Sunday, August 30

NLArts Camp wrap-up

For the past 2 weeks I've been teaching at NLArts Performing and Visual Arts Camp in Northern Liberties. About 13 campers aged 9-11 were under my charge and they were a fantastic group of kids (including my own daughter- so I'm biased). During the performing arts camp the first week, they were key players in producing the props we used as well as the dialogue we wrote for the final play.

This past week during the Visual Arts Camp the campers focused on the theme "Go Green". All the projects were driven either conceptually or materially by the idea of environmental consciousness. The first project my group completed was a fence weaving, shown above, which reused fabric strips salvaged from interior design samples. The peace sign was a popular motif, but we also had recycling arrows and the 3 R's. Before weaving we talked about how fabric is made, whether it's natural/sustainable or synthetic, how far textiles are shipped around the world for our use and what choices they should make when buying clothes.These 2 images above and below feature the wheat-pasted mural created by the entire camp. Students trekked down to Liberty Lands park to do tree/leaf/texture rubbings on paper. We talked about how it's possible to use nature for inspiration without taking anything away from nature to make art. The rubbings were torn and cut to be pasted into the tree shapes on the side of the building. The paste was made from flour and water, and the campers got VERY messy!!! The one below was made almost entirely by my daughter (proud mama here). Both of the projects above should still be visible if you got to 3rd and Fairmount.All of the remaining images show my campers' animal/habitat sculptures. The animals were made with clay, which was then painted. The habitats were created with reused cardboard leftover from the previous week's play props, paint, and rocks and sticks found around the building. In preparing for the project the campers brainstormed their favorite animals, what was special about their habitat, and how each animal has special qualities to survive in their habitat. Most of our week's projects were collaborative and more public art. This was the only project that the kids really got to take home. Cats and dogs with indoor/outdoor habitat- a collaboration between 2 campers.
Duck Pond! I'm intrigued by the cartoonishness...

Beaver and nibbled tree in the forest.

Mama and baby Skunk in woodland burrow. This one is my daughter's!

Elephant at the watering hole in the savannah.

Polar Bear on his lonely iceberg. I like how she did iceberg cutouts to place at the bottom of her tableau, making the top edge sort of snowflake-like.One camper wanted to use more of his imagination and created his own creature.

Saturday, August 29

Embroidery in the Landscape

Hooray! My workshop at Peters Valley Craft Center is officially running. My mother will be accompanying me and friend and fellow fiber artist Dianne Hricko will be teaching the same weekend. I am definitely looking forward to a fabulous weekend up in the Delaware Water Gap. Now pray it doesn't rain!

PS: This embroidery is Penn Treaty Park, featuring the Delaware River from the southern end. Hopefully I'll get a piece featuring the source of the river out of the workshop.

Wednesday, August 26


What do you call the rods between the stair and the railing? Is it spindles? They're taking forever..............

By the way, I only need one more student for my Wednesday morning Stitch and Surface class at Fleisher to run this Fall. Also need one more student for Color Theory to run on Monday nights. Any takers?

Art Love

Work by Jessie Henson. Check out more of her work here. This image has that great pattern/layered image thing going on. The title is "Lack", what with the floral fabric makes me think of Ikea...

Oh, what a beautiful Day!

Today I began my grad school adventure at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. I had the pleasure of meeting Pepon Osorio, who is teaching in my department, as well as the Art Ed Chair, Joanna Moore, and the fibers head Rebecca Medel. They have very kindly allowed me to participate in the Graduate Fibers Projects course, usually reserved for MFA candidates. Despite the drudgery of a 2 hour-long woodshop orientation (zzzzzzz), it was a great day. My fellow art ed grad students are great, and I look forward to the next 2 years of study and collaboration.

Of course being on campus sets my mind whirling. I have to meet with the fibers chair next week to talk about what direction I'm interested in. So to that effect I though I'd post some of the various photographs I've been mulling over. Waiting for the bus home, standing very conspicuously in the hood, I was captured by the variety of decay and life/nature co-existing once again. (I then became even more conspicuous by whipping out my sketchbook!)
mural in Istanbul

Girard Ave in Fishtown

Berks and Front future Kensington CAPA site

Crazy caterpillar nest in Northern Liberties

Heh, thought I had more downloaded on my computer. Ah well, I still have prints. Finding beauty in the urban environment definitely interests me.

Sunday, August 23


So I talked about space earlier this week, but I'm sort of curious about how much time people are able to spend on their art. It's a constant personal battle finding time to work, fighting against work responsibilities, family responsibilities, volunteer activities, and my own tendency toward inertia and wasteful computer hours. My best and most productive moments are between 10 pm and 1 am. These are the hours that are the quietest. It's time that's just my own with nobody asking me questions or wanting me to do anything, that I can just have for myself. I do sacrifice sleep time, though, and I'm worried that as I get older, I'm not going to be able to keep that up.
It is very important to me that I spend at least some time EVERY DAY making art. It keeps me grounded, centered. It validates my inner creative person who would like to be on the surface all day, every day.
So, if you're reading this, leave a comment for me. Tell me what your work habits are like. How many hours per day or days per week are you able to spend make art? What is your best time of day? Am I the only crazy artist working into the wee hours of the morn?

Saturday, August 22

Hand Embroidery Network!

Hooray! I've just discovered the Hand Embroidery Network, and have already got my blog listed on the blog-roll. Hopefully I'll be included in their upcoming "Living Organisms" online exhibition as well. So if you've found me through the network- Welcome! If you've never heard of it- check it out!

Online Hand Embroidery Exhibition
Those dates are written European-style and mean Sept 1-Nov 1, 2009

Friday, August 21


Seems like all the bloggers I know have been posting sunflowers, so here's my version. My campers this week made sunflower head-dresses to use as props in their play about "The Lonely Sunflower". They're made of corrugated cardboard, tempera, and stapled together. Just imagine a troupe of 6-year-olds traipsing through a garden wearing these!

some more stairs

Stairs are definitely a good theme this week. Thankfully my knee injury (incurred slipping on wet stairs) has recovered enough for me to climb stairs and run after campers this week.
Below is the Woodford Mansion work-in-progress. It's a bit hard to make out the stairs drawing in running stitch, but it's starting to take shape. As you can see below, I started with some BIG basting stitches in blue sewing thread while it was still hanging on my board. Then fit it in a big hoop for the running stitches in brown.
Someone this week told me they were a little afraid of trying embroidery cause they only knew cross-stitch. I said, "Just think of it as drawing with a needle." Anyone who knows me well should be astounded at how ambitiously large in size this piece is!
Stairs are also apropros metaphorically. I'm about to take some big steps in the next few weeks as grad school begins. Nervous and Excited!

Wednesday, August 19

Working Space

I've been thinking about working space recently. I am not going to get a studio at school next year because I'm doing my Master's of Art Education, not my MFA (art teachers never get space do they!). I have not had a working space outside my home since I was an undergrad at Moore 10 years ago. I have always been able to carve out space around my home to work in, though. Once it was a whole room, once a walk-in closet, a corner of the living room, a corner of the kitchen.... it didn't matter how big the space was, just that there was A SPACE!

I own my own home now and have more space than I've ever had, for living that is. My art is spread throughout the house. The bedroom closet is storage for old art, and my sewing machine, fabrics, and fiber supplies grace a niche in the bedroom. I wake up every morning to see my bulletin board covered in works-in-progress and image ideas.
In the basement I have a set-up for screenprinting, but it's in a very raw stage. Hopefully someday I can make it a more practical work-space. Most of my actual working time is spent in the living room in my favorite chair with my workbasket and current project at hand. I like to watch TV or films on the web while I work. If I watch without keeping my hands busy I'm likely to fall asleep. However, if I can be productive while indulging my TV habit, I don't feel like such a couchpotato!
The best thing about this home-as-studio, means that my art life is symbiotic with my family life. I don't have to go away from my family to be an artist. They know the me-as-mom-and-wife as the same as me-as-artist. It allows me to be a more whole person. It also means that everything is available and around me whenever I feel the creative spirit moving. I don't have to put my ideas on hold for me to go to another space. I can just pick up what I want when I want and be creative.
If you aren't making art because you don't have the space, you're just making excuses!

Monday, August 17

stairs! and a sweet video

This much is done on the the Woodford Mansion piece. Thank God for running Stitch!!!!!

Sunday, August 16

Kathryn Pannepacker at Smile

My dear friend (I'm so happy I can call her dear friend!) Kathryn Pannepacker has a 2 person exhibit with David Foss at Smile Gallery this month (21st and Chestnut above the Thai restaurant!). I met Kathryn when she started curating her fiber biennial shows at Da Vinci Art Alliance back in 2000. It was the first professional show I'd been in as an artist, and Kathryn has been a mentor and inspiration to me ever since.

The show is entitled "Parallel Lines". While you could think about that theme as just a formal concept- and there are a lot of striped pieces in the show- Kathryn interpreted it as referring to the parallel lines of her art interests. She is a weaver, a painter, a stitcher, a guerrilla artist, a teacher. In the show you can see glimpses of those aspects of her practice. The piece behind her on the photo above was created by reusing elements from an installation.

These two wax-infused embroideries explore her text embroideries. They are diaristic, impulsive. "Art Trick" refers to how often we artists are asked to donate pieces for charities or do something artistic for the community out of the goodness of our hearts and for the mere benefit of getting our names out there. It's all good, but not helpful when you owe money for your house, your car, your student loans... The "Magnet for $9000" piece above it is a very real need. One of the ways Kathryn has inspired me is about making clear your intentions. If you state what you want or need in life, write it down so it's out of your head or tell other people, you're far more likely to fulfill that desire or need. It is through that way of thinking that I got up the gusto to become a teacher at Fleisher and apply for grad school!

This is my favorite piece in the show. I know it was one of the longest-worked pieces, and I'm drawn to the seductive quality of the woven fabrics. I think fabric holds history and therefore makes more connections for the viewer than yarn does. The "windows" make sense, as Kathryn has been working on refurbishing her new house, has been working on a project with the homeless, and has also been doing a residency with incarcerated women. (note as of 8/19/09 this piece has sold! hooray for the art magnet!)

A more literal interpretation of the "Parallel Lines", this piece uses the woven matches in the neutral-colored areas that she's used in her previous "Setting our Hearts on Fire" flag series. This maintains the "flag" feeling but seems more personal.

Above is an installation shot of small weavings. And below is one that spoke to me the most. This series were quick weavings- more diary-like, and they have that feel of gritty urban textures that I am captivated by. They are reminiscent of all the layers of paint and stucco and brick and posters that crumble from the walls in our neighborhoods here. Like strata.Here is an installation shot showing some of David Foss's paintings alongside Kathryn's Black and White weaving. It was the most unified pairing in the installation, and it made me wonder if that was planned in the making of the pieces at all, or if it was just a moment of serendipity when they arranged the hanging.

If you want to see more of Kathryn's parallel lines, go to the intersection of Broad and Lehigh where you can see her Wall of Rugs Part II mural.

Saturday, August 15

Bayeux Tapestry animation!

Studio Frenzy

Slow cloth is slowly progressing. Just need to fill in the top left side. It's got more shisha, a couched piece of copper, and a lot more seeding. I like how the circular stitched shapes at the bottom echo the shisha. I want to do these more and more. We'll see where it goes.
I finally started my Woodford Mansion piece!!!!!!!!!!
After lots of idea gathering, including a trip to the mansion, a morning sketching at the Wagner Free Institute, and some Google Map searching, I've got a plan.
The Google Maps of the site, I sketched out and simplified and that gave me a quilt-like piecing structure. I gathered various white fabrics ranging from silk to cotton and including an old damask embroidered tablerunner, Ikea napkins, and painting canvas. The more lustrous fabrics are at the top of the piece and the rougher fabrics are at the bottom. One of the things that the tour guide kept stressing about Woodford was how the architecture of the building reinforced class status. So I wanted the same feeling in the fabrics.
The piecing is representative of the street map. The major curve is supposed to be Ridge Ave and the large block top left is Fairmount Park. Serendipity! The embroidered "S" on the table runner falls right where Strawberry Hill Mansion would be on the map! Note how big this piece is!!! It's currently 3x4 feet. Making it the largest embroidered piece I've ever made! Craziness considering I only have one month to finish this puppy. The next step is to embroider the Stair Elevation Drawing onto the piece. Once again, the stairs reinforce the class structure. These are the "Main" stairs. A second twisty staircase is built and hidden right next to it.
The Last step will be to get the robins and Eagles on there. The Robins will be top right and the Eagle will be bottom left. Robin Redbreast will represent the Brits and the Eagle is for the Americans signifying the house as a key location in the Revolutionary War. I may stick some words in there- Tory/Loyalist and Rebel/Patriot. We'll see what time allows.
Remember these? The image above shows the latest completed parts. That lattice on the right one kept me up till 4 in the morning one night cause I couldn't bear to put it down. Practice for grad school all-nighters!!

Here's the whole thing so far, and then below are the pieces for the applique on the next section. The hard thing for me is to interrupt work on one piece to start working on another for a deadline. I usually can only work on one piece at the same time. I have a great fear of UFO's.

Wow that's a lot of work going on at once!! Thankfully I've had a calm, open week with no other jobs to worry about. The next 2 weeks I'm teaching mornings at a camp in Northern Liberties.
Very good art week!

Friday, August 14

You, too can BUY ART

If you like my work and want to buy some, I just dropped off work to Square Peg Artery Salvage on 20th St between Samson and Chestnut near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Works from my water series are available as well as small doodle embroideries on shibori fabric.
At left: Desertification
I also have work available at the Art Shop at Moore from my map series. I love the Art Shop as it is the first permanent student and alumni gallery at an art school in Philadelphia.
I've just been nominated to join Moore's Alumni Board and have accepted!
at left: Luxury Townhouses coming Soon

Michelle Wilson and I are exhibiting both individual works as well as our collaborative book in the Faculty Show at Fleisher Art Memorial from Aug 24th- Sept 19th. Closing reception is Sept 19th 4-6.
at left: Infinite Thread

Wednesday, August 12

Fiber Sculpture Recap

I've just received pictures from Pamela Thomas, who had taken my Fiber Sculpture Week intensive at Fleisher the last week of July. My camera chose to run out of batteries at a most inopportune moment, but luckily Pamela came to the rescue.

Fiber is such a broad field of both materials and techniques that it's hard to narrow it down to a few to present in a week's course. This summer I thought about starting with paper as a fiber medium as it would be a material that everyone would be intimately familiar with. Our first experiments produced a folded paper box and a plaited coaster, seen below.
Once students felt comfortable with the idea of weaving and manipulating paper we moved onto a newspaper basket. They started as woven mats for the base square, with the "staves" then folded up. Some twining helped keep the base stable and a folded and bound top edge finished it off. (My sample piece has become my new favorite place to stash my embroidery supplies by my chair in the living room!)

Continuing with the idea of vessels, we tried some wrapping and coiling. The pic above shows a purple ribbon and yarn coiled form sitting on the basket. And you can see another form at the bottom right of the picture below made of curtain cording and twine, suggestive of a seed pod.
This bright lady is Joan Forman, a great experimenter in mixed media (although her first love is watercolor and collage). Her week's labor produced the objects above. When we moved on to soft/stuffed forms, she transformed a needlepoint pillow top into a triangular form that tried to be a snake but turned into a seated form using Joan's button collection for embellishment and structural tacking.

The aforementioned Pamela- of -the -pictures, was extremely interested in doll forms, and was in seventh heaven when she was able to start the form above utilizing her African-inspired fabrics. She was able to selectively place her pattern pieces so that the face in the print acted as the face of her doll. She also discovered how much faster machine-sewing is over handsewing! I'm a great fan of the handsewn- especially in embroidered embellishment- but for structural stitching and speed GO for the Machine!
I'm pleased with what these ladies were able to accomplish in such a short time. However I'm torn between wanting to introduce techniques and materials versus being able to create interesting, inventive, artistic forms. When students are learning a technique for the first time it's hard to think about content and be ambitious with form at the same time. And one week is too short to be able to master anything! I've also realized that in my teaching I'm far more concerned that students learn new methods and be able to accomplish and complete something than to make that something perfect and beautiful.
Sculpture is not my comfort zone artistically- but it's good to do things outside your comfort zone sometimes. It challenges and stretches the imagination. I enjoy looking and thinking about sculpture more than I like producing it. So I appreciate these ladies taking this adventure with me.