Thursday, June 30, 2016

Anonymous Ancestors: Creating an Interior Space

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair.  Antique chair altered with framed, anonymous photos and upholstery printed with scans from other vintage images.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This coming September is an exciting time.  My brand new solo show, Anonymous Ancestors, will open in the Sea Islands Gallery on The University of South Carolina's Beaufort campus.  The exhibit will include my Wall of Ancestors, Grid of Photos, and all the altered photo albums and scrapbooks made during my recent art residency with Springboard for the Arts in Minnesota.  Yet, this exhibit is supposed to be "an installation".  What's an installation? Well, it is widely regarded to be a new, contemporary medium ... with three important considerations:  1) The work is temporarily on display, 2) the work is site specific, and 3) the work is spatially transformative.  Basically ... my goal is to transform an ordinary, white-walled art gallery space into another type of environment.  Viewers are to EXPERIENCE the work in an intentionally controlled space.  To that end, Sea Islands Gallery will become a nostalgic, sitting room ... a tranquil place to consider family photos (both the ones I've altered but also the ones viewers might be thinking about from their own families).  The space will bring to life an imaginary parlor, a stereotypical room in which anyone's grandparents might peruse their family photo albums.
 (Above:  Detail of Anonymous Ancestors Chair's upholstery.)

To do this, I've been on a mission to find the right furniture.  Recently, I bought an Oriental rug and a marble topped end table.  This week I've altered an antique chair.  Scanned photos were uploaded to Spoonflower for the unique upholstery ... more anonymous images.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestor Chair, detail of the framed vintage photo with collaged letters reading:  Who is Keeping Your Memories?)

I'm very pleased with this framed detail for the chair back.  From a distance, it gives the impression that a person really is sitting in the chair ... a "face" looking out from the back of the chair ... just where a head ought to be!

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair, detail of a framed, altered tin type in an original mat ... now reading Greetings from the Past.)

 This old tintype came in this original mat.  I simply added more words, framed it, and screwed the piece to the back of the chair.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair, detail of the chair back.)

Because the chair will be sitting in the middle of the space, beside the marble topped table, and approachable from all sides, I framed this matted series of images for the chair back.  The curved back left a space behind the frame screwed to the chair's front ... and I inserted some cool flowers made from beads on wires ... vintage, of course.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Footstool.)

What I actually know about upholstering furniture would fit into a thimble ... but that lack of knowledge hasn't stopped me! LOL!  I ordered fabric for this little, Victorian footstool too.  Both the chair's upholstery and the footstool's fabric were free-motion quilted before I went to work to attach them to the furniture.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Footstool.)

Frankly, I think both upholstery jobs went very, very well.  I will also have a lovely, burgundy rocker in my interior.  It's authentically Victorian and in perfect condition ... so I will not be altering it.  I'm thinking I need at least one more end table.  I'll have to see what becomes available at auction in the coming weeks.

(Above:  Three more pieces for The Wall of AncestorsNever a Dull Moment, Did as Expected, and The Best is Yet to Come.)

On Tuesday Steve and I went to Tifton because my solo show, Last Words: Eternal Rest, had come to an end.  I used the two, elaborate Victorian frames in this exhibit.  Both were used for signage.  Thus, I found other anonymous images to alter for these two frames.  While selecting the photos from my stash, I found the smaller, vintage frame ... with a hand-tinted photo already inside.  All it needed was a collaged phrase.  The upcoming show is really coming together.  

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

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