Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Epitaph Installation in Progress


(Above: Work in progress. Epitaph Installation. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last weekend presented a perfect time to see how my Epitaph Installation was progressing. The atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios had a display of university ceramic student work but no one was manning the show on Sunday. Up on the tall ladder I went and the results were enlightening.

First, I learned that I don't really need thirty more pieces. (Yippee!) Twenty will be more than enough. Second, I learned that there's a subtle, constant breeze from the air-conditioning units. Believe it or not, we still have to air condition the gallery and atrium during receptions held in the winter....so, next February the movement of the sheer chiffon will still take place. I really liked this fluctuating quality...so much so that I took a video of the pieces. It's only 49 seconds but shows the free motion stitching gently moving.

I've gotten into a good rhythm for the stitching...which is making the progress fun and fast (or at least quicker than when I started!). Below is a photo of the adhesive backed/water soluble stabilizer I'm using. I've penciled lines one inch apart. I snip the carrying threads (both sides) between words after each line has been free motion/written.

I've got pages and pages of epitaphs....more than enough....though I can't help myself; I'm still collecting! Surrounding this installation will be my Grave Rubbing Quilts but also a series of xylene photo transfers on paper. This new series is called Angels in Mourning.

(Above: Outdoor work station....xylene photo transfers of angels and other sculptural figures onto Rising Stonehenge paper....fawn colored with a vellum surface and two deckled edges. Please notice the attractive ventilation mask! Photo by my husband Steve.)

At first I really hated the name. Frankly, I couldn't believe that I was actually doing "angels". For me, this was about the same as doing fairies or dragons or using cheesy scrapbooking supplies or rubber stamps. The "snob" in me couldn't see this as "art"....which is ridiculous, of course! Honestly, I'm really impressed with lots of the work I see on-line created using these concepts and materials.

I made a long list of potential titles, and I'm going to use them on the individual pieces. Yet, I continue to call the stack of xylene photo transfers Angels in Mourning. So...I'm sticking with it for the series (unless someone has a much more sophisticated title that imparts the transition between life and death and suggests time...past, present, and future!)


(Above: Borne on Angel's Wings, Angels in Mourning Series. 30" x 22 1/2". Xylene photo transfer, found objects, hand stitching. Click on image to enlarge. Detail below.)

The images are from the hundreds I've taken in cemeteries and other locations from Bath, England to Colma, California and beyond. Each was altered in Photoshop and printed as an over-sized, black-and-white photocopy before being transferred with xylene onto the paper. From the start I knew "more" was necessary....something to make the images "mine". I thought about adding paint (something I almost never do) or collaging words/epitaphs to the paper.

My sister Wanda left a comment on one of my blog posts about a month ago. She mentioned "a connection with life." This phrase really hit a nerve. It was the perfect trigger to really get me thinking about these angels....between life and death....between past, present, and future....all the concepts I am trying to express through this work. Wanda's words made me realize that what these pieces needed was the addition of personal tokens, trinkets, found objects, and especially my own HAND STITCHES. In fact, I'm mounting the work to 100% cotton rag, soft white mat board....not in the usual/professional picture framer fashion....but by cross stitching the upper corners directly through the piece and the mat board.

The stack of transfers is pretty deep....so expect plenty more angels in upcoming posts....each one individually treated with stitch!

9 comments:

Greg said...

You do amazing work. I really enjoy reading about what you have created.

Doreen G said...

I love the "Born on Angels Wings" piece Susan especially the added touch of the pieces at the bottom.

Julie said...

Very attractive mask - I have one too! The floating chiffon is beautiful.

Bill Evertson said...

This should be a very impressive work. I enjoyed the video as it gave me a better sense of how it relates to the gallery space.

lindacreates said...

It is PERFECT, just as I imagined when you described it to me. I am impressed with your free motion stitched words! I see a girl in your angel. I think Angels in Waiting really expresses what you want to convey. Oh how I wish I could be there for this show. Your pkg of laces is off tomorrow.

lindacreates said...

I realized I said "Angels in Waiting" instead of "Angels in Mourning!" I also like "Angels Watch." Oh there are so many!

Ellen Kochansky said...

You know how I love drifty transparent things in space! Gorgeous work, gorgeous thoughts...May the art gods love you for this.

Wanda said...

This is beautiful...especially since I saw the starts of it in person a few months ago. All the work in this progress is mind-boggling. Very nice mask...and you have jeans on! I don't know when the last time I saw you in jeans!! ha ha

SONYASPHERE said...

I like the photo of you creating! You should have more photos like that of YOU actually doing the work!!!