Sunday, May 16, 2010

True Colors - Nina Bagley

Nina Bagley

it is a beautiful spring day, one in a series of beautiful days, and i woke up this morning feeling that it was time to sit and write about my True Colors experience. truth be told, i wasn't able to keep up with the regime all the way to the very end, as others did; yet, the group stalwartly and kindly continued to send my big ol' journal of Metallics (dubbed by Lynne as Heavy Metal, it is ENORMOUS...what was i thinking?!) around until everyone had done a page or two in it.

my format was unusual: at the time, i was quite taken with the notion of black pages, and found a huge old antique relic of a book on ebay that was originally something in which to tuck one's postcard collection. back in those times, 100 years ago, folks sent lots of mail to one another - postcards were a quick and visual way to stay in touch, and this behemoth had little corner slits in various places on each big, black page. the cover is embossed, heavy to be sure - black - and i set about attaching a lot of metal trims to both front and back. why metal? i'm a jewelry designer, have worked extensively in mixed media, and felt that the dimensions and tones of metal would be in keeping with the rest of my work.

back in the mid 1990's, when i was still attending the new york wholesale gift shows, a fellow jeweler friend took me down to a wonderful little shop in soho that specialized in metal trim - enormous rolls of it, like the sort you used to find on lampshades and such. i found a lovely length of silver toned trim with a pointed, crown-like design, and attached strips of it all around the front in a sort of "frame". i then glued a grid of round glass and metal tin lids with little findings behind them. finally, i hammered the words "True Colors" and the year - 2001 (that long ago?!) into two strips of brass, and wired those to the front.

i just got out the measuring tape and am amazed at how big this book actually is, that i was so stupid as to think it would be convenient for the entire group to mail back and forth across this great big country: 10" x 15", with a spine six inches thick!!! but everyone was a true trooper, and the results are incredible.

what i love about this collaboration most of all, in retrospect, is that it formed a bond amongst the 15 artists that is still there today; our "leader", lynne perrella, still sends out group letters to us all that will trigger responses from quite a few of us in return. we talk of art, and food, and books, and museum visits, we remember childhood stories, childhood dreams. even today lynne sent out a letter talking about housecleaning, purging, airing things for spring and how good all of that feels.

i'm not the best at joining clubs, at deadlines, at rules or guidelines, anything like that; i never have been. consider me a good example of the proverbial wallflower. but this project, along with another i did with 24 fellow artists about self portraits that teesha moore organized, is something in which i'll always be honored and grateful to have been included. the artwork is phenomenal; there are pages that i'd love to cut out and hang on the wall, but i don't dare ruin the collective format within those heavy pages.

it feels a little like everything we did is now sacred, if that makes sense - the time spent on those varied journals was intense and inspiring, and very much treasured by all who were involved. obviously, its format, its concept, spoke to a lot of people when the book came out, and it was fun to see how different collaborations sprang off of that notion of working with one specific color scheme.

lynne is one amazing woman (we took to calling her The Prism, for her sage wisdom and guidance of our many colored ways); she has wisely guided and helped many of us throughout the years, urged us to go beyond our safety zone, made me sit back and think what i could do to express myself in a format that would be shared by many. the work i did - the detail, the emotion - is something that amazes me still.

it was fun getting out the Behemoth just now (heaving it off the shelf is no easy feat!), dusting off the cover and all those little round lenses of glass to see what was held inside. i wish i could have each and every one of you pick it up, feel its weight, turn the pages and watch the sunlight glimmer on the different metal details held there on its pages. Fellow True Colors participants, i send my humblest gratitude out to you all over again, along with a great big hug.

xo nina bagley


alicia said...

what a beautiful story and post! i wish i could pick it up too, and turn its pages and see all the magical beauty it contains.

ArtPropelled said...

Now I really feel the itch to page through Nina's book.

Healing Woman said...

Nina's beautifully written article did not surprise me. I see perfection in just about everything she submits for publication and this was no exception. I am always able to recognize Nina's work immediately when glancing through magazines. She stands out above all others and she was my favorite participant in True Colors. I love the paper doll type figures she created in many of her pages. Her book is definitely a treasure. I think I'd have it sitting on a coffee table somewhere, just so I could admire it on a daily basis!
Thanks Seth for posting.

Leslie said...

How nice to hear Nina's recollection of her participation in this project. Her 'Bohemoth' truly is magnificent, and I wish I could hold it in my hands and turn its pages. Instead, I'll pull out my copy of True Colors.

Thanks Seth!

jill Zaheer said...

What a wonderful story from Nina. Metallics- I love to hear the stories of how the colors were selected. Just learned from Lisa H that each person picked their own and as Nina indicated that she is a jeweler, i can see how she selected this "color". Can't imagine any book with a 6" spine. That sounds like the widest book I've ever heard of. The black background pages sound incredible- and just love the pictures. Again, the friendships formed throughout this process keeps resonating as one of the strongest forces weaved within each artists' work! Thanks Seth for one more inside story of "True Colors" and the wonderful details and reflections provided by Nina!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful and honest story from Nina.
I love everything about huge and odd shaped books that seem to much for most people to work on. It's like a mountain to climb and when it's finished people just sit in aw.
I would love to touch her book and feel and see each page mmmmmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful post in this True Colors series. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this, Seth!
Because we have so many overseas players, the collaborative groups I'm in have some size/weight guidelines, which is understandable. However, if the original TC group had such restrictions, look what would have been disallowed!

Kim Palmer said...

There's always something about Nina's writing that jumps off the page for me, always it screams of coming from the heart. I have really enjoyed this series Seth but especially so this piece. I'd love to see this book in particular of course, as I would love to see all of them first hand. Thanks Seth for a fabulous insight into a very special collaboration.

rivergardenstudio said...

This is a beautiful story of an artist that I really admire too, Seth, all these posts about "true colors" are wonderful, in fact I ordered the book from amazon and go right to each artist's pages as you post each of their stories.
The book is amazing! Thanks for helping me discover it. roxanne

iHanna said...

beautifully written, your description makes me pictuere it in my mind - thick with love.

Belinda said...

I just found your blog. Your altered book is amazing here. The metal bits and everything are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

stop repossession said...

Nice post the story was awesome... love it!!!