Friday, October 12, 2012

Healthcare in America, a work in progress

(Above:  Healthcare in America, a work in progress.  9 1/2" x 19" x 19".  Recycled prescription bottles, pills, shredding paper, painted mat board rims, glue.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I started this piece over a week ago.  At the time, it seemed like a straight-forward, easy to accomplish, quick project.  It started with "a vision".  In my mind, I saw the bottles all lining up in perfect circles with shredded healthcare policies filling the vessel.

(Above:  Healthcare in America, in progress ... with a tub of shredded healthcare papers, empty vials of vitamins and calcium, cotton balls.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, reality interfered with "my vision".   There were over a dozen different sizes and styles of prescription bottles. Each one had plastic parts at the top into which the threading of its lid fit.  These plastic parts made the top of the bottles wider than the bottoms ... and made lining up the bottle flat against one another totally impossible.  Creating the vessel was quite a challenge  ... but it was fun!

(Above:  Steve reviewing our health care policy and comparing several on-line quotes.)

The next problem with my "vision" for this piece was the shredded paperwork.  Steve helped provide some of our health care policies.  Printed materials about Obamacare and the Republican plans were easy to find ... but all these pages simply looked like "shredded paper" ... any paper ... not necessarily paper that had anything to do with health care.  I wanted it to be more obvious ... for the shredded paper to instantly be recognizable as being health care related.  What to do?

 (Above:  Shredded paper for Healthcare in America.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I made my own paperwork ... copying and pasting health care provider logos and statements about national health insurance coverage along with photocopied tables from some of our policies.  Seventy-five pages (front and back) were printed in full color.  (25-cents per side).  One hundred pages of "statements" were printed in black-and-white (4-cents per side).  I'm grateful to DPK Printing in Columbia's Vista for their every day low printing prices!  I've been cutting and curling each page by hand ever since.  These pages will fill the vessel once it is complete.   

 (Above:  Healthcare in America, view from the side.  Click on image to enlarge.)

My "vision" didn't include anything being in the prescription bottles ... but, since the construction rendered the vessel quite differently, I decided to fill them.  Steve bought four large bottles of calcium and two giant bottles of generic aspirin for me to use.  I added some of the shredded paper and cotton ball tops.  

(Above:  Healthcare in America, view into the vessel.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Some of the bottles were only accessible from the inside.  Others could be filled from the outside.  It took lots longer than I anticipated to complete this task.  In the process, the top orange rim came off.  Currently, it has been re-glued and is under weights.  Soon ... I'll be able to fill the vessel with the rest of shredded healthcare papers (as soon as I finish curling them all!)

(Above:  Wet Sand III - VI, stacked.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, I'm not just working on one project.  I'm almost never without some stitching to do.  This week I finished the hand embroidery on four pieces.  (I'm still working on two more!)  They've been stitched to rag mat board.  The mat board has been glued to wooden strainers and wired for hanging.

(Above:  Wet Sand III, before the epoxy pour.  16" x 16".  Click on image to enlarge.)

Back in July I completed the first two pieces in this series based on the texture of a sandy beach.  I loved how they turned out and planned to create more for the upcoming Vista Lights exhibit here in Columbia.  The foundations are squares of material cut from a used painter's drop cloth.  This drop cloth looked like sand to begin with.  I washed it.  It still looked like sand.  With a piece of recycled white acrylic felt behind each square, I stitched ... free-motion machine embroidery ... following the lines and paint splatters ... interpreting the stains and marks ... enhancing the surface ... making it look even more like sand.

(Above:  Wet Sand IV, before the epoxy pour.  16" x 16".  Click on image to enlarge.)

After machine stitching all six new pieces, I added running, straight, French knots, and seedy stitches for more texture.  Most of the threads I've been using are in a giant tangle inside a gallon Ziploc bag.  I have no idea what they are or where I got them ... probably from some yard sale or at auction.  They're just monochromatic "thread" ... something for texture.  

(Above:  Wet Sand V, before the epoxy pour.  16" x 16".  Click on image to enlarge.)

As soon as I finish the hand stitching on the last two pieces, I'll be ready for "the final steps".  I'll seal each work with a coating of Golden's GAC 400, a fabric stiffener.  Then, I'll pour epoxy over the surfaces.  The result is the true-to-life look of WET sand.  Subtle, shallow puddles of epoxy truly resemble water.  The surface looks wet ... with a glossy, reflective layer which is really hard to capture with a digital photograph.

(Above:  Wet Sand VI, before the epoxy pour.  16" x 16".  Click on image to enlarge.)

My initial epoxy experiments (and the first two pieces in this series) were blogged about HERE.  I'm planning on taking over Steve's garage this Sunday.  What fun!

(Above:  Me at "UNEARTH:  A Celebration of Naturally Inspired Art" at Saluda Shoals Park last Sunday afternoon.)

Last Sunday I was at "UNEARTH" demonstrating basic Japanese stab book binding for photo albums and showing off some artwork inspired by nature ... including Wet Sand I and II.  It was a great day.  It's been a great week too.  This post will be connected to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a collection of other "works in progress" by fiber artist working all over the world!  Take a look!


Gayle said...

I love it!!
"Healthcare in America".......
turns out to be a rather timely project. Maybe soon you will be able to incorperate Medicare and Medicade into one of your gravestone rubbings to go along with it.

Nina Marie said...

Susan - this is just a crazy cool take on such a complex problem! love it!

wholly jeanne said...

Yes to making your own papers to shred, and yes to filling the bottles. This is a smart, snappy creative project that makes a statement. Love it. Also love and appreciate that you post about your creative process - dealing with the quandaries, inevitable hiccups, and auditioning of materials until you eventually come up with the click, snap, done. I hope that one day soon I'll stay home long enough to dive in and accomplish. Till then, I just make sure everything I work on (just writing and Nancy's drawings and gathering for those Eventually projects) is portable! Always a treat to stop in and see what you're up to.

Wanda said...

There's healthcare in America? Humm...that's not really what we hear over here! lol Just joking. The piece is great! Over here, we don't get bottles at all. And everything has this big long explanation that goes on forever and is so small that you can't read it even with glasses. Really cool idea that started as a vision and became reality in its own way. Very neat. Oh and Wet Sands are incredible. I could just look at them for hours!

DPK Printing said...

Wow Susan the final piece is exquisite. Thank you so much for letting us be part of your art. Thank you so much.

DPK Printing

lindacreates said...

Amazing works of art, always interesting and complex. Thank you for sharing your process you are an amazing woman!