Wednesday, March 31

Spontaneous Colleen

Thought I'd share some details of my fellow artists work in the Spontaneous Repetition show, starting with Colleen McCubbin Stepanic. Colleen has an MFA in painting from Tyler, and is currently teaching basic design to Temple undergrads. She's a prolific painter, and when I first met her she'd just moved into a basement studio at the Crane building. Challenged by the lack of space and the need to keep her paintings off the sometimes flooded floor, she resorted to taking some of her canvases off the stretchers. I believe this sparked a recognition of the fabricness of paintings, and their potential for sculptural qualities.Many of those paintings became a renewed resource for her current body of work. Cut up, stitched back together, they become greatly abstracted from their original existences, yet a remnant of the content remains. They're reincarnated, but have old souls. I love the hanging threads in this one above. There's such complex color as paint seeps through canvas, or canvas is painted on both sides.

The works in this exhibit have a very organic feel to them. I like how she's used painted lines over the stitched canvas to reunite the surface and bring back some of the painting/layered quality she used in her previous, flatter work. Colleen has a solo exhibit entitled "Home" opening at the Painted Bride on First Friday, where she'll be showing her more architectural pieces.

Norris Street

Tomorrow I have a critique in my surface design class on our midterm "pieces" project. It was supposed to incorporate some kind of piecing of fabrics we had manipulated, and was also supposed to be a "12 hour" project. I think the time guideline was to ensure that people made the effort, but I've gone way past 12 hours on this one. Probably double that.
It's about 8x10 inches and includes a base layer of brown linen, a middle layer of 6 dyed cotton and silk scraps leftover from our early samples, and an overlay of my sculptural shibori in silk organza. The entire pieces was kantha stitched to fuse the layers and create a brick-like texture. The brown window square is reverse applique. The organza is slashed in certain areas to let the underlying color peek through. The brown vines up top are done in coral stitch, and the river mural is done in rayon satin stitch. I only had white bias tape, so I dyed it navy to bind the edges. (It was a REALLY old package of bias- original price 5cents!) The color is really different from the original inspiration image, but that's just artistic license... that and working with what I've got. I'm happy with the texture and color complexity.

Tuesday, March 30

Spontaneous Repetition at Stratasphere

We had a really lovely opening of Spontaneous Repetition at Stratasphere on Sunday. The artists were myself, Erin Castellan, and Colleen McCubbin Stepanic. We had a good turnout, good food, and even harp music courtesy the talented Will Gillespie. Let me give you a tour:
The gallery owner put in fresh heather at the front entrance sometime during the week. The building is a former bank that has been transformed into an alternative gallery space. Since it's pretty small, the owners specialize in offering the space to small groups of 2-3 artists with cohesive curatorial proposals. It's in the Kensington section of the city, and is a small bright spot of art in the area. Bright works greet visitors in the small vestibule. A few steps up and you enter a northern-light filled, high-ceilinged front room.
We made an effort not to crowd the works and find pieces that could hold conversations. My small pieces filled in the numerous nooks and crannies.Walking past the front room, you enter a hallway/kitchenette that leads to a small back room.The hallway was perfect for this series of cityscapes, as they're best on close inspection. (I sold 2 of these!) In the back room we each had a piece to anchor each available wall. This room is southern-lit, arm and intimate. I wasn't so sure about having my one small piece on the wall at right, afraid to waste space, but the others convinced me.

The work is up through May 1st, and the gallery is open on Saturdays and Sundays 1-5 (except Easter Sunday). The address is 1854 Germantown Ave, corner of Berks and Germantown across from Cousins supermarket. I'll post more details later.

Sunday, March 28

Friday Print Madness at the Crane

Friday night I headed out to Nexus to support my friend, Michelle Wilson's zine release. Go Michelle!She couldn't have asked for a better night for the final culmination of her months-long book bombs collaboration with artist Mary Tasillo, as the entire body of participants from the Southern Graphics Conference being held in Philly this week descended on the Crane. I have never seen that building so packed! They were bussing people in!Nexus has a fantastic exhibit curated by Rebecca Gilbert, full of all my favorite Philly Print people. Above is an installation/Print/Wall drawing by Katie Baldwin. I love how her characters and spaces have jumped off the confines of the page to live on this wall. The figures are actually hovering over a diamond-filled mountain.I'm really glad I went Friday night, as I'd totally missed Marisha Simons' lit-up ladybug tree when I went last week to the opening. I also got to talk with her and found out that the piece is actually interactive. Sensors pick up motion and the lights on the piece react to one's presence. The electronic aspect was all rigged through stitching with conductive thread (Very Exciting!). With the crowds, the piece was just continuously "on", but it's worth a return visit just to play.
I enjoyed Susan Abrams sculptural cicada wing piece made of assembled handmade paper. Susan has been part of Nexus for a while, and she's always had interesting exploration of materials and photographic imagery- sometimes on fabric. This piece has a lovely mark through space that is very graceful. A collaborative printed canvas windmill by Brandon Gardner and company of Alabama held the corner of the gallery. Although the artists weren't Philadelphians, I think I spotted Poe lurking on one side: What I really enjoyed about the Nexus show was the expansive use of print. I think it's great that artists are pushing the boundaries of their mediums- moving a traditionally 2-D medium to break into space, combining with technology, and printing on more than just Rives BFK.
This broad definition of print followed down the hall into the Icebox space in the Medium Resistance show. I loved the black and white origami growth in the center. Components of smaller elements making larger things fascinates me. Joking with another person, we imagined the whole thing could probably fold up flat to fit into a suitcase! (Sorry I missed the artist's name) Eva Wylie's printed, cut, and assembled compositions... She used to do screenprints on gallery walls as installations, and I always lamented that it was a waste of effort- they were too beautiful and intricate to get painted over at the end of a month. So I'm glad to see she's come off the wall.Then the piece de resistance of the Icebox exhibit was getting to see 3 Piper Shephard's!!!!
All 3 had 'carpet' feels compositionally and scale-wise. These 2 were in her more traditional cut canvas. (wonder if now that's she's gotten more well-known if she still cuts by hand or gets them lasercut now....)The real thrill was seeing this centralised carpet of pins with only a cut, patterned border.
Look at how intricate and painstaking! And this had to have all been done on location. It's one thing to slave hours in the studio, but on site for installation!!!
What a night! Tomorrow I'll post about my own opening that happened today. Excuse me now, I'm totally on an art high.

Friday, March 26

Stitch and Surface wrap-up

The Winter session at Fleisher is over now, but I took some photos of my Stitch and Surface students work on the last day of class to share. Some people were finishing up their functional object/clothing embellishment, and others were completing their monoprint/fabric collage piece. I'm really proud of how creative and committed these ladies were this semester. It really shows in how individualized these pieces are:Lynn Ellen Wolfe's functional embellishment was to add spark to a tweed winter skirt she'd made. She decided on creating an abstracted stand of birch trees in applique with stitched bark. I wish I'd gotten another image when she was further along, as the bark texture was exquisite. The hem of the skirt is ringed in lines of running stitch, completing the landscape feel.You don't need to know how to sew your own clothes, though to do fashion embellishment. Check out Grace Smith's deconstructed blouse:It started life as a Target purchase a friend passed on to her, but the neckline was covered in weird jewelry-like embellishments she disliked and tore off, leaving behind an interesting tracery of machine stitched lines. Responding to the lines and the pieced aspect of the blouse, Grace started drawing additional fine lines with thread, connecting and meandering the existing ones, balancing out the heavy ribbon lines below and turning her blouse into an upcycled fashion piece. Don't be slaves to consumerism people! Put your own mark on thrift store finds and the old clothes lurking in your closet. It just takes a little imagination and a needle and thread.Casey Jones turned this functional, but sort of plain satchel into a one-of-a-kind by adding buttons from her collection and a stitched feather. The large button at right was attached with shisha work, since the shank was so small compared to the diameter of the button. It looks like a compass now. The lining of the bag has a map of the world in sepia tones. The feather reminds me of the wind and travel, exactly what this bag was made for.
Casey really got into the collage and found object embellishment. She is a great collector of keys, and finally found a use for them in her embroidery (below). By the end of class the king and queen had broken hearts connected by a thread. She said keys remind her of opening the heart. This piece is a great exploration of applique, reverse applique, and a broad definition of what can be used in embroidery material-wise.Anna Lockhart also had a great exploration with the monoprint/collage project (below). I think she probably had the best transformation of her monoprinted fabrics- the eyes in the sky and the grid patterned cityscape play between pattern and representation. The eyes are reverse appliqued with seeding and beading filling in some of the edges (my favorite part!). Anna also has a collection of bric-a-brac she was able to include in the piece. The sun is a squashed salt shaker cap, and the trashy street scene include bits of plastic jewelry and a birthday candle! I think the students were influencing each other a lot this session- Fran Schatz's combinations of printed and dyed fabrics, ribbons, threads, beads, earrings, buttons, clothing tags, etc. etc. were quite inspiring to the other students! I like how in this one, she's making more of a pictorial affect- the randomness reveals an underwater scene.
I'll leave you with Pam Thompson's sampler-like motif. Pam is very inspired by African textiles and culture and so this piece, I believe, is a fertility symbol. It will have some more beading included, as well as some cowrie shells placed in the bottom furls. I already know Pam is coming back for another class, and I can't wait to see how this one develops. May your own creativity be endlessly fertile and personally meaningful!

Thursday, March 25

What a world..

My surface design prof, Lorraine Glessner asked us to troll through her blog archives to find 3 artists we found interesting. It's quite a feat, because she's gathered a vast collection of interesting artists. She should start curating shows.

How to beat the high cost of living

First up, Josh Faught. I like his eclectic use of materials from everyday life, and the dense textures he creates, especially in the larger wall pieces. They have the same feel as the gritty city walls I've been photographing.



Next, Jacob Hashimoto who makes these amazing 2D/3D constructions/space drawings/paintings made of components of repeating shapes and patterns connected with thread.

Broken Red Circuit

Circumstances and Coincidences

Finally, Emily Miah Stewart who does amazing quilt/embroideries based on maps and memory.

California Routine

Daily Map

Walk in the morning

I'm drooling over these maps. Based on all 3, you can tell I'm more drawn to complex abstract images with pattern, texture, and geometry. I have to start planning my final project, which is supposed to be large format. Let's see what happens.

Wednesday, March 24

Prayer Stole

My midterm project for my digital print on fabric class was due for critique this week:I was interested in creating a piece that involved text, as I love text, but find it hard to embroider massive amounts of text. The inspiration was a selection of Islamic imagery, particularly a long scroll calendar from which I took the long border, short center text format. I was thinking how all the Islamic art I had found had religious purpose- calendars and maps and protective talismans all orient one toward prayer. So I created a purposeful, prayerful, personal object/ritual clothing. The only embroidery is at the yoke, with a verse from Matthew 28- for those familiar with the verse, the placement at "yoke" is significant. The Lord's Prayer and Penitential Prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer line the borders, then the centers contain my favorite hymns, verses, and Eucharistic prayers from a traditional Episcopal service, and follow the order or prayer in sequence. "Morning has Broken", Ecclesiastes 3 (shown above), Psalm 139, Psalm 23, the doxology, the sanctus, the agnus dei, Corinthians 13, and "His Eye is on the Sparrow".
Two sparrows face each other at the bottom- inspired by the song, but also because it makes me remember not to worry.
To include more of the senses in the piece, it was infused with a mint scent, and 2 small bells one the fringe introduce a slight sound.
The critique I got was mostly about the way I made the text- they thought it would seem even more personal if I'd scanned in my handwriting of the texts, which would link it back more completely to the Islamic calligraphy inspiration. I agree- it's a very well-made, clean piece, but I could have considered the text style much more.
Even so, I'm very proud of it, it is very personally significant, and no, it isn't being given to a priest. I don't think it's easy to discuss religious content in art, and I was pleasantly surprised how my classmates responded to it.