Friday, September 29, 2023

The Cocoon and The Clothesline at SQTM in Carrollton, GA

(Above:  Selfie with Executive Director Joanna Browning at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, GA.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was WONDERFUL!  There wasn't even any traffic while driving through Atlanta.  Steve and I arrived at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, Georgia with more than enough time to unload, install, have a nice lunch at a local brew pub, and return home before dark!  The installation went so smoothly because of the generous help from volunteers and staff.  Within a couple hours, The Cocoon was in place and The Clothesline was installed around the walls in the workshop room where a wall-mounted television set will loop the ETV video featuring The Cocoon!

(Above:  One of the board members of the museum who was invaluable during the installation of The Clothesline.)

Below are a few of the images from the exhibit.  CLICK HERE for a video walk-through of The Cocoon.  I'd post more pictures but TODAY IS WONDERFUL TOO!  Why?  Well, it's "hunter-gatherer" day!  On Sunday we head north to the Bethany Arts Community where I'll be an artist-in-residence for two weeks.  I will be participating in the organization's 4th Annual ARToberfest with a community crazy quilt activity on Saturday, October 7th from 10:30 - 4:30.  If in the area, please drop by and take a few stitches with me.  I'm following my residency up by conducting a private, two-day workshop in Kentucky!  Plenty of things need to be loaded into the cargo van now that the show in Carrollton is hanging. 


The Cocoon by Susan Lenz at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum


This video was taken just after installing The Cocoon at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, Georgia. The solo installation is on display from September 30 - December 16, 2023.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Two More Hand-stitched In Box Pieces!

(Above:  Me with the two, new hand-stitched In Box pieces.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

With so many miles riding in the cargo van ... back and forth to the show in Florida ... delivering art to Rocky Mount and then returning for last Sunday's reception ... and visiting the church that we bought and are having renovated ... well ... I'm getting plenty of stitching done.  Many people have problems stitching while traveling.  Thankfully, I'm not one of them!  I truly love handwork while watching the landscape and the traffic.  (Steve and I are still playing the "license plate" game!)  As a result, two more hand-stitching In Box pieces have been finished!

(Above:  In Box CDXL.  Framed 19 3/4" x 15 3/4". $375.  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled, black industrial felt with hand embroidery. 100% cotton embroidery floss. Melting technique.)

Tomorrow Steve and I are off again!  This time we are headed to the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, Georgia to install The Cocoon and The Clothesline.  On Sunday we are headed north to the Hudson River Valley!  I will start a two-week art residency at the Bethany Arts Community in Ossining, NY!  Steve will be driving and then flying back to South Carolina.  I will be stitching until I get there ... and then I will be stitching some more!  I have big plans for these two weeks and the start of a new installation!  More about that later!

(Above:  In Box CDXXXIX.  Framed 19 3/4" x 15 3/4". $375.  Layers of polyester stretch velvet fused to recycled, black industrial felt with hand embroidery. 100% cotton embroidery floss. Melting technique.)

Friday, September 22, 2023

Review of my recent installation opportunity at Central Florida

(Photo by Nancy Roberts of my installation, The Cocoon.) 

The link above is to a wonderful written post by art quilter Nancy Roberts.  It covers the three installations that were recently on view at the Webber Gallery on the campus of the College of Central Florida.


Lost & Found XII

(Above:  Lost & Found XII.  Custom framed: 15 3/4" x 25 3/4". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include:  A porcelain backed hand mirror; paint brushes; vintage belt buckles; UAW 1970s strike buttons; touchless door openers; drawer pull plates; owl-eyed paper clips; lamp prisms; telephone modular connectors; decorative sugar spoons; wedding cake leaves; dominoes; Rosebud salve lids; door latch plate; grommets; jewelry charms (two with anonymous photos); and assorted buttons. Click on any image to enlarge.)
Recently, a friend donated a fabulously well-worn lone star quilt variation.  I cut a large section for a new idea, a tornado inspired piece.  I'm working on it.  But, the section I cut left a piece that just seemed right for another Lost & Found, fan-shaped design.  This is the first time I've actually stapled a section of a vintage quilt on the bias.    

(Above:  Detail of Lost and Found XII.)

From the moment I started gathering objects, I placed the porcelain backed hand mirror as the focal point.  Soon, however, I realized that I couldn't drill a hole in either the porcelain or the metal rim.  Thankfully, I have offset clips.  These things are usually used in custom picture framing orders as a way to fit the stretcher bar of a canvas into a frame.  They worked to secure the top of the mirror!  I'm really pleased with this piece and will be looking at the vintage quilt to see if other sections might work in a similar way.  I might need to stitch a few more fan-inspired pieces while working on my tornado.  The tornado piece is large, complicated, and will take plenty of time!


(Above: Detail of Lost & Found XII.)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Springtime in Noxubee Goes to the US Dept. of Interior Museum

(Above:  Dropping off my piece at the Interior Museum at the US Department of Interior, Washington, DC.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It was such an honor to deliver my artwork, Springtime in Noxubee, to the permanent collection of the Interior Museum at the US Department of Interior in Washington, DC.  The piece represents Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi.  I blogged about this piece HERE.  This post, however, is my way of sharing the special day when it was delivered.  Steve and I were treated to a comprehensive tour of the building's many murals as well as a behind-the-scenes look at some of the museum's storage area and other artworks.  

We arrived in DC a day earlier and went to the Renwick to see (First Floor) Sharing Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023 featuring six truly remarkable Native American artists: Joe Feddersen (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), Erica Lord (Athabaskan/IƱupiat), Geo Neptune (Passamaquoddy), and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) and (Second Floor) an in-house curated selection of contemporary craft.  So keep scrolling for some of the photos I took!

(Above:  Behind the scenes at the Interior Museum of the US Department of Interior.)

The museum's collection is vast and includes two gigantic and priceless Thomas Moran masterpieces: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872) and The Chasm of the Colorado (1873–1874). It is exciting to know that the upcoming exhibit of new acquisitions will be in the same, large room ... including my piece!

(Above:  Detail from Construction of a Dam by William Gropper. Oil on canvas attached to the wall, commissioned 1937, installed 1939.)

Artwork in the collection is also hung in various executive offices in the building ... which is two city blocks in length and one in width!  The floor plan is such that every office has a window.  Built in just eighteen months (April 1935 - December 1936), it was the first Roosevelt administration, New Deal building in the capital.  It was the first to have air-conditioning and escalators. When first open, there was even an ice cream parlor for employees!  

(Above:  One of the Native American inspired murals near the former ice cream parlor.)

The murals depict all sorts of events and the diversity of this country's people. Our tour also included a brief time on the roof.  Most of the roof is covered in grass to lessen its carbon footprint but one area has the most inviting view to the mallEvery year employees enter a lottery to have access to this part of the roof for the Fourth of July fireworks!

Even the light fixtures were gorgeous!

 Although no longer operational, people can still walk up and down the  Art Deco escalators!

The Renwick is undoubtedly my very favorite museum.  (Okay, some days I think London's V&A is my favorite ... but that's understandable.  Both are FINE CRAFT museums with the best-of-the-best artwork one could ever hope to see during a single visit.  I've been to both several times!)

The Native American invitational exhibit was GORGEOUS.  I was especially struck by the fine lighting ... and not just in the way the museum installed the work.  Shadows played a big part in the appreciation of several pieces.  Take, for example, the piece on the left side of the photo above.  Fused glass petroglyphs were suspended away from the wall on which their shadows were cast. 

I could have stood in front of this piece for hours.  Motion from the air-conditioning and people passing by caused gentle movement ... which also enhanced the work and the shadows!  

I was quite struck by this set of three body bags.  Believe it or not, the copper lines are seed beads couched over cording!  I only know this because there were very well done video interviews featuring each of the six artists.  In the video featuring Maggie Thompson, she was threading copper beads onto a needle and actually stitching one of these pieces.

All of the signage was first rate too ... and this one was particularly heartfelt.

Basketry is obviously an important craft in Native traditions.  Geo Neptune is more than a master; he's a genius! 

I really liked these masks and the other fashions that were on display ...

... but I think the best part about these garments was the sense of origin which was projected high on the wall.  The landscape and seascape images brought a sense of place.

One of my favorite pieces, however, was this one.  It is a visualization of "a knot in one's stomach" and a "gut feeling".  Truly brilliant ... and with a great shadow effect too!

Steve and I were almost overwhelmed when visiting the second floor.  From ceramics to wood to metal to glass ... it is hard to absorb all that magic in artwork.  I took only three pictures ... of textiles, of course ... including this jacket by Jon Eric Riis ...

... and a detail shot from one of Bisa Butler's giant quilts ...

... and this Nick Cave Soundsuit!  If in DC, I highly recommend both the Department of Interior's museum and building tour but ... of course ... The Renwick!

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Once & Again: Alterations at the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount, NC

(Above:  The Patchwork Installation, part of my solo show, Once & Again: Alterations, at the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount, NC.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Even before the pandemic, I was thinking about this show.  Of course at the time, I didn't have a venue and I hadn't imagined all the work I would eventually make ... but I dreamed up the idea and even wrote the first rough statement.  All I really knew was that altering the first set of Sun Bonnet Sue quilt blocks with hand-embroidered calls-for-action fulfilled me.  I knew I was giving "second life" to things that might otherwise be discarded.  Since those early days, I've explored all sorts of ways to "update/chance/revive" older textiles into new expressions.  Environmental and feminist issues were stitched in words.  Found objects showed the abundance of life and warned against wasteful habits of adding to landfills. 

(Above:  Two Found Object Mandalas, CRAZY (In the Millenial Age); and Second Marriage in an area at the top of the staircase and directly across from one of the walls featuring The Patchwork Installation.)

Securely a venue is one of the difficult tasks every artist has to face.  I started sending unsolicited proposals in 2019 and managed to get two fine shows.  The first one was in Charlotte, NC at the Overcash Gallery at Piedmont Community College (2021).  The second one was earlier this year at Piedmont Arts, a regional museum in Martinsville, VA.  I was very, very pleased with both these shows but neither were on display for very long.  This one, however, is up through the end of the year!  Plus, the space I was allotted is GIGANTIC!  The photo above is an area at the top of the staircase.  It is directly across from ...

(Above:  The Patchwork Installation.)

... the start of the Patchwork Installation ... on a 16' long wall!  The Imperial Centre is a 135,000 square foot redeveloped site that had once been the Imperial Tobacco Company.  In addition to several galleries for both rotating and permanent visual arts, there's a Children's Museum and Science Center, a community theater, and a planetarium (which is currently experiencing a temporary closure.)  Basically, having a solo show here is a BIG DEAL.  Honestly, I looked at the space and it scared me!  Yet, I had a plan!  I would created The Patchwork Installation especially for this opportunity!

(Above:  The Patchwork Installation ... continues around the corner, across an 8' wall, and then turns down a 40' wall!)

Anyone following this blog (or one of my social media pages!) knows that I've been altering scraps of vintage textiles, tacking them to black frames, and planning to hang them abutting one another as they meander across and literally around the walls.  I've been doing this for several months.  My initial goal was 100 units but I actually stitched 123! 

(Above:  The Patchwork Installation ... meandering down the 40' wall!)

The scraps came from old quilts I was cutting up for my Found Object Mandalas, from box lots of textiles bought at auction or at a thrift shop, and from generous people who donated to my stash.  As I stitched and tacked them pieces to black frames, I envisioned the final arrangement ... but ... it is really difficult to tell a curator how to mount them.  Just the fact that there were over 100 pieces is enough to scare any art installer.  So, I was worried but Joyce Turner, curator and installer, far exceeded my expectations!  Walking into the Imperial Centre the day after the show opened was WONDERFUL.  I almost cried for joy.  My vision became a reality! 

(Above:  Sue's Environmental To Do List, five Found Object Mandalas, and The Feminist To Do List.)

Yet, the exhibit is more than just The Patchwork Installation!  On the opposite side of the 40' wall are more pieces including Sue's Environmental To Do List, five Found Object Mandalas, and The Feminist To Do List.)

(Above:  Sue Goes to the Protest, Oswald Home Laundry flanked by the Black Lives Matter Series; and Sue's Thank You Notes.)

Directly across from the 40' wall is another really long wall on which Sue Goes to the Protest, Oswald Home Laundry, The Black Lives Matter Series, and Sue's Protest Notes are absolutely perfectly hung!

(Above:  The Clothesline.)

Nearby is an elevated hallway to another section of the Imperial CentreThe Clothesline looks great here!  (The Clothesline can be a lot longer.  I think it could encircle a football field.  More of The Clothesline will be hung at my solo show at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, GA later this month!)  I am so very, very happy that all this work is in front of real people!  The pandemic really made me realize how important it is to have others SEE THE WORK and to share images of it when professionally presented.  This show and this blog post sure accomplish this!  Further below are additional images.  Please enjoy!

(Above:  The Feminist To Do List.)
(Above:  Sue's Environmental To Do List.)
(Above:  Sue Goes to the Protest.)
(Above:  Sue's Thank You Notes.)
(Above:  Oswald Home Laundry flanked by The Black Lives Matter Series.)
(Above:  Several Found Object Mandalas and The Feminist To Do List.)

Once & Again: Alterations. A solo exhibition by artist Susan Lenz


I am exceeding proud of this solo show and absolutely in debted to Joyce Turner, curator and head installer at the Imperial Centre, who so expertly hung the artwork.  The exhibit opened on September 15, 2023 and will run through the end of the year.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Mandala CLXXI

(Above:  Mandala CLXXI. Custom framed: 22 1/2" x 22 1/2". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Objects include:  A biscuit cutter; a coffee K-pod; nine, faux-chocolate Easter bunnies; brass drawer knob plates; touchless door openers; four, toy loons; four, white plastic discs; 1970s UAW strike buttons; and assorted garment buttons. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Dozens of times I've been asked how I organize my stash of found objects.  In is a funny question because the truth of the matter is that there is no system.  I've collected potential items in one of my back work rooms. Chaos is not a strong enough word to describe it. Since 2020 when I started this series, that room has increasingly looked as if hit by a tornado (which might account for my recent idea to stitch a Found Object Tornado ... a plan that is now underway!)  Well, last week was my breaking point.  I started tackling the countless Ziploc bags, the small boxes, and the random piles. Some things were sorted.  Some things were rediscovered.  But for other things, I had to make the hard decision to let go.  These were tossed into the trash.  The nine, faux chocolate Easter bunnies were discarded ... for one night!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXI.)

The next morning I woke up to an NPR report about the current UAW's targeted strike deadline with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (a company which builds Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands for North America.)  The deadline, which affects 145,000 auto workers, is TONIGHT.  For some reason, my waking dream associated the hard working Easter bunnies with the auto workers ... and I knew that I wanted to combine the bunnies with the collection of 1970s UAW strike buttons that I recently received as a donation to my stash from the talented Patty Kennedy-Zafred

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXI.)

The Easter bunnies were retrieved from the trash.  Holes were drilled in them and in all the UAW buttons.  It didn't take long for this mandala to be stitched.  I'm really pleased how this piece turned out.  I hope that the auto workers and their companies are all happy tomorrow morning no matter what the outcome is.  By the way, over 400,000 workers struck General Motors in 1970.  The massive walkout lasted 67 days and affected 145 GM plants in the US and Canada. GM lost more than $1 billion in profits.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Two Hand-stitched In Box Pieces

(Above:  In Box CDXXXVII.  Framed:  19 3/4" x 15 3/4". $375. Layers of polyester stretch velvet on recycled, black industrial felt. Entirely stitched by hand. Melting techniques.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Weeks ago I knew I would need a couple of hand-stitching projects for hours riding in the cargo van.  Trips to Florida for the recent show at the College of Central Florida, the Artist Talk at my solo show at the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage, and trips to see the renovation progress at the church we bought have meant plenty of time with a threaded needle ... stitching these two In Box pieces.  I've actually finished stitching another one!  I just haven't melted it, mounted it, framed it, and photographed it.  That's coming!

(Above:  Detail of In Box CDXXXVII.)

I've also started another Found Object Mandala and am thinking about a totally new idea!  I'm pretty sure that the future will see me stitching an abstraction of a tornado!  My mind sees swirling lines of cording on a section of a vintage quilt.  I'm still mentally tackling some of the construction problems.

(In Box CDXXXVIII. Framed:  19 3/4" x 15 3/4". $375. Layers of polyester stretch velvet on recycled, black industrial felt. Entirely stitched by hand. Melting techniques.)

I've also been working on another anonymous photo.  It's been scanned, put through various Photoshop filters, and ordered from Spoonflower, a print-on-fabric-by-demand company.  I can't wait to start hand-stitching on it!  I really don't need to stitch another In Box piece right now ... though I truly love seeing all the colors coming together.  A little variety is needed for the upcoming trips! 

(Above:  Detail of In Box CDXXXVIII.)

This coming weekend is a trip to Washington, DC to deliver my artwork to the permanent collection of the Department of Interior ... plus ... Steve and I will continue visiting the church we bought.  So far, the wiring is in place, plumbing pipes have been installed, two new HVAC units are sitting on pads at the back of the structure, and duct work has been done.  The contractor is waiting for the first inspection!  We are super excited!