Monday, April 07, 2014

Fantastic Fibers
Just Around the Corner

Fantastic Fibers opened this last Saturday night at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, KY.  It will run until May 24, 2014.  I am so honored to have my work selected for this venue.  It is a first for me, and from the few pictures posted, it looks pretty awesome!

Seems like a lot of my work is getting to be seen lately.  It is only natural as the inspiration flows through me, to continue the flow.  I would hate for my work to be permanently stored in a closet and hope that each piece will get it's time to connect with others.   I fully appreciate each and every venue that works towards that end, to share art with the people who are open to seeing it.  Kudos!

Meanwhile as life throws me a few curve balls and detours, I look forward to returning to the studio at some point.  Until then, one day at a time!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Opening Today!
Seeking: A White Mitten in a Blizzard
36" x 22"
Radical Elements
Our physical world is created out of the chemical elements, from hydrogen to platinum to arsenic. For this exhibit, each of the selected artists will create a new work that is influenced by an element from the periodic table. Inspirations can come from anything relating to that element, whether it is a play on the name, its color or the products made from it. Both representational and abstract works are welcomed.

As the second part of the Radical Elements theme, the artists will also be asked to move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials. This exhibit is the first to embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt and will be a signature exhibition for SAQA.

Curator: Jill Rumoshosky Werner
Travel Venues:
1.Cafritz Foundation Arts Center
Montgomery College - Takoma Park
Silver Springs, Maryland
April 3 - May 9, 2014

My work was influenced by the element Technitium, specifically the isotope Te-99m. It has a very short half-life (6 hours) and has stable decay products. It is uniquely well suited for it's role as a medical tracer. Mammograms do not detect cancer in patients with high density breast tissue. This is because both the tumor and the high density breast tissue appear white on a mammogram. It is compared to finding a “white mitten in a blizzard”. Molecular Breast Imaging uses Te-99m to definitively image breast cancer.

Before flipping the light switch, try guessing which nipples have cancer (LED bulbs behind them). Then flip the switch! The electricity goes straight to the bulbs in the same way that the Te goes straight to the tumors and makes them visible with the MBI. The lights will go off after 30 seconds.

I love the symbolism of the materials as they relate literally and metaphorically to breasts: nipples, white plastic milk cartons, and LED bulbs. The circuitry to make this piece light up was yet another layer, all held together on a black screen with embroidery thread. The bra hooks were donated by people affected by breast cancer, either personally or someone they loved. They represent the “catch” in the new technology, that each image provides the equivalent energy as 500 chest x-rays. Not ideal!

And, a catalog is available of the entire exhibit.  It was sent to me about a month ago.  I have read every page and re-read it.  It is FASCINATING!  I LOVE all the work in this exhibit.  A feast for the eyes and the brain.
And the works are listed by order of the elements in the periodic table.  Mine is number 43, and so for once, as a "York", I am not the last page, or the next to last page.  Hurray for the small things too!

Hope you get a chance to see this exhibit!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Art Quilt Elements 2014

I am honored to have my quilt, High Rise, selected for this prestigious exhibit at the Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania!  The opening was last night, and the exhibit runs from March 21 to May 3, 2013.  The award winners have been posted to the website now and I was hoping there would be photos, but no.  Or perhaps, not yet?  It looks like a wonderful lineup of fabulous art!

They also have a postcard sale as a fundraiser.  I sent these two.  Hope they sold!

Makes me kind of want to go back and fill in the big quilt with tons of little people dolls!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Earth Stories, Part Five

One last counting story.  I decided to count the attic.  I had boxes and boxes of teaching curriculum stored up there, along with a number of other things... But, I didn't get to it until summer.  And the summers in Texas are really hot, and even hotter in the attic.  The heat was so intense, I was only able to count for about 10 minutes before I had to escape to air conditioning.  And then it took hours to recover from it.  I drank water while I was there, but it didn't help much.  So, I am sure that my number is artificially low. For example, instead of counting all the papers, I counted how many files of papers.  A lot of unused items came out of the attic and on to recycling, or donation.  I am pretty sure the heat is destroying most of what is up there anyway.  In retrospect, I wish I had done the attic first, in the cooler months.

On to making the quilt. I was planning to make a floor plan of my house, and then use tally marks to represent the number of objects.  It would be fun to color code, either by location or type of object.  I also thought it would be really interesting to see how many objects were made from non-renewable resources vs. renewable resources, but I didn't collect that information during the count.  Then as I thought about what the quilt would look like, if it were me, I would be super curious about what all those tally marks would actually represent.  That's when I decided to tell my viewers what was in my house.  That's when the project went to a mostly text image.  It was also an incredibly uncomfortable experience to share that information, which is partly the reason I decided to push my comfort levels and just do it.

We were required to make two quilts.  One was 72" x 72".  The other was 12" x 14" in a vertical format.  I started on the big one first. I pieced together two pieces of white fabric to make the correct size, and then drew lines lightly with pencil every 1" across the entire surface:
I also made a very small sample.  I used it to test different pens for writing on fabric and different paints and inks.  I found a pen that both worked well and did not run or fade with water.  I also tried a number of writing styles and decided on the scale of my work.  I measured how many letters I wrote on average just to get an idea of how many words I would be writing.
Here's a photo of a section of the large piece hanging on my design wall.  It shows the beginnings, with just the lines.
Then I made a long list of words on my computer.  I listed things from memory for each room and then when back later and added in words for things that I didn't remember.  In this way I came up with a list long enough to fill the space on the quilt (and slightly more).  I ironed freezer paper to the back and taped it to a table and started drawing the letters.
I wanted my words to all run together, like all the objects in the house.  But, I also wanted to be able to read them easily.  So, I decided to paint the first letter of every word with red fabric paint.  I thought it added a nice touch of symbolism, as in 'red ink', to refer to the financial implications of buying so much stuff...
Then I found an old blueprint of my house, and enlarged it by a factor of 4.  I drew in lines behind the words and filled in with blue paint.
Next, I added in giant block numbers at the bottom, the total number for the count....which I will not reveal yet.  After the show opens at the first venue, I will be able to post full sized photos of my piece, so we shall have to wait for that!

Then, to finish up, I quilted it.  I quilted in straight lines on top of the pencil lines I had drawn previously.  Then I used a simple white facing to finish the edges, a hanging tube and a label on the back.  All done!

For the smaller quilt I used the same technique, but a slightly different concept.  I worked with my original inspiration of Manufactured Demand, from the Story of Stuff.  I focused on the issue of bottled water.  It is an incredible tale of needless waste (no judgment here! ha!).  You can see the video here. And, I am pleased to say that the city of San Francisco has passed a law to ban the sale of bottled water.  Yay for small steps!  For the quilt, I listed lots of water brands, and then put a message behind the words, and added a small embellishment.  For now, here's a close up of the small quilt..

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope that I have not needlessly bored you will my tales of counting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Earth Stories, Part Four

The exhibit catalog/book came in the mail yesterday.  The photos and stories are so inspiring!  I feel so honored to be a part of this amazing project!
Earth Stories, cover by Marion Coleman

Our first venue is: Michigan State University Museum, Lansing, Michigan.  
Dates are: May 11- November 30, 2014.

It reminds me that I still need to finish my blog about my project.  Not only was the project difficult to do, especially the counting, it is also hard to write about.

Journal entry from 28 April, 2013
"The tedious nature of this task grows ever more so.  I find myself resisting the count, guilty of my over consumerism.  Perhaps if I avoid it, it won't be real?  Yesterday, I find my focus and method of counting changing significantly.  I have shifted from 'what' to 'where'.  I count objects in a drawer instead of organizing the objects by type and counting.  It is easier and faster."

Journal entry from May, 2013
"The counting is a big time suck.  However, not that bad as I thought it would be.  Definitely an emotional voyage, one that I was not prepared for.  It takes me back to the better days when the kids played with toys and created things-clever things that I could see.  And that time is gone now, and I am left with piles of useless toys.  Memories of the past feel exaggerated, both positive and negative."

I am curious as the count grows.  Would it be interesting to count or list the things that I actually use on a daily basis? (because none of the stuff below would make it...)
Counting the garage:

Counting the garage is much like counting my daughter's room.  It is hard to jump in to the piles of stuff and chaos.  I leave a wake of cleanliness and order behind me as the garbage and recycling bins fill.  It also creates a pile of donated items, better to give stuff away while it can still be useful to someone.
Counting LEGO's.  Yes, I counted the individual pieces.
Where have the days gone when LEGO was about building bricks?  Now LEGO is about LOTS of very specialized shaped pieces, that the toy cannot be built without, and 80 pages of instructions ... really?
And we BUY it...sigh.

I finish the count in early June.  It gives me about 3 months to make the quilt.  Photos are due on Sept 1, 2013.
Spoiler alert.
Yes, I finished on time!  :)
Next blog post....the quilt.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Driven to Distraction
12" x 12"

I have been trying a new technique, called paper lamination.  It is so fun, and I just love how my samples are turning out!  This one is made from newspaper, lime tissue paper, white silk organza, on a white background and quilted intensively with black thread.
It will be donated to SAQA for their annual fund-raising auction.  The auction is typically in the fall, and you can see the details here:
A detail shot for you!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Earth Stories, Part Three

Excerpt from my journal....
"I have a record collection of 310 records and no system set up to play them.  It is in the closet along with the records.  And if I could, would I choose to listen to the old songs?  Apparently not because I am drawn towards the new songs on my iPod or the radio.  But still...I keep the records, memories of my previous life.  The real question is WHY is it so important to keep those old memories?  There is something inexplicitly comforting in knowing that they are there, but I can't find the logic of it.  Split between logic and heart, once again."

I can say that knowing how hard it is to get rid of Stuff, helps me accumulate less new Stuff in the present time.

Back to less thinking and more counting.  Bleah.
I finished my bedroom.  2420.  Seriously??  I am having a bit of a panic attack.  My room is not cluttered.  I have a bed, 2 side tables, and 2 chests with drawers for clothes (and apparently a lot of other stuff).  This number does not include my closet.  Sigh.  How can there be so many objects in my room?  And if this is how many objects in a relatively simple, and clean, and uncluttered room, what about the closets, and my studio, and the garage, and the kids' rooms?  I am starting to wonder if my final number will be a million?

Along my counting journey, I have run across another artist, Todd McLellan.  He has a series called "things come apart".   It is art made from an object taken apart and all the pieces laid out in a beautiful assemblage of the thing.... like this bicycle.
His art is beautiful and inspiring.  Click the link in his name and see his other works.  The chain saw is pretty cool too!  And it reaffirms my counting rules.  I do not want to count all the pieces used to make up a single object.  But some one, some where, had to make each one of these pieces to make a bicycle...

And then there is 42-year-old photographer Juan Kingzhun, who spent about 10 years, trying to drive around 33 Chinese provinces to take a pictures of a poor families with all their belongings on the background.  It is all about perspective, isn't it?  I never felt affluent before.  Even with all my stuff, I admit there are times when I worry that I won't have enough money when I need it.  I find these photos both comforting and disturbing.  How can they get by with so little? Why do I think I need so much? Although, honestly, I don't usually think about it.  I usually acquire lots of things because I am NOT thinking about it.
 Back to counting and counting and counting.  It takes days, weeks, and months.  There is something disturbing about that too.  

Thanks for stopping by.  At some point, there really will be an art quilt that springs from all this misery.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Earth Stories, Part Two
A Performance Piece?

Last year as I started the counting process, I actually thought I would finish counting during the Christmas holidays.  Didn't happen.  I did start however.  See Part One here.

And, with the amount of work involved in counting all the stuff, I slowly began to realize that there was going to be a lot more time and energy involved in gathering information for this piece than actually making the piece, and significantly so.  Does this qualify as a performance piece?  Well, maybe if you could see the performance?  And, no, I didn't take any videos.  It wasn't pretty.  In fact it was messy.
a glimpse into a dresser drawer in my bedroom
First, I had to decide HOW to count all the stuff.  It would have been easy to have a team come in, and go through each room at the same time and count it all.  I have participated in inventory counts when I was young; this is how it is done.  Close the store, all the employees come in, and we count and write down the numbers.  But we were living in our "store".  And the kids move things from one room to another...all the time.  And the "count" is constantly changing, as we use things up, throw them away, and buy more stuff, and buy more stuff.  It is complicated to just think about it.

So, I set about to make some helpful counting strategies, and I accepted that my count would never be accurate or even possibly valid.  It's because of the flow.  The flow of objects coming in and out would make it impossible to know at any given time exactly how many objects I had.  Unless I hired that massive team of robots, which I didn't not have funding for....  I would have to accept that my NUMBER would be, or could be, close to the truth, but never perfect.

This was also a liberating thought, because it means that I can make some helpful guidelines or rules for the counting.  And though some of my rules might seem arbitrary, and well, maybe they are, it doesn't really matter.  They needed to serve me and my purpose for doing this.  You may even disagree with my rules, which is okay for me.

First, I bought a ton of post-it notes.  I decided NOT to count the post-its.  As I counted a room, I wrote the name of the object on the post-it, and how many of them that there were.  Example:  shoes, 15.  Now you may be asking the next question (because I was too).  Do I count individual shoes? or pairs of shoes?  I decided that if things came in pairs or sets, it would count as one object.  Like earrings, there are some that have backs on them.  technically that would be 4 pieces for one pair of earrings.  I counted it as one object.  However, if the objects were missing pieces, or their other half, I counted them as one object.  So 1 sock, counts the same as 1 pair of socks.
After writing on a post-it note, I would stick it to a vertical surface in that room, typically a window or glass door, because it stuck so well there.  If I found another pair of shoes, I could put a tally mark on the previous post-it that had shoes on it.  In this way I would work across a room, and know what had counted and what had not been counted yet.

Unfortunately, this got increasingly cumbersome.  Who would of thought?  As I progressed through a room, the number of post-its was growing to a very large number.  It was hard to find the post-it that had "shoes" on it.  Or "pencils".  Apparently there are pencils in every room and every draw and under every piece of furniture in my house.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's the cats? 

Regardless, my system got slower and slower.  I even tried drawing pictures to represent the objects, thinking that searching for a visual might be quicker than searching for the abstracted word.  It didn't help.And so, even though I could leave a room at any point in my count, and at any time, I began to resist wanting to start back up again.  I made it about half way through my house with this system before I changed it, and it took me 4 months.  The last 2 months, I got much more efficient at my counting skills, and it wasn't quite as bad.

Monday, January 06, 2014

10" x 7"
My first quilt for the new year!  This little quilt was made for a SAQA exhibit called, "This is a Quilt". I love this exhibit!  All SAQA members are invited to submit a quilt in this tiny size parameters and then all the quilts are split into a number of different collections. The collections will travel around for 3 years to many different venues to teach and inform about art quilts and the various techniques and materials used.  And since the quilts will be attached to black mat boards and put in plastic sleeves, the viewer is allowed to get up close to inspect the quilts. It is a little exposure for the artist, but mostly I just like participating.
Except...I wish I had selected an easier idea to implement...  (Not the first time I have felt this way about my art!!  ha!).  I made seventy little self contained blocks for this quilt.  They were made from my stash of batiked, discharged, and overdyed stripes, as seen in several of my other 3D projects (here and here).  This time I started as if the blocks would be 3D towers, but instead of filling them, I just put a tiny layer of batting inside, and closed the backs up.  Then hand stitched them together in a grid to form the quilt.  It was an interesting process, and I love the rich colors and textures created by the way in which the blocks are sewn.  Very cool!
The back of one of the little square blocks.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reusable Grocery Bag with Birds for Christmas
I made my mom a reusable grocery bag for Christmas.  She LOVED it!  ...which makes my heart sing! Don't you just love that magic of giving a gift that someone likes and adores?  Yes, yes, yes!

It was made from my last sample of Ikea fabric, and some selections from my stash.  I also included a screen print of my blog address on the orange dot fabric.  I think it turned out well and I hope my mom will enjoy using this little bag for a long time. 

Meanwhile, now that I have the general idea of how to make these lovelies, I have ordered something that I have been coveting for quite some time.  It is Expensive, which is not my norm.  But sometimes you just have to go where your heart takes you...

I can't decide if I will make more shopping bags from whole pieces, or chop it up and mix it with some other fabrics?  hmm....