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Sunday, February 21, 2010

State of Gracie

Another self-centred post, but read on, this one needs your assistance...
Kris Schomaker is a painter and mixed media artist, with a BA in Art History, currently working on her MA in Studio Art at California State University Northridge. She is 'also' the sassy, bohemian chic, girl-about-town Gracie Kendal, and therein lies our tale... where does one reality leave off and make room for the other? Or are these parallel existences, so deeply intertwined as to be bleeding into one another, part of a single circulatory system of heart and mind? This evening in a live voice event, at Mandel's Brat's n Brews over on sim Artropolis, Kris/Gracie talked about The Gracie Kendal Project".
Gracie Kendal: My thesis, The Gracie Kendal Project -  A Conversation with my Avatar is a mixed-reality project/collaboration between Kris Schomaker and Gracie Kendal... who are both 'me'. I am going to spend some days swapping lives with Gracie - she will have my body shape and daily routine in SL, and I plan to turn myself into her in real life, with the same nose piercing, hair color, and clothes - and will also be going to jazz clubs and the other pastimes Gracie enjoys in SL. Through documentation, I construct a narrative of self that represents me and is me, one that helps to deconstruct ideas of normalcy and authenticity. My narrative questions identity.  Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What do I really want? Am I happy?
This performance is an act of mirrored mimesis: Kris/Gracie is interested in showing the ways our avatars operate on us, and how we shape each other. In many ways, it's as if Gracie saved Kris from herself, relieving much of the shyness and anxiety she had experienced in her life, making her a braver person. Rather than providing a way to hide, she sees her alter-ego as a means to come out from behind the walls of the mind and show her 'true' colours, sampling, reacting, asserting herself in ways she would never have done before. It is an idea that is certainly not unique to this artist - there are many Residents who feel the same way, being afraid to share their RL identities. The art of Gracie/Kris is a double take that looks beyond this sensation and questions its roots - at what the avatar does for us, and the way it makes us reconsider the things that maybe hold us back in RL, like negative body image, or a sense of powerlessness, crushing forces of nature from which Second Life can release us. For her degree, she'll be documenting the performance both in worlds, - she's not called 'Sho[w]maker' for nothin'! -  so we will be able to see her transformation and share the adventure.
How can you help? If you'd like to help pay the bills for this transperformance, you can contribute by contacting Kris in the real world and either giving a cash donation or buying a piece of her physical artwork. Or you can share the Linden Love with Gracie, by buying her art inworld. This triptych, Awareness Understanding Acceptance, is one of my fave pieces by Gracie, note the quality of the texture, the canvas comes to life. Oh btw you do know that if you click on the pictures they get bigger, right? Just thought I'd say. You can find these and much more art at her studio or many other venues across the grid hosting exhibitions, like the lovely Vertex Gallery owned by Zeno Ochs.
Gracie Kendal: My first major show was in Dec 2006 at Enigmatic Art Gallery run by Whispers Nightfire just 2 months after I started SL. It was an amazing experience. They were very professional, handling everything from the opening reception which was attended by over 200 people and the publicity through the Art Groups, magazines, blogs, and 90 posters they hung all over the grid. Everything I learned from them that has stayed with me to this day. The opening reception was very thrilling, scary and overwhelming at the same time. I was so nervous, but it was a huge success, and jump-started my  involvement with the art community in Second Life. I was originally drawn to SL through my RL aunt and uncle. They read about it in Spin Magazine and told me it would be the perfect place to bring my art. So I joined. Within the first day I had my skin and shape, which I have barely changed, plus loads of clothes and hair.The first week, I had a condo and I was renting a little shop which I set up as an art gallery. There is so much that draws me into SL; friends, the art community, the music scene. It also provides ad escape from the suffocating effect of RL. I have grown so much from my experiences here. 
Money, social connections, creativity, have been cited as the three reasons for people staying around in SL. Apart from her killer condo, shown here full of fabulous art, I wondered what kept her coming back.
Gracie Kendal: Hahaha, well it’s definitely not money. I’m not here to make money on my art. I am just happy to be able to share it with the world. I love the collaboration that goes on in SL. You can work on art with people from all over the world, anytime of day. You can go to lectures, art talks, receptions all the time. It’s so exciting to be able to be immersed in such an imaginative and creative atmosphere. The social connects and creativity absolutely keep me here. I talk to my friends in SL more than my RL family! and the art in SL almost speaks for itself, especially the charity aspect of it. I love that part of SL. People are so generous with their time and support, its amazing to watch how that is used to help others who are in need around the world.
Gracie's had lots of success in SL, and she shared some advice for artists just beginning to work in SL.
Gracie Kendal: Network, network, network! Just like in RL, you have to show up to events and meet people. It’s all about the connections and who you know. Of course, the art has to speak for itself too. I have seen a lot of people who dream of being artists, and try to “roleplay” that in SL. It’s not the same. You can spot the talent a mile away. Be organized. (I know that is asking a lot of artists..LOL!) But honestly - be professional, and have high quality images of your work in SL, if its 2D. Originality counts for a lot too. There was a great article in Role Magazine a couple months ago that talked about kitsch in SL. You see it all the time. the same ole scripted colored prims on black, it’s so unoriginal: it’s been done. It’s so - dare I say - Thomas Kinkade!
Thomas Kinkade is a registered trademark. Hehehe.
We got to the usual question, I know you already know it, but here it is in full: Artsparks encourages the celebration of RL artists, musicians, writers, lyrical places, and so on, by making visitable spaces in SL that inform and explain their life and works. It's a means by which we can, through our own creativity and ingenuity and in ways not possible in real life, share our personal idols with other residents so we are all enriched. If Gracie were going to pick a writer, painter, sculptor or musician in RL and build a sim or even a small corner of a sim in tribute to him or her, who would she pick and why?
Gracie Kendal: I have so many people that inspire me in that way. I have always loved “Alice in Wonderland.” I know SL is much like taking a ride down the rabbit hole and that has been used many times before, but it’s so true. The imagination and dreamlike state, The decisions we have to make on a daily basis. Eat this or that, chose this path or that... etc. An artist whose artwork I really love, is Gajin Fujita. He appropriates images from different cultures: Japanese Ukiyo-E and Samurai from his childhood, Gold leafing from Japanese screens, Graffiti from his life in the barrio in East L.A., Virgin of Guadalupe and other elements from his life in L.A. I think it’s amazing how he fuses these different cultures. Much like SL. I think it would be magical to see these brought to life in SL.

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