some great hand of god designed some sort of fixed system. WE build this world. The way we encouraged primp and pimp our work and put it up against the others is only making group shows feel like pageants with no real intention other than to clumsily showcase ‘the big names’.  Art is supposed to be the one space in humanity we keep sacred from that shade of bullshit.  Every chance to show work should be a chance for us to get together and make something really flipping cool.  I’d much rather us be a critical system that encourages conversation. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? I want an art world that comes together to create things that celebrate the individuals, rather than one where people work by themselves to celebrate themselves. (But this doesn’t mean collaborating for collaborations sake.  I want to find people I can make something real with.  People to amplify one another’s visions and voices, not names.  Actively challenge each other to move forward.)

But what actually challenges us often times first hits as a sense of repulsion.  Most people won’t venture this far.  They comply and indulge in the comfortable and the palatable.  There is nothing wrong with this…I just wonder if people know that’s what they’re doing. For those who want to learn, who want to grow wild and free – chase fear.  Chasing happiness is like having a political debate with someone who agrees with you.  It can be really nice, and re-afirming, and there is definitely a place for it, but when over-indulged it becomes empty, non-productive and boring.

It seems that those whose work I admire the most are recognized the least.  But the things that hold them back are the things that make them great artists in the first place.  They are incubators, self-criticizers, never-good-enough neurotics. They tend to feel a desperate need to protect their art because every other part of them has been made to feel so deeply violated or under appreciated, it is the only thing they feel they really have. This is why their work is so important, and in someways to me, more important.  The current art world model not only refuses to nurture these people, it actively seeks to discredit them.  Like if they’re good enough they’ll learn how to fight their way up and out.  But I want an art world that doesn’t ascribe to that bullshit idea of cream rising like every other depraved industry out there.  We have enough outlets to celebrate our cutthroat and competitive nature.  I want something better.  I wish people would learn to base the quality of the artist on the quality of the work, not how effectively they’ve learned to say their own name.  It should be the job of the gallery to find these people and expose them, not to shame them away with applications.

–Painting is my longest love.  And I hate the way I am asked to talk about it.  I took this last year off and refused explain myself in the traditional channels of the art world (and all its applications).  To wake up and just make, or even choose to not make.  To reenter a more organic and natural state of painting that doesn’t require or demand “making it” or “selling it” or “showing it.”  And in this time I still made. And I still showed. I found that I am not against the idea of communicating about my art, I am fundamentally apposed to the atrocity of “selling” it.  …and to clarify, I am not the least bit opposed to people buying my work, rather I’m wary of feeling like I am MAKING them buy it.  I feel such a disconnect between the art and the non-art world.  Most people would rather buy an ikea print than a real painting.  Why?

I am not afraid of money, and I don’t think wealthy people are intrinsically evil. I’m not upset that art and business are in cahoots with one another, I just want to be art to be valued more for what it is.  I want an art less manipulated.  An art less mindlessly appreciated.  An art less told what to do and how to be to get by. I know I’m not ready in lots of ways, and I don’t pretend to be.  This whole thing drips with generalizations and contradictions and has no real specific examples to back it up.  I know this.  But it’s a raw screaming feeling I can’t seem to overcome and has been reverberating in my lungs for years.  This is not how it should be, this is not how it should be.  I want artists to take over the art market, but then who would pay for everything?  I want people with money and good taste to take over the art market, but would they further neglect the ugly things?  I feel so helpless I could cry.

…but while the coldest-air-in-a-long-time is upon us,  I want to stand outside and let it freeze-burn the tip of my nose.  I want battle scars.  I don’t want to protect myself or my work anymore; I want to live a full life.  I want to react and enact and play and scream and sing and this must be why I paint.  It is basic, but I always need reminding.  THIS wild feeling is the only thing that really matters to me. fuck the whole need to apply.  fuck it.

hypnopompic and my own hallucinations

art-speration, art-splanations, revelations

I came across these beautiful weavings by Finnish designer/artist Kustaa Saksi in a blog post by Miss Moss.  Yes, they are trippy, and vibrant, yet subdued in a really appealing way, but the reason I had to catalogue them here is this quote/definition of the title of the series “Hypnopompic”:

Hypnopompic refers to a state of sensory confusion leading out of sleep, when the state of awakening gets mixed with the dream world into a surreal reality. It is an exceptional state of consciousness, in which one may experience the presence of, or see creatures and animals, such as spiders, monkeys and insects. Hypnopompic state has also been affiliated with visual delusions caused by migraine. These graphic patterns, designs and textures are thought to have contributed to the traditions of ornamentation, mosaic and textile.”


For as long as I can remember, I have hallucinated (visual, auditorial, physical) while falling asleep and waking.  Even though I know now that it’s a completely normal phenomenon (and symptom of narcolepsy) called “hypnogogic hallucination” that many a brilliant historical figure experienced in their day, I still sometimes feel a bit off my rocker (the fact that the only “famous person” I can think of off the top of my [wikipedia’s] head who mentioned experiencing the phenomenon is Edgar Allen Poe does not plead my sanity case).

…But these weavings are so inspiring.  My hallucinations are sometimes terrifying (I’ve been told I cry), sometimes exhilarating, sometimes funny (I’ve been told I giggle), so duh, I don’t know why I haven’t already considered THEM “inspiring.”  Apparently, some people even actively try and learn how to achieve them (like they do with lucid dreams…WHICH my visions have always lead right into–or out of)  I guess if anyone wants some tips just ask…But be forewarned: nothing is worse than having something really cool or beautiful or what-have-you in your possession during a dream you’re controlling, only to wake and see it there! with you! in your bed! and then lose it to reality… Huge bummer for me as a kid.

Anyhoo, on an art note: these really jumped out at me because the most common things I see in my hypnogogic state are bugs, particularly spiders.  I have been trying to think of a way to tap into the whole weird dream thing for a good long while, and these are definitely inspiration in the right direction.  Also love the concept of weaving (a very feminine history which also references spiders–Mother Spider taught us to weave), meshing with my very physical painting style (rooted in the very macho action painters of the 50s)—little gender discussion about materiality there.  Also, the concept of “mother” as spider has been coming up a lot in my work lately.  …AND the comments in the quote about mosaics makes me better understand my tendency towards pattern work and this sort of thing…  WHAT A SERENDIPITOUS FIND! THIS IS SO DENSE.  I’M SO EXCITED.

2014 is golden


I’ll start off by saying I had a really beautiful, raw, and serendipitous New Years Eve. Much better than last year.  Hope everyone else out there enjoyed themselves…

I had a really sexy “2014” post planned – complete with resolutions and everything!, but since it got lost not once, but twice, to the black hole of the interwebs, I have decided to take it as a sign that somethings are best left unsaid.  BUT, I do have a couple of efforts imma make this year that I’d like to share with you fine folk:

1) text less / call more

2) relentlessly and shamlessly indulge all my wildest ideas

3) stop berating myself and apologizing for my flaws / start celebrating and highlighting my bright light!

I hope everyone has an amazing year of the horse.  I’m PUMPED…I love horses.  Posts and paintings about horses to come (neigh)…(see below).