September 3, 2009

I keep this post up from 2009 because I had grown up being told I couldn’t and shouldn’t be an artist and I worked my way into becoming one after much fear toward claiming that, both in myself and outwardly. I came to art as a second career and it was not easy and I was often older than my colleagues, but I pressed on. This post and the piece it discusses below are the first show I had ever been in. I honor the person I was back then and the person I have become after years of hard work. I credit the book, The Artists’ Way, by Julia Cameron for being my support system and guide as I claimed something not easy to admit: that I am an artist and a serious one:

“writing and talking about others’ amazing pieces and work that elicit “enamouren” in me is much easier than speaking about my own work.  it’s an area that i’ve been afraid of delving into because of the sordid history of myself and art.  after years of neglecting visual arts because of family-ingrained fears, i finally embarked on creating a porftolio.  i managed to finish the standard 20-piece series.

it was exhilirating and clear that i could start going in this direction.  but fear subsisted.  now that i am working on a second and more clearly organized portfolio, i’ve battled the urge to distract myself away from the work– often delving deeply into non-related activities or research that i’d normally avoid. when your passion for something is so intense, bonding and having some kind of solid relationship with it is frightening.  as i struggle through new pieces, however, i’m using lessons that i learned from my first portfolio.  the work in the first series was well received by friends and a few mfa graduate department staff.  professors and some professional artists, however, received it poorly.  nevertheless, i have to push myself forward into this very daunting, intimidating place– often feeling very lost and not sure of what piece will come next.  i sacrificed so much to get here, that it is worth it to me to pursue this line before moving onto something else (if that ever happens).

a vision begins to emerge in my second portfolio– a narrative regarding the body, particularly female, and how it negotiates the canvas, the page, or its spatial confines in general.  i’m still developing my vision, creating pieces that relate to each other, attempting to exhaust every visual idea in order to grasp its quintessence and the necessity for creating it in the first place.

i admire those that are obsessed with their work.  that follow it through and experiment with it until their fingers, mind, eyes, and soul are sore.

while working on my portfolio, i happened to have my first exhibition at the Sound show for The Other Side Arts in Aurora, Colorado (June, 2009).  the piece, called Noodles, consists of a menu for a fictitious restaurant, Noodles Eatery, posted above plates filled with noodles.  the noodles, however, are made of tape ribbon– each plate sampling various artists such as Sade, or moments of sound from The Star Wars (Twin Pack) and Glenn Graham’s Let ‘Er Rip, pun intended.  my goal was for visitors to be able to visualize and imagine eating sound.  chopsticks accompany the plates.

Edible sound

Noodles Eatery Menu

TOSA Sound exhibit

the photograph of the menu is quite grainy. transcipt is below:

Noodles Eatery


Sade Diamond Life

w/ a side of Chant (The Benedictine Monks of Santo

Domingo de Silos)


Star Wars (Twin Pack)



Glenn Graham Let ‘Er Rip (Small or Large)





Artist:  Shiva Aliabadi

The Other Side Arts: Sound

Aurora, CO

June 2009″

White Sands Pilgrimage

September 16, 2008

There is something about the concept and experience of pilgrimage that has drawn many spiritual and religoius traditions to it. They’ve become points-of-center (if you will; or even– polycentered if something can have many centers, if we play with the term) for various traditions and even personally-enacted vision quests.  Not being part of a particular religious tradition, I never thought about pilgrimage until I saw images of White Sands, New Mexico a few years ago.

The whiteness of the sand and idea of a landscape filled with such an unusual color in a desert was intriguing enough for me that I told myself I would see White Sands someday.

This past spring 2008, I finally made my way out to New Mexico.  It was a new state (and state-of-mind) for me.  I often “save the best for last,” so I saw other towns, in the north and center of the state, before heading down to White Sands.  My photo-log of the journey reflects my rising excitement.  I captured images of bushes and grasses along the highway leading into WS that hint at what will soon happen to the landscape.  There were patches of off-white sand around the grasses and I was already enamored.  It felt like those moments when you fall in love with someone before you even fully see them; you just sense a gesture of their’s or see a part of their being out of the corner of your eye and you know you will love this person.  And when you actually see them, you realize that your instincts are accurate.

When I finally drove into the myriad hills and curves, valleys, and wind-ripples of WS, I was in awe.  The whiteness was astounding.  Off-white had given into ultimate whiteness. I had strange conceptual moments as I hiked the hills– I often forgot that I was not in fact walking in snow but sand (and that it was hot out).  I took my shoes off to place myself into the landscape and become a part of it to complete my journey.  One of my favorite photographs is of my feet on the sand.

I traveled alone, making sure to follow safety tips posted at the beginning of the 3-5 hour hiking trail.  I knew that I had to work with the desert, respect her rules and nature, accept my vulnerability inside her body, and appreciate her strength and power over mine.  As a result, I fell into a cognitive task that I had never really dealt with, even in meditation.  I had to make sure that I followed the markers along the trail, always looking for the next one, keeping it in sight so that I would not get lost in the whiteness for good.  A few times, I snuck off the path to take photos of motions in her body that I couldn’t resist.  But always told myself, an inveterate day-dreamer, to stay focused.

White Sands can be likened to the Sirens or similar creatures in drawing you in and offering infinite chances in getting lost in her exquisite, soft, whiteness.  I went to her twice; once while the sun was setting and the reds, golds, and blues above her darkening white made me wonder if I should just sleep in my rental car– so that I could sleep with White Sands for the night.  I caught the moon looking on all of this and I didn’t want to leave the park.  The second trip was the next day and the main hike.

I saw a few lone travelers along the way.  We were all in our own heads and in the desert’s mind.  We passed each other quietly without really seeing or looking at each other.  Personal pilgrimages.  When I finished the hike and looked for white lizards that others have seen darting here and there, I didn’t feel accomplishment.  This wasn’t an agenda, something on my “to do” list.  I felt like She had become a part of me and I of Her and I was becoming more complete, more myself along my overall life journey.

Leaving Her was very difficult.  If I could become a grain of sand in Her immensity, I would.  If you ever go to White Sands: stand where there are no other people around.  Hold your breath and hear the most intense, loud silence.  Get the sense of how the world sounds like without us; how it can still do its music and motions without humans.  How it is playing while we’re chattering and roaring our way over everything.

Your own breath is so loud, that you can miss hearing Her.

Intention of Pulse Stream

September 7, 2008

Through Pulse Stream, Shiva Aliabadi discusses culturally-significant incidents and moments, often in the arts, and interviews culture makers who should be noted for their contributions to the creative landscape. Aliabadi spotlights unusual or standout moments that encourage readers/viewers/”experiencers” to rethink and re-view forms of communication and presence. A visual artist herself, Aliabadi endeavors to capture the quintessences of our creative times.