Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cut from the Same Cloth and a GA/SC SAQA regional workshop

(Above:  The Georgia/South Carolina SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) regional workshop I taught in the gallery space just outside my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last Tuesday and Wednesday were "big days" for me!  I taught a two-day workshop in the gallery just outside my studio door at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  It was the first time I've actually conducted a workshop without boxing up all the supplies, materials, equipment, handouts, ironing boards, and transporting it all to a space in which I've never stepped foot!  That also meant it was an opportunity to show off my own studio and the artwork created by the other resident artists, including my mentor Stephen Chesley whose giant landscapes and seascapes appear in the background of many of these images.  The  maximum number for my workshops is generally twelve participants ... but this workshop went to fourteen!

(Above: Cut from the Same Cloth, an exhibit of twenty original 12" x 12" art quilts made by GA/SC SAQA members in response to a recent "challenge".  Over a year ago Paula Brown, Victoria Rondeau, and Meg Filiatrault dyed up three color-waves and mailed 14" squares randomly to all regional members.  Everyone was to create a 12" x 12" art quilt using the provided fabric.  These are the results ... and they hung in the gallery during the workshop and also for the monthly "Vista Nights", a third-Thursday art crawl in downtown Columbia.

(Above:  Esther and what was left of her donated fabric.  This is much less than half what Esther donated!  Her generosity is remarkable!)

This workshop had a fabulous "bonus"!  Esther, the wonderful lady in the photo above, spent the last eighteen years collecting fabric.  She loves the texture, color, and endless possibilities of material.  She intended to make things. Yet, she has all sorts of other interests too.  She'd come to a point in life when it was time to "release" all the fabric, donate it to people who would finally use it ... to make quilts, art, home accessories ... anything!  I'm Facebook friends with her neighbor, an artist named Julie.  Julie contacted me.  It took two trips to totally load my Scion with all the fabric and notions.  I erected two makeshift tables in the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... and gave away fabric to workshop participants, people who came for "Vista Nights" (Third-Thursday art crawl), to Richland School District Two (to be used with four brand new sewing machines purchased over the summer thanks to a recent grant), and to volunteers at the Lydia Project ... for making totes and needed items for women facing cancer.  THANK YOU, Esther!  Every workshop participant went home with literally arm-loads of fabric!

(Above:  GA/SC SAQA regional rep Judy Alexander from Marietta, GA and one of her creations!)

The workshop is called HOT: Heat-activated techniques for Contemporary Embroidery and includes instructions for properly mounting fiber art into professionally cut mats.  Everyone made at least two works ...

... including Victoria Rondeau ...

... and Paula Brown ...

... and everyone else in the workshop!

My husband Steve and I hosted a SAQA "Meet and Greet" at our home, Mouse House, on Tuesday night.  It was a nice chance for everyone to mingle, chat, and have a great dinner together.  Unfortunately, I was too busy to remember photos.

(Above: Am I a Pretty Boy? by Molly Eckes Samuels of Bluffton, SC.)

I did, however, shoot images of some of the 12" x 12" art quilts in the exhibit Cut from the Same Cloth.  These photos were used in all the publicity ... which wasn't as much as I would have liked but I didn't get information in a timely manner.  

(Above: Echoes by Ruth Anne Yax of Atlanta.)

I really tried to have some of the variety and originality of other members' work featured in the publicity.

(Above: My Blue Hawaii by Margaret Salzman of Aiken.)

Yet, it was my work that Erin Shaw focused on for her "Arts Planner" weekly article in The State Newspaper which went under the title "Making a 'Bouquet' from Discarded Cemetery Flowers".  Of course I'm flattered ... and very happy that the coverage brought many people to Thursday's art stroll! 

(Above:  The Bouquet by Susan Lenz.)

The Sunday, August 16th article reads: 
"Making a 'Bouquet' from Discarded Cemetery Flowers"

Columbia fabric artist Susan Lenz is one of many who promote quilting as a fine art form. "Cut From the Same Cloth", an exhibit opening at Gallery 80808 in the Vista next week, is intended to prove that notion. The show, on loan from the South Carolina/Georgia region of Studio Art Quilt Associates, will feature twenty original contemporary works created with tie-dyed fabric. 

Lenz, who is hosting the show with Robert Kennedy, said members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates received a 12" x 12" tie-dyed square to make a piece out of.  "I stared at that square for three days," she said, unsure how to work with the shockingly bright colors.  "My palette is somber, usually brown and black and off-white."  Her subject matter is somber as well - some of Lenz's recent work deals with mortality and memory.  Lenz stayed true to her motif while incorporating bright colors by utilizing artificial flowers found in cemetery dumpsters.  The result was "The Bouquet," to be displayed in the exhibit.

The show opens August 20th for Vista Nights, a monthly event where galleries and shops in the Congaree Vista Guild stay open late with special offerings.  The gallery is at 808 Lady Street.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Epoxy and Wall of Ancestors

(Above:  My studio ... hung with The Wall of Ancestors!  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

After hanging The Wall of Keys at Mouse House, my home/business, my husband Steve asked what I planned to do with another installation.  After all, we were trying to clean up for a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) "Meet and Greet" that is actually happening tonight ... at Mouse House ... and both of us knew that Mouse House needed a bit of tidying before people arrived.

(Above:  My studio hung with The Wall of Ancestors.)

I absolutely loved making every piece in this installation.  Vintage photos were collaged with clipped letters to say things like "I Was Someone's Mother" and "Ladies Man" and "Best Friends Forever" and "We Died in the Flu Epidemic" and "Self Made Man" and "Committed Suicide" and "These Were Our Glory Days".  Together they appear like a wall of family photos ... but each photo depicts some anonymous person.  The images were all bought at auction ... unknown people staring out from forgotten days at unmarked locations.  Bittersweet memories that have faded away leaving only facial features frozen on flat paper.  It seemed totally wrong to keep them all boxed up ... further forgotten ... especially when I had a big wall in my studio that was bare.

(Above:  My studio hung with The Wall of Ancestors.)

Why was one wall bare?  Well, that's where The Wall of Keys used to hang ... before going off to The Festival of Quilts in England and then being installed at Mouse House.  I had a problem though.  The Wall of Ancestors needs more space than a single, large wall.  So ... a cleared more space and hung on all the walls.  I love the fact that the coming weeks, months, and at least the next year will be spent surrounded by this imaginary family of ancestors.  

(Above:  Me ... in a tyvek suit with plastic bags tied to my feet ... ready to pour epoxy!  Please note the small items along the edge of the cement.  These are the six, small "curiosities" ready to go!)

Recent blog posts have shown installations being hung, moved, exhibited abroad, etc. ... but please don't think I'm slacking off and not making art!  That would be an untrue assumption!  I've been busy MAKING art too.  In fact, I poured a gallon of epoxy this past weekend over two, new art quilts.  I'm not ready to show them (as they haven't been photographed) but I am ready to share six little works that also were created during this outdoor, epoxy pouring event!

(Above:  Curiosity I - VI.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

When pouring epoxy over an acrylic sealed art quilt, much runs over the edge.  There's always a little more epoxy in the stir buckets.  It seems a shame to waste it ... when I could use it as the bonding agent to create small, found art objects that suggest passing time, aging, memory and all my other "usual" concepts.  Thus, I assembled six little groupings and, after pouring the two art quilts, spilled as much of the leftover epoxy into these containers.

(Above:  Curiosity I.)

The first piece uses half of an old Super 8 film canister filled with tiny sea shells placed on a wooden plant stand or vase footer ... and topped off with one of the shriveled up leather gloves that I made while at my art residency at Wormfarm Institute in Wisconsin.

(Above:  Curiosity I ... a second view.)

I don't have specify reasons for the combination of items in these objects ... just a vague sense of passing time, of museum relics ... of CURIOSITIES!

(Above:  Curiosity II.)

This is the other half of the Super 8 film canister ... filled with white, plastic clock hands and old gears of wrist watches.

(Above:  Curiosity III.)

This blue-and-white china cup-and-saucer might have been a collector's item but it was chipped and there are several hairline cracks.  It was perfect, however, to be paired with a few clock parts, a handmade nail, and a set of rosary beads.

(Above:  Curiosity IV.)

The antique eyeglass case was filled with a few religious trinkets, a pin from the UK, and a piece of costume jewelry.

(Above:  Curiosity V.)

This metal container that once stored attachments for an old, probably treadle sewing machine was filled with old bobbins, thimbles, a pattern marker and a cloth tape measure.

(Above: Curiosity VI.)

Perhaps these metal hands were meant as a way to distribute business cards.  I'm not at all sure what else they might have been intended for ... but I filled them with more clock parts and old keys.  I'm really pleased with this little found art objects.  They seem to speak volumes without uttering a word.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Festival of Quilts, Part Two

(Above:  Super giant sized digital monitor ... showing my first lecture!)

It's hard to believe that a week ago I was in England participating in The Festival of Quilts ... but it's true! If you look closely, it is also true that Kaffe Fassett's lecture immediately followed mine in the impressive, black curtained theater.  WOW!  He's like really, really, really famous and has been for years upon years.

(Above:  The entrance to The Festival of Quilt's theater, a place sponsored by Luane Rubin's

Last Saturday I was again on stage in this theater ... sitting on a panel discussion moderated by Luane Rubin ... alongside Brandon Mably, Kaffe Fassett's partner and studio manager; Claire Benn, an internationally respected fiber artist from Great Britain; and Vivien Finch, the president of England's Quilters' Guild.  We discussed trends in quilting.

(Above:  Annabel Rainbow painting "live" on a platform inside Maker, Making, Made, the Through Our Hands exhibition at Festival of Quilts.)

I wasn't the only one "performing" last week under the enormous NEC (National Exhibition Center) roof.  Both Annabel Rainbow and Laura Kemshall had raised platforms on which they worked "live" for a gathered audience.  Annabel painted on a work-in-progress.

(Above:  Annabel Rainbow talking to the crowd.  Please notice the bulletin board behind her.  It is a listing of scheduled "performance times".)

This was truly "performance art".  Sure, she's doing what she would do privately in her studio ... but ... there's no way the process and decision-making is the same.  Working while explaining, painting while interacting with on-lookers, the pace of action, the surrounding atmosphere and background noise, and so many other factors take the act of painting to a new, unexpected realm.  People loved it.  People lined up ahead of the posted time ... just to watch, ask questions, and see the work progress.  It was great!

There's no way Annabel works like that at home.  It was a rare and wonderful glimpse into her ideas and thoughts ... by sort of disturbing her normal actions and sense of studio space.  Brilliant!

(Above:  Laura Kemshall cutting away a layer of fabric applied over her work-in-progress.)

Audiences lined up for Laura Kemshall ... just to watch her meticulously cut away excess fabric from an overlay on her work-in-progress.  While the interaction with the public might not have altered her approach, there is no doubt that Laura is a genius.  Freely she shared how multiple layers of image and text viewed on the computer screen were used to determine the placement of the text and birds appearing on the top layer.  The more Laura cut, the more one could see the brilliant planning, execution, and intended appearance of this conceptually driven piece.  Laura also wrote a grand blog post about the Through Our Hands exhibit.  CLICK HERE to read it and see all the work in our group show!  In my blog post, "Festival of Quilts, Part One", I showed the transition from empty walls to filled ... but Laura's post does a fair better job at showing the scope of our exhibit and the artists whose work came together to make this area one of the best in the entire festival. (I am totally honored to be part of this group and indebted to both Annabel and Laura for making so many unique opportunities come true!  Thank you!)

(Above: Linda Barlow's These Hands.)

One of the other affiliate members of Through Our Hands is Linda Barlow who had an excellent solo exhibition right across the busy aisle from my Wall of Keys installation.  I adored her concept and especially this large cynotyped fabric piece of hands.

(Above: Linda Barlow's These Hands, detail.)

Here's one statement from her website:  "My work is often autobiographical and considers the changing social position of women in contemporary society."  Her show was called Searching for the Invisible Woman.

(Above: Linda Barlow's video area.)

Linda also works in video ... and her's was excellent!

(Above: Sara Impey's Deconstructing the Stitch.)

Another Through Our Hands affiliate artist is Sara Impey ... whose work I have long admired and saw in various exhibition spaces at The Festival of Quilts.

(Above: Sara Impey's Deconstructing the Stitch, detail.)

How could I not like this?  I LOVE text ... but only when it is conceptually perfect and beautifully incorporated into the whole.  Sara Impey's work is ALWAYS perfect!

(Above: Sara Impey's Following the Thread.)

One can spot her work long before one can read the exhibition label.  I also appreciate her ability to explore new dimensions.

(Above: Luke Haynes.)

Of course there were other artists with very, very recognizable work ... like Luke Haynes ... 

(Above: Tentmakers of Cairo's booth.)

... and the Tentmakers of Cairo.

(Above: One of the tentmakers at work.)

These Egyptian stitchers rightfully attracted large number of viewers, stitched in public, and sold very well.  Their booth was always buzzing with activity and bright colors.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Dandelion Forest.)

Luke Haynes and the tent-makers weren't the only men showing.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at the unique coiling, embellished, and sophisticated whimsy in Vladimir Telnykh's exhibition.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Fish.)

Vladimir's choice of mainly upholstery fabric is an excellent one for these padded and stuffed pieces.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Singing Angel.)

The presentation and mounting is excellent too.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Tommy Cat.)

I particularly liked Vladimir's folksy style executed with excellent craftsmanship.  Everything about each piece was flawless and fun!

(Above: Susan Orchin's My Lady.)

I spent time looking at the top award winning quilts but didn't snap too many photos.  This area was always crowded with viewer!  Of course, I do like a sense of scale provided by eager quilters!  This piece won First Place in the art quilt category.  I liked it very much!

(Above: Susan Orchin's My Lady.)

The subject matter, angle, and pattern for stitching really did set it apart.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees.)

Now ... I was in attendance at the Festival of Quilt for all four days.  I'm pretty sure I saw EVERYTHING.  I didn't, however, even try to take photos of most of the things I liked.  That would be too overwhelming.  So, on the last day, I took pictures of just a few of my favorites.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees, detail.)

The entire Fine Art Master's exhibition area was probably the one in which I spent the most time.  Each piece was obviously outstanding. I was particularly drawn to fabrics with a painted/screened/dyed surface.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees, detail.)

This is probably because I spent even more time in the Virtual Studio, an area where working professional studio artists demonstrate their techniques.  This area is free.  One can enter and simply watch, talk, listen, learn, and gain inspiration for as long as one wants.

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath.)

Thus, I really enjoyed pieces made using unique fabrics ... material altered by the many painterly approaches I watched in the Virtual Studios.

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath, detail.)

More than paint, these pieces often included both hand and machine stitching ... for different texture and different results.  

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath, detail.)

One day I'd like to set up a "wet studio".  I've done several of the techniques I watched (but in my own way!)  It might be nice to return to such explorations ... ah ... to dream!

(Above: Claudia Helmer's Empty Words.)

I watched Claudia Helmer and Claire Benn for quite some time.  They are very generous, nice people ... who just happen to produce some of the best things I've ever seen in fabric.

(Above: Claudia Helmer's Empty Words, detail.)

(Above: Sign for Elements Exhibition.)

Another exhibition was called Elements.  At first glance I thought this was a "rip off" of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Radical Elements exhibition but it wasn't.  Instead of assigning juried artist to one of the periodic chart's elements, this exhibit allowed artists to respond to the entire definition of "elements". 

(Above: Jane Varrall's Cyprium.)

The required size was similar to the SAQA show and the first piece that caught my eye really did focus on the "element" of copper (which I liked very much!)

(Above: Jane Varrall's Cyprium, detail.)

But the exhibit included all sorts of other "elements".

(Above: Birgitta Debenham's Light Play.)

Here's the element of light and texture ... by using 3D forms.  It found this piece very exciting.

(Above: Display of notebooks from participating artists.)

I also admired the notebooks with a page for every participating member ...

(Above: Display of notebook's including page for Birgitta Debenham's Light Play.)

...including a page for Birgitta Debenham's 3D approach.

(Above: Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message.)

Two years ago I was amazed at the acceptance, inclusion, and number of 3D works at The Festival of Quilt.  I was hoping to see more ... and I did.  Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message was probably my favorite one.  Simple, easy to recognize ... even from a distance ... and something to draw a viewer closer ...

(Above: Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message, detail.)

... until each ring revealed a fact about consumerism.  (Sorry the photo isn't the best ... but I'm sure you get how conceptually perfect this otherwise straight-forward artwork really is!)

(Above: Kate Crossley's Hearts, Daggers, Wings and Arrows.)

There were all sorts of ways in which 3D approaches were used ... even wall mounted.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide.)

Sally Wilson's work was framed ... in a way to use the moulding to successfully project the fish.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide, detail.)

The layers and layers made the work expand beyond the "aquarium" window of the frame that successfully contained the illusion of water.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide, detail.)

The untold hours of work in these piece added to the depth.

(Above: Chess set.)

I never got close enough to the first place winner in the "Quilt Creations" category.  (This category is defined as: All entries in this category must qualify as clothing, wearable art or three dimensional pieces.  It comes with a one-thousand pound award for first place.)

 (Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison.)

There were several "two-sided" quilts.  This one amazed me.  It was in a special exhibition of the quilters of Mexico.  Each piece responded to a traditional adage.

(Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison.)

This exhibit might have been better had more adages been used.  There were too many pieces illustrating the same words.  This also got me thinking about language ... and how translations, especially translations of typical "sayings", get a little lost.

(Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison, detail.)

But, conceptually ... I really liked the little golden bird on the more obscured side ... even though I could read or even make out the words on it.  

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry and Homage to Humour.)

The Festival of Quilts is truly an international event.  One exhibition area was The Golden Textures of Australia.  I particularly liked Noelle Lyon's two pieces hanging on the outside wall.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry.)

The elongation, asymmetrical shape, and use of rusted fabric really caught my eye.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry, detail from the side.)

This piece looked great from any angle.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Homage to Humour.)

It looked perfect along side this one!

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Homage to Humour, detail.)

The rusted fabric perfectly represented arid, barren land ... hot, scorched, dry.  Excellent.

(Above: Gillian Travis' Scandinavian Jumpers.)

I saw several pieces by Gillian Travis ... who knows just how to manipulate her material and her machines to create these seamless and perfect sweaters.  There was no getting close to these either.  People just flocked to them!

(Above: Jane Callard's Aboriginal Son.)

There is a category called "My First Quilt".  This one did win a prize ... but not "first place".  It was, nonetheless, my favorite.  In fact, it wasn't until the fourth day that I realized that it was someone's "first" quilt. 

(Above: Zsuzsa Pinter's My Little Brother and Me.)

There was no way that this piece would escape my fascination.  Loved it!

(Above: Kay Bell's Subtle Differences, Judge showing the reverse.)

Now, please don't think I skipped the traditional quilts.  I didn't.  In fact, I'm often overwhelmed by the craftsmanship, design, color combinations, and the overall perfection of these masterpieces.  Thankfully, there are stewards in every aisle ready to use their white gloves to turn the edges ... just to astonish people even more by showing the remarkable reverses.

(Above: Kay Bell's Subtle Differences.)

The front was pretty spectacular too!

I didn't manage to get the name of maker of this traditional quilt ... which is a shame.  It was my favorite. I loved the subtle, dull rusty orange and slate blue combination of colors ... but ...

... the hand stitching stole my heart.  (If anyone reading knows who made this quilt, please leave me a comment!)

THANK YOU Sandy Snowden!  Within a few hours of posting, Sandy provided the maker's name and title!  It is Wheel Star by Liz Hands!

 In closing, I highly recommend going to The Festival of Quilts ... even if your name isn't up in lights like mine is on the giant monitor!  Yup ... that's me ... up there with my name alongside the "greats" in this art form!  Honored!