Thursday, July 23, 2009

Minnesota, Pennsylvania....and back home to a pile of work!

I LOVE to TRAVEL.
Unfortunately, traveling gets me far, far behind on my daily work and normal blogging. Posting a "recap" has often become necessary....and here's another such entry.

(Above: Most of the great ladies in the class! Some of my images weren't exactly "great".... so I thankfully didn't use them! Click on image to enlarge.)

Last week I was at the University of Minnesota's Split Rock Arts Program studying art quilts on a full scholarship. The class was filled with very accomplished artists and quilters. We painted fabric, mostly opaque and transparent silks, with watered down acrylic paint. The approach was unique. Fabric was layered, spritzed with water, and painted with loose, board strokes. The "sandwich" of material often included objects like coins, strings, and buttons. Some layers were folded fabric. As the paint moved through the wet material, unique patterns were formed. We even applied pastels on the top. The results were unexpectedly wonderful. These painted fabrics became our non-objective pieces for quiltmaking. Cut shapes were applied to a base fabric. Transparent, but painted, sheers overlapped. The edges were hand stitched. The instructions included backing with a sheer material (revealing the back and its delicate hand stitches) and forming a binding and sleeve. The best past of the week was undoubtedly meeting fellow fiber artists and sharing the experiences.

Another great part of the week was the weather....it was great! Cool, clear skies were dotted with puffy white clouds. Being on a university campus brought back many memories.

(Above: Weisman Art Museum. Click on image to admire the Frank Gehry architecture!)

The Weisman Art Museum was free and included three great exhibits. Mass transportation in the Twin Cities is phenomenal! Split Rock is clearly a quality program!

(Above: Coffman Memorial Union. The program's closing program was held here. The dorm and cafeteria were in building directly behind this one....and the shuttle bus stop was in front, by the curb. The bus was brand new and the ride went by the equally new football stadium...from the Minneapolis part of the campus to the St. Paul area where the classroom was located.)

So....What did I do? What did I learn? Above is my "class" piece. I'm calling it that. It's about 10" x 10". Below is a detail shot. Click on either to enlarge.

I can safely say that I'll never be a non-objective artist. I really LIKE having a focal point and at least a suggestion of something recognizable. My work is meant to have more "content" than merely a title that reflects some thought process that privately belongs to the creator. Analyzing a composition by shapes and lines alone isn't my approach....and never will be. Of course, creating work in which a viewer's eyes travel pleasantly around the surface is a good idea....but it can't be my driving force. My work is a more direct expression of a concrete idea; it is meant to communicate; color and shape are not enough.

(Above: Moon. Approximately 13" x 7". Click on image to enlarge.)

I started another, larger piece. It was considered "good enough" to stitch. There is a strong likelihood that nothing will ever come of it. Yet.....I can't sit in a classroom, all day, for five days, and accomplish so very, very little. I HAVE TO WORK! By the end of the week I still felt like I accomplished NOTHING! (Except, of course, stitching on another Grave Rubbing Quilt every evening in my dorm room!) On the side, I put together these other small pieces using my painted fabrics. (By the way, I enjoyed the painting more than I would have guessed and have ideas as to how this new technique can figure into future work.)

(Above: My Two Cents Worth. Painted fabrics. I finished this piece and my "class piece" with the binding and sleeve instructions. Learning how to make "better" sleeves will probably be the most useful thing I learned.)

(Above: Detail of My Two Cents Worth. Click on image to enlarge and see how the paint interacted with two pennies trapped in the layered sandwich of material. The "circles" in Moon, above, were other results of spare change and acrylics.)

(Above: Fragment. Click on image to enlarge.)

The list of supplies for this course included "scraps" of material. I grabbed a piece of a vintage pillowcase with worn stitches and a handful of leftover silk and damask stained with rusted nails. I really liked the results. Fragment is approximately 14" x 8". I tucked it aside....refusing to cut a random shape in it. Once home, I backed it with an olive wool felt and buttonhole stitched the edges. As far as I'm concerned, it's done. I'm toying with the idea of doing more painting like this....using fragments of clothing and other household linens....coloring something discarded for a new, life. There's a lingering memory in this piece. There's an appreciation of the past use, a suggestions of former value. This concept is important to me.


(Above: Work in progress, painted material....some stained with rusted nails. Hand stitched. Click on image to enlarge.)

I am acutely aware that pieces created in a classroom setting are not appropriately "original". Exhibiting this work is out of the question. Selling it outside a gallery situation is probably okay. Donating it to a charity auction is definitely fine...and probably the destination for these pieces. Yet, the one above isn't finished yet. I don't know if I want to work more on it or not. I could simple bind it off.....or I could do something radical and make it "mine". Any ideas?

After flying away last Saturday, Steve and I headed north by car.... to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania... to visit my parent (Dad's been in the hospital recently... but is much, much better)... and to visit my grandmother who turned ninety last December. It was a whirlwind, 24 hour visit that included a cookout with my younger sister Sonya and Vipin, collecting epitaphs in two graveyards, and going through a couple of boxes of vintage family photos.


(Above: Me and my grandma! Click on image to enlarge.)

We drove back to South Carolina on Monday....ten hours of blessed stitching in the car on the next Grave Rubbing Quilt. It is almost done now....photos coming! Oh...on the subject of grave rubbing quilts: 18th. Century Angel was just accepted into the Wichita National All Media Craft Exhibition, Sept. 4 - Oct. 18!


(Above: All six faux-stained glass pieces in frames! Click on image to enlarge.)

At least I returned to this beautiful sight: Steve finished the framing on all six of the faux-stained glass pieces while I was in Minnesota....and lined them up for a great visual impression. I'm almost caught up with the rest of the work that grew into an enormous pile in my absence!

8 comments:

Aussie Jo said...

What a wonderful creative immersion, sometimes you just need to take the time to explore new techniques without having an end product.
Some of these may be cut up and layered into another piece. I love the background colours you have there.
Perhaps the last piece could have some ghostly silhouettes??

Sue said...

I think that last piece is lovely, but far from complete: it needs some focus and perhaps would make a superb background. Funny we both spent last week at a summer school. I started some pieces and cemented some virtual friendships so it was great, but I'm still exhausted after an intensive week. And we're off to visit Sara in Austria next week, so hope I'll be feeling refreshed by then. Sometimes we've grown beyond classes - this "retreat" was much more productive.

Leiah said...

'Fragment' is really wonderful - the bold colors and the shape. I've been following your blog for a few months now, and am always amazed at the intricacy of your work.

I hope you enjoyed Split Rock! I actually just took a short class through the program, too. I'm from Minneapolis so it wasn't such a long haul for me, but still wonderful!

Jacquelines blog said...

Your stained glass pieces are wonderfull, Steve did a great job on the framing!

Bill Evertson said...

Welcome back. Sounds like you have some new techniques in the quiver.

lindacreates said...

The stained glass pieces are incredible! What a beautiful site to come home to. My suggestion regarding your last piece is to do something very Susan and make it your own. Your work has grown so, and I like your own style. I hope you take this last week and incorporate what you learned into what you already do. I am so pleased to hear another piece was accepted. Let that speak to you, you are doing what you love, don't stop, it is blossoming into something phenomenal. I can't wait to see the latest grave rubbiing quilt. The picture of you and your grandma is beautiful.

Diana Mains Welte said...

your grandmother is a beautiful woman. what a sweet smile. i am happy your father is doing better. your work in minnesota is fantastic and i love the stain glass and rubbing pieces. you rock, Susan!
hugs,
diana :-)

Wanda said...

Wow! The work you did in Minnesota is very different. Beautiful and colorful. OK...maybe some of what you did isn't your thing but you would maybe have never known it unless you tried it! Great picture of you and Grandma. I'm sure she had a great time with you guys! And the apartment temperature probably didn't bother you too much, being from the south. ha ha ha The stained glass is absolutely incredible....Steve...wonderful job! This is going to blow their socks off!!!!