Saturday, January 05, 2019

Anonymous Ancestors Folding Screen

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Folding Screen, view of the interior.  Dimensions when standing at a right angle as seen above:  68 1/2" x 36" x 16".  Antique Chinese folding screen, anonymous vintage and antique photographs, decorative upholstery tacks, thread. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Over the past several months I've gotten to know an incredible artist named Flavia Isabella Lovatelli, a multidisciplinary sustainable artist who is known for her award winning, coiled paper sculptures and as the founder of Art Ecologie Group, a collective that annually presents an event called ecoFAB Trash Couture.  More than just a runway show featuring garments made entirely from recycled goods (no fabric!), this event also presents the garments in exhibition vignettes with coordinated 2D and 3D artwork. 

Flavia used a couple of my recycled fashions in a recent exhibition at the Anderson Art Center.  Shortly thereafter, I became a member of the group ... which means I am responsible for creating a perfect TRIFECTA for the upcoming Charleston Fashion Week and the next runway show here in Columbia, August 31.  (Actually, I'm planning two trifectas!)  A "perfect trifecta" includes a 100% recycled garment to be displayed with coordinating 2D and 3D artwork. 

(Above: Two of the vignettes recently seen at the Anderson Art Center in South Carolina.  My Pantyhose Dress and black boa are on the left; His Secrets and Her Secrets hung behind another artist's garment and 3D piece.  For this opportunity, Flavia mixed the artists' work.  My garment was paired with another artist's 2D and 3D pieces, and my 2D pieces were shown with someone else's garment and 3D work,)

 So ... I'm working on a garment made from vintage photos and I've just finished my 3D piece. I'm very pleased with this folding screen, my first trifecta's 3D artwork.  I've actually owned the screen for over a decade.  It had four panels but I've only used the outside two.

 (Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Folding Screen, exterior.)

Flavia and I have had wonderful/serious conversations about our studio art practices, collaborating with other artists, and many of the issues that face any group of people working toward a common goal.  A frequent problem are group members who wait until the last minute.  These are often the artists who claim to "work well under pressure".

Flavia and I both work well under pressure but we choose not to do this!  We are both the sort of people who prefer to be ahead of a deadline.  Flavia said it best.  She said that a successful piece can be made during the "last minutes" but that it is rarely "the best effort".  It takes time and contemplation, the freedom to step back and examine the initial efforts, and the opportunity to make changes that result in an artist's "best work". 

Such is the story with this folding screen.  It only took two days to sand the rough surfaces, apply maple stain to the unfinished wood, and tack the photographs to the screen.  To be honest, it looked WONDERFUL and I was very, very happy.  This could have been the end of it.  This is what I would have made if working under the pressure of a looming deadline.

The next day, however, I stood back and looked at the screen ... really looked at it and wondered about the spaces between the photos.  I thought about the independent layers and had a hair-brained idea about stitching ... about linking the images and the front to the back and how the screen might look even more amazing.

It took quite a lot of time to stitch this piece ... weeks.  I was constantly jumping from one side to the other.  As I worked, I realized that I was creating another layer ... the back side of the photographs.  After all the stitching, I ripped and tore more images and glued them in the spaces behind the threads. 

I wish I had snapped a few pictures before all the stitching ... just as a comparison.  Why?  Well, the screen is so much more successful now than it had been earlier.  Because I had the time, I could truly go that "one more step" from "good to great."

I've really liked my conversations with Flavia and am looking forward to working with her and for the opportunities with ecoFAB couture.  Scroll down for more details from this new 3D piece!


Shirlee Fassell said...

Love the screen! Love the stitching and especially the fact that you saved these pictures of “loved ones” from the trash!

The Inside Stori said...

Fabulous words of advice from Flavia!

Ellen November said...