Thursday, November 10, 2011

Getting Ready for Local Shows

(Above: The "Dearly Departed" series hung abutting one another as if a single unit. Each piece includes one of my photos of cemetery angels in an original page from a Victorian album and a collaged epitaph made with vintage clipped letters. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The "Dearly Departed" series and Anonymous hanging on the wall just outside my studio door. Click on image to enlarge.)

November is always a busy time in the Columbia art scene. My studio is at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... an "anchor art location" for the annual Vista Lights art crawl, Thursday, November 17 from 5 - 9. There's another event every spring. The two occasions function like mandatory deadlines for cleaning up the studio ... which I'll get to next Wednesday with Reba, my studio assistant. (Boy does it need it!)

(Above: View into my now "messy" studio and the wall just outside.)

This week, Reba hung sixteen of the eighteen pieces in the "Dearly Departed" series as a "unit" on the wall just outside my studio door. It takes quite a bit of time and measuring to get the works to line up perfectly. Details of each can be seen HERE.

(Above: View down the hallway at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... to my #4 door.)

Anonymous, a grave rubbing art quilt, hangs beside the grouping. I'm really pleased with how these works look together. The Book of the Dead will be part of the exhibition in the larger gallery space.

(Above: But By The Grace of God. 35" x 19". Original but altered laundry/clothing issue index cards from the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, buttons from the asylum, and ink. Machine and hand stitched. Click on image to enlarge.)

While getting ready for this art crawl, I'm also working toward an installation and exhibition that will happen at S & S Art Supplies in December. The work uses found objects from the former South Carolina Department of Mental Health historic asylum ... which is about four blocks from my house. South Carolina was the second state in the nation to provide funds/facilities for the mentally ill ... hiring noted architect Robert Mills in 1821 to design the central building. The now vacant property is in the midst of development plans. I was granted access to one of the "out buildings" ... the former laundry and alterations department ... and permission to collect several items for my artwork.

(Above: Detail of But By the Grace of God. Click on image to enlarge.)

I was required to sign a waiver promising to keep patient information confidential. Thus, the laundry/clothing issue cards I found had to be altered. Clipped letters were collage over the names. I used the thinnest Koh-i-nor rapidograph to write on each card ... tiny green words including the piece's title. (In order to stitch on the cards, they were first mounted to upholstery canvas ... recycled from another auction purchase!) The buttons were collected from the mental institution's laundry floor.

(Above: Detail of But By the Grace of God. Click on image to enlarge.)

The orange fabric came from Bill Mishoes' auction ... and was likely a leftover from some anonymous stitchers stash from the mid 70s. The reverse was folded over to create a binding. It was a piece of batik donated by Libby Gamble before she moved to California to study photography. Thus, everything about this quilt is "repurposed" and had a life before I turned it into an art quilt.


Roberta said...

Your work is so wonderful. The Grace of God is particularly inspiring and painful all at once.

Els said...

While the State was so long ago providing the funds and the facilities for those poor sick people, you took care that they won't be forgotten by making this. And remembering them, not by their real names but, perhaps even more clearly by saying: "grandfather", "caretaker", "friend" ....
And all those old buttons, great Susan, this "By the Grace of God" !

lynda Howells said...

I am always over whelmed with your of these days l am going to see it for real Susan. You are real caretaker for the past....l admire your work so muchxxx