Monday, September 05, 2016

Flood Poems

(Above:  Detail of Emily Oliver's poem, Self Portrait with Twelve-Mile Creek.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

For several weeks I've been working on three, unique pieces slated for exhibition in the upcoming Marked by the Water invitational show.  This Jasper Project, multidisciplinary event will commemorate the first anniversary of last October's historic floods here in Columbia, SC.  The show is at the Tapps Arts Center.  The reception is appropriately on the anniversary date:  October 4th from 7 - 9 pm.  There will be a film premier, a dance installation, and a book launch.  The book will include poetry and prose.  The pieces selected for publication were determined during the summer.  At that time, I contacted Jasper's editor-and-chief Cindi Boiter and literary arts editor Ed Madden with the hopes of turning a poem into a textile creation.  They sent several poems.  I couldn't help myself.  I selected three.  Cindi and Ed initiated the correspondence between these poets and me.  

(Above:  All three, finished flood poems.)

My idea was to create a background that resembled sheets of rain pouring down ... and to super-impose the words on this unique surface.  I made sure my idea worked by creating Rain

(Above:  Rain, 27" x 15". Strips of plastic, metallic threads and floss, and snippets of a sparkly snow-inspired chiffon ribbon stitched on Mokuba water soluble stabilizer to create a unique ground for self-guided, free-motion machine embroidered lettering.)

The experiment worked!  It served as an example of my intentions when communicating with the poets.  After all, how could anyone give consent to have one's work translated into a fiber art creation verbally described by the caption above?  So ... Jennifer Bartell, Bill Higgins, and Emily Oliver looked at Rain, gave permission for me to stitch their poems, and I went to work!

(Above:  Flood Poem IA Flood of Breath: A Prayer by Jennifer Bartell.  84" x 27".   Strips of plastic and sparkly bridal tulle stitched with silver metallic thread on Mokuba water soluble stabilizer to create a unique ground for self-guided, free-motion machine embroidered lettering.)

The first poem finished was Jennifer Bartell's.  I took a photo of it using the same piece of over-sized foam-centered board as I used when photographing Rain.  Of course, the entire piece couldn't be shown because I made the substrate seven feet in length.  Snapping photos of an ultra sheer fabric is quite problematic.  It's hard to really "see" what these fiber poems really look like.

Although one can't read the words, the photo above is a better one.  It really shows the fragile nature of this material and the size of the works.  (Thank you to the nice lady who visited Mouse House ... new to my neighborhood ... for posing in this picture!)  The top of each poem is hand stitched to a cafe curtain rod.  I have two brackets for each poem.  The ends of the rods will connect to the brackets.  This will allow the fiber poems to hand IN FRONT of the gallery walls ... as if suspended in air ... like rain pouring down ... words hanging in space and hopefully casting a faint shadow on the wall behind them.

(Above:  Stitching Jennifer Bartell's poem.)

So, how did I construct these fiber poems.  First, I lay out strips of plastic, sparkly bridal tulle and ribbon on the "sticky" side of Mokuba's two-part, water soluble stabilizer ... covering the entire surface and then topping it off with the "unsticky" part.  I drew lines ... knowing that the lines were on the "unsticky" part ... which, like the "sticky side" ... would wash away after stitching the poem.  The photo above shows Jennifer's poem under the foot of my Babylock Tiara.  Below is the continued  photo documentation of the three poems during the creative process! 

Above:  Jennifer's poem in the bathtub ... dissolving both the "sticky side" and the "unsticky side" of the Mokuba water-soluble stabilizer ... leaving just the strips of plastic, bridal tulle, ribbon, and the stitched words.

Above:  Here's Jennifer's poem drip-drying.

Above:  This is Emily Oliver's poem under the sewing machine and ...

... here it is in the bathtub ...

... and drip-drying.

Above:  Detail of Emily's poem while hanging above the tub.

This is Bill Higgin's poem being stitched and ...

... a detail shot of the stitching.  Please note the surface on which Bill's name is shown.  The "unsticky" side of the Mokuba looks like clear, plastic wrap.

After the two-parts wash away ... the surface looks quite different.

Above shows Bill's poem in the bathtub ...

... it got hung over a towel bar to dry.  I can't wait to install these poems at the Tapps Art Center ... and attempt taking photos that truly reflect how they appear ... sheer, ethereal, and a combination of moving poetry and creative fiber experimentation.

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


Sandy said...

beautiful! Isn't it cool when ideas actually work!? I love the ethereal rain which is very realistic.

Elizabeth said...

Bravo!!! Fabulous idea and dramatic and very meaningful finish!!!

Amy Art Quilter & Fyber Cafe said...

I think it will hang beautifully, I really like the sample you did, did it have more color? Maybe just the photo. I look forward to more photos to see how you handle the photography challenge.

Norma Schlager said...

I loved what you did with your "rain" piece and these are equally stunning.