Friday, May 31, 2019

Pure Virgin

(Above:  Pure Virgin.  Framed:  19 1/2" x 16". Collage using gold-leaf embellished covers from the 1898 periodicals called Paris: Known and Unknown edited by William Walton and published by G. Barrie and Son and letters clipped from other antique and vintage ephemera.  Click on image to enlarge.)

More than a little bit of serendipity went into this piece commissioned by a patron I met at last year's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  First, I just happened to find almost a complete run of Paris: Known and Unknown (1898) while at the Osage Arts Community, an art residency in Missouri.  I used much of my time there to sort through boxes of "stuff" saved for "something."  My patron wanted "something" that illustrated the word "Virgin" ... preferably non-religious, perhaps Pagan, and definitely not about the “loss of virginity".  During this time, Notre Dame accidentally caught fire and the 19th spire fell into the nave.  I was profoundly worried about one of my all-time favorite sculptures, the Virgin of Paris, that stands on a high pillar near the transept's northwestern column ... a place right under the spire.  (She survived, thank goodness!)

Although the central figure on the covers of Paris Known and Unknown is not a rendition of the Virgin of Paris, it seemed serendipitous especially after learning that “Fluctuat ne Mergitur” (appearing in the tree inspired foliage on the publication’s covers) is the Paris city motto. It means “[She] is tossed [by the waves], but does not sink” (or apparently turn to rubble during a fire).  All this reminded me of another city's female deity ... Athena, patroness of Athens, Greece.

From ancient Greek mythology, Athena is still heralded as the “Virgin Goddess”. Born fully grown from her father Zeus’ head, Athena (often given the epithet “Pallas”) was revered as the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Homeric Hymn 39 (although some sources give it the number XXVIII), opens with the following, translated lines: “I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, savior of cities, courageous.”

The publication’s central figure seems an embodiment of a city’s strong, female character, a glorious deity, a pure virgin in the face of catastrophe and a survivor through millenniums ... just like Athena. Two covers were used for the artwork. One was carefully cut to eliminate the title and other words. This was collaged onto the back of another cover because obviously the paper was the same. This provided ample area for the Homeric hymn’s opening lines to be collaged from my stash of clipped letters.

Most serendipitous, however, is the fact that the artwork was on the way to my client when I received notification that I've been accepted back into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this coming November 7 - 10th!  I can't believe it ... as this is now FOUR YEARS IN A ROW! 

(Above:  Piccolo Spoleto juror Arianne King Cromer and me with my Large Stained Glass Series work which was awarded "Best Fiber" in the juried show currently at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC.)

More serendipity:  One of the images used in my application for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is currently on display at the juried exhibition in City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston where it won "Best Fiber".

Sunday, May 26, 2019


 (Above:  A Night on the Runway, Framed: 43" x 32". Altered, digital image from the Library of Congress of an early 20th century circus poster framed with recycled bottle caps.)

Generally, I don't get sucked into hours of browsing on social media or other on-line resources, but I can't seem to help myself when visiting the Library of Congress' website. It's fabulous!  It was the only place I went when needing a copyright free image for an upcoming opportunity with ecoFAB Trash Couture.  The opportunity calls for a "perfect trifecta" ... a garment made from recycled materials along with both a 2D and a 3D artwork. While at the Osage Arts Community in Missouri, I made the foundation of The Red Carpet Dress with a matching boa as well as a 3D biomorphic fiber abstraction called Red.   All I needed to complete my trifecta was a related 2D work.

 (Above:  A Night on the Runway hanging at Mouse House.)

My trifecta vision is to suggest a red carpet entryway to a high-class movie opening. The 2D artwork would have to set the stage.  After hours of looking, I settled on this circus poster. My PhotoShop skills are rudimentary at best but sufficient.  I had the resulting jpeg printed at FedEx Office and framed the faux movie poster with a collection of recycled beer caps.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no duplicate caps except for four New Castle Brown Ale (yellow with a center star) on the corners.  When one saves stuff ... one saves stuff!  My collection of bottle caps is deep!

(Above:  Waste Not Fresh Tears II. Framed: 25" x 21". Xylene photo transfer of a cemetery angel sculpture with oil pastels and hand stitched buttons.)

As deep as my bottle cap collection is, it can't hold a candle to my stash of buttons! I adore using old buttons and am happy to report that Waste Not Fresh Tears II is headed to a regional exhibition called FUSION at the Virginia Beach Art Center. It's a regional juried show featuring works of different media. 

(Above:  Always a Bridesmaid but Never a BrideThe Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 24" x 20". Collage of letters clipped from vintage and antique ephemera on hand-colored, anonymous photo.)

As deep as my button collection is, it can't hold a candle to my collection of letters clipped from vintage and antique ephemera.  This obsession is a constant.  Even though I have no future bookings for my Anonymous Ancestors installation, I can't help but to acquire more old, neglected photographs.  They seem to speak to me.  How could I resist this pretty girl?  Not put a narrative to her likeness?  Not rescue the image and give it a voice?

(Above:  All I Ever Wanted Was a Puppy but My Sister was Allergic The Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 16 1/2" x 14 1/2".)

Because I seriously don't need more of these pieces, I now try only to alter ones that suggest a story or evoke a past memory.  Such was this lovely, hand-colored picture of a little girl wearing a pale pink dress trimmed in tatting and holding a stuffed pet.

 (Above:  Hair Styles by Mom. The Wall of Ancestors. Framed: 12" x 14".)

Of course, I also can't resist pictures that make me laugh! In this picture, the kids' bangs remind me of my mother cutting my sister's hair and mine. Trying not to sneeze, we had to hold a dustpan under our chins to catch the falling bang ends. It is a wonder that they were ever so straight!
(Above:  Paper Leaves.  One of five pieces created to fill old, metal frames.)

While I was away for two-and-a-half months, my husband Steve decided to gut five metal frames we had in the garage.  Most people don't have framed artwork in their garages, but most people also don't own a frame shop and use their garage as a workshop.  (Our garage has never once had a car inside it!)  Steve spend a lot of time building frames in the garage and wants to surround himself with something new.  So, I decided to challenge myself:  Make artwork to fill the five frames ... but spend no more than an hour on each piece.  Well ... SUCCESS!  I forgot, however, to snap photos of the other four.  They are already hanging in the shop and there's too much reflection on the glass except for this one.  It was a fun challenge!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Two Weeks in Wisconsin and finally back to South Carolina

 (Above:  In Box CCCXXXIII. Framed: 25" x 20". Layers of polyester stretch velvet on recycled synthetic packaging felt with hand embroidery and melting techniques.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I haven't blogged since leaving my two-month art residency with the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri ... but I have been BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!  Why? Well, I didn't drive directly back to South Carolina.  Instead, I went to Wisconsin to conduct two workshops.  The first was a three-day experience at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg.  The second was a five-day experience at Woodland Ridge Retreat in Downsville.

 (Above:  In Box CCCXXXIV. Framed:  25" x 20". $375.)

Both workshops were wonderful. It is always such a pleasure to watch my techniques in the hands of participants who are employing their own sense of design and color.  The results are amazingly diverse.  I've included several images from these great days below.

  (Above:  In Box CCCXXXIV, detail.  Framed:  25" x 20". $375.)

On my last day, Steve flew into the Minneapolis airport to help pack up the materials and supplies ... and to drive me home so that I could stitch along the way.  We had plenty to talk about!  After all, I'd been gone two-and-a-half months.  There was plenty of custom picture framing awaiting my return but it was even more than Steve knew.  I'd created several pieces of my own that also had get framed including In Box CCCXXXIII and In Box CCCXXXIV.  These two pieces were stitched entirely by hand.  One is already sold!

(Above in the back from left to right:  Relic CCXIII, Mini Window, Relic CCXI, and Relic CCXII. Each $100 plus tax and shipping. In front:  In Box Relic CCX, just $60 plus tax and shipping.  There are detail images further below! Just scroll down!)

Every time I conduct a workshop, I finish my demonstration pieces.  It's important that I "work like an artist" ... not just "make another sample".  Why?  Well, I'm encouraging people to MAKE ART, not add to their pile of UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  Everyone goes home with at least two completed project.  In the five-day workshop, everyone goes home with at least one already in a provided frame!  Mine, however, get framed back in Columbia.  I came home with five pieces ... details below.

(Above:  Composite photo of the HOT WORKSHOP at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.)

This was a great group of new friends. Few knew one another before the workshop. Several had never been to the museum! I knew one of the participants from an earlier workshop.  She took me to a Wisconsin Friday fish fry and to the Milwaukee Museum for "First Thursday".  Together we went to a pop concert by the Milwaukee Symphony featuring Denzel Sinclaire and Dee Daniels singing unforgettable tunes by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole.  It was a wonderful time. 
(Above:  Workshop participants at the Woodland Ridge Retreat with some of their pieces.)

Woodland Ridge Retreat has guest rooms and 24/7 access to the studio.  Everyone shared a gourmet lunch made on site. Most went together for evening meals. Lots and lots of work was finished ... much more than in the photo above!

(Above: Relic CCXI.  Framed: 14 1/4" x 13 1/4". $100.)

So here are some of the workshop pieces I finished.  Further below are more photos from Woodland Ridge, especially work made by participants who hung pieces on the provided design walls.

(Above: Relic CCXII.  Framed: 13 1/4" x 12 1/4". $100.)

(Above: Relic CCXIII. Framed:  13 1/4" x 12 1/4". $100.)

(Above: In Box Relic CCX. Framed: 11" x 9".  $60.)

(Above:  Mini Window.  Framed:  13" x 11". $100.)

(Above:  Studio space at Woodland Ridge Retreat.)

Below are photos of some of the work that didn't get put into a provide frame and were still hanging on the design wall on the last day.  Earlier, I was too busy to remember photos!