Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wormfarm Institute Art Residency in Wisconsin

 (Above:  Wormfarm Institute, an art residency on a working organic farm in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge ... although a few might not work as they were taken on my phone! LOL!)

I arrived at Wormfarm Institute on Monday afternoon, after teaching a two-day workshop at the Craft Alliance in St. Louis.  (I'll blog about that great experience later.)  I had all day Tuesday to get acquainted with the place, set up my studio, and get to work.  Yesterday, Wednesday, was my first day to work a couple hours in the garden.  I did so again today.  The experience of planting crops on a farm is part of the deal at this program.  Since I've never done anything like this (even basic gardening), this is an adventure!  I'm up for a good adventure!

First, let me take you on a tour of the place.  This is the entrance to the barn.  The window looks into my bedroom.


Barns are massive.  Inside there's a stage area on one end ...


... and a view to the partitioned areas that serve as bedrooms and studios.  Please note the staircase to the lower level.  My bedroom is just to the right of this doorway.


In fact, my bedroom is behind the open door to the staircase ... right near one of the two barn cats, Crooks and Spike.  The cats are friendly ... but they are really just trying to convince people to let them in the bedrooms and studios because they aren't allowed in these spaces.  This is the view to the entrance door.  It slides open. 


This is the view in the opposite direction.  I haven't even looked to see if this door opens!

So ... this is my studio area.  It is screened in and has a blue plastic tarp overhead ... to keep Spike and Crooks out.  (One tried unsuccessfully to walk on the tarp.  It was hilarious!)

I've already constructed and stitched eight small "In Box" series pieces (melted four of them) and two Lancet Windows.  So ... I'm working!

There are four bedrooms ... all named.   There's the "Egg" and the "Cloud" which are currently empty but a printmaker from Oregon is supposed to arrive by the end of the month.  The "Truck" bedroom is occupied by the studio manager, Betsy, a writer from nearby Madison, Wisconsin.  I'm in the "Worm" ... which I selected because I like the "loft" bed and especially the name "Worm" since I'm at a place named for them.  Thankfully, I was provided with a down comforter and an electric blanket.  The first two nights had a low temperature of 37 degrees.  I think I would have died without the electric blanket.


As I mentioned before, the stairs (and hence my "loft" styled bed) are beside my bedroom door.  They lead down to the kitchen door ... another "pet free" zone and hence a screen door.


 This is the kitchen.  Just off the kitchen area is the former milk house.  After all, this was once a barn for cows.  Cows are milked.


Now the milk house is a bathroom with a sink and a nice, claw-footed tub.  No toilet.  I'll get to that later!


The rest of the lower level is filled with tools, an area with three ceramic kilns, a place for bicycle repairs, and a back section that appears still to be for cows.


This is the doorway out the lower level.  Yes ... the barn is built on a hill and thus there are ground level doors on both levels.  Please note the small greenhouse.  That's where seedlings are raised.

Here's the view of the greenhouse ... and a very special area just to its right!  This is a welding area!  Soon I'll be using some of the scrap metal to rust vintage garments and fabric.  Today I set up my soldering irons and industrial heat gun and melted four of my "In Box" series pieces in this space ...

... while surveying all the rusty farm implements ...

... which are certainly in abundance ...

... with great patina ...

... and some awesome shapes ...

... in all sorts of sizes!

Next to the welding area is one of two "hoop" houses for plants.

Inside is a cool irrigation system ... and I already have permission to see what this algae might do to fabric!

As I mentioned before, the other side of the barn includes the former milk house ...

 ... which is very near the old silo, granary, and the outhouse!


Yes ... this is the outhouse!

A little further is the tractor shed ... which doubles as a place to park cars.  There's a very old corn crib there which is totally falling over ...

... and another shed with fantastic patina ...

... and a bunch of this green drums by the tractor shed ... which I have no idea what are ... but then again, I have no idea about a lot of this.  It's a farm.  This is really the first time I've lived more than a weekend on a farm.  (The only farm I've ever really been to was my Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard's in Barboursville, WV ... and that was decades ago!)  This is all very new to me!

So ... let's walk up the road ... past this three part compost system ...

... past the chicken coup ...

... past one of the traveling stands that Wormfarm uses for various local events ...

... and into the pole building ... which is used to package crops ...

... and has a back area that was once a foundry.  One of the co-owners used to cast bronze here.

It is full of all sorts of things ... including more rusty metal!

Next is the garage (right), guest house (left), and the main house.

This is the Main House from the side that is generally used for coming and going.

This is probably the original "front" of the house.  It faces the Briar Bluff Road and overlooks several other beds in the garden ...

... including these beds.  The beds have several slightly raised rows for planting.  Each row is 36" in width.  There are 18" between the rows.

On the first day I planted white and purple scallions!

Today I helped trellis peas ...

... and went to other beds nearer the tractor shed ...

... where I planted lettuce and rutabaga.

So ... that's where I'm at.  Here are just a few more detail images from my walks on the property!

I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Last Day at the Anderson Center

(Above:  The Teapot, fiber vessel with found, rusted metal object.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Sadly, today was the last in my Anderson Center art residency.  Even the weather seemed to be crying tears of rain for tomorrow morning's very early departure.  I took advantage of the fantastically large studio space for as long as possible before cramming everything back into my car.  The last piece I finished is The Teapot.

(Above:  The Teapot, detail.)

I didn't intend to make an abstracted fiber teapot but that's what happened!  All I meant to do was to stitch the curved, rusty metal strip into the side of the vessel and allow the other end to puncture the opposite side.  Once done ... it resembled a teapot!  I started hand stitching the rest of the cording into what I hope will become a "cup".  Unfortunately, I can't force my machine to stitch a vessel quite that small.  So, I'll wait for another day when needle and thread can be plied by hand.

(Above:  Detail of The Teapot, inside the vessel.)

The metal strip came from the blacksmith studio at the Anderson Center.  I was luck enough to receive permission to take a few extra pieces of scrap metal with me ... so more will be coming!

(Above:  Grounded.  Fiber vessel with found scrap metal.)

I didn't have to carry away one special piece of scrap metal.  I used it!  From the side view, it isn't even shown ...

... but looking inside, the scrap metal is still attached to the cording that wraps around it.  I used a variegated rust colored thread on one side of the vessel and a deep eggplant color on the other side.  But, for the rim, I used a very bright orange.  It turned out rather well!

(Above:  Another detail of Grounded.)

When I applied to the Anderson Center, I requested a month.  I was offered (and jumped at the chance) for two weeks.  I've been encourage to reapply ... for the full month ... and I will do it!  Yet, this year I had a decision to make.  I could scale back my proposal, limit the goals I set for myself, or try to accomplish everything I set out to do if award thirty days.  Obviously, I selected the later.  I've been almost entirely successful.

(Above:  Bucket List, in progress ... the vessel it finished but it isn't filled.)

The only think I wasn't able to accomplish was my idea of filling a vessel with ripped and torn pages that were symbolic of the concept I was trying to convey.  Yet, I'm on my way to completing at least one piece done along these line.  Later this summer I will acquire a stack of old National Geographic Magazines.  The pages will be ripped, stitched, rolled, and tied to fill this vessel.  It will represent the way so many people once formed dreams of foreign travel ... what is today called "a bucket list".

(Above:  Detail of Bucket List.)

I wanted the vessel to be a little flatter than normal ... and overflowing with the ripped and stitched pages.  I selected an olive green color to coordinate with the many images of nature found inside the magazine but also to compliment the classic yellow on the covers.  So ... stay tuned ... Bucket List will eventually get done!

(Above:  Purple and blue vessel ... headed to the Anderson Center's 16th Annual Celebration of the Arts on July 11, 2015.)

I selected this purple and blue vessel (with a metallic purple rim) as well as the smaller of the two aqua vessels from my last blog post for the upcoming 16th Annual Celebration of the Arts here at the Anderson Center.  From home I brought three of my "Wet Sand" series pieces too.  (To read more about this epoxy experiment, click HERE.)

(Above:  Detail of the purple and blue vessel.)

I'm very honored that the Anderson Center wants some of my work for this occasion.  I selected the "Wet Sand" pieces because I felt they represented so much that important to the way I work.  I was asked to provide some sort of "statement" to explain the pieces.  This is what I wrote:

Almost every Tuesday night find me at Bill Mishoe's auction for used household furnishings and assorted table lots of “junk”. One evening I spied a very dusty, large painter's drop cloth. Paint splotches and wood stain drops speckled the surface. It reminded me of the texture of a sandy beach. This drop cloth was part of a table-lot that looked as if it had been in someone's garage for years. I didn't buy the lot but offered two-dollars to the flea market dealer who did. I took the drop cloth home and washed it. It still resembled sand. I tore it into various squares, put a piece of recycled white industrial felt behind it, and machine stitched it. I allowed the stains and spots of paint to guide itme. Hand stitching was then added. Finally, I experimented by pouring epoxy over the top. Now it looks very much like the wet sand along the coast of South Carolina.

I selected these pieces for the 16th Annual Summer Celebration of the Arts because they represent my state and because they include so much of what is important to my art. They were made using a found object. They were both hand and machine stitched. They are the result of experimentation. These are the very thing the define my studio practice. I also selected two fiber vessels created during my early May art residency at the Anderson Center. It has been my honor to be part of such a wonderful program at such a magical place. Thank you!

(Above:  Comfortable With the Pain I Know.)

I am truly honored to have been given two month here ... and especially for the opportunity to "raid" the rusty metal on location.  I really wanted to use this chain ... but I was worried.  Why?  Well it is a rather heavy chain.  The links are rather thick.  They was no way to slide them through two of the rings in my coil.  I was going to have to leave space ... like I did with one of my small pieces.

(Above:  Comfortable With the Pain I Know, detail.)

I could envision the chain moving in and out of the vessel.  It was going to be difficult ...

... until I realized that I didn't have to flip the vessel inside out and place it under the machine!  I could flip it on its end and simply "go the other way" ... making the holes I needed!

This process is far easier than the way I made the first vessel with a larger hole!  I'm really thrilled!

Plus, it looks good!

(Abpve:  The third table filled with newly tagged keys.)

I am also thrilled to announce that I made my "impossible goal".  I wanted to create five hundred newly tagged keys during the month.  Yet, I only had two weeks.  Well ... with the help of Facebook and blog readers ... I MADE IT!  Heres the third ...

... and the fourth table covered with keys!

I've been really, really good about blogging.  It is important to me to share this and all my other creative experiences.  It is how I show my family what I'm doing.  It is how I participate in the world of art relationships.  Yet, I never got around to blogging about the incredible Anderson Center Sculpture Garden.  I have all the photos.  I just haven't blogged them.  I promise ... this post is coming but not tonight.

But, I also promised a blog post on the amazing tunnels that connect the original buildings here at the Anderson Center.  I've got that covered!  In the two photos above, I've shown the greenhouse.  It is just this short walkway from the main house.  But ... the walkway is more than just a sidewalk.  It is the "roof" of an underground tunnel.  On cold Minnesota winter days, one never had to brave the subzero temperatures ...

.... instead ... one just had to walk down this short tunnel under the exterior sidewalk ...

...climb the stairs near the end of the tunnel ...

... to arrive inside the door that was shown in the photo above ...

... and enter the charming greenhouse!

The tunnel is accessed from the basement of the main house.  That basement is now the laundry area ... with machines of artists-in-residence to use ... including the detergent!  If you look closely, there's a door at the back of this photo.  It leads into a room off of which is another tunnel ...

... the tunnel to the water tower!  Yes, this sidewalk is also the "roof" of a subterranean tunnel!

It come up via these stairs (which are actually "off limits" ... but this is the only tunnel no longer used by the artists!)  There's a tunnel to the laboratory (now the Anderson Center's office, permanent and temporary art collection spaces, and the alternative high school classrooms) and further on to the barn!

Speaking of "school".  I had a wonderful time on Tuesday in front of the Red Wing High School 11th grade drawing and painting class. I gave a presentation on "being an artist", making sacrifices in order to make time for personal art, and how rewarding a creative life can be.  Plus, one of the alternative high school classes came to visit my studio on Wednesday.  It felt great to talk to young people ... to encourage their pursuits and interests.

(Above:  Marianne Boruch reading from her memoirs, The Glimpse Traveler, 2011 at Fair Trade Books in downtown Red Wing, MN during Open Mic Night.)

It also was an honor to listen while three of the four other artists-in-residence participated in the local Open Mic night at Fair Trade Books in downtown Red Wing.

(Above:  Paul Brantley playing two selections from Bach's Cello Suites.)

I can't think of a better way to end an art residency experience than being part of a standing-room-only crowd of people committed to their art and community!

(Above:  Stephan Clark reading from his book Sweetness # Nine.)

I'll miss the Anderson Center.  It's been emotionally, creatively, spiritually, and fabulously wonderful ... a second spring!  Now ... on to St. Louis and to a two-day workshop at the Craft Alliance!  Can't wait!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.