Monday, May 31

RIP Louise Bourgeois

Some of my friends may remember I've said before that I'd like to be like Louis Bourgeois, making art well into my 90's. Well I was very sad to hear that she passed away today at the age of 98. Her work is inspiring, because she always found the medium to best express her intentions and did not shy away from the pain of being human. The video I found is long but shows the breadth of her oeuvre. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 30

Tying up loose ends

Thursday night I trimmed and pinned the children's finished embroidered hands to the "tree" so that on Friday I could show them what the final product would look like.They all did a fantastic job, and I consider it a great success. Now I'm sewing all the leaves on so I can return the wall-hanging for installation at the school next week. Of course, my hands are not in the best shape for this tonight as I spent the day cutting back thorny bushes. Blisters and splinters- ouch! Here's what the tree will look like in the end:
A little busy perhaps, but full of color and pattern and life- exactly what I hope the kids learned about art in India.

Friday, May 28

If only...

...I had this many arms and hands, I might be able to stitch everything faster! This was one of the kids' sculpture-inspired drawings from last week. Now that I look at it again it looks like me with my glasses rushing around to help all the children thread needles and tie knots the past 3 days!
I was hoping to finish the tree of life by the last residency day, but I would need lightening-fast fingers to do it. At least the tree is appliqued now and the "leaves" are all pinned in place so the kids will get to envision the final product.

Wednesday, May 26

Stitching triumph

No time for pictures today... was too busy successfully teaching about 70 kids how to stitch! The teachers I'm working with were really surprised how much all the kids enjoyed it (in other words that the boys actually liked doing it). As I was leaving each classroom kids were calling out to ask where they could get their parents to buy supplies.

I feel like an embroidery queen today. Long live embroidery!

Friday, May 14

Tag #2- a Philadelphia adventure

Okay, waiting for another bus this morning. This time under the el in Kensington, notorious for drugs and prostitutes. While I was threading my needle to whip this one to the pole, a car pulled up and an old skeevy guy made kissy faces at me. Gross. Sorry for the bad photo quality- I only had my cell phone with me.

New tagging

There's been a lot of interesting wheatpasting and street art in my area lately.I've seen a lot of various colored elephant-men above all over the place. I love the intricacies of the multi-headed winged creature above , also seen in multiple locations. The knitters have been busy too, perhaps inspired by news of the Cape May knit graffiti. Rocket cat's bike post has been swathed as well as numerous other bike posts and electric poles. So I felt inspired. Yesterday, waiting for a bus at a site I'd tagged before, I noticed that the wire trash basket I'd tagged had disappeared. I pulled out a needle and thread and a piece of painted cloth that has been floating in my bag for over a year waiting to be used for something. I cut up the cloth and started stitching eyes and my tag. I've been thinking about nazar/evil eye as good luck for me. I also read somewhere that when people see images of eyes in public, they are less likely to do something mischievous. This morning while waiting for a different bus I tagged this light pole. I wish I'd taken a little more time to tidy up the edges and make it really secure, but I always feel a bit nervous tagging...
I think it looks kind of like a rebus. "eye"/I/Me or "see me". Of course M.E. are just my initials.

Wednesday, May 12

Tree of Life

I spent the morning finishing up and installing the Tree of Life at the Philadelphia Cathedral (with a short break for noon eucharist- just 3 of us there). It's up just in time for the bishop's visit on Sunday! The fruits and leaves are going to be copied and cut out and available for purchase to place on the branches next Sunday. Funds will go to supporting the community outreach programs of the Cathedral. If you want to help, you can contact the cathedral here. Now I'm just hoping the tape will hold up for the next few weeks in our windy and humid weather. Thanks to the sacristan and the facilities manager for their help climbing ladders! I'll post more pictures as it grows.
I don't have a lot of money to offer the church, so it makes me really happy to be able to use my artistic gifts for them!

Tuesday, May 11

somewhere in Baltimore....

Book bombs strikes again! Michelle Wilson and Mary Tasillo, AKA Book Bombs have spread their wings and flown to Baltimore for this wheatpasting for Axis Alley, a project that seeks to transform vacant buildings with art. I love in the photo above how the previous artists paintings remain, the scissors at left referring to Book Bombs' cut paper, and "Forgive us our trespasses" referring to the transgressive act of wheatpasting/graffiti in public spaces.
For this project, the Book Bombs team used recycled denim for their handmade paper, and the flora forms represent endangered plant species of the region. Part of the reason I wanted to share this is because fibers from jeans I once wore are now clinging to a wall in Baltimore. Eventually they will wash away, disintegrate, and become part of the earth there.
If you're in the Baltimore area, the address is 2212 N. Calvert Street. Check it out before it disappears!

Monday, May 10

Text/Textile remix

Remember this last February? Well Text/Textile has traveled to Some Things Looming, a gallery in Reading, PA. If you click on the link for the gallery you'll see they used my image for the postcard! The opening was this past weekend, and I missed it, but I have been informed that "Just Drop It" has been sold!!! There will be another reception on Sunday, June 13th. Hopefully I'll make it out there.

By the way, they have a call for artists for a show in the Fall featuring textiles with resist techniques. Email them from the website for details....

Sunday, May 9

Happy Mother's Day

Thanks to my Mom, and her mom , and her mom, and her mom..... for all the love and skills that have been passed down.

I've been enjoying a few days relaxing and just being a mom myself. Sorry for the slow blog week....

Thursday, May 6

growing a tree

I spent the morning at the cathedral painting the tree of life! Everyone loves the fruit, so now I just need to finish the tree. So far I've got the hillock and the main trunk finished. I'm going to try to back tomorrow to finish two more big branches so there's a bit of a bower and more branches to hang the fruit and leaves off of. It's kind of fun basically getting to use the church basement as a sort of studio for this project. There's so much space! shiny wood floors and a surprising amount of light. The fruit and leaves will be sold for donations to support the various Episcopal community outreach ministries, including 2 women's shelters. For more info about the cathedral and the outreach programs click here.

Wednesday, May 5

more print influences...

I don't want to detract from my previous post- so read on and respond to my question below if you would, but this print influence is all over the place. I started painting/drawing my "Fruit" for the tree of life project at church tonight and ended up using the internet images I found last night as well as leaf and flower images from a printed fabric.Was also looking at Henna Mendhi patterns earlier today- lovely repetitive marksHere's my pomegranate:These images are going to be copied and sold to place on a drawn tree of life I'm starting tomorrow. Money will be raised for Episcopal missions.
Okay, now that I've shared my excitement after all that india ink drawing, go back to telling me about how you've been influenced by print media.

print/media influences?

If you've been reading for a while you may know how I like to use photographs of the city as inspiration for my embroideries, more recently zeroing in on walls and graffiti. Tomorrow I'll be presenting to the Philadelphia Handweaver's guild on how media has been an influence on embroidery in America since colonial times to the present. So for a more contemporary snapshot, I'm curious:

Are you or How are you influenced by images/text found in print media today?

Tuesday, May 4

fruit of the vine.. or bush.. or tree

For the Tree of Life for church I said I would draw stylized fruit images, so I'm wondering what fruit to choose. I'm leaning towards pomegranates, but there should probably be a variety.
Pineapples don't grow on trees exactly... but they're beautiful
Any thoughts out there? What fruit should be on a tree of life?

Monday, May 3

***big sigh of relief***

My crit went well despite the unfinished state of the wall embroidery. I turned in my final ed paper and gave a great presentation on art education at the DCCA. One more paper to finish up by Thursday and I'll be done for the semester!!!

Next up: Tree of life on paper for church fundraiser, plans for a 10-week residency with 3rd graders exploring arts of India (hello tree of life again!), and a presentation to the Philadelphia Handweavers Guild on embroidery samplers and appropriation on Thursday night!

Oh yeah, and sleep!!!!!!!!!!
If you want to attend my PGHW presentation, it's Thursday May 6th from 7-8 pm. Click here for location.

Sunday, May 2


Today my 12 & 13-year-old Saturday art class students explored the concept of collecting. The assignment was risky from the teacher-point of view because it required a lot of trust on my part and responsibility on their part to complete the process.

After thinking and discussing what can be collected, how many objects make up a collection, and how a collection can be organized and described, students grouped into teams of 2-4 students to explore the whole Fleisher building and collect small objects, preferably focusing on one zone or room. I let them loose with baskets for a half hour with instructions to be respectful of other people in the building as they collected and to reconvene in the gallery. After their scavenging, we headed up to the digital lab to use the scanners and computers. They were told to plan a composition using some or all of their objects, with each student getting a chance to arrange their own composition, sharing the group's collected objects. I walked them through the steps of creating a file and scanning and saving their images, then they worked together, sharing the 4 computers that had scanners hooked up. Here are some of the results showing what areas of the building they concentrated on. Above, the items were all collected in and around the front entrance lobby and desk. These 2 images above and below share objects found in the abundant still-life prop-room. I think these have interesting light effects due to the very 3-dimensional objects used. Nature was a common theme, either artificial as in the prop-room collections, or real. Several students explored the garden or the front of the building and collected some of the surrounding flora for their compositions.
There also seemed to be great interest in money. Probably a great concern to these young teens who have consumer desires but not the funds to buy what they wish, and something they need to become savvy and responsible with. These 2 images are mostly a result of what the students found in their own belongings. I like how the one above combines the drawing and the personal collection of pencils used to make it. And below, the bills were interleaved into a tree branch. "Money doesn't grow on trees!"
I'm very excited about the experience today! I'm pleased that my students seemed engaged and excited about the process. They were trusted and lived up to the trust. They truly cooperated within their teams and I enjoyed hearing them talk things out. One of the challenges with this group is breaking down their young adolescent self-consciousness, and giving them opportunities for some independence and choice is valuable.

Now I need to print out their images, and next week we'll mount a "Fleisher Museum" exhibit in the hallway with some written descriptions.