Wednesday, May 09, 2012

New Work, More Travel, and Best of Show

(Above: Handed Down, unique art quilt. Found gloves, vintage linens, antique paisley material, hand stitching. BEST OF SHOW in Palmetto Hands, a juried fine craft exhibition in South Carolina! Click on this or any other image in the blog post to enlarge.)

With this blog post, I've finally managed to catch up ... which is a good thing since I'm about to leave the country again (and undoubtedly get behind on blogging again). Please note ... I was unable to attend the reception for North Charleston's Palmetto Hands Exhibition but learned that I won BEST OF SHOW. I'm thrilled, of course.

So ... I'm leaving town again ... but ... Fortunately, I LOVE TO TRAVEL!

This time I'm going to England ... for art and ballet. Every spring Birmingham Royal Ballet splits its company, half going north/east and half going south/west. They tour to smaller venues, places that can't stage the big, classical ballets with their enormous sets and backdrops. Often new choreography debuts and excerpts from "the classics" are performed. My elder son, Mathias Lenz Dingman, is on the north/west tour. He's been cast in Jessica Lang's new "Lyrical Pieces", as Jasper in "Pineapple Poll", and also as the lead in the pas de deux from "Don Quixote"! (This last one is a BIG DEAL ... basically, it is the equivalent of a young lady having the opportunity to dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.) Thus ... I'm going.

I'll be in York this Friday and Saturday. I'll be in Buxton next week on the 15th and 16th. Between the two venues, I'll have two full days in Edinburgh to explore the historic cemeteries and other ancient sites. I can't wait. (Please note, I'm really not a "jet setter". Steve found a most reasonable airline ticket and I'm staying in youth hostels. My meals will likely be excellent egg sandwiches from the corner carry-out stores ... but it will be a blast and quite memorable. Today is Mathias' 24th birthday!) If you're anywhere in the area, I'll have my "smart phone" and laptop and will be checking messages. I'd love to meet like minded artists!

(Above: My keynote speech for the Coalition for Preservation of Maryland Burial Sites.)

So ... catching up! Last weekend Steve and I drove north from Columbia, SC to Columbia, MD. I presented my very first "power point" presentation on my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts and related artwork to the Coalition for Preservation of Maryland Burial Sites at their annual meeting. It was a wonderful experience to share my unusual fascination for cemeteries to a group of people who completely understand this unique interest.

(Above: Talking to some of the members of the Coalition ... many of whom own or maintain private, historic, and inactive cemeteries while others work for or own resting places that are still in use ... even a pet cemetery!)

(Above: Dessert at the Coalition ... and it was very tasty too!)

It was awesome to listen to the problems facing historic and private cemeteries on a state level and local level. Some of the stories are better than any fiction!

(Above: Spool Cradle III before being filled with wrapped and stitched wooden spools.)

During the drive to Maryland and back I worked on my wrapped and stitched wooden spools. It is a great way to watch the landscape and still be working.

(Above: Spool Cradle III filled with wrapped and stitched wooden spools.)

This is the third completed cradle ... and the smallest of the three. Yet, I had to work more on this one than the others. The cradle itself was mostly in pieces. I altered all the rollers and added the knobs. Because the pegs on the side were so far apart, I drilled holes and laced pearl cotton through them ... to make sides that wouldn't let the spools roll out as easily.

(Above: By the Grace of God. 21" x 28". Altered hand written laundry/clothing issue index cards from the former South Carolina Dept. of Mental Health Hospital, buttons from the same asylum, ink, hand and machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

I also finished another art quilt. This one was specifically made in order to submit to the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) national juried show called "I'm Not Crazy". Generally I don't make art work for specific opportunities but I'd made one similar to this last December. Unfortunately, it wasn't wide enough ... so I made another in order to enter this show.

(Above: By the Grace of God, detail.)

Each index card included a real patient's name and a real staff person's signature. I collaged vintage clipped letters to protect these people's privacy. All the buttons came from the mental institution as well. Using a fine tipped rapidiograph and bright orange ink, I wrote on each card ... including the phrase, "There But By the Grace of God Go I."

(Above: Spool Cradle III and MORE SPOOLS.)

I'm happy to report that I now have LOTS MORE SPOOLS. The plastic bag has the ones that I didn't finish while riding to and from Maryland. The large black basket, however, is filled with ones given to me by Kirkland Smith, a wildly talented artist who works with post consumer trash in the creation of amazing portraits. Her studio is at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... where my studio is located. (Yes ... I have another cradle. It is larger than any of the first three! I also have a plan for these cradles full of spools. They will be part of an installation this summer. I've been accepted for an artist residency in Galesburg, Illinois ... where I'm mounting an installation about childhood dreams and memories.)

(Above: "Sun and Sand", the beginning of a new experiment. Acrylic painted canvas created while at The Studios of Key West during my March artist residency ... being cut into pieces for "quilting".)

So ... I've got an installation on my mind. It's an idea that's been brewing for over a year. I'm quite excited. Yet, there's another adventure happening this summer. I've committed to a solo exhibition at Frame of Mind, an eyeglass shop on Columbia's Main Street that is part of the monthly "First Thursday" art crawls. The show will be this August. It will be called Sun and Sand: A Month in Paradise. It will showcase my impressions from my March artist residency at The Studios of Key West.

(Above: A really, really old and horrible attempt to paint with oils on a stretched canvas ... which became the substrata for my "test piece".)

The colors in Key West are intense. The water is especially vibrant, reflecting opaque mint greens, deep turquoise, ultramarine blues, aqua, seafoam, kelly green, royal blue, and shimmers of gold and silver. All these colors are possible because the sandy ocean bottom is white sand. Light bounces from the shallow ocean floors into an amazing range of color. I wanted to capture this in a new way ... at least, new to me.

I decided to paint ... directly on pre-primed canvas. It seems to me that many art quilters search for ways to appropriately apply paint to their fabric. They look for dyeing techniques and additives for acrylics that will soak into the texture of cloth. They experiment with Epson printers and gelatin plates .... all in an effort to make marks on material. In truth, the application of color/marks on cloth has already been done; it's called PAINTING. Paint is applied to CANVAS; canvas is, in fact, fabric. So, instead of trying to invent the wheel, I decided to paint on canvas ... cut the painting into "quilting" pieces and see what kind of artwork I might end up with.

(Above: Sun and Sand, experiment one ... click on image to enlarge.)

So far the experiment is working. I have well over three yards of primed canvas painted in bright colors reflecting my mood and impressions of the ocean, of water. I cut a few pieces and zigzag stitched them to a really old attempt at oil painting (dating to at least 2001). After attaching the water-inspired pieces, I put a piece of recycled white acrylic felt behind the canvas and continued to stitch. I'm very happy with this experiment. I've got lots of work in store for the summer ... and time in airports on which to experiment with "sand" ... hand stitching.


Deborah said...

I love your work and adore those spools.

Gayle said...

"Handed Down" is an amazing piece and I can easily see why it won Best of Show. But there is something about "There but for the Grace of God" that really tugs at me. It's very personal. I am glad you covered the names.

Mosaic Magpie said...

Wishing Mathias a very Happy Birthday! I know you are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing him dance. Your work continues to inspire me as it did the first time I saw it. Such thoughtful and thought provoking pieces. I am very happy for you.

Volunteer Travel said...

Such a nice post. Keep it on...

Gabriela said...

Congratulations! And have a wonderful time!!!!

Els said...

Congrats to your "best of show": I love that glove piece !
Happy travelling !
I like the new try out stitching on the canvas ....

Julie said...

Great catch up Susan and I really like the SAQA piece. I would have loved to meet up again this visit but sadly I've got too much going on. I hope you have a fabulous time and that Mathias has a wonderful performance. x

Margaret said...

Powerful SAQA piece! Your spool work fascinates me; I have some thread still on wooden spools. I use it to base pieces before quilting, but hitherto haven't kept many of the spools. Used some in sun-dyeing and printing... But will save the rest for you if you want them. And I love the commonsense of using painted canvas for quilting. "Duh!" my brain said when I read that. "Of course!" The results are striking. Obviously you are able to needle through the material, even by hand. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Once again, I don't feel I've been away for long and yet you are filling the 'unforgiving minute' with twice as much as everyone else! The painted canvas idea is emerging beautifuly.
I hope you have a great time here in England. There's nothing quite like watching your offspring perform, is there?!

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Susan. I enjoy stopping by your blog because it's so dense with creativity. Love the "Handed down" piece. I've been pondering what to do with my small box full of inherited gloves. Also liked your canvas painting/quilting. I think in the opposite direction--I just paint on fabric with acrylics as if it were canvas.
Why complicate life? Great post.
best, nadia

Starfish Studio said...

'Handed Down' is absolutely stunning - a worthy winner!

Hope you have a great time on your exciting travels in the UK. If you're looking for a fab, cheap meal in Edinburgh try the Tempting Tattie on Jeffrey Street (just off the Royal Mile)!

Edinburgh is most definitely NOT in England by the way!

lynda Howells said...

So pleased for your sonx I also thought l had better tell you..Edinburgh is in Scotland..just so the Scotts don't uprise against you, when you are there!xHa
Sorry l won't be able to see you..that is just too far for me to go for a day or so..( now l am self employed all week!!)no matter how much l would enjoy it!xx have fun. lynda

Morna C-M said...

blbebblnggg - that is the sound of me melting from looking at such gorgeousness -especially Handed Down - and the spools - ahhhhhh, wonderful