Wednesday, June 30


Merowr! I am Jolie.
Myeh! Marrrrrrrrrie left thees birdie in the window. I theenk she trrrrrrrrries to trrreeck me. Zees is not fairrrrrrrrrr. I theenk she made it for Dearrrrrrr Fleisherrrrrrrr or someseeng. Also ees not fair- she spent all morning yesterrrrday making thees purse and did not feeeeed me on time. Next time she leeves eet on couch I make hairball on eet.


Tuesday, June 29

Cool knit animation for a hot day

Et tant mieux c'est en francais!

Monday, June 28

NY bits and pieces

Besides going up to NYC last week for the gallery opening, we also spent some time bumming around Southern Manhattan. Most of the time was spent at the National Museum of the American Indian right next to Battery Park. It's a beautiful building- former customs house, and they have changing exhibitions exploring both the history of first peoples in North America as well as contemporary art and culture. These 2 images come from the exhibit "Song for the Horse Nation", which explores the importance of horses in native culture and how that is expressed in art, tools, clothing, and horse accessories up to the present time. The baby bonnet above shows exquisite quill-work on leather. It was mentioned that the status of women was elevated when the horse became widespread, as horse labor freed women to spend more time on handwork.
The cloth below is a document called a "winter count". Read in a spiral from upper left, the cloth depicts important events within a tribe in a pictorial manner. I'm reminded of hand scrolls in Ancient Hindu culture where painted cloths become mnemonic devices for the recounting of oral history.
Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed in the gallery where an exhibit of contemporary art by native artists entitled "Hide: Skin as Material" was displayed. However the exhibit is viewable online here. I especially enjoyed the work of Sonya Kelliher-Combs.
Walking up Broadway, I was struck by this wall and I-beams (you know me and walls). At first I didn't get it. It looked like either a structure had collapsed or some artist had built a parody of a construction. It wasn't till we walked past the building beyond it, that I realized the odd tilted structure was buttressing the stand-alone building! I enjoyed the play of geometry in space. Everything is art.
Home again, Home again, I finished the little map piece documenting the day. The coins came from Chinatown and sort of create the rolling route between NY and Philly. The dark blue concentric rings delineate my home turf.

Tomorrow I'm off again for a few days. I won't be able to access the Internet, but when I come back I'll have loads to share-- Amish quilts and Fiber Arts International exhibit info.

Gallery Talk at the Kimmel tonight!

Come on out tonight at 5:30 at the Kimmel Center on Broad St where I'll be speaking about my work in the Essentially Pattern Exhibit!

Sunday, June 27

From the Tongue part deux

Here's another set of images from the exhibit "From the Tongue" at Lotus Thursday night. This time the common thread is "Sampler". Considering that Bren Ahearn's "Sampler #1" was chosen as the postcard image and his giant"More" sampler (about 5x8 ft) greeted the viewers at the door, I would say that the sampler tradition was a much quoted, important theme for the exhibit. One can hardly think of embroidery and text without first calling samplers to mind, and several artists in this exhibit played with the tradition, subverting it through text and imagery. While Bren's sampler has all the borders and alphabets one expects, his text makes us do a double-take. His statement and much of his work explores concepts of masculinity. He's wielding the needle instead of his fists. I love his statement here and I'm glad he's come out of the "craft closet" to share his work with us.
Another familiar format is found in Rubi McGrory's sampler, reminiscent of mid 1800's samplers with the highly decorative border and "clip art" conglomeration. Rubi subverts the tradition by replacing roses with cockroaches and flower baskets with shopping bags. The piece is a critique of our consumeristic culture, countered not only through image and text but also by the time, effort, and craftsmanship placed in its production. I'm not a big cross stitch fan, and particularly loathe aida cloth, but Jennifer Hunold uses it as a familiar lure for her "Be Nice" pamphlet. The original embroideries were shown, but the actual piece (in my opinion) was to be found as a free pamphlet on the information table. Being nice is something we have to take time to do, thus it makes sense for her graphics to be created in a method that requires time and care. For more friendly advice on how to make the world a more pleasant place, check out her blog.
Well, that wraps up the photos I have for "From the Tongue". There was a lot more great work, but there were also a lot of other bloggers there who will probably go into greater detail!!!

Saturday, June 26

From the Tongue

Thursday night was the opening for "From the Tongue" at Lotus Salon/Gallery in Tribeca. I haven't been up to New York in a really long time, so you have to realize how exciting the prospect of seeing all these artists' work in one room must have been to draw me up to the big apple. Not only were there some of my favorite embroiderers in the show, but it was an exhibit of stitch and text- doubly interesting. The place was packed, so I didn't get pictures of all the pieces, but here's a highlight of my favorites: The common thread in the 4 pieces I'm sharing in this post is the idea of legible/illegible. Joetta Maue's "Celebrate" is clear from across the room, and from afar the mystery is "How'd she do that?". Up close the mystery is revealed: collaged bits of floral found embroidery, lace, and crochet, but then the text disappears. Sometimes you need to be in the right place for perspective. Joetta's choice to put this particular piece in the exhibit is truly a propos- as the curator, she should certainly celebrate bringing together a community of fiber artists, and her piece celebrates all the hands that created those bits of found cloth, probably individuals who never thought of themselves as artists.
Another found cloth piece is "A Letter to my Mother" by Jung Eun Park. I suppose one could sit and try to read it, but the reverse of the piece is displayed to the viewer, showing us the raw bleeding side of hanging threads. This allows the artist to go through the act of stitching a private letter, an imaginably cathartic experience, and preserve her privacy, yet still allow us to sense the emotional impact of the text. (Her blog is called red-colored!-- ok I'm probably the only one who would be so excited about how close that is to my own blogger name)Something about the red square... Susan Moss's "Aspects of Perfection in the Mundane" also intrigued me. The letters of text fit in the same space as the little red squares that grid the fabric, and so at first pass the text is hidden. But as we're humans closely attuned to pattern, something jars in the vision and notices the interruption in regularity- that's when the letters emerge. Note, this wall is incredibly packed with art- "salon" style if you get the pun... The most illegible was Richard Saja's "Great White Milky Way", a nearly floor to ceiling band of French knots. Perhaps this was the most legible- if you can read Braille, again, all depends on perspective. For the visually abled and Braille-illiterate, Saja had the full text posted next to his piece, a lament, a confession, an ode to his countless wasted unborn progeny. Symbolic little French knots....Click here for his explanation of the piece.
I'll have some more for you later.

Friday, June 25

artsiness and craftiness

Taking the bus to NY yesterday was great as it left me time to get my fingers busy: If you're even slightly familiar with the area you may be able to pick out PA and NJ with the Delaware River in between. It's mostly bits of dyed silk with a piece of upholstery green. Part of our meanderings yesterday led us through Chinatown where I bought some coins. One of them is now acting as compass on my little map. With time to kill between museum, dinner, and gallery we sat in a lovely Chinatown park and I stitched some more.

I'll post about the show later, as I'm still processing from the long, tiring day in NY. Today was spent finishing up the children's exhibition for Fleisher's Artspiration fair. Tomorrow is the big day from 10-4. We lucky volunteers get to wear lime green T-shirts. Regular T-shirts never look right on me. This one had a t00-high round neck, and too-wide shoulders/sleeves, and too-long... uh.. length. Crafty me set about with scissors and thread to re-work it into something wearable:
I hemmed it shorter, cut a v-neck and buttonholed the edge, then cut off the sleeves, zig-zagged the edge, and finally added a dart to close up the gape in the armscye. Now instead of frumpy T-shirt I have fitted tank top!
Come to Artspiration if you can!

Wednesday, June 23

Hey Look!

I finally had time and got brave enough to pick up the monster wall piece. Yay!I'd gotten a little burnt out on it doing all that seed stitch in the white areas. Ugh. And so I was sort of loathing moving on to the red and blue background. But really it's going better now: Widely space lines of random running stitch goes ever so much faster than tedious seed stitch!

Tomorrow I'm off to New York City so I can be at the opening of "From the Tongue". I can't wait! I'm going to have to put together a small piece to work on during the bus ride- I can't drag this monster to NY.

Monday, June 21

Loopy sampler

The Loopy sampler has gone from this: To this (completed and framed!):This time I took my own advice and actually considered how large the frame would be (5x5 inches). It's a nice manageable size, and I was able to stitch within a 6 inch hoop without ever having to shift the hoop around. I played a bit with some counted thread patterns, as I was working on a nice plainweave cotton (very soft- sort of brushed feel).
Here are 2 close-ups top/above and bottom/below. Only thing I'm not happy about is the lattice below, as it was the only spot I DIDN'T count out, thus some wonkiness. I love the zigzag pattern created by the perpendicular rows of counted running stitch!
Samplers are fun to do once in a while, even if you're a super-duper stitcher. It can free up the imagination and maybe even change your mind about using certain stitches (like- I actually don't hate the little bit of pink cross-stitch in there, normally my absolute least favorite stitch.)

Friday, June 18

Stitch and Surface inspiration

I've been working on Stitch and Surface stuff for the summer course. Every session is different but I always like to have some kind of sampler, some kind of surface design technique, a fabric collage or other embroidered image/painting, and sometimes a functional project. Summer session is only 6 weeks, so it's hard to squeeze a lot in. The class is full now, but here's a sneak peek of some project idea inspirations I have stirring: Doodle Sampler (see previous post) This is from Jacquelynn Davis on Flickr who does amazing doodle embroideries!!
Stitch Shibori/embroideries. We'll dye our fabrics and then use them in an embroidered image. Check out this website for some great shibori technique images.
Chair embroidery, perhaps an upholstered piece, camping chair, cushion, or slipcover. I'm hoping some students will want to participate in "A Place at the Table" project the WCA is creating for the September Live Arts/Fringe festival for which we're creating art chairs. The above image is from Sampler-Culture Clash.

In Progress

As one session of teaching ends, another is about to begin. So my creative energies have recently been focusing on planning for upcoming workshops, classes, and camps. This summer I'm teaching:
  • 6 weeks of Stitch and Surface for adults at Fleisher
  • 5 weeks (hopefully, if they run!!) of morning art classes for kids at Fleisher
  • a 2-day embroidery workshop for teachers at the Philadelphia Art Museum
  • one week teaching and a second week planning/directing/teaching summer camp for NLArts.

So that's a lot of lesson-planning, supply researching, scheduling, etc. that hasn't left me much stitching time. HOWEVER, I have just started a little sampler to use as an exemplar for Stitch and Surface. I always have students start off with some kind of sampler, and this session it will be a doodler:

Wednesday, June 16

Tapestry and Persistence

For the past few weeks my 12-13 year old students have been working on a tapestry project based off an image they found in the news. Now, I totally goofed on the ends per inch, and our warp thread was not ideal, so the first week of warping and beginning to weave was incredibly frustrating. Needless to say, most of the kids didn't get very far. But after profusely apologizing, showing them how to fix the ends per inch snafu, and presenting them with tapestry needles to work with, our second week of weaving was far more successful.

I feel really honored to work with this group of kids. It amazes me how focused, intent, and persistent they are in their artmaking. They each find ways to solve problems and for the most part they pay attention to craftsmanship.Persistence is one of the Studio Habits of the Mind cultivated through art education, and perhaps is overlooked- but I feel like it's one of the most valuable qualities a person can learn through the arts. Don't give up so easily! Work through frustrations to come through on the other side, reaching your goal. It can be applied to all areas of life that challenge us.

Now, if only they would sketch something other than dragons, flowers, and peace signs during free draw time...

Tuesday, June 15


I'm really looking forward to next week, as I think I'll actually go up to New York on Thurs, June 24th just to see this show: from the tongue...
an exhibition of works on paper and/or fiber exploring the use of text and language. Curated by Joetta Maue (!) June 24-August 6 2010
Opening Reception Thursday, June 24, 8-10pm.
34 North Moore St/Lotus Gallery Space, Tribeca, NY, NY

Artists include: Allison Manch, Audrey Manning, Bren Ahearn, Bridget Franckowiak, Brooke Holloway, Drucilla Pettibone (!), Elana Adler, Ellen Schinderman, Eloise de Hauteclocque, Eric Johanni, FiberGraf a.k.a Iviva Olenick(!) and Jon Baker, Grant Olsen, Jamie Chalmers (MR.X!), Jee Hwang, Jennifer Hunold, Jung Eun Park, Katrina Eaton, Kirsten Rae Simonsen, Kristen Wulff, Lathorial Badenhausen, Leila Daw (!), Leslie Nichols, Marcy Chevali, Marilyn Henrion, Mary Coss, Nathalia Cortada, Orly Cogan (!), Richard Saja (!), Rubi McGrory, Sarah Bahr, Susan Moss, Susan Sharman, Tricia L. Johnson

* (!)= can't wait to see work...and maybe artist in person

Sunday, June 13

More maps!

Almost exactly a year ago I discovered the work of Emily Erb, gorgeous painted-silk maps of Philadelphia that were on display at a temporary South Street Gallery. Apparently I wasn't the only one inspired at that show, as my friend and fellow artist educator Donna Bridy recruited Emily Erb for a residency project with the K-8 students at St. Mary Interparachial school where she teaches. Here's her description:
Each child at St. Mary did one of the pieces of one of the three maps. The first map, when Philadelphia was known as Coaquannock, was done by 6, 7 +8. The second map, Philadelphia as William Penn Knew It, was done by 3,4 + 5, and the last, Philadelphia today, done by K,1 + 2. Especially unique is the Delaware River on the second and third maps! What an exciting project! The maps are all on tracing paper- I like how the joins make the map look like its been folded and used. I can just hear the crinkle. I also enjoy all the lovely details, like fish in the river and arrows showing street directions. Congratulations to the students at St. Mary for their work, Donna for seeing so much potential, and Emily for the inspiration!

Friday, June 11

Mapping: Outside/Inside

With my errands done in Center City and still 40 minutes left on my meter, I headed down to the Gershman Y on Broad and Pine with a vague recollection that there was an exhibit I was interested in seeing. Yes!! Mapping: Outside/Inside is showing in the Borowsky Gallery and features one of my favorite artists: Joyce Kozloff. Here's a little tour of the space with a piece from each of the four artists:Eve Andree Laramee had a selection of paper maps painted over in acrylic, altering the perception of the space represented, concealing and revealing certain features. Alas these blind spots seemed more a result of random patterning than imposed meaning.I found the one above and below, "Eastern Pennsylvania" the most interesting as the abstract patterning had concealed the majority of the map and additional colorings of contour lines broke the landscape into little planets. Joyce Kozloff's map imagery was recreated in paint and print with symbolic markings stressed, but with an additional superimposition of biological system imagery. The parallels between macrocosm and microcosm blend body and space in a symbiotic relationship. In "Bodies of Water: Songlines", below, snippets of text sharing quotes of journeys are collaged onto the surface as well.
Nikolas Schiller had a series of digitally manipulate aerial photographs. Several were rendered from images of the Gershman Y itself, and a larger piece was titled "Federal Triangle". The manipulations turn the photos into kaleidoscopes and quilt blocks through repetition, and the manmade cities are perfected. Can you imagine living in such awesome symmetry? He has quite a website here.
Finally Leila Daw had a series of invented maps of reclaimed land, marked with symbols of long-buried cultures. Her surfaces are resined, creating a sense of preserved artifact or holy icon. More here.
A larger piece of paper mounted on canvas, entitled "Northeast Seas Exploration, Fragments", reads like a renegotiated journey of maps rewritten, appended, conflicted.
As you can imagine, I was in map heaven. You can be too if you head to the Gershman Y on the corner of Broad and Pine sometime before August 15th, 2010.

Monday, June 7

Then and now

I took this picture back in March, I think, and it inspired a large scale embroidery. Unfortunately I haven't worked on it in a few weeks due to residency business, but my fingers are getting itchy to pick it up again.Today I rode by the site to see if and how it had changed. Is it just the light? Afternoon vs. morning, overcast vs bright sun? Maybe it's the giant supermarket structure being built across the street creating shadow. Just looks so different.One notable difference is a bit of wheatpasting and graffiti on it. But I also think there have been a few new coats of graffiti-eradicating paint in the last few months.
Some more stitching in my near future!

Sunday, June 6

Lying Fallow

I feel like I'm slacking. I'm not doing as much as I feel like I should be doing, but there's also less to do right now. In between semesters. Teaching sessions almost complete. Residency finished. So I'm taking some time to do things like watch movies and read books (real books- not just textbooks!!!). I noticed that some of my favorite authors like Isabel Allende and Margaret Atwood have published some new novels while I've been in grad-school world. I've just finished reading "The Year of the Flood" by Atwood. It seems very timely. Reading it reminded me that I'm not slacking... I'm lying fallow for a bit, to rejuvenate my creative juices and absorb some rain. It's time for input of ideas instead of the constant output.

Here's a dramatic reading of a passage from the book I found:

Friday, June 4

Just Because...

stitch + text + animation + music = love

Thursday, June 3

A room with a view

I've been meaning to post these for a while... After viewing the work of Brenna Murphy in the Fleisher Challenge exhibit, my Saturday students there either remembered or imagined a room and then recreated it in magazine collage. There were several different approaches. Some were more faithful to a memory and used line quality to express it:Others created dream-spaces that were realistic-looking (the one above is my favorite- good scale and the window!). The one below looks like a great vacation getaway.
It's always interesting to see what these kids create. Sometimes they surprise me. Their skills are so different depending on the medium they use. Next up is a tapestry inspired by images found in a newspaper...