Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Mother's Love

 (Above:  A Mother's Love, mixed media.  Found silver gelatin photograph, free-motion machine stitching, hand stitched gold buttons, metallic gold pencil, collage of clipped vintage letters, and artist- made frame with hand stitched buttons.  19" x 16".  Inventory # 4100. $295.)

I'm the fortunate recipient of all sorts of things, mostly other people's old yarn, crocheted doilies, scraps of fabric, keys, and wooden thread spools. But every once in a while, I receive other "treasures" like this silver gelatin photograph of a Madonna and Child stone sculpture.  I don't know who the sculptor was or the photographer.  I do know that professional photographer Molly Harrell gave me the picture.  At the time, she said, "I can't wait to see what you'll do with it."

 (Above:  A Mother's Love, detail.)

I really do try to use all the things given to me but often I can't remember "who gave what" by the time I use it.  This photo, however, seemed to haunt me.  I knew instantly that I wanted to add buttons.  Why?  Well, I'm not entirely sure but the notion of adding beads and/or buttons to a halo has always been with me.  It feels right. It is just the sort of appropriate embellishment for an icon ... at least any icon I'll ever make. 

(Above:  A Mother's Love, detail.)

The 14" x 11" photo was first fused to fabric.  I used a gold metallic pencil to create the aura around the Virgin's head.  Then I free-motion stitched the background before hand stitching the smaller, gold buttons.  Finally, I added tiny letters clipped from the October 1946 issue of Fortune Magazine.  (Unbelievably, Amazon and eBay list a copy at $125.  I paid quite a bit less ... as in under five bucks).  To finish the work, I built a very special frame and liner.  After drilling holes through the frame, I stitched larger, gold buttons onto it using button threads.

While I stitched, I thought about the criticism I received last May from a local arts administrator regarding my "Button Proposal".  I was told that I "romanticized my materials" and "didn't push the boundaries of my studio art practice."  (To read how I handled this criticism, CLICK HERE.)  Sure, the words hurt but the button artwork that started flowing out of it has been awesome!  Plus, I've now gone from romanticizing buttons straight to idolizing them! LOL!

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