Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last Full Day at the MacNamara Foundation

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Kidney Donor. Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin. Machine and hand embroidery and beading. 25" x 18". Stitch words: I Gave My Kidney. Background word: Donor (repeated).

It's hard to believe that six weeks have passed here on Westport Island, Maine at the incredible MacNamara Foundation. This artist's residency has been the most amazing experience. I've learned so much from the other professional artists. Each one works in another medium. Being around a ceramist, painter, photographer, and a writer for three meals a day and with their work so close at hand has revealed our artistic differences but also our similar thoughts, approaches, and concerns.

For example, the wood firing in the kiln was not ideal despite vigilant attention for over 36 hours. The results were heart-breaking and very revealing. I learned how fragile ceramics are and how strong ceramists must be. I couldn't handle the degree of risk. My appreciation for this medium and those working in it has grown immensely. I now have two of the "less than perfect" works (which are indescribable beautiful by my standards) to take home! They will always be a source of inspiration and a reminder of many of the lessons I've learned.

(Click on image above to enlarge. Kidney Donor, detail.)

Last night we (the five artists here in residency) gave a closing presentation. Maria Robinson's story was so beautifully written that everyone was brought to tears. Lisa Robinson's atmospheric photographs and vivid cynotypes presented a level of professionalism I can only hope to emulate. The painter's brushstrokes spoke of strength, endurance, and the the power of the world around us. The ceramics, as I mentioned above, taught more than I thought I could learn.

(Click on image above to enlarge. Double Acorn Cap Vessel II.)

Although I've created dozens of pieces, the presentations were limited to ten minutes. I presented the six Decision Portrait Series pieces I created here including Kidney Donor. The most important part of the evening, however, was offering verbal thanks for the gift of time....time in which to create work, think about concepts, interact with others, and experience the unique location here in Maine.

(Above: Double Acorn Cap Vessel II.)

During the last week I also created six additional fiber vessels but haven't yet decided whether to cover them in acorn caps or not. Why? Well, an idea just had to burst forth. The acorn caps simply "spoke" to me. Each one is unique....even ones attached in a cluster to a common stem. I had to address their individuality and present them as the "gems" I see. With scraps of cotton batting, I started beading them.

(Above: Two smaller, plate-like vessels created during the final week filled with adorned acorn caps. Click on image to enlarge.)

Also during this final week I created six or seven more grave rubbings...some with demonic looking cherub heads and dates from the late 18th century. Just as I was running out of silk, I noticed the largest acorn caps ever! Some are easily three or four times the size of the average cap I'd collected. Below is a photo of the bag of "giant" acorn caps along with both my Double Vessels. Further below are detail shots of the "gems" I'm creating....first the "small" ones....then the "large" ones. I'm totally in love with the "mighty oak" in the form of its cast off caps.

(Above: Giant acorn caps with double vessels.)

(Above: Small acorn cap gems. Below: Large acorn cap gems.)

This is also one of the things I've learned here on Westport Island: What truly interests me isn't nature or place or even artistic process or novel technique. (Of course, I love all's just not my driving force....even though I thought these were suppose to be!) I am honestly inspired by a sense of fleeting time can be, how close at hand history is, and how the future can be seen in a seed. I don't think I ever realized that my call to art was the same as my call to picture framing. I want to present the ordinary, the neglected, the overlooked, and found fragments in the light of appreciation. Bringing out the beauty in an everyday object is important. I love the texture of age and the signs of manual use. What is simple and imperfect is often most treasured. Revealing the inner spirit of things common is my goal. I use needle and thread to do this.


Doreen G said...

You sure have learned a lot in the six weeks you have been there Susan but what I love is your ability to tell the story so as to make me feel a part of it.
Well done you.

Aussie Jo said...

I love your acorn cap pieces, they truly are 'of the place'. Have you considered adding the sense of smell to your adorned acorn caps. They would be wonderful with a little potpourri and a woody essential oil.

Julie said...

What an amazing time you have had Susan and I love these beautiful acorn creations. They are exquisite.

arlee said...

You have been so lucky.....your work has grown by leaps and bounds and i am in total total awe.

The acorn caps look like decorated cookies :}

Guzzisue said...

can't resist sending your this link- crocheted acorns to go in your caps.
I have been follwing your use of acorns caps with interest as we same many more than usual whilst travelling in Germany this year but didn't have the space on the bike to carry them :-)

Guzzisue said...

Hey, I forgot the link

Wanda said...

I can only imagine the time you will need to fully understand and come to grips with the past 6 weeks. I am in awe. It is like you were spring...and blossomed. Oh, it's always been in you. Sometimes you just don't realize it. I felt like crying while reading your last entry from Maine. It is something that no one can ever take away.

Liz said...

Susan, what an amazing summation to what has to have been an amazing experience! I've followed the last six weeks with great interest. I can only hope I have an opportunity one day to experience something half as inspiring. I know I could never be as articulate!


I must be hungry....all I can think of eating the acorn caps! They look like delicious cookies!