Monday, September 24, 2007

Busy Weekend, Part One

There's no way I can post everything I've been thinking about artistically, looking at with new eyes, and feeling with deep emotions. It's been a very, very busy weekend...full of stitches, pages, and steps.....fiber art, book art, and the art of dance. I want to remember. I want to capture some of my mental plans and hopefully a little of the inspiration.

Here's part one: Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Early last week, a string of events led me to this museum/gallery's website...a friend had a show there over the summer, we corresponded on another matter, I "googled" the museum and noticed that there was a page called "Exhibition Submission Guidelines" with two annual deadlines (including September 30), I wrote a proposal (a scary, new attempt for me), and I saw a blurb on the home page for a show called "Sculptural Books" by Daniel Essig.

I went to Daniel Essig's amazingly beautiful place of mystery, a blend of ancient and primitive cultures, one computer click after another of handmade books...not just "handmade" by passionately created volumes. I knew I had to see them for myself.

Salisbury isn't too far up I-85 from Charlotte...we were headed to Charlotte...we started out early...we were alone in two wonderful rooms with the work. I couldn't resist...I snapped off several photos (no flash, of course....but perhaps not the sort of images I ought to post without permission). There was a price list...and the cost to own one of these precious pieces wasn't as high as I'd have imagined, instead each was reasonable, almost tempting. Yet, I'd rather spend my money on a workshop with Daniel Essig. Hopefully, his website will be updated soon. Those listed are mostly in the past.

I was struck by the small size of the inset enclosures, the smooth surfaces juxaposed with rough, crusty areas; the use of antique and handmade paper but otherwise no personally added text or collaging; and the strong notion of ancient beauty....possession of books being an exclusive, wondrous privilege. The rusted nails and ostrich shell beads lent a primitive, African sense of earthy, tribal rituals. The most elegant Coptic bindings made me think of medieval monasteries and religious mysteries. There was attention to every fine detail on every surface. The fossils worked better than any expensive gem would have in order to convey a sense of pricelessness. I wanted to touch everything but resisted. It was hard to step from one piece to another. It was more difficult to leave this exhibit...but there were other places to go, other art to be seen, and a space to be considered....just in case my proposal would be accepted.

I made a mental note upon exiting Waterworks....take your time while constructing something meant to appear as if steeped in many passing years...dig deeper for symbolism....learn more about binding....pull at your heartstrings to find a universal connection to others.

Waterworks Visual Arts Center is also an incredible place in a revitalized downtown, historical area. I would be so very, very proud to have Blues Chapel installed there. I was amazed on Sunday upon our return trip to have a personal letter acknowledging the receipt of my proposal in the mailbox.

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