hollow space

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Three years ago I made a photogram of a spoon. I did a post about it here. The post doesn't really have good photos, just over filtered Instagram shots, but I still like the writing:

"And I went into the darkroom (semi-begrudgingly, it's like going into a hole.) and put this plastic spoon on some photo paper, and made some photograms. Purposefully underexposed, they turned out beautiful and erie. Metallic? X-ray? Non-spoon?

Hollow space."

I've been meaning to make more photograms like that ever since. Whenever I was strapped for ideas I thought about it, I really need to get back into the darkroom and make more photograms, I thought. But I never did it.

But then, probably because I moved into a new studio and needed to at least appear as if I was making new work, I did it. Ironically only a few weeks after I left Newspace and wrote my sad darkroom essay.

So I found myself back in the hole, with the same agitation method as always, still not able to wait before one print was through the fixer to put new one in the developer. Still mesmerized by the reflection of the safelight on the trays of chemicals. Still myself.

I had been holding onto some broken cups, the last remains of a set of juice jars I found in free box on SE 28th. My dad was visiting at the time and he helped me carry them home. They're the thinnest glass, so delicate that they would break if they fell over in the sink. I had two left the first night I was in my old studio. One broke. I put it on my desk with it's little piece of glass inside. And then I was down to one. I staunchly refused to put it away and kept using it, mostly as a wine glass. Until, of course, it cracked. Now it lives at the studio too.

The other thing is just a jam jar, but the bottom broke out of it in such a way. And I like the idea of broken vessels. Something that's meant to hold things, that can't hold things. So broken. A broken purpose.

These are the artifacts I arranged on photo paper, cracked cups, and broken shards of glass. Remains of something. Non-mattering. Non-cups. Like an archive. A record.

early bird

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One of the things I'm learning about myself is that I (sadly) can no longer call myself a night owl. Sure I like to stay up watching Game of Thrones or reading a book or looking at the Instagram. But I never get any late night work done.

I used to get so much creative shit done after hours. Even if it was just thinking. Now I'm left as a puddle on the couch if it gets too late.

And so I need to transition my working habits to the morning. Starting now. I'll leave you with this image, and I'll post more about it tomorrow morning.

ink stains

Friday, December 11, 2015

The middle three fingers on my right hand are stained blue with ink from addressing our save the dates. This is what happens when novice calligraphers attempt to address envelopes. Will attach photograph tomorrow. 

sky story

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sky story from today. It's been a solid few days of rain, and today was the first day the clouds couldn't decide what to do. Captured via snapchat, which I am now attempting to bumble through using. I'm not sure this is really what it's intended for, but today was the first day I was excited about it, so maybe that's alright. Follow me at brittanyvchavez if you wish.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"I have lost the Post-its or can’t quite make out what my fragmented notes refer to. Details escape me, and sometimes it seems as if the harder I try to hold on to them, the more blurry they become.

That used to drive me crazy. Shame on me, I thought, to gather so many stories, only to let them go like water through cupped palms."

Alisha Gorder, for the NYT. Read the full piece here.

A customer dropped this article off for a coworker of mine. I snuck it out of it's envelop and photocopied it. It's been sitting on my studio desk ever since and I finally wrote out the above quote and hung it on my wall. The quote is quite out of context, you should really read this full piece of writing. But I like what it says about memory, about trying to collect stories, and trying to hold onto them. I like the rest of the article too. It made me feel very thankful for my day job and all of the lives I've been a part of in a small way, and all of the flower shop stories of my own I've collected.


Somewhat unrelated is the image, which is of some experiments for my newly instated zine club. Which I swear I will talk about in more detail later.

crazy and merry

Monday, December 7, 2015

Let me set the stage for you. I just took a bath. Came in to the room all nice and cozy, the Christmas lights are on. Got some clean sleep clothes on and coconut oil on my legs. Set my alarms. Crawled into our bed with freshly washed sheets. Grabbed my phone and this conversation transpired:

Me: Sorry, I have to post a blog.
Steele: It's okay, you can write about how I'm getting really good at Tomb Raider and shooting guys in the head. 
Me: ...
Me: That's not a nice thing to write about on my blog. 
Steele: I shot crazy bad guys in the head. 

And it was all Merry & Bright. 

things about this photograph

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thing about this photograph:

Ali on the bed
In her sweater
With it's perfect fabric wrinkles
Turning a page
Two blue squares
One big, one small
The open window
And the tiny white room
The calm warm light
On the outside
And the inside

snug life

Friday, December 4, 2015

This morning I woke up alone. Steele had left for work already. Ali had spent the night and I could hear people walking about. I'm kind of a sleepy beast in the morning, and it takes me forever to actually wake up. If I have the time, I'll spend an hour in bed after I wake up, just laying there, looking through my phone, adjusting to being alive. This morning though Ali peeked her head around my door and came and snuggled with me. And then Julia joined us, and tried to get Ali and I out of bed to get bagels. We're kind of stubborn though so it took a while.

It was entirely ordinary.

I have the feeling though, that it will be the kind of morning I'll look back on with a little bit of wonder. It wasn't perfect. It's not perfect. Friendships are hard. But I know it will never really be like this again. We're in that sweet spot where we're adult enough to pay our rent but still end up laughing and squished in bed together.

Evidence of Something

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A year ago I wrote about showing a few Constellations at a Newspace Pop-up. I had already been working on the body of work for six months, but it was the first time I had hung them on the wall. I wrote that they were rough drafts. And they were. They were rough drafts for a body of prints that I call Constellations, a body of work that I titled Evidence of Something.

I really want this space to be a place to document my art. My process. They tiny things I'm working on. I love looking back on my thesis year and seeing those ideas develop. It's one of the things that I miss about daily blogging. But because I'm a linear person, I want to talk a little bit about this work before I jump ahead to the things I'm working on now. So, these are a few Constellations from Evidence of Something. This is what I showed at our show Self-Similar in July. It was an amazing culmination to the year I had spent making this work. To see this work on the wall, to see people at the opening, so many people, was so gratifying. Truly any expectations I had were blown out of the water.

If you've been around for long enough, you know that this work is a continuation of my thesis. It's really about memory. It's about constructing a narrative for our lives. About stringing things together and making sense of them. About building a story. Building a life. More on the website. (It's a little hard to see the proportions here because the background is also white, it's much easier on the website so I'd recommend clicking through there.) I also made a little zine that I gave for free at the show, and I still have a few left so if you want one send me your address and I'll mail it to you!

wax candles

It's 12:01. Technically the third of December. But Steele and I are in bed burning down the number two on our advent candles. So it's really still the second, if I can indulge myself. And I can. It's my blog after all. 

Today was a little rough. Mostly for a bunch of banalities. But a little bit for some deeper seeded feelings. And maybe a tiny bit because being a human is a little rough sometimes. 

For now this tiny paragraph of text will have to be enough. For tonight, this will have to do. 

a small account

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's 11:37 pm, December 1st, 2015.

Because posting an account of all the recent changes (small & large) in my life seems a little daunting, instead I will post an account of my day.

I woke up with Steele curled around me. Somehow drug myself out of bed, and into clothes, and downstairs. Where there were leftover pancakes waiting. Steele and I left the house, and backed out of the driveway, and drove in opposite directions. (In a very suburban feeling way.) There was a crash on the highway, and it made me about ten minutes late to work. But then I was there, at work, just for a short shift today. I left at 2, and I did some somewhat successful Christmas shopping. And then I came home, and Steele and I left the house together to go to my studio, where we made the Save the Dates for our wedding. After that, we came back and made dinner, and decorated our tiny bedroom Christmas tree. Did the dishes. Steele left for fustal. I heated up a cup of apple cider, and put on a movie. And now we're here. It sounds a little boring, all written up like that. These are the boring things that make up a day.

But it was a good day. There was the pre-dawn light, and the sun rising in the morning. There were flowers. There was a moment in my studio making the Save the Dates, one of those moments in all of this wedding planning where I feel a little spark of wonder, still, that it's happening. And of course there was the Christmas tree, and the Christmas socks, and the Christmas lights.


Monday, October 19, 2015

I haven't been making images. I've been petering away in my studio once a week making little books, writing tiny stories and drawing tiny drawings. Gluing pencil shavings to scrap paper. I feel a little lost, a little anxious. I feel a little bit like I've lost myself, and when I feel like this it erases all the moments that I felt so solid and certain. When I feel like this it expands inside myself like a bubble I can't pop, and it takes over every crevice. It's not a bubble. It's a weight.

I don't feel like an artist. I don't feel like anything.

But I know there's something there, there always is. I just have to peel the petals back and I'll find it. I'll find it. Something.

For now I'm going to have to choose to pick up my camera like a dead weight and lift it to my eyes. Light. Magic.

It'll get lighter.

darkroom girl

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tonight is my last shift at Newspace.

It’s not really a big thing, in theory. But tonight I was mixing a hypoclear wash for someone, and it struck me that this is a part of my identity. Not Newspace—but analog photography. That old friend, the darkroom. It’s like this thread that strings through everything and connects me back to my fourteen year old self. And even though I haven’t been regularly using one since I was in school (minus my yearly roll of black and white 220) I’ve always been around one.

I had this moment tonight where I thought about that—how I’m the girl who learned darkroom photography and knows how to mix the chemicals and has an agitation method and can develop a roll of film without reading the instructions. I’m no darkroom expert. I mean, you guys, I never even do anything fancy. No dodging. No burning. No multiple filter printing. And I fucking hate the zone system. But I know how to change an enlarger lens. I can tell when water is 68° by feel. I can navigate the darkroom before the safe light kicks on. I was trained to do a hypo bath and an hour long wash. And I’ll never fall out of love with that smooth, velvet black.

Now, I will be a girl who once used a darkroom. Maybe I’ll still come by to develop that roll of 220. I’ll reminisce about the smell of fixer on my hands. I’ll fall into that same agitation method.

It doesn’t really matter that I won’t be pouring chemistry back into those brown bottles once a week. It doesn’t, but it does. It’s like cutting that last tiny hair of a thread that connects me to that girl. And maybe she was a ghost anyways, just a pale shadow of someone I used to be. Now she’ll just vanish entirely and I’ll go on. Still an analog photographer. Just not one who uses a darkroom.

In tribute, here are some images from that most recent annual roll of 220.

recording time

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sometimes I look down at my watch and it seems like it takes so long for the second hand to tick that I worry my watch is broken. It's like a tiny eternity happens in that second, but then, it actually is just a second, so actually nothing happens.

So then I just go about my day and my watch ticks along, one second at a time, and time doesn't stop, and never will, for anyone, anywhere.

(But oh I wish it would. I wish I could pluck that second hand from my watch face and freeze it and hold onto it like an insect wing until I was ready to start the counting process again.

I would put it in a teeny bottle and it would rattle around inside, and it would live on my shelf and no one would bother it, no one would see it, they would all be frozen and I would be the only person walking in a sea of ghosts.

When I put the second hand back my watch would be so happy, because watches are made for counting time. They don't know anything else and they feel quite useless without that laborious task of recording when each second has passed, each minute, each hour.)

rain, and rain, and rain

Friday, September 25, 2015

You guys, yesterday I drove to work with my air conditioner blaring and my sunglasses on. I thought leggings under my skirt might have been a bad idea. This morning I woke up to a cloudy sky and as I was getting ready to leave the house it started raining. I put on a sweater. And a scarf. And a jacket.

As sad as I am to lose the evening light, this rain and this weather feels so wonderful. It's been a crazy summer and I'm ready to huddle inside and drink apple cider, and tea, and coffee, and bake things again. And soup! Soup! I'm ready for the introspection the fall months bring, and for Steele's birthday, and Thanksgiving, and our anniversary, and Christmas most of all. There's lots to look forward to in the coming months.

So anyways, the above two images were shot with the good old Mamiya. Which I keep saying I might sell, but then I get negatives back like this and I can't imagine giving it up. Look at them! they're amazing. So velvety. These were shot a million years ago. Or, last January. I seem to be getting into this habit of shooting one roll of 220 for an entire season and then time traveling once I finally develop it.

Film is still just pure magic. As is this rain.

every single beautiful thing

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I never got around to sharing the images from my birthday weekend. Because I'm a completely ridiculous person, I made myself a birthday to-do list. The last item was "photograph every single beautiful thing" which, of course, is an impossible task. But here is my attempt.

to be continued

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I didn't go to the gym today. I woke up, and made a list of things to do. Going to the gym was on there. And then it was 4 o'clock and I had to decide if I was going to do it. I had also written post a blog on there. And I hadn't done that either.

You guys, on paper my life is going pretty great right now. But I'm still really struggling with being the person I want to be. There are so many good moments, but there are also a lot of things I want to do and want to be better at that I'm completely failing at. One of which is blogging. One of which is going to the gym.

It all comes down to me. I'm the only one who can do these things. I'm the only one who can will myself off the couch, into the car, to go to the gym. I'm the only one who can put my fingers to the keyboard and start writing. I'm the only one who can pick up the camera, who can open a new book, who can enter things into my budget. I know all of this and yet sometimes it's like my body doesn't want to listen to my mind. My body says "No. You will do nothing." But of course, that's not entirely healthy all the time. I do want to make these things priorities.

So I didn't go to the gym today. I also didn't go to the pet store. But I am sitting here, writing this, I am trying. I am trying to face myself most of all.

Here we are. September 15, 2015.

at the old cafe

Friday, August 14, 2015

Today I drove out south of the city for a meeting about a potential wedding venue. I drove back a different way, avoiding the clogged highways. I ended up on Barbur Blvd, a street I used to catch the bus on when I lived on Grover St.

Now I'm sitting at this tiny little cafe, Ross Island Grocery, which was the first coffee place that ever felt like mine, back when I could walk here in the mornings from my first apartment.

As I was driving today behind a bus, I remembered this bus driver who drove the 20 up Burnside, the 7:20 am bus that I always took to be early to class. He was the nicest bus driver in the entire world, seriously, he was so nice that even when I felt like sleeping in and catching the 7:45 bus, I drug myself out of bed because I knew it would cheer up my whole day to get on his bus. One time I wrote him a note saying as much, and he told me that it almost made him want to stay on that route but he had to leave to spend more time with his family.

I hadn't thought about that in a long time, and it made me realize how many tiny stories I'm not ever going to remember. There are so many little moments like that that make up who I am, but they're all buried so deep that it's hard to dig them out. Eventually they'll just be buried there and I won't be trying to dig them out, and I'll just be building my identity on the hard earth of forgotten stories.

life will be full, now

Monday, August 3, 2015

I guess I thought that when I got older I would stop feeling like I was growing out of my own skin. That I would feel like I was just growing into myself. But here I am again, 24, and I'm sitting in the wreckage of my apartment and shedding my shell, and trying to process all the changes.

They are big changes, big events, good things, and hard things. It's all real here, there's no more make believe, I'll never be carrying that briefcase at 24 like I thought I would when I was a teenager. I don't have it all together.

I actually feel like my life is growing too fast for me to even come to terms with. Things are good. I'm getting married, and we're moving (hence the wreck of an apartment) and we put on a very successful show, and I am totally surrounded by people who are so so good to me. I have a space to make work, I have a job I enjoy (though I come home with dirt under my fingernails and sans briefcase.) I go to sleep every night with Steele wrapped around me. But still I hover, suspended in time, and try to comprehend all of these things. I still hesitate with my fingers above the keys trying to find the words for them—how do I put such joy into words? But even more than that—how do I let myself fully take hold of this life.

Let me explain—I am so used to laying in bed and dreaming and looking into mirrors and trying to tell myself what to see, and writing and writing, and photographing myself again and again, all just to believe I'm a part of my own life. All to write my own story. And now I'm here, and the past few months have been so full and chaotic and just so much like a river running toward the sea. I began to feel like I was just along for the ride in my own life.

I don't know if I want to feel like that. But more so—I don't know how not to. We keep our heads above water and we steal all of the quiet moments we can, but I just don't have those days to lay around aimlessly, and I never will again. Life will be full, now.

It's funny, during that period of aimlessness and so much contemplation, I was trying to build a full life. That's what I wanted. Now I have it. And I'm so lucky, so very lucky that it also feels weak to admit that I'm still adjusting, still figuring out what the endless expanse of my life stretched out in front of me will be like. And always grieving the past, because I'm a creature rooted in past. But there are no things to be sorrowful now, and I only have to learn to hold my life in my hand and be happy for the weight.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

This upcoming Friday is the opening for Self-Similar, the group show I mentioned in my last life update post.

240 N. Broadway St.
Friday July 24th 6-10 pm (<--This will be the fun night.)
Saturday July 25 & Sunday July 26 12-4 pm

I'll be showing the work I've been making for the past year, the body of Constellations. I've titled it (the body of work as a whole) Evidence of Something. Developing a body of work outside of school has been one of the biggest challenges post graduation, and it's also been the most rewarding. I'm working on a statement for Self-Similar, and one of the lines reads, "We make art because we can’t not make it. We’ve pushed forward because we don’t know any other way." And that's definitely true for me. There have been many times I've wanted to just give up on this work. A lot of nights and mornings and afternoons at my desk where I was thinking it was all a waste, that it was stupid, that it didn't matter. But I kept making it because I didn't know what else to do with myself. This is who I am. I kept at it because I wanted to, for the simple joy of arranging images that were burned into my memory, or images that were forgotten and found again. And for the hours spent in the print lab watching images come into the world. But mostly because, this is the only road in front of me.

For the past few months I’ve been meeting with a group of artists (who happen to be my good friends) for monthly critiques. The dialogue at these crits has been such a drive to continue making art. And the coming together of the five of us is the biggest reason for this show. We've planned it and put it on ourselves. No curator. No lighting person. No install team. Just us.

The show feels like a big deal. For me, it's the first time this work is going out into the world in an intentional way. That's a huge thing! It's not a fancy gallery. It's not a solo show. Likely the people who will be there will know and love us. But, still, it's a show. People will look at the work and talk about it. These pieces will be on the wall. For a weekend, they'll have that validation. They'll become bigger than me, this tiny white box, my thoughts rung around my head. In short, they'll be real.

If you're in Portland, you silent blog readers, please come. There will be wine, and there will be music, and there will be so much art that needs eyes to look at it.

my left hand

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You guys, I was shifting through the archives the other day and I realized how many images I have of my left hand. It's pretty obvious why, my right hand is always holding the camera, duh ;) Hand photos aren't really a big deal, but my left hand has taken on a little bit more emotional weight since Steele slid my ring onto my left ring finger. So when I noticed this unintentional collection of images it made me just a little bit nostalgic. I think the way time folds in on itself will always baffle me. These photos were just tiny moments, and now I can look back on them and see them as a path that led me here.