Friday, April 15, 2016

Threads: Gathering My Thoughts at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum

(Above:  Me ... during the installation of my solo exhibit Threads: Gathering My Thoughts at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Arizona.  Most of the photos in this blog post were taken by my tired-less driver, aka my husband Steve Dingman.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I am very proud that my installation, Threads: Gathering My Thoughts was last year's solo show proposal winner at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum.  I've been looking forward to this adventure for several months ... especially after calculating the cost of shipping 130+ assorted baskets and many, many miles of unraveled old thread.  The expense would have been astronomical.  Believe it or not, driving it to Arizona actually made more sense.  So, Steve and I headed west ...

 (Above:  Me petting one of the roosters at the Georgia Agriculture Museum's Folklife Festival in Tifton, GA.)

... via Tifton, Georgia and the Georgia Agriculture Museum's Folklife Festival.  My solo show, Last Words: Eternal Rest, opened during Saturday's festivities.

I talked to lots of wonderful people ... including Sandy Gilreath who gave me a signed copy of her new publication 52 Tuesdays - A Quilt Journal.  Her week #49 hexagonal block was inspired by a late autumn visit to my solo show at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, GA.  She wrote the nicest things about my work and has enrolled in my upcoming workshop in Tifton.  What an honor!

 (Above:  The steam train that transports visitors around the Historic Village.)

Steve and I took the steam train to the visitor's center to see the local quilt show, had a great lunch, listened to bluegrass music, and finally had to say good-bye to Georgia.  Later that night, we were outside Jackson, Mississippi.  Twenty-four more hours found us in Odessa, Texas.

 (Above:  The Mesa Contemporary Ary Museum on the grounds of the Mesa Art Center.)

We arrived in Mesa late Monday night.  The next morning we pulled into the museum's loading dock and ...


... were directed to this area of the museum.


 It was time to get started!

We rolled in cart after cart ...

... of assorted baskets ...

... and three giant leaf bags filled with unraveled old thread.  The staff was wonderful ... especially Frank, the museum prepartor who is also a wiz at maneuvering the cool "genie lift".

Soon Frank and I were working together, stringing baskets along lengths of heavy wire, attaching the upper end to a screw eye in the ceiling.


The pile of baskets really looked as if I had too many but each and every one was used!  

Finally, all 130+ were suspended in a giant circle.  There's a few shorter strands which will allow visitors to wander into the enclosure (and allowed the genie lift to exit the artwork!)


Soon ... it was time to distribute the miles of unraveled thread throughout the baskets.


It was quite exciting because I got to go up in the genie lift too!

Around and around we went from top to bottom, allowing the threads to cascade in colorful streams.

 I worked straight through to 6:30 when the museum's docents arrived for an introductory meeting.  It only seemed fitting that everyone got a chance to fill some of the lower baskets.

I gave a brief talk about my inspiration for the work, saying that this enclosure is meant to represent the inner working of the human mind, the threads of memory, the tangles of forgetfulness, the physical representation of thoughts as if squiggly lines in a bubble over a cartoon character's head.  We laughed and talked.  I answered questions.

This is a great group of docents and I knew they will each bring their own insights and stories to the exhibit while talking to members of the public in the coming months. The show is up through August 14th.  Steve and I are returning for the reception on May 13th from 7 - 10.  It opens, however, TODAY ... and it made the newspaper for top 16 Phoenix area events for this weekend!

I really couldn't have done it without these guys!  Thanks Steve for driving and for keeping me calm.  Thanks Frank for understanding my vision and knowing how to help make it a reality!

After the docents' meeting, Steve and I went down the street to Republica Empanada for a fantastic celebratory dinner.  The owner is a big fan and supporter of the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum.  Below are detail images of the show.

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


irene macwilliam said...

Looks so exciting. Sadly living in Northern Ireland I will not be able to view it. Thanks for all the photos.

Debbie said...

Wish I could visit this an amazing piece, looks hard to assemble though. Is it different every time you put it up.

Yael said...

Oh dear, what an awesome person you are - not only a great artist, you never shy away from hard work too.
Liebe Gruesse! :-)

Linda Laird said...

Susan, I just realized I'll be able to see your show when we drive CO to SoCal in June! Very happy this works out!!