Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Work from Fergus Falls

(Above:  How I left my studio on Saturday night!  Click on any image in this post for an enlargement.)

When I first saw the provided studio space for my art residency here in Fergus Falls, Minnesota with Springboard for the Arts, I was a little apprehensive.  It is in the basement of the non-profit Kaddatz Gallery.  There are no windows.  The century old building was constructed with solid materials making it relatively sound proof.  I thought I might get claustrophobic, though I've never felt that way before.  As it turns out, this is an ideal situation in which to work with anonymous, vintage photographs.  Without the sense of changing daylight, chirping birds, or other indications from the outside world, I'm alone with these forgotten faces as if in a giant bubble.  Time stands still.  Hours pass.  On some days I've worked steadily from before 9 AM until after 8 PM and thought a mere four or five hours went by.  My stash of images seem like a collective on the island of misfit toys, just hoping to be rescued into art.  It situation is ideal.  I'm loving it here.  Lots of work is getting done.  There's a feeling of accomplishment every day.

(Above:   The start of a new, large In Box series piece.)

Of course, I'd working on other things in addition to the found photos.  One such project was done over the weekend.  I made a large "In Box Series" piece for a client who commission it over the Internet.  She saw my work at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC but wanted a horizontal one with a white-on-white presentation.  She also wanted it by June 3rd.  I made arrangements with my husband Steve who is back in Columbia.

(Above:  In Box CCXXXI, a horizontal commission for a client.)

Everything I need to create these works was in the van.  Why? Well, on June 9th I'm going directly from Fergus Falls to Lorton, Virginia's Workhouse Art Center to teach a two-day workshop that used all the same materials.  I don't have "workshop" supplies as separate things.  I teach what I do with what I use.  So ... out it all came.  Also, my new Bernina came out and this is the first piece stitched with it.  I rigged up a nice outside location for the melting process.  Thus, I was not underground for the entire weekend!  The piece was shipped to Steve yesterday.  He'll frame it, create a PayPal invoice, package it, and ship it ... before the deadline!  Now, how cool is that!

(Above:  Inside cover and title page of Edinburgh, an altered book of images from that city's ancient cemeteries.)

While preparing for my four-weeks in Minnesota, I gathered all the things I planned to use.  My proposal called for creating a series of altered and artist books using found anonymous family snapshots.  I've wanted to do this for quite some time.  I'm drawn to Victorian photo albums.  I buy stacks of personal ephemera at auction.  I squirrel these things away hoping for time to transform them into art.  An art residency is that "gift of time" and so I pulled everything out again.  I have much, much more than I could ever use.  There are twelve old photo albums (in various condition) with me now.  I thought I only had about three or four.  Yet in two of them, I'd already placed photos taken in Edinburgh's ancient cemeteries.  I took them in 2012.  It was high time to actually MAKE the work.  This is the first one ... almost finished.  There's a cool recess in the inside of the front cover just begging for me to create a fiber art piece for it.  I'm contemplating an idea ... one of the images transferred to fabric and heavily encrusted with hand beading.  Otherwise, this book is complete.

(Above:  One of the spreads in Edinburgh, an altered book.)

I'd totally forgotten that I'd had these images developed and placed them in this album.  I'm very happy that this project is getting done.  It is exactly why I love art residencies.  Projects from a back burner get finished.  I took scores of photos in Edinburgh and even posted 266 of them on Flickr!  CLICK HERE to access.

(Above:  Four walnut frames from Gina Lesslie and the work created for them.)

About a month before I departed for this residency, Gina Lesslie donated four walnut frame to me.  They'd been in her family for years.  Now as a professional picture framer, I don't really need old frames but these are special.  Gina Lesslie is special.  She commissioned me to create original works from her family's old photos as her Christmas gifts to siblings. She arranged for a group of images I had to be picked up by Historic Columbia.  Gina is also a Facebook friend ... and so ... tada!  Gina, these are the four creation that will be fitted into the frames upon my return to Columbia.  They will be part of my upcoming solo show on USC-Beaufort campus' gallery.

(Above:  A Morning Flower, a Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. 34" x 26 1/2".  Crayon on silk grave rubbing with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and dense hand-stitching. Vintage buttons.  Words:  A Morning Flower Wither'd in an Hour)

Every evening here in Fergus Falls finds me hand stitching in the provided apartment.  It is a most relaxing way to end each day.  I finished the front of this art quilt.  It had been designed to "go on the road" with me when Steve and I traveled to Arizona to deliver my solo installation, continued to DC for the opening at the Textile Museum, and to drive back home.

(Above:  Detail of A Morning Flower.)

The entire background is covered in running stitches.  There's not a quarter-square inch without a stitch.  I needle-turn too.  What does that mean?  It means I stitch down, pull, poke up, pull, repeat.  It means that I don't wiggle the threaded needle through the fabric layers several times before pulling.  The result is a richer texture and subtly the look of being hand plied.  It takes time.  I love spending my time like this.

(Above and below:  Spreads from Edinburgh, an altered Victorian photo album of photos taken in Edinburgh's ancient cemeteries.)

Continue scrolling down to see the other pages ... all acrylic collage with waxed surfaces.

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