Saturday, July 29, 2017

Homestead National Monument, Day Twelve

(Above:  The Not-So Junior Ranger Program ... with successful pin and badge!  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

This is day twelve as an artist-in-residence at Homestead National Monument.  I've been blogged every day.  First I share something about this unique location.  Then I share the artwork I made.

So ... it was almost a week ago that I learned about the No-So Junior Ranger Program ... all thirteen pages of it!  I've been working on it ever since.  It was harder than I expected but was also lots of fun.  It took me back to the farm implement exhibit ... looking for answers.  It took me back to the all-weather flip book on prairie plants ... looking for answers.  It took me to the Heritage Center to access the Homestead Land Entry Case Files (digitized files being created from the over 30 million documents stored in the National Archives ... for which all Nebraska records are available).  What was I doing?  Looking for answers, of course.

 (Above:  Ranger Hunter Hendricks and me shaking hands after my official oath.)

I finished yesterday but wanted Ranger Hunter Hendricks to be the one to "swear me in".  We couldn't get together until this afternoon.  Not all National Park Service properties have a "No-So Junior Program" but the idea is catching on.  It really does make the experience more meaningful.  What will I do with my pin and badge?  I'll add them to my Cabinet of Curiosities!  One had to be "curious" enough to seek out all those answers!  It was worth it!

 (Above:  Saturday night campfire series at Homestead National Monument.)

Part of a National Park art residency is presenting a public program.  Here at Homestead National Monument that means being featured during the weekly Saturday night campfire series.  My work was displayed on a table.  I talked about how I applied, my proposal, why I wanted to come to this particular place, and what I stitched during the past twelve days.

I shared this evening's program with the Windy River Dulcimer Society.

In addition to playing familiar, generally pre-1940 songs, the group tells jokes and invites their audience to sing along.

We had a small campfire but allowed it to burn out.  It's been too hot here lately.  We only needed a touch of ambiance, not the additional warmth! LOL!
 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears VI, 18" x 14".  Xylene photo transfer on printmaking paper fused to fabric.  Accented with water soluble crayons.  Buttons and beads.  Hand stitched.)

Now ... what did I stitch today?  In the morning I created Waste Not Fresh Tears VI.

 (Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears VI, detail.)

Like most series, it gets easier and easier.  Selecting the buttons, determining placement, and stitching through the paper-fused-to-fabric is now pure joy.  It also goes more quickly.  I'm really enjoying this series and might return to it in the future.

(Above:  Anonymous Homesteader, 18" x 14".  Xylene photo transfer on printmaking paper fused to fabric.  Accented with water soluble crayons and metallic gold pencil.  Collage using original 1860s and 70s Harper's Weekly advertisements and four 1962 Homestead Act Centennial stamps.  Buttons and embroidery floss.  Hand stitched.)

This series has other possibilities too.  I first created the xylene photo transfers back in 2009.  At the time, I made twenty-five large transfers and they became my "Angels in Mourning" series.  To these larger pieces, I added clock gears, scraps from hand-written ledgers, artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters, and all sorts of trinkets.  They were all framed and have been part of my solo show Last Words.  At the time, I thought I might collage epitaphs onto the smaller transfers ... but I never got around to them.

(Above:  Anonymous Homesteader, detail.)

So, when packing for this residency, I saw the transfers and thought, "Susan, it might be fun to stitch buttons to these!  Take them along!"  It was definitely an after thought when I grabbed a stash of Harper's Weekly pages from the 1860s and 1870s.

(Above:  Anonymous Homesteader, detail.)

Because my original intention was to collage an epitaph onto the paper, many of the smaller transfers are NOT in the middle.  They were off-set ... to allow room for "words".  Well ... as it turned out ... I used the space to collage advertisements from Harper's Weekly.  I even found an ad for homesteading acreage in Nebraska!
(Above:  Anonymous Homesteader, detail.)

Some of the other ads were for buttons, a treadle sewing machine, and a new "frontier" novel.  What could be more perfect for the last piece I'll stitch in Nebraska?  Tomorrow I'm off to the Gage County Fair to watch cats being judged.  (I thought this was happening on Friday.  Thank goodness I checked the schedule before heading out!)  Then, I have to pack up.  I leave at 8 AM on Monday morning.  I will blog tomorrow ... after all, I'm going to the fair!

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