Thursday, September 24, 2015

Last Words at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, GA

(Above:  Last Words, Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum, Carrollton, GA.  This is the vignette I created for the entry room.  It is in this area that the gift shop and main desk are located.)

I am so honored to be in Carrollton, Georgia this week.  Not only did I get to totally stage my exhibition, Last Words, at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum but I am also teaching a two-day workshop at the Cultural Arts Center.  Last night I presented a "trunk show" to the public.  Local quilt guilds, art groups, scout troops, and other organizations were invited.  It was publicized in by the area media.  This resulted in plenty of interested people attending. Afterwards, we were all treated to a guided tour of the nearby cemetery.  Experts in gravestone iconography and regional history pointed out important, carved motifs and the final resting places of personalities as diverse as politicians, philanthropists, and a freed slave who possessed such rare culinary skills that the community pitched in to erect an angelic sculpture.  It was terrific!

(Above:  The is the wall immediately to the left of the main doorway into the central room.)

The museum is celebrating its third anniversary.  It is a big deal ... especially since the success of this non-profit means it is bursting at the seams and (once again) needing additional space in which to store its permanent collection, vast library, and all the other things needed to fulfill its educational and historical mission.  I really hope that my show helps the expansion efforts!

Let me take you on a little, virtual tour of my show!  After entering the central room and turning immediately to the left, one walls down the wall of quilts toward Death Bed, the suspended piece above.  The center of the room includes approximately 43 sheer chiffon banners on which I've free-motion stitched epitaphs collected from all sorts of cemeteries.

Here is Death Bed (suspended) ... and a little further is a black theater curtain on which I hung one my Angels in Mourning Series pieces, After the Toils of Life.

In front of the black theater curtain is a small kneeler on which I placed one of my altered Victorian photo albums and two church offering plates filled with wrapped-and-stitched wooden thread spools.

I placed the other two offering plates on the floor ... filling each with additional spools.

I really loved the look toward this kneeler from deep inside the maze of epitaph banners.

Suspended in the other, nearby corner is At Rest.  This piece was originally designed and stitched to be suspended as it is presented here.  However, until this week, it has never actually been suspended.  I'm particularly pleased to present this densely stitched piece "in the round".

Here's a view of At Rest from the side ... with Some Day We Will Understand hanging on the back wall. 

Here's a view looking back toward At Rest ... showing the long wall of grave rubbing art quilts.

Technically, Handed Down (the piece with the elegant, long red opera gloves) is not a grave rubbing art quilt.  Yet, it has all the same concepts of remembrance, personal legacy, and a hope of a potential family heirloom as all the other quilts ... plus, it is the piece featured on the exhibition posters.

When looking in the opposite direction ... over Handed Down ... toward the last wall, one can see the doorway into the second, smaller room at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum.

Here's another view!

Before going into the second room, here's a view of the final wall in the central area.  In the corner is a chair for a museum docent and a small table on which additional information and "white gloves" are made available to the public.

There's also a nice bench alongside this wall ... and a basket with more "white gloves".  My signage includes a statement allowing visitors to peek behind each art quilt.  Almost all the work includes additional, vintage linens on the reverse.  It's like a "little secret".

Behind the docent's chair is this corner ... including Milestone (altered wedding dress), Forever (one which appear Steve's name and my own with our birth years ... a tribute to our marriage), and two other grave rubbing art quilts.

All four walls are lined with a heavy row of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters.  For me, this adds the color found in a real cemetery, eliminates the hard 90 angle of floor and wall ... softening the austere interior into a more natural surface underfoot, and serves as a quiet reminder of all the people who brought tokens of remembrance to a loved one.

The center of the space is equally trans-formative and contemplative.  The banners move slightly with any movement (even the air-conditioning system).  The words hang ghostly in the air.  The view across the gallery is slightly obscured. 

Some of the epitaphs are very long.  Some are ancient.  Some were etched within the past few years.  One can't help to read a few words ... which draws a viewer into reading the entire passage.

Each banner is two-sided because I intentionally alternated the statements orientation from one side to the other.

Now ... into the smaller room.  Here is The Book of the Dead, a 696-page altered sketch book filled with watercolored pages on which collected epitaphs are written in calligraphy.  There are over 1200 entries ... each one originally scribbled in my notebook while standing in front of an actual burial site.  More grave rubbing art quilts hang on the wall behind the altered Victrola on which the book's lectern sits.

The room is intimate and includes a bookcase with some of the museum's collection.

Here's one wall ...

... and the other wall.

There are a total of six, altered Victorian photo albums.  One is on the kneeler.  One is on the public response piece (scroll down!), three are on the shelves of the Victrola, and one is was screwed onto an old plant stand at the suggestion of one of the museum's dedicated volunteers.  It is perfect! This entire exhibit has included plenty of correspondence to make it as wonderful as it is!

Another museum staff person suggested an idea for a "public response" piece.  Through emails we brain-stormed and came up with this!  It is an altered version of my Pardoning Altar.  Now, however, it isn't about forgiveness but serves as a place for visitors to leave a written message, comments, or their "last words".  It sits just outside the second, smaller room.  I've very pleased to provide this location for audience participation and can't wait to read the provided index cards!

The sixth altered Victorian photo album sits on the wide ledge with a sign and also an acrylic box for additional comment cards!  How wonderful!

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Framed Keys

(Above:  The Key to Respect.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

Next week will find me in Carrollton, Georgia installing my solo show, Last Words, at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum. I'm excited! The museum has a gift shop. I've been asked to bring work for the shop. Of course I'll bring some of my bookmarks and Christmas ornaments, but I wasn't sure what else to bring ... until I started preparing for the "Second Life", two-day workshop I'll also be teaching in Carrollton.  The first exercise involves tagging a key.  It is my method of stimulating thoughts, inspiration, and creativity ... using WORDS.  So ... why not bring some of my own, framed keys for the shop!  I like the idea so well that I made a bunch of new pieces ... especially for this opportunity.

(Above:  The Key to World Peace.)

As luck or serendipity would have it, a nice lady brought me one of my tagged keys ... one that wasn't yet framed ... and asked me to frame it too.  This is her piece.  I tried hard to include "global" material ... fragments of a Chinese screen and a piece of antique French brocade along with beads from Africa and some wool roving purchased from The Thread Studio in Australia.  I hope she likes it!

(Above:  The Key to Wisdom.)

Steve likes making the frames for these pieces.  It is an opportunity to use a piece of discontinued moulding in our framing garage.  Each key was made specifically for each frame.  It is challenging and fun!

(Above:  The Trenholm Art Guild.)

Another fun thing I did this week was to present my lecture, Beyond a Series, to the Trenholm Art Guild.  This non-profit was established in 1971 and has over 200 members.  By the time my presentation started, extra chairs had to be brought into the room. Over 75 people had come!  It was an honor.  Below are the rest of the framed keys made this week!

(Above:  The Key to Truth.)

(Above:  The Key to Faith.)

(Above:  The Key to Beauty.)

(Above:  The Key to Dark Chocolate.)

(Above:  The Key to a Secret Garden.)

(Above:  The Key to Esteem.)

(Above:  The Key to Gusto.)

(Above:  The Key to Love.)

(Above:  The Key to My Heart.)

Monday, September 14, 2015


(Above:  Exodus. Rusted vintage garments and dress form.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Exodus is one of my three entries for the upcoming, juried exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC.  The show is called Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora. The call-for-entry is found on the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) website. Both jurors are curators at the Textile Museum.  This is a BIG opportunity.  Competition will be fierce. Not many works are expected to be selected as space is limited ... plus the jurors will be inviting between five to seven artists to participate in addition to the juried works.  Most importantly, the Textile Museum doesn't generally have calls-for-entry.  This is a chance to have work in front of internationally respected fiber experts ... if only for a few seconds. These curators/jurors generally create shows "in house" or by borrowing work from other museums and private collections.  (The last time the Textile Museum had a call-for-entry was in 2011 for Green: A Color and a Cause. My piece, Wasted Words: Global Warnings was accepted.)

(Above:  Exodus, in progress.  This is my living room ... with Steve patiently watching CNBC while I start to assemble the rusted vintage garments, dress form, pins, etc.)

The call-for-entry doesn't open until October 1st and I'm ready for it! I need to be prepared in advance. The first few days of October will be hectic as I'm flying to Oregon on the 4th for a month-long art residency at PLAYA.  So ... how did this piece evolve?  I'm not entirely sure.  It started back in the spring of 2014. I had a hair-brained idea to rust and naturally dye vintage garments ... stain the fabric with the soil and minerals from my own backyard. That summer I was invited to participate in a local show, Art from the Ashes, commemorating the sesquicentennial of Gen. Sherman's Civil War burning of Columbia, South Carolina. Four lectures were provided for background information.  Cindi Boiter, the editor of Jasper Magazine and the show's sponsor, emphasized the vision of the exhibit to be from the viewpoint of marginalize people. For me, this meant "women and children" who would have been very frightened on that 1865 February night watching sparks of fire drifting in the high winds ... worried whether they'd have a house by morning. I decided that my idea to rust vintage garments would make an excellent installation to illustrate that viewpoint.  I was very pleased with the results.  I called it Night of Terror.

(Above:  Exodus, in progress.)

Even before creating Night of Terror, SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) announced the "Diaspora" call-for-entry. Even while pinning up the garments at the Tapps Art Center last February, I knew I wanted to later rearrange all the vintage garments on my mother's old dress form ... to enter it into the show at the Textile Museum.  This was my plan all along.  To me, this sculptural idea took the fears of marginalized Civil War era women and children and enlarged them to represent any group of people forced to flee their homelands.  There is a suggestion of a culture's former beauty but also of the struggles and the toils of migration. 

(Above:  Exodus, in progress.)

My "foggy vision" of this sculptural artwork included a long train ... lots of rusted garments ... more than I had last February.  Thus, I applied to Wormfarm Institute, an art residency program outside Reedsburg, Wisconsin. The program's website mentioned having lots of rusty farm implements. The program is housed in a barn ... a perfect location to get "down and dirty".  I was accepted and spent most of May rusting more garment as well as several yards of old fabric. 

(Above:  Exodus, in progress.)

Last week I turned the living room into my studio. All the rusted garments, my mother's old dress form, lots of straight pins and safety pins, and needle and thread were assembled.  It was fun to play with all the parts. It was fun to see my vision become real. But, I couldn't take photos in the living room ... at least not images to submit to the Textile Museum!

(Above:  Exodus, in progress.)

I had to take the entire thing to Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. My studio is at this location. The atrium is WONDERFUL for photography ... white walls, a slate gray floor, and (best of all) four big skylights overhead!  I don't have to know a lot of about fancy lighting when working in defused, natural light!

(Above:  Exodus.)

When I arrived at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios I hadn't quite figured out how the train would be fashioned.  The garments for the train weren't yet attached to anything at all. I knew I needed to finish the piece in such a way that someone else (hopefully a staff person at the Textile Museum) could successfully install it. 

(Above:  Exodus ... the garment and its train.)

I decided that the train would be a separate piece.  This solution seemed far easier than trying to stitch all the pieces together ... and easier to transport too!

(Above:  Exodus, the back of the sculptural garment.)

This solution worked beautifully.  After snapping photos of the garment from the front, I removed the train, turned the piece, re-positioned the train ... and took the photos from the back.  I'm very pleased with this work.  My fingers and toes are crossed that it will be viewed in the museum setting!  Below are some of the detail shots.


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