Thursday, June 30, 2016

Anonymous Ancestors: Creating an Interior Space

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair.  Antique chair altered with framed, anonymous photos and upholstery printed with scans from other vintage images.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This coming September is an exciting time.  My brand new solo show, Anonymous Ancestors, will open in the Sea Islands Gallery on The University of South Carolina's Beaufort campus.  The exhibit will include my Wall of Ancestors, Grid of Photos, and all the altered photo albums and scrapbooks made during my recent art residency with Springboard for the Arts in Minnesota.  Yet, this exhibit is supposed to be "an installation".  What's an installation? Well, it is widely regarded to be a new, contemporary medium ... with three important considerations:  1) The work is temporarily on display, 2) the work is site specific, and 3) the work is spatially transformative.  Basically ... my goal is to transform an ordinary, white-walled art gallery space into another type of environment.  Viewers are to EXPERIENCE the work in an intentionally controlled space.  To that end, Sea Islands Gallery will become a nostalgic, sitting room ... a tranquil place to consider family photos (both the ones I've altered but also the ones viewers might be thinking about from their own families).  The space will bring to life an imaginary parlor, a stereotypical room in which anyone's grandparents might peruse their family photo albums.
 (Above:  Detail of Anonymous Ancestors Chair's upholstery.)

To do this, I've been on a mission to find the right furniture.  Recently, I bought an Oriental rug and a marble topped end table.  This week I've altered an antique chair.  Scanned photos were uploaded to Spoonflower for the unique upholstery ... more anonymous images.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestor Chair, detail of the framed vintage photo with collaged letters reading:  Who is Keeping Your Memories?)

I'm very pleased with this framed detail for the chair back.  From a distance, it gives the impression that a person really is sitting in the chair ... a "face" looking out from the back of the chair ... just where a head ought to be!

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair, detail of a framed, altered tin type in an original mat ... now reading Greetings from the Past.)

 This old tintype came in this original mat.  I simply added more words, framed it, and screwed the piece to the back of the chair.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Chair, detail of the chair back.)

Because the chair will be sitting in the middle of the space, beside the marble topped table, and approachable from all sides, I framed this matted series of images for the chair back.  The curved back left a space behind the frame screwed to the chair's front ... and I inserted some cool flowers made from beads on wires ... vintage, of course.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Footstool.)

What I actually know about upholstering furniture would fit into a thimble ... but that lack of knowledge hasn't stopped me! LOL!  I ordered fabric for this little, Victorian footstool too.  Both the chair's upholstery and the footstool's fabric were free-motion quilted before I went to work to attach them to the furniture.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Footstool.)

Frankly, I think both upholstery jobs went very, very well.  I will also have a lovely, burgundy rocker in my interior.  It's authentically Victorian and in perfect condition ... so I will not be altering it.  I'm thinking I need at least one more end table.  I'll have to see what becomes available at auction in the coming weeks.

(Above:  Three more pieces for The Wall of AncestorsNever a Dull Moment, Did as Expected, and The Best is Yet to Come.)

On Tuesday Steve and I went to Tifton because my solo show, Last Words: Eternal Rest, had come to an end.  I used the two, elaborate Victorian frames in this exhibit.  Both were used for signage.  Thus, I found other anonymous images to alter for these two frames.  While selecting the photos from my stash, I found the smaller, vintage frame ... with a hand-tinted photo already inside.  All it needed was a collaged phrase.  The upcoming show is really coming together.  

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

How I spent my 57th Birthday

 (Above:  Me with some of the fantastic staff of the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC.  From left to right:  Artist/musician LouAnne Jordan, me, gallery manager/furniture-maker Russell Gale, and felter Karen Kennedy.)

What a wonderful way to spend my birthday! Steve and I delivered a dozen works of art to the Grovewood Gallery on the grounds of the historic Grove Park Inn and Spa in Asheville, NC.  The staff is fantastic ... all creative individuals pursuing their own forms of art, knowledgeable on all craft media, and FRIENDLY!  I am forever grateful for the many sales that result.

(Above:  Steve vacuuming the newly purchased Oriental rug.)

We made it back to Columbia in time for me to successfully bid on an Oriental rug and a Victorian, oval shaped, marbled topped end table.  These are part of the works that will transform the Sea Islands Gallery on the University of South Carolina-Beaufort's campus into my solo installation, Anonymous Ancestors.  The exhibit is in September ... and coming together just perfectly! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Happy Birthday to ME!

(Above:  Five of seven, small "In Box" series pieces ... finished, framed, and on their way to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Today is my fifty-seventh birthday.  I don't feel that old but that doesn't change the number! LOL!  Steve and I are driving to Asheville to deliver my artwork to the Grovewood Gallery.  My sales are up!  The gallery manager knows that my work has been accepted into next November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Fine Craft Show.  It's an honor ... for us both!  I feel ready for a great year ahead ... as if my work in on the verge of really "taking off".  Today is definitely a good day!

(Above:  Six new "Peacock Series" pieces ... finished, framed, and half of them are headed to the Grovewood Gallery.  The other half will remain at Mouse House.  These are the start of the work I'll be making for Philadelphia ... but I'm also doing a solo show at City Art here in Columbia at the same time.  I need LOTS more new work!)

While in Fergus Falls, Minnesota at an art residency program hosted by Springboard for the Arts, I made the six Peacock Feathers.  I also constructed and stitched most of the other work now headed to Asheville.  Yet, there was much to finish.  All the "In Box" pieces needed to be melted and mounted.  Everything needed to be framed.  I've been working on all this ... and more ... trying to "catch up" ... ever since I came home.

(Above:  Four new, large "In Box" series pieces ... headed to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.)

Two, new Large Stained Glass Windows are under construction.  I'm stitching on two Grave Rubbing Art Quilts.  I've just finished basting a large abstract art quilt and I'm hard at work finishing up a couple other things started in Minnesota, including ...

(Above:  Covers for Anonymous Ancestors Scrapbook III.)

Anonymous Ancestors Scrapbook III.  Last month in Minnesota, I took apart a vintage scrapbook and made thirty new pages for it.  The pages were made by cutting three large canvases onto which I'd previously collaged all sorts of ephemera ... passport pages, 19th c. cancelled checks, ration stamps, hand-written letters, Western Union telegrams, etc. The original screw-styled binding posts measured one-inch and thus only allowed half the pages to be inserted.  I knew I'd have to make my own covers and find my own binding screws to make another book.  Well ... this week I did it ... using 8-ply mat board and scraps of a vintage, embroidered bedspread.  YES paste is wonderful.  It is acid-free, slow drying (and thus the fabric can be manipulated, repositioned, and moved until it is perfectly placed) and cleans up with soap and water.

(Above:  The end papers attached with YES paste to the insides of the covers.)

YES paste was also used to adhere hand-marbled paper to the interior of the covers.  To make the holes, I used a drill ... carefully aligning them to the holes I'd already punched into the canvas pages and the canvas "spacers".

(Above:  A box of 100 sets of 1" binding posts.)

I couldn't find a smaller quantity of binding posts for any reasonable price.  A box with 100 sets ran just $9 ... and it shipped for another $9.  At least I'll have plenty of binding posts for future projects.

(Above:  The binding post ... in the process of assembling the artist book.)

The photo above shows one of the two binding posts in position while I assembled the book.  It also shows the "spacer" placed between two pages.  A "spacer" is used to keep the book from bulging due to the thickness of the collaging on each page.  (For more about this, please visit my earlier blog post regarding Anonymous Ancestor Scrapbook II.) 

(Above:  Anonymous Scrapbook III, finished.)

It didn't take long to assemble the final book.  From the outside, it looks very much like something from the mid-20th century.

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Scrapbook III, open.)

From the inside, it retains the feel of yesteryear ... but with a literary twist.  I'm really pleased with this scrapbook.  It will be in my solo show next September at The University of South Carolina-Beaufort.

(Above:  Fusing the rest of my stash of black-and-white photos onto muslin.)

Even though Anonymous Ancestors Scrapbook III finishes up the work I began in Minnesota, I still have hundreds (if not well over a thousand) anonymous images in my stash.  I had an idea in Minnesota but it required the use of a dry-mount machine.  So, since coming home, I've been fusing all the photos to fabric.  Even the fabric is second-hand (and likely over thirty years old ... a donation from another artist!)

(Above:  Detail of anonymous photos fused to fabric.)

I've done this before when creating my Grid of Photos.  Fusion 4000 is a product in the custom picture framing industry used to fuse fabric to mat board or foam-centered board.  I've used it to fuse photos to fabric instead.

 (Above:  The Grid of Photos.)

Of course, after fusing all these photos to fabric, I have to cut them all out.  I've been doing this every evening while watching television with Steve.

(Above:  Detail of The Grid of Photos.)

I have three pieces in mind.  This time, I don't want to mix the black-and-white images with the colored ones.  So ... I did them separately.  I now have two boxes filled with my "raw materials".  I'll be blogging about this new work as it takes shape in the coming weeks.!

(Above:  The colored images fused to fabric ... and two boxes filled with my "raw materials" ... plus an abstract art quilt in the process of being basted to recycled, black acrylic felt.  Yet ... this is the state of my living room!)

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

HOT time at the Workhouse Art Center

(Above:  Two of the participants in last weekend's HOT workshop taught at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, VA.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

It's Friday.  I've been back home in Columbia, South Carolina since midnight Sunday ... driving all the way after last weekend's HOT workshop at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia.  I'm always on a "high" after teaching.  This particular workshop was most wonderful ... very inspiring and truly successful.  Most, if not all the participants, are already fiber artists working on a professional level.  Several share the cooperative fiber space at the Workhouse Art Center.  That area is literally beside the large space for workshops.  The Workhouse Art Center is an awesome place, and the Fiber Arts Studio is one of the best spots on the expansive grounds. 

Last weekend was also the opening of Fiber National 2016 ... in the building next to where the Fiber Arts Studio is located and where my workshop was held.  I was very pleased to win an honorable mention with The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten.

(Above:  The Virgin of Gone and Forgotten, triptych.)

The opening coordinated with the monthly "Second Saturday" Open House.  All the buildings at the Workhouse Art Center were open and hosting a solo show for one of the artists with studio space there.  It was so much fun to browse through the ceramics building, the glass workshop, and especially the museum dedicated to the building's former use as a prison ... including the location at which the Suffragettes were imprisoned and held their famous hunger strike.

(Above:  Sandi ... the nice lady who hosted me for the weekend.)

The workshop went very well.  I stayed with Sandi and Steve in their lovely home.

(Above:  Marisela ... starting an interview on her smart phone.)

I was also interviewed by Marisela whose website is as amazing as her gorgeous work.  The interviews are in both Spanish and English ... and obviously I spoke only one of these! LOL!

Everyone went home with more than a single, finished project.

I made many new friends.

I hope to return to the Workhouse Art Center and highly recommend a stop if driving near I-95 just south of the DC area.  It's well worth the visit!  I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The last of the altered vintage images made here in Fergus Falls

 (Above:  The last of the altered vintage photos made in my art residency here in Fergus Falls, MN.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

My time at Hinge Arts Residency Program through Springboard for the Arts is coming to an end. I clean the provided apartment and studio space on Wednesday morning and head east later that afternoon. I'll be visiting my family in Slippery Rock, PA on the way to Lorton, Virginia's Workhouse Art Center where I'll be teaching HOT, my two-day fiber workshop. Thus, it is time to wrap up my proposal work ... the hundreds of anonymous vintage photographs that I've been altering with letters clipped from 1940s magazine, sheet music, and other old print sources.  Above is a photo of the last images ... including a lovely, hand-colored picture of a young lady dressed in yellow and wrapped in a fur trimmed collar. 

This beautiful old picture was given to me by a new Facebook friend, Mary Ellen Lundstrom. Mary lives in Underwood, MN, a little town just east of Fergus Falls and through which I drove yesterday to visit all the giant sculptures in nearby Vining.  She visited my studio space last Tuesday.  Mary is a quilter and long time friend of another Facebook friend, Sandy Gilreath.  Sandy took my recent workshop, "Second Life", at the Georgia Agriculture Museum and included me as a source of inspiration in her book, 52 Tuesdays - A Quilt Journal. What a small world? How grand that the Internet provides such connects! 

I been wondering whether better communications might have saved pretty pictures as they shuffled down from one generation to the next.  I've been wondering whether digital images will be kept at all.  I've also been wondering about this young lady.  Who was she? What was the occasion for the fancy corsage and the fur? What words should I use to suggest her life?  Mary Ellen was also curious as to how I would alter her.  Finally I settled on "The Best Day Ever". Surely, it was a good day ... like all my days have been in Minnesota!

(Above:  Proposal work created during my art residency:  Two altered, vintage scrapbooks (no specific titles); one artist-made scrapbook using vintage images (no specific title); one Victorian album with vintage images (Anonymous Ancestors); three Victorian albums with my images from Edinburgh, Scotland's ancient cemeteries (Edinburgh, A Book about Life; Forever in Our Hearts); A Family, a set of eleven altered tintypes; four altered, vintage photo albums (The Best and Dearest; Nameless People and Forgotten Faces, Anonymous Ancestors, and The Book of Memories); and literally hundreds of loose altered, vintage photos (the type already attached to hard, cardboard-like mounts).  Now shown were the nearly twenty images that will fit into antique frames once I've returned to Columbia.)

I got plenty of work accomplished.  In addition to my proposal work, I also constructed and stitched six, small "In Box" series pieces; three large, "In Box" series pieces; six "Peacock Feather" pieces; and one, small Grave Rubbing Series art quilt.  I finished a large piece in my Grave Rubbing Series and am hard at work on another one to which hundreds of buttons are being stitched.  Since I don't have to start packing until late tomorrow afternoon, I'm now working on another "In Box" piece.  I will miss this special time.  Being isolated in a basement studio has been an amazingly an ideal situation.  Most days I lose track of both time and space.  Focus and concentration is easy here. It has been wonderful.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Taking Selfies on a fun Sunday drive in Minnesota!

(Above:  Selfie ... with a giant fish in Battle Lake, Minnesota.  Click on any image to enlarge for a laugh!)

Today is BEAUTIFUL in Otter Tail County, Minnesota and PERFECT for a Sunday drive.  My plan was to take a few selfies with some of the hilarious giant sculptures that I heard were in the area.  After all, I've already visited Otto the Giant Otter here in Fergus Falls and Rothsay's 9000 pound Prairie Chicken.  So, I went to Battle Lake, a lovely town with a giant fish ...

 ... and a nice art gallery ... and benches with glass mosaics that were created as a public art project ...

... and Chief Wenonga.  Battle Lake was pretty and fun.  I had a good reason to be out-and-about.

(Above: Six peacock feathers ... finish and ready to be framed when I return to Columbia next week!)

I just finished six new peacock feathers.  Why not take a relaxing drive through the rolling hills of Minnesota in a search of giant sculptures?  Why not see just how many selfies I could snap with my phone?  I heard that the town of Vining had LOTS of giant sculptures with fiber arts connections ... as in a giant clothespin and a giant square knot.

So ... off to Vining I went ... and I found it!

Welcome to Nyberg Park, a grassy expanse surrounding the Big Foot Gas Station in Vining.  It is the sculpture park for Kenneth Nyberg's found metal sculptures! Kenneth's globe is great, and there's a moon dozens of feet away.  The moon has a sign explaining the proportions are correct.

The space and size are impressive ... a nice astronomy lesson!  Then I noticed a nearby astronaut and a little green alien.

It was Karen Nyberg, the sculptor's daughter ... the first person to quilt in orbit!  (CLICK HERE for an article featuring Karen's project for the 2014 International Quilt Festival or CLICK HERE for a video showing Karen quilt in the space lab!)  Now this is definitely a fiber connection!

I had no idea that Nyberg Park would have so many sculptures.

Taking selfies is a difficult thing to do.  I much prefer to be behind the camera ... not attempting be in the photo!  I tried various things in my attempt to capture this cool cup of coffee with me in the frame.

I also took plenty of photos of the sculptures ... and later combined the two.

Nyberg Park also had these strange contraptions ... just sitting there on the grass ... as if a collection of port-o-pots with windows?  Finally, it dawned on me.  These are ice fishing huts!

Inside the Big Foot gas station there's a guest book for Nyberg Park.  The cashiers were super sweet and told me where to go to find even more sculptures by Kenneth Nyberg ...

... like the giant clothespin which is beside the Vining Post Office.  Perfect ... just what one needs to post letters from the mailbox!

The clothespin is down the street from Big Foot. 

The cashiers also told me how to find Kenneth Nyberg's studio ... down a winding road until coming to the metal rhino and assorted metal pieces!

There are so many hilarious, giant found metal sculptures that I had a blast taking selfies.  I think I might have even gotten fairly good at it!  All the sculptures in the above collage were made by Kenneth Nyberg.

Before going back to Fergus Falls, I also went nineteen miles to the south to see The Lady of the Hills, a giant sculpture of Mary described as being "in the middle of nowhere".  She was built as a promise after a man was cured of cancer ... on his property ... so it might be "nowhere" but it is also exactly where it should be!