On Friday afternoon I took a drive to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Why? Well, it is Georgia O'Keeffe's birthplace and only about an hours drive from my art residency at Wormfarm Institute. I probably wouldn't have made the trip except for the fact that I just finished a pair of altered footwear for a project that will take place back in Columbia, South Carolina.
(From Wisconsin to Faraway, altered boots made using some of the zigzag cording I made during my art residency at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN along with hand stitched words. The boots are, for now, stuffed with old yarn.)
Artist Judy Hubbard is preparing to create an installation at Columbia College called Envisioning O'Keeffe. It will run from August 14, 2015 to September 30, 2015. I can't remember why bunches of artists are altering shoes and boots for this project. Why footwear? There was some sort of tale about Georgia O'Keefe's shoes when she taught briefly at Columbia College. I don't remember it. It doesn't matter though. I'm happy support another hard working artist who simply wanted me to alter a pair of boots for this project!
To start, I went to the Reedsburg Public Library for research. The place had only three children's books on O'Keeffe and four pages (mostly images) in a book called something like “The Fifty Modern Artist's You Should Know.”
Yet, I learned plenty. In fact, it was in one of the children's books' that the word “Faraway” continued to appear. Later I learned this is how O'Keeffe referred to her beloved Southwestern landscape, the area around her house at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico which she purchased in 1940. In 1943 O'Keeffe pointed out, “Such a beautiful-untouched lonely feeling place – such a fine part of what I call the 'faraway.' It is a place I have painted before but I wanted to do again – and even now I must do again.” Her home is now a museum and from May 11, 2012 through May 5, 2013 it hosted a special exhibition called Georgia O'Keeffe and the Faraway: Nature and Image.
So … From Wisconsin to the Faraway is what I'm calling my altered boots.
It seemed fitting that they actually visit the site in Wisconsin since it was so close. A quick google search routed me both to the sign in front of the Sun Prairie City Hall and out into the country where the O'Keeffe home once stood. (Unfortunately, the local historical museum is currently between curators and thus closed.)
(Above: My altered boots by the large historical sign outside Sun Prairie's City Hall.)
While in Sun Prairie, I visited a nice yarn shop but also the most beautiful, traditional quilt store into which I've even ventured. It's JJ Stitches. No, I didn't buy anything. I rarely purchase new fabric. I asked if I could snap photos because the arrangement of fabulous fabrics with genuine antiques was so attractive.
(Above: JJ Stitches, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.)
If you find yourself anywhere near Sun Prairie, this store is definitely worth the visit! Beautiful … and so I'm posting several images as “eye candy” at the bottom of this post. Scroll down ... because the antique machines are gorgeous!
I love the way the owner has blended antiques with bolts of traditional fabric and suitcases of neatly ribbon-tied "fat quarters". The walls were all hung with stunning quilts. Beautiful ...
... creatively shown ...
... with all the exotic notions of foreign travel in centuries past ...
... and perfect use for this extra large ceramic container!
Oh ... the antique sewing machine collection was to die for! Scroll down for more because I have something else to share from Wormfarm Institute!
(Above: Me ... on my way to my favorite outdoor place to hand stitch at Wormfarm Institute! This and the other photos of me were taken by Austen Weymueller, one of the other resident artists here on the farm. Thanks, Austen!)
I haven't just been experimenting with natural dyes and rusting vintage fabrics here at Wormfarm Institute. In addition to the altered boots and the early "In Box" and Lancet Window I made during my first week, I've been working on several other projects ... including a very special one for Susanne Miller Jones' upcoming Fly Me to the Moon project! This exciting venture will mark the 50th anniversary of man's July 20, 1969 first walk on the moon! In the fall of 2018 Shiffer Publishing will print a full color book of all the 30" x 18" original works juried for the exhibit. Until that time (or until Susanne gives the "thumbs up"), the pieces aren't to be blogged or shown on-line.
(Above: Me on one of the rusted out car bodies in the cow pasture of Wormfarm Institute ... hand stitching on Tang and the Miles to the Moon, my piece for Fly Me to the Moon.)
In order to make the publication possible and for Susanne to submit exhibition proposals, all the finished images and statements are due to Susanne before October 16th. With my summer schedule already rather tight and knowing that I'll be at PLAYA art residency for the entire month of October, I knew that I had to get to work right away ...
(Above: The final page of my tally of the 23,885 hand stitched needed on my piece ... one stitch equals TEN MILES ... in order to achieve the average mileage to the moon!)
... because my submission (my idea too!) was to stitch my way to the moon! Well ... one stitch per every ten miles. It's 238,857 miles (average) to the moon! I brought the background fabric with me. It was an ordinary black cotton which I discharged with bleach. I tried to create the feeling of circular forms, as if stars. I then "over-dyed" it with a large container of Tang (but almost all of the orange rinsed away ... still ... it was mightily exposed to plenty of this space era beverage!) I brought plenty of metallic thread ... for the luminosity of a star lit night. I brought a notebook to tally my stitches ... one mark for every ten stitches ... thus 2,388 tally strokes. This is A LOT OF STITCHING in an area that is only 30" x 18 ... 44.2 stitches per square inch. I enjoyed sitting on top of the rusty car, looking over the landscape, and counting as I stitched.
(Above: A groundhog who came to visit the other rusted out car body!)
I must have been a curiosity to this groundhog who came by to visit. I was sort of scared but had my phone's camera handy. (THANK YOU to Diana Feit for being in the process of emailing me. I shared this incident "live" with her via my smart phone ... which kept me calm until the groundhog ran away. I think he was scared of me too!)
I spent hours and hours on the top of that rusted out vehicle ... stitching and stitching. I might have messed up a few hundred but that's okay! Why? Well, 238,857 is the AVERAGE miles to the moon. When the moon is at its closest point (called its perigee), it is 225,622 miles away. When the moon is at its most distant point (called apogee), it is 252,088 mile away. I'm sure I'm actually somewhere within this range! LOL!
(Above: Me on the rusted car body overlooking the barn at Wormfarm Institute ... and, yes, Mom ... that's the sweater from Colorado purchased in 1961, eight years before man's moon walk!)
Most importantly, I finished all the hand stitches earlier today. Now to attach the back facing and bind it and attach a hanging sleeve! That should be comparatively EASY! Now ... scroll down for more antique sewing machines at JJ Stitches!