Friday, June 15, 2007

Demba Visits Columbia



I love African artifacts! I look forward to Demba's visits to Columbia, when he pulls his large utility van loaded with West African artifacts into town. This time he set up "shop" on Doni Jordan's driveway. Stephen Chesley and I went together. I bought five textiles to frame...for the business, of course...but I don't really care if they sell or not! The five are all made of raffia, woven and cut pile. Tremendous buys and gorgeous work.



Of course, one of the main reasons I get excited about Demba's visits is the opportunity to photograph his wares. Each time he's come, I've shot over 200 images...generally within a half hour to forty-five minutes. I've created my entire "African Series" using these photos...which got me my solo show last November at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Now, the remaining pieces are on display at Bohemian Home, a local, independently owned furniture store on a fashionable shopping street here in Columbia. I've also been working...on and off...on two altered books and dozens of single pages using my African pictures. Now, I've got more!



Demba always a vast assortment of artifacts. Rarely are there many of the same pieces, but I was happy to see a few of my "friends" from the last visit. This time Demba brought more masks, more textiles, fewer pieces of ceramics and baskets, less furniture but spears, dolls, beads, and hats made of feathers.



Most of these pictures don't need an explanation...and if they do, I'm hardly the person to ask! The dolls, however, were special. They were twins, meant to be given to twins upon birth to ward off evil spirits. Perhaps, Demba brought them because he knew that Doni is a twin.



The two female masks I recognized as being from the Puna tribe. One of my favorite photos and resulting work was of a Puna mask quite similar to these...but with a slightly different hairdo!



Even I am beginning to see the personalities of these masks and figures. One piece was for the same ritual as another I had photographed on one of Demba's earlier trips...from the time before my computer crashed and I lost all the photos! The piece I made using that photo won an award at the Mojo Arts Festival...$500. So, seeing this figure again really brought a smile to my face.



Seeing all these pieces inspired me to continue on my African altered books, but I have so many other things to do...deadlines. I've also been working on several other projects already...ones that have nothing to do with my deadlines! So, working on the African pieces shouldn't be what I'm doing! I can't help myself, though. I will likely set up some hand beading on the single African pages...for evening stitching.



After the trip to see Demba and his objects, I spent time in my studio...doing what I am suppose to be doing. I started Strata VII. I used some of the fabulous threads I bought at the Oliver Twist booth at the Birmingham Stitching and Knitting show last September. I am playing with the idea of "holes" and circles on this one.



Yesterday, before going to Demba's I spent most of the day working with my rusted fabric in between helping clients and cutting mats for the frame shop. I discovered that the book I am making is going to need five more pieces of the rusted nails on silk. How I miscounted, I'll never know. So, I set about getting that project ready to do over the weekend. How I wanted to finish it...but, it will wait. In fact, I think I'm going to do two more books like it...so, I'll be needing lots of rusted nails on fabric!



Today, in between cutting mats and answering the ever ringing telephone, I color and contrast corrected my African artifact photos. I've been a bit nervous. Today was Alex's first day on the job...well, first job outside of our business. He's being trained at Subway. I hope this works.



Alex has also been helping at CMFA for the past two weeks with the Carolina Ballet summer program. I can't believe he keeps this up. He's actually taken "men's class" this time. Frankly, I think he just enjoys flirting with the girls and hanging out with the male dancers. Maybe it reminds him of his brother?



Keith Mearns and his girlfriend Abigail Mentzer are in town visiting Keith's mom and teaching for the CMFA program. Abigail is featured in this month's Dance Magazine. Hopefully, they will be dancing in the "little" program this evening. Alex will be doing partnering. Maybe Sarah Mearns is also in town and will be performing. She is a soloist at New York City Ballet.



I have another "problem" hanging over my head. I sponsored an exhibit for the gallery at Vista Studios called "Skate and Create". The owner of the local skateboard shop, Dave, wanted to have a charity art event on national "Skate Board Day", June 21. Of course, without an artistic resume, professional quality photos of work to be exhibited, etc., there was little chance that he'd get approval to use the space. Since I rent a studio, however, I get two free weeks use of the gallery per year. I've never taken advantage of this. It feels too much like throwing your own birthday party and expecting all your friends to buy presents. Anyway, I donated my week to Dave. Dave has filed all the papers for non-profit status...to raise awareness of the need for a proper skating facility in town. (Columbia use to have a skate park but the city tore it down to make a high school football stadium.) The only stipulation for me to donate a week of free gallery use is that I must be a participant in the exhibit. My painted skateboard isn't done yet. It is due on Wednesday. I've helped, however, with much of the publicity. The event is going to be a great success...two films will debut and the city is closing our part of Lady Street during the reception as a "open skate" demonstration area.



This is likely the longest post I've ever written. It has taken me all day...in between more mat cutting and more clients. It is Friday...always a busy day in a frame shop with people picking up their work before hosting a party over the weekend.



I should preface that last comment. Mouse House is really no longer a frame shop! It used to be. Steve and I used to have fourteen people on payroll. The first clocked in at 6 AM. The last left at 6 PM...six days a week. I always got my "serious" work done between 9 PM and 1 AM. (The business is the first floor of our large, historic, downtown home.) Almost six years ago, I finally couldn't stand it. I forcibly down-sized this still growing business by firing my mat cutter and helping the others find new jobs. The down-sizing took two years. That's when I decided, without any real background or training, that it was time for me to be an artist. So far, so good! I still celebrate Bastille Day with the French...it is my day of independence too...I fired the mat cutter and made this life-altering decision that day. This is year six. Thankfully, I am married to a supportive man...although he has a PhD in civil engineering, he has worked for me since 1990. We figured out a way to live more creatively...and more happily.



Good! I made it...a comment between each of these images!

1 comment:

Jacquelines blog said...

these images are beautiful, I love African Art. There are so many great contemporary African artists, I think they don't get enough credit.