Saturday, December 28

Noyes and Forsythe

So nice to escape the city for a day, and actually get out and do something during this vacation time (although the studio has seen a bit more of me than usual this week). We drove down to Absecon to visit the Noyes museum, which is this great little art museum that features New Jersey artists primarily. They have four main gallery spaces. One is featuring a solo exhibit of fable-inspired portraits by Victor Grasso- while well-painted, some were just annoyingly... well see for yourself. Another gallery had a member show, and a third had an exhibit of impressionistic pastels by John Pierce Barnes. In the hall was a great window installation by Karen Guancione, filled with suspended card catalog cards- all these once-useful indexes flown to the wind.
 A final gallery had an exhibit about Noise (noise- Noyes, get it?- yeah it's a little silly, but it was perfect because my daughter asked on the way down- will it be noisy there? Oh we love a little pun....) I'm not a huge fan of multi-media art exhibits because half the time the media devices aren't working, and they weren't. There were headphones connected to a typewriter and an old trestle sewing machine, but no sound came out, and an ipod was dangling from a phonograph-like sculpture, but no sound poured forth because the cord was disconnected. And were these sculptures meant to be interactive or not? No signage granted permission, but the works seemed intended to be interactive. I love the Noyes, but this exhibit seemed sadly neglected. Despite the media flaws, there was an INCREDIBLE piece by Eve Ingalls anchoring the show. From afar it appeared like a charcoal drawing:
but up close it revealed its incredible 3 dimensionality. Entitled "After Sandy", it embodied the crash and thrum of pounding waves and the crunch of sand covered asphalt, all while sitting quietly on the wall. Perhaps its success was that it did not set out to make sound or incorporate sound literally, unlike the rest of the works in the show. It was a great noise through visual expression  and interpretation. Visual artists can get in trouble when they try too hard to be something more than visual. Ingalls captured it just right. Check out more of her incredible work.
 Is it any surprise that my favorite works were fibers-related?
 Much to my surprise, the Forsythe national wildlife refuge was RIGHT NEXT to the Noyes (who needs gps?) and our adventure continued to the great outdoors. It seems more of a vehicle-friendly place than walker-friendly (ugh... NJ car culture), but we took a short hike down to gull tower pond and climbed the observation tower. I took some panoramas and sketched from the close-up views of the swans and egrets you could see with a telescope up top. The sun-spot above obliterates the Atlantic City skyline with its windmills. I love windmills. From the aerial view, the wildlife seemed so much more abundant than from our roadside hike vantage.
 Although, we were wonderfully startled by an egret who suddenly leapt from his hiding place about 10 feet away from us as we walked. I love the marsh grasses and their reflections. The broken stalks below remind me of a Harry Callahan photo. I wish I could stumble in and weave a living basket of them.
Winter color is subtle.Winter light is crisp. I'm more inspired by the beauty of nature than the man-made beauty in the museum. I can't help myself but to go and make art myself... but it is a poor reflection of the wonder of the world.

Sunday, December 15

When in doubt... Stitch

With all the flurry of weather and other changes in life, today was the first time over to the studio in 3 weeks! Yikes! It was 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but with hat, scarf, studio sweater, fingerless gloves, and the space heater next to me I was able to work for about 3 hours. There is nothing like stitching to let the mind release worries. With my fingers busy my brain can still and I can be in the present moment. The rhythm of the needle and pop of thread through the taut fabric is music that calms and sustains me. The bleak midwinter is outside my window, but my center is warm and bright.

Tuesday, December 10

pattern play

Snow day today!! Which means I've had time for the great pleasures of reading, cooking, and photoshop playing. I was not about to slosh over to the studio, but decided to stay cosy at home and make some art on the computer instead. There were some photos I'd taken around South Philly that I wanted to mash up. Here's the Fleisher sunset with the sanctuary gates superimposed:

 And a little piece of Isaiah Zagar mural from 7th and Carpenter has made its way onto the ghost rooms from a building torn down at 7th and Bainbridge. I walked by yesterday and found a nearly complete new building has sprung up where this wall once was.
I REALLY want to print these out onto some silk and add some stitched texture. The beaded snow piece I started last month is complete and needs binding. Oh boy, there's a bunch of binding that needs doing!! Perhaps that will be my winter break activity...

In the meantime.....
Registration is open for Winter session at Fleisher and I need a few more student for Stitch and Surface!!! It's a 10 week course on Thursday evenings, and I promise a new sampler idea, some fabric bleaching experimentation, and a portrait project!
Registration for Summer workshops at Peters Valley is now open as well! I'll be teaching a digital print (and embellishment) on fabric class at the beginning of July. Check it out!

Sunday, December 1

Longwood visit

 We headed down to Brandywine area this weekend to visit Longwood Gardens, just in time for their Christmas extravaganza. I much prefer spending time there than shopping on this Black Friday weekend. My favorite decorations were the gourd birdfeeders on this fir tree above.
 My daughter laid claim to the camera while we strolled around the grounds and the conservatory. I cropped and enhanced them a little, but its interesting to see what captured her eye.

 I think these would be fun to experiment with by zooming in and printing them out on fabric.

Besides plant pictures she also took a ton of selfies and a bunch of her parents strolling off into the sunset together. We've had a lovely weekend. I wish we could always have this much time and fun together...

Friday, November 29


I'm thankful for continued opportunities to show my work. This past week we gathered for an artist talk at the Kimmel Center for an exhibition of collaborative works by Moore alumna.
 Michelle Wilson and I are showing our collaborative book, "Infinite Thread".It as displayed nicely in  a case, however the lighting there is rather poor and I wish our piece had been placed on the other side of the building with the piece below. Our book was installed next to two loud abstract paintings, which were just too brash in comparison. Our subtly crafted book would have fared better next to the wood and metal spears.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 16

Collaborations at Fleisher

 These wonderful, goofy kids made this fabulous wheatpasted arrangement of prints on the free wall outside Fleisher Art Memorial today to culminate our semester together.
They started off as 3 inch square zentangle doodles which were scanned into photoshop and repeated to create rotational symmetry. They were printed out as photo positives and exposed onto screens. Most of the ones on the wall are just 1 color prints of their key images. In the studio, though, they printed another set of 2-3 color prints with shapes behind their key image like in the ones that have green triangles. I like to have some reason for the multiplicity of prints we generate in the silkscreen studio, so they often end up as collaborative installations of some sort or another.
This wall was recently tagged up by a local graffiti-ist. It's a "free wall" for our kids classes to experiment with public art, but this is the first time in a long while anyone outside our school has tagged it. The tag was not very aesthetic to say the least, and covered up a previous stencil project I did with my screen-printers. The wall wasn't looking great since a previous wheatpasting by the digital photo class had disintegrated and been tagged. So at least we covered up the eyesore of old wheatpaste with our tile-like prints. The front desk printed out a letter addressing the recent tagger and asked that we wheatpaste that too! It suggested that the tagger come take art classes with us to improve their aesthetics!!

I'm hoping the weather doesn't get too rainy so that our wheatpaste survives for a while. Now for a short hiatus from community art. Registration for Winter session opens on Monday the 18th. In Winter session I'm offering Color theory (free class!) on Tuesdays from 7-9:30, Stitch and surface on Thursdays from 6:30-9:30, Printing on fabric on Saturdays from 9-12, and my teen silkscreen class on Saturday from 1:30-3:30. Bring some life into the winter doldrums with an art class!

Sunday, November 10

Changing seasons

 My prayer cloth is once again on the walls of the Philadelphia Cathedral. On the Feast of All Saints and all souls we unraveled it and wrapped it around the congregation during the Prayers of the People. I cried through the whole thing. It is a precious gift for an artist to make something that brings people together and that is used ceremoniously. Despite it's length it is still not really long enough- so all are invited to bring donations of fabric from those you've loved and lost to extend the piece. I lie that it is an organic thing with the potential to grow.
 I'd like to find more opportunities to make work lie this. Maybe other congregations or communities would like to collaborate like this. (And it would be nice to make some money from this too....).
 In the studio I'm bouncing between the big quilt piece and this small digitally printed cloth. I'm scheduled to teach a class on digital printing on fabric up at Peter's Valley next Summer (YAY!) and wanted to work up some pieces using the techniques. This is a photo on silk I did a few years ago and it's been hanging on my design wall for ages. Finally I decided to embellish the blue painted asphalt with some satin stitch and then bead the ice and snow with clear seed beads. I love the texture and sparkle. It's dancing between being very literally a piece of sidewalk and looking quite abstract.
It's heralding the winter. The studio is a cool 60 degrees. A studio mate has offered to design a "roof" for my studio to help keep it warmer over the winter. It was truly frigid last year, so I may have to go for it if I want to keep working in comfort.

I don't like the sudden dark of November. But all around me I keep hearing how the seeds lay in the dark earth so that they can grow and be fruitful in the spring. It's a time to incubate some ideas.

Saturday, October 26


 This week has had some beautiful sunsets. The trees are starting to show bare limbs, making lacy silhouettes against the sky. October skies are brilliant blue. The air is crisp and it makes me feel alive and nostalgic. Everything is changing so quickly. My daughter celebrates her 14th birthday this week, and I don't know how all that time has passed.
We went to Linvilla Orchards in Media this afternoon and picked apples. I wish I could freeze those moments as the three of us walked through the rows of trees, reaching in between branches for ripe Granny Smith with the sun sparkling gold in our hair and the edges of the leaves. Don't grow old! Don't change! Stay here forever with your warm hand in mine with the crisp snap of apple on our tongues....

But the windfalls are already fermenting
and the earth keeps turning
and the sun keeps setting

Tuesday, October 22


So satisfying to make something small after all this giant stuff. This is all variegated threads on shibori-dyed silk, and it just shimmers. It's a special little piece. I will always keep this one.

Saturday, October 19

Sewing in the dark

 After a long day of high school open house visits for the teenager of the house, and teaching printmaking at Fleisher to some more teenagers, I was ready to escape to the studio. I got there around 5 but the Fall light is fading fast. By 6:30 I looked around and found myself in the shadows. I've been slowly quilting panels of grids following the patchwork on Big Blue. I've also been indulging myself with a small doodle in silk and linen inspired by a friend.

Friday, October 18

Happy Philly Photo Day!

This is my day in pictures in honor of Philly Photo Day sponsored by the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. They host an annual project where anyone can submit one photo taken on October 18th within Philadelphia city limits, and it will be printed out and displayed in an exhibition at the Crane Arts building. Additionally, about 40 of the photos will be blown up on murals and billboards around the city. Of course, I took a whole lot more than one photo and it was hard to make the cut. These are all the ones I did NOT submit. If you want to see the one I did, you'll just have to come to the opening in a few weeks! Voila, le salon des refuses:

Drive in on I95, saw Leger's "The CITY", in front of my city.
my favorite stretch of I-95 is going under all the ramps and Ben Franklin bridge
No parking anywhere
trash day in South Philly
accidental photo outside Sabrina's cafe
the view through the music teacher's window. we are serenaded by chimes all day
the view through my classroom window
here come the kids!
Frankford Ave and Columbus Blvd. Loved the Bull sculpture and graffiti contrast
empty chairs at Rocket Cat cafe
The rest of these pictures were all taken at Rocket Cat by my daughter- I let her submit one too. She has a great eye for composition- ever since she was a 4 year old and I'd let her use my point and shoot digital camera to keep her busy at events. She's taken a few digital photo classes in the past year and is able to talk about her compositions quite eloquently.

If you want to learn more about Philly Photo Day visit here.

Monday, October 7

In my happy place

 Today I finally finished the endless sea of green straight stitch in the wall piece. Now it simply awaits trimming and binding. But that can wait. The blue monster awaits. I've decided to start it off by quilting  grids over the patchworked areas before I impose the tile pattern. I thought the tension and integrity of the fabric would be better if it was more securely stitched to the backing cloth. I have spools and spools of light blue Perle, perfect for this project. Grids are frequent motifs in my work. I see them as basic maps, centering me in space, helping me find my bearings.
 On this huge piece I need to lay down my cardinal directions.

We sort of had an open studio weekend, so I hung some more artwork around the studio and in the hall. People who come visit are always so pleasantly surprised at how homey and cozy it looks. This afternoon was stormy outside, but my lights were warm, the monster quilt in my standing hoop was warm, and a studio mate came by for a long chat while I stitched. It's my happy place.