Thursday, June 25, 2015

This week at the Rensing Center

(Above:  Working the Land, 5" x 16" x 11". fiber and found objects.  Zigzag machine stitching.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I'm closing in on my second week at the Rensing Center, an art residency program just outside Pickens, South Carolina.  I'm getting plenty of work done ... both fiber arts and catching up on lots of the computer and paperwork that come with a career in the arts.  One of the pieces I finished just the other day is Working the Land

(Above:  Working the Land, detail.)

I uncovered the rusty old pitchfork part while pulling wild wisteria from the Rensing Center's upper garden.  For the past two or three years, the garden was a little neglected while owner Ellen Kochansky established the art residency program.  This August, however, it will be the site of a wedding for the Rensing Center's bookkeeper.  Lots of weeding, planting, and needed maintenance will continue through the summer.

Now, since I found the pitchfork, I was allowed to keep it!

(Above:  Working the Land, detail.)

This was undoubtedly the most complex vessel incorporating found metal objects I've thus far made.  I knew I wanted "green" for the fibers ... to represent the many things this pitchfork probably tossed.  Many pitchforks have only three or four prongs.  They are for hay, straw, leaves or other "loose" material.  Five prong pitchforks are generally for dung or silage.  I'm going with the "silage" ... which an on-line definition is: grass or other green fodder compacted and stored in airtight conditions, typically in a silo, without first being dried, and used as animal feed in the winter.  Green is GOOD!  I'm really, really please how this one turned out.  There were moments when I thought it really was going for "the dung"! LOL! 

(Above:  One of four art quilts on which I'm furiously stitching.)

I'm not ready to share the four, large digitally printed, whole-cloth art quilts on which I'm currently working.  Yet, here's a photo of one folded over a stool near my Babylock Tiara.  I don't actually sit on the stool to stitch.  I stand.  This particular piece will incorporate an enormous area for seed stitching.  It's rather relaxing to do!

(Above:  Tying the Knot, a wedding installation, work in progress.)

Every art residency is different.  Some have rather steep participation fees.  I've never gone to one of them.  Some require each artist to donate a piece to their permanent collection.  I did this at Hot Springs National Park in August, 2011.  Some require a workshop ... like the Studios of Key West, March 2012.  Some are basically "the gift of time" ... like the Anderson Center was in May of this year.  I just came from Wormfarm Institute, a place requiring fifteen hours of work on their farm ... every weekday morning from 8:30 - 11:30.  It was hard but interesting.  Here at the Rensing Center I paid a very reasonable $50 per week and get to elect how I want to contribute eight hours of work. What's more, many of the work details also function as ways to get to know the other artists!

Due to the logging being done on a steep slope that is very near the upper garden, Ellen Kochansky (who is out weeding and working alongside everyone else) asked me to brainstorm about an installation that might deflect from this eye sore.  Immediately I thought of my I Do / I Don't installation which is currently on view at the Bilston Craft Gallery in England in the show The Liberated Quilt: New Work from Through Our Hands.  (If you haven't visited Through Our Hand's website ... it's a MUST SEE!)

 (I Do / I Don't as seen during Artista Vista 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.)

Alongside the eleven wedding veils are hung "tie the knot" ribbons.  I made this suggestion.  Ellen then pulled up a particularly large wisteria root from which plenty of shoots and smaller roots hung and said, "I like the idea!  Something like this ... organic!"  Within a day, we raided Ellen's studio for all the ribbon, lace, trim, and interesting string she had.  Then we raided a storage structure.  Inside was a large bag of t-shirts that had been cut, stretched, and twisted into rope.

A new work detail was issued ... called "Movie Night"!  Now, that's the way to work!  We watched the King's Speech and made many of the strands now hanging in my studio here at the Rensing Center.  I've been working on this project ever since.  It's going to be gorgeous!  This is definitely a great way to contribute hours of work while also MAKING ART ... the focus of an art residency!

(Above:  Tying the Knot, detail.)

Best of all, there's rumor that another "movie night" will be happening later this evening!

(Above:  The Pickens County Dump!)

Another "work detail" is hauling all the trash to the Pickens County dump!  I've elected to go both weeks.  I'd never been to a dump before and this one is GREAT!  It has proper bins for all sorts of recycling, from glass, plastic, paper, and corrugated to electrical components and more!  That's Ellen and Katie Nocella, the Rensing Center intern.  We all went to recycle!

(Above:  The Hagood Mill's giant water wheel.)

Another fantastic thing about the Rensing Center is the "field trips"!  Last Saturday we went to the "third Saturday" mini-festival, a monthly event at the Hagood Mill

(The interior of the Hagood Mill.)

Songwriters were performing on a stage and every building on the site was in full operation.

The mill grinds all sorts of things that are sold in their gift shop.

Everyone was busy inside ...

... and outside ... and in the other buildings where weaving and quilting and churning butter were being demonstrated.

This is the cotton gin!

Despite the heat, the blacksmith shop was operational too ... as well as the moonshine area (though I don't think they actually make real moonshine!)

(Above:  The Pickens County flea market.)

On Wednesday mornings there's always a field trip to the Pickens County flea market.  It's gigantic and sells all sorts of fresh produce, discounted household items, used clothing, "junk", antiques and collectibles ...

... and even baby pheasants for $1.50 each ...

... and this guy drives up from the coast every week with fresh shrimp!

There are vendors who hawk their wares and edibles just like the "as seen on television" commercials.

I marveled at the size of those panties

... and the Batman who was entertaining kids while at a stall for a local charity.

I absolutely LOVED these found object sculptures ...

... and probably should have bought this one.  It was only $25.  Maybe next week if it's still there!

The variety of things and services was amazing ... like this portable key shop ...

... and these salt and pepper shakers!

Now ... remember the shrimp?  Well, that's what we had for my 56th birthday celebratory dinner on Wednesday night.  It was so good that I forgot to snap a photo until afterward when we made a toast with writer Gavin McCall's home brewed stout!  What a wonderful birthday!

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


Maggi said...

The pitchfork piece works so well. If your Tying the Knot is anywhere near as good as the I Do/I Don't installation then it will be so successful. The exhibition at Bilston was wonderful and I liked the fact that you had a video and also a book of quotes that you had used on the veils.

Margaret said...

Another great adventure, Susan! RE: "tying the knot" wedding liturgy, just before the couple are pronounced husband and wife, there is -- at least, in the Anglican tradition, and when I was married (40 years ago) -- a moment when the priest/minister takes the ends of his/her stole and ties a single knot, saying, "Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder". :-) Our priest told us at the time that's what was meant by 'tying the knot'...appropriate for you and yours this summer, indeed!