Friday, May 20, 2016

First few days at Hinge Art Residency in Fergus Falls, MN

(Above:  How I left my provided studio space after my first full day!  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I arrived in Fergus Falls, Minnesota for my one-month art residency with Hinge Arts on Monday afternoon.  Naomi Schliesman, the Artist Development Coordinator, showed me around town ... including my apartment on the grounds of the former mental facility and my provided studio space in the basement of the non-profit Kaddatz Gallery.  I blogged about it HERE.  I was able to move into both spaces and even had time to sort through the boxes of vintage photographs I brought with me from which I will be making a series of artist books.  So ... I was really ready to GET TO WORK on Tuesday morning.  By 8 PM, work was already all over the floor drying!

(Above:  Detail of my studio floor on Tuesday evening ... after my first full day of work.)

Back in Columbia, SC I have fourteen antique, walnut frames.  They are mostly 8" x 10", the kind often referred to as "shadowboxes".  Since I'm a professional picture framer, I can attest to the fact that they aren't really "shadowboxes" at all.  They just have multiple liners, often fancy (velvet, faux tortoise shell paint, inlaid designs).

 (Above:  The Wall of Ancestors ... as seen at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, April 2014 ... before another seventy or so pieces were added.)

My intention was to use these antique frames for my Wall of Ancestors, but finding the time was problematic.  That's what an art residency is for ... "The Gift of Time".  I'm also very excited about this installation.  I've been offered a solo show at USC-B (The University of South Carolina, Beaufort campus) next September!  The walls will obviously include the framed pieces, but I'll be creating the atmosphere of a nostalgic family sitting room.  How?  Well, I have a Victorian rocker, an end table, and wooden dictionary pedestal.  I'll find a nice, small Oriental rug and maybe a floor lamp.  These will be placed in the center of the space ... in order to comfortably view the altered scrapbooks and photo albums I'm making here in Fergus Falls.  I'm calling the show Anonymous Ancestors.   

(Above:  Plastic trays of clipped letters.)

In order to make all these things happen, the first thing I had to do was set up my trays of clipped letters.  The two front rows have "tiny" letters.  The two back rows have medium sized letters.  The envelops have letters too large for the trays.  I need all of them ...

(Above:  Fourteen anonymous, altered vintage photos for the frames back in Columbia.)

... in order to transform some of the anonymous, vintage photos for the frames ...

... and for the antique images already mounted on hard cardboard.  I decided that the photos mounted to these hard boards would go very nicely in old wooden boxes ... as if "treasure boxes" or unclaimed family heirlooms.  After all, the hard backing makes it very difficult for me to use in the creation of an artist or altered book.

By Thursday night, eighty-seven were transformed!  I had no idea my stash included so many!

(Above:  Waxing the altered, vintage photos.)

Because I use matte medium, an acrylic, I know that the surfaces could adhere to one another if subjected to heat and pressure.  (This is why painters can't stack their work face-to-face.  Acrylic paint will bond/stick if stored in this manner!)  To prevent this (and to eliminate the "plastic" feel of the surface), I apply wax and a soft cloth.  I forgot to bring wax with me but found some around the corner at the Ben Franklin Craft store.  I haven't been inside a Ben Franklin in years!  It was really fun.  The fabric selection is beside the fish aquarium which is beside the framing supplies.  I had no idea that there are still paint-by-number kits ... which weren't far from the canning supplies where wax is in stock!  Thank goodness for Ben Franklin's!

(Above:  Three canvases from my I Am Not Invisible series.)

I will need the wax for the books I'm making too!  One altered scrapbook is already complete!  It started with one of these three canvases.  I collaged the surface with all sorts of ephemera (passport pages, opera ticket stubs, handwritten letters, ration stamps, old newspaper articles, childhood report cards, recipes, cancelled postage stamps, snippets from my Grandma Lenz's household ledgers, military citations, turn-of-the-century sales receipts, etc. ... some from my family, most from auctions).  I then covered surface with watery washes of luminescent aqua paint.  These semi-obscured  paintings were the backdrop for three stitched silhouettes.  I blogged about creating them HERE

(Above:  Detail of the canvases.)

The stretcher bars were cut to 72" x 36".  Then I framed them ... which only makes them LARGER.  There's no way to store all these pieces.

 (Above:  I Am Not Invisible I, II, and III.)

The frames and stretcher bars were removed last year ... and used for other things.  I rolled up the three canvases ... hoping for some good idea to hit me.  It did!  These canvases could be cut into pages for an altered book! 

(Above:  Two vintage scrapbooks.)

I also had in my stash these two vintage scrap books.  I removed all the original pages (saving things that I liked) and brought them here to Fergus Falls.   On Tuesday I started on the blue one!

One canvas was cut into "pages" and "spacers".  Spacers are simply small strips that go between the pages of a traditional scrap book.  They provide the "space" for all the stuff added to the pages ... basically preventing the book from bulking when the pages are filled.

Then I went to work.  The first page made was "Born Out of Wedlock".

Holes were punched in all the pages and the spacers.  After the pages were dry, I photographed them ... and let the entire stack sit overnight ...

... under the weight of a heavy bag of sand that just happens to be in my space!

Today I assembled the book ... using the original twisted cord.

It still looks like the original from the outside.

The pages are perfect!  I'm really pleased with this first altered book.  The rest of the pages are below ... just scroll down!

First, however, I'd like to share my walk from the apartment to the studio.  It goes right by Lake Alice.  There are lots of Canadian geese living there ... lots of FAMILIES of Canadian geese.

I stopped to take a photo ... from a distance.  Yet, all the babies came rushing toward me.  I was quickly surrounded and had five sets of parents in hot pursuit.  Hilariously, I just ran away.  It was fun ... but a bit scary too!  Now ... below to the additional pages in the first altered scrapbook!



Best in Show.  (Yes ... the blue ribbon did come out of one of the original scrap books!)

Kissin' Cousins.

Never Comfortable with My Own Body.

Child Prodigy.

On the Road Again.  (The photo's caption includes: Florida 1958)

The Boy's Club.

Died Penniless.

My Future is Your Past.

Mama's Pride and Joy.

This is How I Want to Be Remembered.

Best Friends Forever.

Anonymous Debutant.

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


Gwyned Trefethen said...

Always fascinating to get a peek at what peaks your interest, Susan.

Julie said...

Thank you for sharing your process, and also some technical points that aren't apparent to everyone. I appreciate you looking out for those of us who are new enough we need the background for it to make sense. I learn every time I visit your posts, and enjoy your art immensely!