Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Cocoon at ArtFields

(Above:  Me at the entrance to The Cocoon.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It's been nearly three years since my summer 2018 art residency at the Rensing Center outside Pickens, South Carolina.  That's where The Cocoon came to life and was shown for the first and only time until today! It was supposed to be part of ArtFields 2020 but ... well ... everyone knows what happened to in-person events during the pandemic.  I submitted it again, for this year, and it was accepted.  I can't wait for visitors to enjoy the maze of vintage household linen, antique garments, and all the handmade embroidery.  It is truly my honor to be part of this exhibit and competition, April 23 - May 1, 2021.

(Above:  The sun room of the old funeral parlor that was about to be transformed into The Cocoon.)

The venue is a new location for ArtFields. It was a former funeral parlor.  It is now called "The House on Church Street". The buildings needs lots and lots of work.  Yet, the old mauve and puce paint, the scrappy wooden floor, the antique glass windows, and the recent neglect seem absolutely perfect for my installation.  There's an atmosphere of nostalgia, as if memories hang in the air. There's a suggestion of yesteryear and the people who once lived and worked here.  It is perfect.

(Above:  Steve with the rolling cart carrying the panels for The Cocoon.)

Within minutes of entering the building, Steve and I were unloading the van.  Most of The Cocoon hangs on heavy-duty drapery hangers from a rolling bridal-wear rack.

(Above:  The satin wedding gown and the pipe-and-drape system which functions as the substructure for The Cocoon.)

Temporarily, we hung printmaker Stephen Chapp's mother's 1948 satin wedding gown from the light fixture.  The pipe-and-drape system was deposited in the middle of the floor.

(Above:  The sun room before starting to install The Cocoon.)

When everything was brought inside, I surveyed the room.  Originally, I requested a larger space, but I wouldn't have traded for more square footage after seeing three walls of windows!  One thing was absolutely clear: The lighting was going to be amazing! 

(Above:  Me installing panels on the pipe-and-drape system.)

With the heavy-duty bases in place, the uprights were installed.  The panels slipped over the cross-beams, one by one until the sun room was totally transformed.  The walk through The Cocoon meanders nicely.  The images below were taken while I walked through myself.

(Above:  The entrance/exit to The Cocoon.)

For the photos below, I entered on the right side.

(Above:  Entering The Cocoon.)

I also walked through while taking a video.  It is HERE on You Tube.

(Above:  The far right corner of the room.)

I absolutely love this view.  The lighting is tremendous.  I put two folding chairs in this area.

(Above:  Two of four, old folding chairs upholstered with sections of an old quilt.)

Recently, I purchased four, old folding chairs while at Bill Mishoe's auction. I upholstered them with parts of an old quilt.  The fact of the matter is that most of The Cocoon came from Bill Mishoe's auction.  Some of the pieces, however, were donated to my stash by friends.  Some people sent antique and vintage garments and linens from their families.  Even Steve's Aunt Virginia sent a few things before she died.  I do hope that a few people will sit in the provided chairs ... just to think about the people they knew and loved, people who stitched, people who brought handmade beauty into their homes.

(Above:  The heavy satin wedding gown donated to my stash by printmaker Steven Chapp.)

I have another installation coming up soon.  It is called The Big Day.  It will be at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History from May 11 - July 23, 2021.  People from all over the country have donated their old wedding gowns to this exhibit ... but to be perfectly honest, it is this gown I love the best (even more than the one I wore which will also be in the show!)

(Above:  View from the wedding gown to the further corner.)

I used several galvanized electrical conduits to alter the shape of The Cocoon.  This is how the path meanders.  I also did this because I knew I had more than enough panels to create nooks.  By the time I filled the space, I still had six panels leftover.  They might get to hang ... next time!  Fingers and toes are crossed that The Cocoon will have more opportunities in front of the public.

(Above:  The back center area of The Cocoon.)

I really tried to use the panels on which vintage garments were stitched.  With this wonderful lighting, they brought a human touch to the installation.

(Above:  The far left corner of The Cocoon.)

In this corner, I allowed slight gap.  One really can't see out but more light does enter the space.  There's also a broken window behind the panel on the right.  It's just a small pane but it allows a breeze into the installation.  Some of the fabric oscillates ... sort of like laundry on a clothesline.  Speaking of a "clothesline", I will not only be installing The Big Day at the Pickens County Museum of Art an History in May, I will be back at the Rensing Center to install The Clothesline!  I started this installation while at the Enos Park Art Residency with the Springfield Arts Association in Illinois ... last January ... just before the pandemic hit.  Parts have been hung as more and more items were made, but I haven't had a time or place to put the whole installation together, especially in an outdoor pasture area!  I'm excited!  (To see one of the days during which part of The Clothesline was hanging, CLICK HERE.)

(Above:  The last area of The Cocoon, right beside the way back out.)

In the near, left corner (right beside the way back out of The Cocoon) is a low, marble top table and another folding chair. This is where I'm put several things.

(Above:  Items on the marble top table.)

They include my business cards and a three-ring binder. The binder includes all the blog posts written while The Cocoon was under construction.  Those posts are easy to find.  Scroll down on this blog's right-hand side-bar.  There is a list of months since 2006.  Scroll down to find June 2018.  The first post is HERE ... and it really does start to explain how The Cocoon came into being.  The three-ring binder also includes pages on which visitors might leave a comment, tell a fiber story, or share a memory.

(Above:  An authentic English pub tray collaged with children's dress patterns and filled with thread, scissors, needles on a magnetic base, and lots of buttons.  The patterns were donate by my friend Anne Fowler Wade.)

One of the most important reasons for creating The Cocoon was the hope that it would provide a soft, safe haven for storytelling.  I could imagine mothers telling daughters about grandmother's who crocheted doilies and fathers telling sons about the quilts under which they slept when visiting grandpas.  I wanted a place in which stitching could happen, even if it only meant someone showing how to attach a button.  To this end, there are buttons, thread, and needles.

(Above: The view to the way out from The Cocoon.)

Below are two more pictures ... the last one was taken at the exit, looking back inside The Cocoon.  I am happy that this installation was possible due to funding in part by the SC Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.  There are several acknowledgement with the SC Arts Commission logo printed on fabric and stitched to the bottom of several panels.


irene macwilliam said...

what a great installation, would take me ages to get through it, for thinking, surmising, wondering, imagining etc. Irene in N Ireland

Shannon said...

Oh yay! I'm so glad this gets to be seen again! The way the light glows through the vintage garments over the window is just fantastic!

Sherrie Spangler said...

I wish I could experience this in person. It sounds soothing and cozy and beautiful!

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

Definitely a place to "tell a story" to another - memory of another era, although on saying that so many people decide that they prefer the earlier era - be for decorating their home or wearing the clothing...through to "do you remember when?"

Alex said...

It's incredible - ethereal like the memories of those makers. Would love to wander through it in person...