Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crunch time

(Above:  Triptych of The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

It's CRUNCH TIME ... the period of short days running into one another on an unbelievable fast countdown to THREE major art endeavors!  Two weeks from today is Halloween and the day that will find Steve and me setting up our booth at the Washington Craft Show (Nov. 1 - 3).  This happens after I've hung my solo show, I Am Not Invisible, at the Tapps Art Center here in Columbia and before we continue our road trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  I'm more than a little nervous and even a tad bit exhausted just thinking about it.

(Above:  Reception for my solo show Decision Portraits at University Gallery on the USC Sumter campus)

Okay, part of the exhaustion might be due to everything accomplished during the last week.  Steve went to England to watch our elder son Mathias debut as the prince in Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty.  (He said it was fabulous and that I would have cried buckets of tears!)  I stayed behind and worked pretty much "run the clock".  This is how I prefer to work ... and with Steve gone ... it is exactly what I did!  There's just too much to do ... starting with last Friday's reception and "Artist's Lecture" (by me, of course!) for the Decision Portraits exhibition at the University of South Carolina Sumter.  It was an honor.

People cried (always my gauge for success with this particular work!)

I was introduced wonderfully by TWO professors ...

... and totally blown away by the button-shaped homemade cookies!  How thoughtful!

(Above:  Stained Glass LIII, detail.)

So now ... in no particular order (mostly because I multi-task and thus was almost always working on more than one of these things) ... I'm just going to post a photo or two from the various things finished during the past week with some explanations followed by a bunch of detail photos.  I still have other work to make before the looming deadlines!  It is, after all, CRUNCH TIME.

 (Above:  Stained Glass LIII.  Framed:  64" x 24". Unframed:  58" x 18". Polyester stretch velvets, previously painted heat-activated adhesive, metallic foils and chiffon scarves on recycled black acrylic felt with self-guided machine embroidery and melting.)

I finished one, large piece for the out-of-state craft shows, Stained Glass LIII.  I can't believe it took until the 53rd piece before I thought to use the traditional "cathedral window" quilt motif for one of these works based on .... cathedral windows! LOL!

(Above:  In Box CXXI.  Unframed:  28" x 16".  Framed:  34" x 22".)

I also created another "In Box" series piece.

(Above: Window LXXVII.)

Plus, I finished six of the small "Window Series" pieces.  These are each approximately 13" x 11" and framed up to an outer dimension of 17 3/4" x 15 3/4".  At $265 each, I'm hoping these will be my "bread-and-butter" in DC and Philadelphia.  The other five are pictured further below.

(Above:  Two of three framed antique crazy quilt sections purchased at Bill Mishoes Estate Auction for the amazingly low price of $35 each.)

I also finally finished a triptych that has consumed most of my hand-stitching time over the past several months (first image in this blog post).  I used two of three pieces of an antique crazy quilt purchased at auction.  At the time, I wasn't exactly sure how I'd use these fragile pieces or their deep shadowbox frames, but over time the work evolved.  One piece of the crazy quilt was cut and densely over-stitched for a 3D assemblage called The Nature of Memory.  (Like this triptych, The Nature of Memory will be in the show at Tapps Art Center).  The remaining two crazy quilt sections were also densely over-stitched.  As I worked, I thought about the popular epitaph "Gone But Not Forgotten".  In a very real sense, this poor crazy quilt was "forgotten" but not "gone".  It was falling apart, cut, hot glued into a shadowbox and no one knew who had stitched it.  It was up to me to give it new life. 

(Above:  Gone But Not Forgotten. 33" x 22".)

After stitching rows and rows of running stitch over the entire surface (because I adore the resulting surface and it also serves to hold the damaged material together), I added the words ... subtly.  I didn't want the pieces to read like a signs.  I like how some of the letters stand out more than others and help draw viewers close enough to read the two related sentences.  This lack of total clarity mimics the way memory fades.

(Above:  Forgotten But Not Gone.  33" x 22".)

The antique crazy quilt sections were stitched on top of a piece of my recycled black acrylic felt.  (It used to be the packaging material for a canoe or kayak being shipped from a manufacturer to my local outdoors shop).  I let a little of the black felt show at the edges.  Then, I used hundreds of assorted screws and nails to attach the pieces to a distressed wooden picture frame.  I love doing this and it helped make the transition from the uneven antique edge to the cleaner edge of the the frame.

(Above:  The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.  36" x 31".)

Even before finishing the two panels (which at first I thought would make a fine diptych), I knew I wanted "something" in the middle.  I turned to Spoonflower and ordered one of the photos I snapped in an Arizona cemetery to be printed on fabric.  It was PERFECT!  I loosely quilted it on a large piece of the same recycled black felt and then started the borders.

(Above:  Detail of The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.)

Okay, I'm a little compulsive ... but I love the results!  I have piles of wrapped, rusted nails.  I have boxes of old buttons.  The work was stitched flat on a table as it got heavier and heavier.  When I finished with the buttons, I stitched the entire thing to a piece of mat board ... placing stitches rather evenly over the surface in order to distribute the weight.  I left some of the black felt at the very edge empty ... and used that area to screw the work onto another distressed wooden frame.  I'm very pleased with the way this triptych worked out.  There are more detail images of all three parts further below.

(Above:  Connected, Shared, Saved.  Each frame measures 40" x 31".)

Yet, I still had those three shadowbox frames in which the antique crazy quilt sections were housed.  I also had a hair-brained idea!  About a year ago I collected all sorts of cables, cord, and broken/dysfunctional computer and electrical devices.  All these things are used for communication and as a way to REMEMBER things.  My solo show, I Am Not Invisible, is all about the way we seek to remember, the way we want to be remembered, and the fact that everything is simultaneously slipping into a forgotten history.  For me, these electronic devices share much in common with "memory".  The words for modern technology are often exactly the same.  Even the word "memory" refers to a computer's capacity to hold information.  The words "connected", "shared", and "saved" have dual meanings too.  So ... I used the shadowboxes to house all these parts.  Cut vinyl letters were used for the conceptual message.  I would have included more parts (it's not like I don't have more) but I think these works are heavy enough as it is!   There are a few detail and "in process" photos below.

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Forgotten Family.)

For the show at Tapps Art Center, I envisioned a "wall of photos" or "an ancestor wall".  As a professional picture framer, I've created such walls for clients dozens and dozens of time.  I have my own.  Yet, I also have plenty of anonymous old photos purchased from auction ... forgotten people, discarded ephemera, family heirloom that just didn't stay in the family.  They break my heart and inspired the centerpiece for the upcoming solo show. 

(Above:  Grid of Photos ... working title ... still haven't decided on a proper one despite all the many great suggestions.  To read more about this work, CLICK HERE.)

At just over fifteen feet in length, I had a lot of time to think about memory, old photos, and the invisibility that most lives fade into after a few generations.  The title has been tricky because I don't necessarily want to put a negative spin on it.  At the same time, I do want to share my thoughts.  Therefore, the "Ancestor Wall" just had to be created from other old photos with clipped letters.  Most of my letters are from vintage sheet music, antique magazines, and assorted old ephemera.

(Above:  Detail of how this piece is suspended in front of the wall ... casting a shadow ... visually showing how all these lives have almost faded into a distant, forgotten memory.)

(Above: Ancestor Wall: The Boy Next Door.)

The first eighteen pieces are finished, framed, photographed, and entered into my inventory book.  I've posted them here.  The next twenty are finished ... but not quite in their frames, etc. They're coming!  Together, these will create a very powerful wall.  I can't wait to hang it ... except I'm happy to wait because I've got so much more to do before it is time to hang it! LOL!  The other pieces are further below!

(Above:  Detail of The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.)

As promised, the rest of this incredibly long blog post (with more photos than I think I've ever dared to upload) are the rest of the photos promised in paragraphs above!   No particular order ... just pictures!

(Above:  Detail of The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.)

(Above:  Window LXXIX.)

(Above: Window LXXVIII.)

(Above: Window LXXX.)

(Above: Window LXXXI.)

(Above: Window LXXXII.)

(Above:  Assorted cables, cords, and electrical devices ... all non-functioning.  Work in progress!)

(Above:  Applying cut vinyl lettering to the glass of a shadowbox frame. Work in progress.)

(Above:  Peeling back the facing paper on cut vinyl lettering.  Work in progress.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Another Year Further into the Past.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall:  Best Friends Forever.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall:  Cherished, Loved, Unknown.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall:  Do You Remember Me?)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall:  Family is Everything.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: I Had a Name.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Not Found on

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: My Life Was Extraordinary.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Member of the Family.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: I Took My Memories With Me.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: I Imagined a Future World Beyond Oblivion.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Our Futures Are Your Past.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: The Best of Times.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: The Stories We Could Tell.)

(Above:  Connected, Shared, Saved. Detail.)

(Above:  Connected, Shared, Saved. Detail.)

(Above:  Connected, Shared, Saved. Detail.)

(Above:  Ancestor Wall: Try to Remember Every Little Moment.)

(Above:  Forgotten But Not Gone, detail.)

(Above: Forgotten But Not Gone, detail.)

(Above: Forgotten But Not Gone, detail.)

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, detail.)

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, detail.)

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, detail.)

(Above: Ancestor Wall: 'Til Death Do Us Part.)

I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.


Sandy said...

I remember you working on the stitching. It is good to see how you finished it off. I think the nails and screws are great!

Would you mind me borrowing the wrapped rusty nails idea? I don't know what for yet, but it just seems like it would be the perfect thing at some point! LOL

Some really good ideas trickling down your fingers. I like the ancestor wall developments the individual pieces that connect in a way with your decision portraits.

Have fun at all the upcoming events.

Regina B Dunn said...

I feel lazy when I see all the work you do. And it is all beautiful, too. I'm so happy with the piece I bought from you. Good luck at the shows.

Julie said...

Your exhibition is going to be amazing and with Steve's help you will be fine. You are amazing at multi-tasking and before you know it you will be the other side of all this activity and looking for the next project. Have a fantastic time! x

LA Paylor said...

you must have the boniest fingers around, from working them to the bone. I can't decide which is my fave the heart window or the virgin with gazillion buttons and spools. Awesome. The Washington craft show is very prestigious. Enjoy!
LeeAnna Paylor

Anonymous said...

Wow - utterly, utterly blown away by the amount of work, creativity and sheer joy you have in creating. The way the photos are linked in your shadow piece makes me think about how we are all subtly linked and John Donne's 'No man is an island' sprung to mind. You're an inspiration. :o)

Wanda said...

I am totally blown away. You never cease to amaze, inspire and fascinate me. I really like the Triptych and I like the word too. The button-shaped Cookies really are an honor. They know their Artist...very appropriate and sweet. Stained Glass, Windows and In Box are all great. I still don't know how you manage to make each one individual. I think mine would all be the same after awhile. And now you've discovered yet another place to get Inspiration....actual cathedral Windows. Wow. And she's off!!!!
I really like the Decisions out of the Frames as well. I wasn't sure I would but I do. Very good Setting for the Show. Of course, I would never cry if I saw it in real life. Just like I don't cry when I see it online. Wall of Ancestors Looks awesome. Very cool. I wonder how many People will simply stare at it, memorizing every Picture, denying the fact that they aren't searching for their pasts. Hummm... I am SO excited and nervous about your upcoming Events. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. I know that sounds stupid, me being so far away and all BUT....I do know of a few very nice Thermalbads that we could go to when it's all over and you just Need to get away for a few days. You've done that before...remember?