Monday, September 15, 2008

Tieing loose ends!

(Click on image above for enlargement.)
Above: Organic Farmers. Stitched words: American Neo-Gothic. Background words include: Local, All Natural, Homemade. Unframed: 25 1/2" x 31". Framed: 31" x 37". Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched.)

Over a month ago I went to one of the farmer's markets in the greater Columbia area in order to secure this digital image. Selvin and Edwina Harrell were very busy selling their fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to fabulous cut flowers. They own Crooked Cedar Farms in nearby Blythewood, South Carolina. As retired state employees, it is obvious that organic farming is a passion...a committment...a lifetime decision. For me, they exemplify the image of a twenty-first century, family farmer....contemporary and determined, idealistic and far-sighted.

I designed the piece with obvious references to Grant Wood's classic 1930 oil painting American Gothic. (Below). Though this classic, iconographic piece is owned by the Chicago Art Institute, I saw it a couple of years ago in Woods' retrospective at the Renwick Gallery in DC. No matter how many dissertations are written about this Iowan couple and their environment....the decision to farm is never questioned. I find this quality in the Harrell's portrait and in their decision to work the land.

The past couple of days have been overwhelmingly full. The "to do" list seems to be growing rather than shrinking. There are so many things to finish before I head north to the MacNamara Foundation and a six week artist residency.

Steve and I have purchased an ISB Modem from Verizon that should (God willing!) allow me to access the Internet while away. This should mean that CYBER FYBER continues rapid plans for its opening in January and trading can still take place. This should mean that I can read and send email. This should also mean that I can share the experience through blog posts. In a few short days....Friday...I'll be there. I'll know then if these plans will work! My fingers and toes are crossed.

One of the things I had to finish was my "skateboard". I'm sponsoring another Skate and Create art exhibition at Gallery 80808. It will be odd...since I won't even be there....but my "found art skateboard" is done. Last year's exhibition was highly successful and brought about a lot of awareness and funds for a skate board facility here in Columbia. Below is my piece....yes...all of it was "Found Art" except a few nuts and bolts!

One of the unfortunate things about being in Maine is that I'll be missing some local art events...including the MOJA juried show opening. I've got two pieces in this exhibition. Also, I've got five pieces headed to an invitational show in Charlotte...and can't attend the opening. If I were in town, I'd be headed to Charleston too....for an underground art auction charity event at Urban Outfitters. The show is called Stix and Stonz...a parody of the child's taunt "Stick and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me". The show acknowledges the damage that really does take place. Munny dolls are being fashioned into art objects. My friend Ed Madden (who posed for my Decision Portrait called Poet) created the piece below. He used words from some of his award winning poetry on both the doll and on the notebook....especially the playground jeer, "Smear the Queer". The underground auction will raise funds for the Reel Grits LGBT Film Festival. I'm totally thrilled, however, that Ed STITCHED the mouth of his doll shut! Maybe a little "fiber arts" has influenced him!

This might be my last post for a day or so....because tomorrow I'm to pack the car for my six weeks in Maine. I haven't even given it much thought....other that "1. Open car door and 2. Shove contents of studio inside." Then....Steve drive and I stitch on Crazy Blues, my crazy quilt, until I arrive in Maine!

Last, but far from least, the above postcard and ATC are from Claudia in Australia. Claudia is too young to trade through CYBER FYBER (I imposed an age restriction of 18 in order to avoid any suggestion that I was promoting on-line exchange of personal address and information with minors) we traded independently. I'm thrilled with the work...very proud to own such treasures! My husband Steve, however, is totally blown away! He just thinks it is fantastic that there are young people stitching and trading and making friends over the Internet! Thank you so much Claudia...and also to your wonderful mother Jo-Anne!


Anonymous said...

I like your neo-gothic farmers. have fun on holidays

Gunnels blog said...

your organic farmers is very beautiful !!

Genie said...

some lovely work

artisbliss said...

I love your take on American Gothic. Your couple is definitely the more cheerful one!

Doris said...

Great Iowa reference! I hope to see your Decisions series in person one day..I love them!

Karen said...

Enjoy Main!! How very EXciting!!
take loads of photos to share with us when you finish up.
I love your American Gothic farmers too. So glad that you have them looking so cheerful,

Aussie Jo said...

Thanks Susan for your lovely comments about Claudia and I. We have just received your parcel today and Claudia was totally ecstatic. Thank-you so much for trading with her, it encourages her so much. So much so that she got on the computer to review her works and decided that she prefers to create pieces that have a 'story', a definite step forward in becoming an artist with a vision.

Elizabeth said...

Your American Gothic is just fabulous!! I agree with you and Steve about Claudia's amazing work!!! I am blown away as well and so thrilled to see a child take such interest and show such detail and pride in her work!! Think of the amazing influence you have had on the beginings of her art Journey!!!
I am sooo envious of your time in Maine- I know that you will enjoy every moment and I will be checking your blog everyday!!

Wanda said...

Holy smoke, I've missed so much by being offline for a month! Very full post! The neo-gothic farmers Decision portrait is very good. I would imagine them to not want the flash. It is simply yet full of detail if you look close enough. And the mix of simply and complex is great. I can imagine how you packed to go away for 6 weeks. We won't go there. For sure you didn't have time to do a spot thread inventory. ha ha. And I am totally jealous of the wonderful work that Claudia shared with you! have an imagination. Or even to know how to use it if I had one. I hope she continues to create. She's got quite the flare!