right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

traveling — locally

July 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm

explore_04

While sitting outside on the bridge and working on the drawing for the Manchester St. Power Station image (actual print on paper on slight pause right now, totebags are in production and I think I’ll be seeing them soon?) I became aware that every day I was drawing outside I would come home and say “drawing outside! it’s the best! I love it! I feel great!” etc.

explore_02

So, when making a big to-do list / plan with Emmy a couple of weeks ago, I made sure to put “sunny days: go draw outside” on the list. Gotta put it on the list if you wanna get to do it! And too many summers have gone by when I’ve had a strong intention to sit outside & draw, that has never turned into actually taking the time to do that…

explore_05

After getting the tote bag design done (which ended up being a lot of adobe illustrator work on minute adjustments to vector points, driving me totally crazy) I was like “get me outside now” and started doing a bunch of bike riding & exploration & looking for cool stuff & sitting down & drawing it. Also taking pictures of buildings, hand-painted or otherwise interesting signs, and other things…

explore_09

Basically I feel like I am “traveling” in my own city. Not “traveling” like “on vacation”, but “traveling” as in letting your open-eyed-ness become acute, seeing things for the first time as you do when you are in a new place… being an alert observer of what is around you, looking for the patterns and noticing the ordinary. It’s pretty great to be able to open my eyes really intentionally to the place where I have lived for 14 years.

explore_08

Also I’m pushing myself to explore further & go places I haven’t been before, see things that I have never seen, that are hiding just around the corner from me in Cumberland or East Prov or Cranston or West Warwick… Bike is obviously the best vehicle for this kind of exploration…

explore_01

So there are no drawings in this post cause I haven’t scanned them yet! and partially because they are a little ‘fragile’, not physically but in my understanding of them, they’re still practice / process, not ‘product’ yet… which they maybe never have to be? or maybe what makes them interesting is because they are a record of the discovery that is taking place while they are being made… ? But I’ll put some scans up soon, promise…

explore_06

These photos are all from one day exploring in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Cumberland, and Lincoln, with the always awesome Meg Turner, who also loves bike riding and exploring, who can be recognized by her catchphrase re. abandoned buildings: “There’s always a way to get inside”. I didn’t finish my drawing yet… have to go back to the building & look at the light again…. !

explore_07


some linkssss:

Valley Falls Company (site of the first photograph). Also, the Blackstone River Valley is where all these photos are from & it’s beautiful!

Meg’s print of the Pawtucket/CF train station

The Club Juventude Lusitana in Cumberland…

Festa de São João


okay finally I got someone to take a picture of me next to this graffiti on North Main St (photo by Meg). I still have serious ambivalence about my representation in photos, so it goes… but I guess I can put this out in the world… !

explore_03

“practical tools for shifting reality” – snapshots & statement

February 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm

show_up_00

The show is up! & I am on to the next projects (and of course finishing the things that I didn’t have time to complete for the show itself!). Here is an assortment of snapshot-based documentation, plus the artist statement — written the night before the opening, but based on ideas that have been rumbling around for a couple years now, as usual.

show_up_03

show_up_02

Practical Tools for Shifting Reality
artist statement

I was a nearsighted, nerdy, artistic, attention-hungry, weird little kid: fascinated by printed objects around me, terrified of losing unique things (and pretty much everything, even trash, fell into this category), captivated by odd dreams of creating my own brand of notebooks, and compelled to learn to draw horses realistically. The horses thing kind of faded away (for the better, probably), and I long ago stopped collecting boogers & dust balls (for the better, definitely), but the rest of it remained — along with all the drawing practice I had done, and the terror of loss — as a great recipe for becoming a meticulous maker of screenprinted posters.

show_up_18

Additionally, I was a boyish kid who didn’t really understand why she couldn’t be in the Boy Scouts, have short hair like her brothers, or be called “Keith” on a regular basis. In recent years, as I realized that I didn’t actually have to be “a girl”, and became aware of the validity and realness of my gender variance, I worried that much and maybe all of my single-minded, perfectionist, intense-work-ethic art- & poster-making had been born from the combination of the attention-hungry kid with the teenage girl who didn’t identify at all with her perceptible, supposedly “girl” body. This person figured out that if they could draw the most complicated drawings, make them into neat-looking screenprints, and distribute them, that people would pay more attention to the images than to the physicality of the human behind them…

show_up_13

show_up_17

This tactic worked for almost a decade; it was a good one! But it stopped working when I realized I had the chance to figure out an embodiment and a physical presence that would potentially feel more true to myself. The fact that the posters were no longer the point of my life revealed the fact that they had been: that much of my identity and even my physical presence in the world was wrapped up in the work I had made. For a long while after that, when I was working on art, it felt like I was actively avoiding having a gendered body — a continuation, perhaps, of the avoidance/distraction/dazzle-camouflage scenario that I had been constructing for so many years.

show_up_19

show_up_04

At the same time, I knew that that was not the only purpose my work had served. As a poster-maker with my art practice founded in my community of friends, I knew that screenprinted posters & prints, distributed as limited multiples, become important objects to other humans, and carry strong associations for everybody whose lives they touch: “that was the gallery opening where my partner and I first kissed”, “that was the last show in our house before we got evicted”, “that was my favorite building before they tore it down”, “that poster was above our kitchen sink for six years, I looked at it every day…”

These printed objects hold power for creating our lives & realities, for piecing our stories together, for sharing them with each other, based on memory, imagination, delight, the irrational, the impossible, the failed & beautiful. Shared self-made graphics allow our lives to be located outside of a dominant or market-logic paradigm, through a visual language that we teach each other & make up together as we go along. I realized that I wanted to turn this power towards furthering validity for trans, queer, and gender-variant existences like mine — towards making complexity visible, and by showing what I saw of it, to create chances for further complexity in the world.

show_up_25

show_up_09

I wanted to put visual tools in the hands of others like myself, who might occasionally need a reminder that they are real, when from many sides they are told that their existences are impossible. I also wanted to get to do more of the practices that are the most engaging & interesting for me — drawing, first of all, and also printing, but not printing epic, grueling editions (which I do enough of already): “fun printing.”

So, the work brought together in the gallery here is a beginning stab at both those projects. There are lots of hand-drawn words & letterforms, which hopefully reveal my discovery & delight in the drawing of them as well as the self-imposed limits (and also delights!) of following a system, creating a graphic space that is coherent and includes weirdness, and learning deeply from drawing things seen in the world around me.

show_up_05

show_up_06

The “word prints” (the ones in white frames, two of which are in the photos below) are a group in which there are no mistakes. Each one is different; every print that gets made is part of the continuing whole, and any strange or unexpected color layer simply presents a challenge to figure out what the next layer and color on that print will be, and/or a (parallel) challenge to understand the existing combination as complete and unified.

show_up_24

show_up_23

All of this work involves interference between patterns, scales & layers, as well as colors and images overlapping by chance and by intention. Language as action, graphics as tools, words as accumulated structures. Printed things as evidence of thought, of having an idea & making it real & sharing it with the people around you, providing them yet another piece of structural existence to build their own selves with. The dissonant territory between “reading” and “looking”, between up close & from across the room, between what we can see & what we can’t see. Creating reality, creating our bodies and existences, and the world around us, through strategic and/or magical language and significant objects — as well as through improvisation, accident, making do with what is there, making it into something else, making it into what we want to see in the world…

February 1, 2013

show_up_10

show_up_11

show_up_07
[from the wall with the letterform drawings on index cards, this text says: “To wrap something in stories rather than in theory is to let words work at its strangeness rather than at its credibility. — Robin Evans, Translations From Drawing to Building” … I couldn’t resist the (un-posed) reflection of a gallery visitor reading the hanky tags near the opposite wall…]

show_up_14

[I drew & printed the bandanas — the color is ink, the white lines are negative space, Liz Novak and I hemmed them all on the sewing machine! Somewhat impulsively, in the middle of a late night, I sent some emails asking the people who had requested a specific color how they wear their hanky (or hankies), what color(s), and why… It soon became clear that those statements would be a really crucial part of the project, and that the accumulation of different colors of hankies and of written statements of visible desires, attached to these significant, coded, yet potentially infinitely varying objects, is its own project and will probably go on for a while… If you’d like to contribute thoughts about how & why you wear a hanky, please get in touch!]

show_up_01

[“…starting the revolution by publicly announcing the object of your desire, and asking in public who desires you…” this Guy Hocquenghem quote was on the wall of hankies/bandanas.]

show_up_26

show_up_22

show_up_21

show_up_08

show_up_15
[this Robert Venturi quote has been kicking around on the bulletin boards in my room for about four years… I think I’ve finally made some of the work that can properly have this text displayed alongside it, in my general realm of “thinking about bodies like thinking about buildings”, and possibly even “thinking about words like thinking about bodies”…]

show_up_27

show_up_16
[A friend bought this little print, which is a rectangle cut from a chaotic test print that I have been printing on since 2010 or earlier… the orange curlicue & blue-gray rectangles are elements of a test from when Meg Turner was printing this poster in my studio a couple of years ago!]

show_up_20
[The “our complexity is the world” print, originally made for this portfolio, serves as the textual & conceptual backbone of all the work in this show, I hope…]

[below, a shot from while I was installing… (if you haven’t, please read Mark Aguhar’s blog.) These are re-prints of the stickers that Meg Powers & other friends & I made this summer; they’ve now been Risographed by Walker Mettling (and look beautiful but the ink is smudgy, so they don’t make great stickers as such — it was experimental anyways!)… BUT look how nice & serious & real things look when they are behind a little sheet of glass!]

show_up_28

thresholding

July 2, 2012 at 3:38 am

When you feel really like things are going to come apart into pieces, not in an epic explosive way but just in the way where you are not sure if you actually exist or why you are existing or what ground you are standing on at the moment (this could be a good or bad feeling, or in between), you do what is known as thresholding.

This is where you are feeling thresholdy (the feeling loosely noted above) and you go to a place that is a threshold in some way or another, some kind of amorphous/undefined/ambiguous area, a place in transition, a place with no boundary, a place that won’t be there tomorrow. The margins, the passageway between places, the bulldozed earth. GO BY YOURSELF. And then just spend some time there and walk where you feel like within/around that place. Maybe take a camera or drawing stuff because words are generally useless on the threshold, maybe take some food if you think to grab it on your way outta the house, but usually you are leaving the house (or wherever you are) in a rush because you are feeling fucking THRESHOLDY and in your room or trying to talk to your lovely housemate or in a public sociable space is NO PLACE TO BE when you need to be THRESHOLDING.

(Does it have to be said that a car can’t take you to the threshold? Get out & walk to find it, ride your bike but get off when you get there, you need to be moving slowly & feeling your feet on the ground.)

Do that for a while, look at everything, touch things, sit down, lie down, pick up things & put them back or put them in your pocket or put them where they should be. Watch the angles & proportions of the space change as you walk through it. Do something that is scary, climb up a thing, take off your shirt in the sunlight, test the rotted floor, be alone for a little bit longer. When you are done you are done, go back to where people are, or to the coffee shop, get warm, write in your notebook.

Nothing will be solved by doing this. But you do it anyway. Thresholding isn’t supposed to offer you anything, all it can do is echo your own internal threshold but be bigger than you at the same time, hold you within it… something like that… can’t analyze it too much, it’s a threshold…

it’s that time of year again…

April 22, 2012 at 3:16 am

…past time, actually. But I’m excited to be working on the Southside Community Land Trust‘s Plant Sale poster again, the fourth one I’ve done so far!

(my past posters for SCLT: 200920102011)

Sneak preview.

letters (click for larger, in the upper-left-hand corner check out the pinpricks I used to transfer the letters from tracing paper):

more letters, all related:

laying out the drawing on the kitchen floor so I can make a vanishing point that goes *way* off the [very large] page!

The actual imagery of the poster (slightly visible in the photo above) is much more developed now, that photo is from a week or so ago…

I get super melancholic when I think about how many beautiful buildings & places & spaces have disappeared from this city since I moved here (1999).

I’ve (finally?) turned to photography as a consolation for this, and as a way to remember that things are always changing & to be okay with that. I used to really look down on carrying a camera; I was against “instant nostalgia“, against “making memories through taking pictures rather than remembering”, and all: “I can draw it better than I can take a picture, and I’ll learn more about it while I draw it!”. I still mostly believe those things… but at some point I realized that I can’t draw fast enough and ultimately just can’t draw *enough* to document all the beautiful disappearing things that I will want to have a record of in the future. So photography becomes a necessary-yet-incomplete resistance to the constant forgetting that life in a changing city consists of…

But yaknow, it’s also springtime so what better moment to bike around & take pictures of hand-designed, yet still-not-all-obsolete, signs in Providence!

snapshot jams

February 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

Peer-pressured intimidated inspired by a bunch of 17-to-22-yr-olds (& some older folks) I know who are super active & self-expressive on their tumblr blogs, I re-started mine.

I’m still mostly using it as a snapshot collection as opposed to an internet-bookmarking visual-hunting neat-stuff aggregator. You’ll see a lot of buildings, letterforms, punks, queers, cats, kitchens, light & shadows, manhole covers & other ‘street metal’, process work, and other sights seen… I think the “stuff I like” part at the bottom is going to be my collection of other people’s images…

BUT we’ll see where it goes…


this work is copyright to jean cozzens | Secret Door Projects

Creative Commons License
most of it is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
for more licensing & copyright details, check out the credit page.