Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Strata Series at Gallery West

(Above:  Sara Cogswell, the owner of Gallery West with one of my pieces.  The entire series is now in Sara's expert hands and will enjoy being shown during the upcoming show "Art-Life Itself: The Work of James C. McMillan". Sept. 9 - Oct. 19, 2014. Opening reception on Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 5 - 9 PM.  It is quite an honor to have my work alongside such a luminary artist and in such a chic, comfortable fine art gallery! Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

On June 5th I blogged about a piece I made for the AIDS Benefit Foundation's annual Dining With Friends Dessert Finale and art sale.  (Click here to read that post.)  I've donated to this charity for years.  This year, however, there was a twist.  The organization provided 12" x 12" pre-stretched canvases.  For me, this was a challenge ... especially since I got my canvas inside of three weeks from the charity event.

I decided to cut an older piece called Strata IX in half and stretch it over the canvas.  It worked!  I actually liked the result much better than the large original.  So, I ordered a bunch of 12" x 12" pre-stretched canvases.  The original pieces were made in 2007.  They'd only been exhibited once or twice.  A few sold.  The rest were shrink-wrapped and just sitting in a print bin.  It was really fun to create these "new strata" from the older ones!

(Above: Strata XIII.  12" x 12".  $225.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Strata XIII is the other half if the first piece I cut.  Originally, each work was made from various yarns, threads, sheer fabrics, and snippets of material.  All this "stuff" was placed on a water soluble stabilizer and free motion stitched ... linking everything into a unique, textural surface.  Then, I washed away the stabilizer ... leaving a unique piece of fabric.  While I layered and stitched, I thought about the strata of the earth.  These pieces reflect the layers of the earth, its minerals, gems, relics, underground caves, seams of coal and gold, fossils and untold mysteries ... strata.

(Above: Strata XIV. 12" x 12".  $225.)

For some of the pieces, I painted the canvases before stretching the work.  Why?  Well, this unique fabric isn't completely "solid".  There are places were the white canvas would peek through.  I wasn't the least bit self-conscious painting since I knew I'd be covering up most of it! 

(Above:  The painted canvas before stretching two of the more "earth toned" pieces.)

(Above: Strata XIX. 12" x 12".  $225.)

For some of the pieces, however, I simply cut a 2-ply piece of metallic gold mat board.  By enlarging the image of Strata XIX above, one can see the glimmer of gold behind the fibers.

(Above: Strata XX. 12" x 12".  $225.)

Two of the original Strata series pieces weren't quite large enough and/or flexible enough to undergo stretching.  I used Golden's Self Leveling Clear Tar Gel to adhere12" x 12" squares of the "strata" directly to the surface of the painted canvases.  This altered the texture of the fabrics ... integrating them to one another in very cool ways.  I liked the results very much.  This was done on the "red" pieces (like Strata XX above) and the "green pieces" (like Strata XXIV below.)

(Above: Strata XXIV. 12" x 12".  $225.) 

(Above: Strata XXVI. 12" x 24".  $350.)

Strata XXVI was the only piece that just didn't look right if cut.  So, I got a 12" x 24" pre-stretched canvas and kept it whole.  It was also adhered with the Golden Self Leveling Clear Tar Gel ... because quite a lot of the fiber in this work was raw silk.  It was just a little too loose and feathery to be stretched effectively.  Yet, like all these pieces, it looks better now than it ever did before.  I'm really excited to have these works at Gallery West.  I've priced them very well too ... and although I'm sort of squeamish about posting prices, I thought I'd do it here.  Of course, to make a purchase, one just needs to call Sara Cogswell at
  • Phone: 803-207-9265
  • Hours: Tuesday - Wednesday 11 am - 6 pm; Thursday - Saturday 11 am - 7 pm; Sunday 11 am - 5 pm
(Above: Strata XV. 12" x 12".  $225.)

The rest of the series is pictured below.  Three of the pieces are currently in warm silver "floater" frames for a bit more money.  Obviously, the framing is optional and can be switched from one piece to another.  I really wanted to give people more presentation options ... but I forgot to snap a photo of the frame!  Oops!  I'll have to do this at the reception!  Thank you, Sara for giving this work a place in your gallery!   

(Above: Strata XVI. 12" x 12".  $225.)

(Above: Strata XVII. 12" x 12".  $225.)

(Above: Strata XVIII. 12" x 12".  $225.)

(Above: Strata XXI. 12" x 12".  $225.) 

(Above: Strata XXII. 12" x 12".  $225.) 

(Above: Strata XXIII. 12" x 12".  $225.) 

(Above: Strata XXV. 12" x 12".  $225.)

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


Laura McGrath said...

These are really beautiful--they look like wet felted pieces, with some hand stitches added!

quiltedfabricart said...

I love these on the stretched canvases - lovely work ! These would also look great hanging side by side in a set of 3

Suella said...

Thank you for the inspiration. I enjoy the density, range of stitch and quirkiness of these. I needed to be brought back to how I enjoy richly machine embroidered work.