New Year, New Projects

The new year has brought several unexpected changes–mainly a new job that is incredibly challenging and offers lots of possibility. I’m working for a horticultural society here in Atlanta, and have included a little gem–a photo of the pygmy goats that live at our learning garden in East Lake.

My husband John and I are sharing a studio here for the first time–he’s been playing so much in the last few months and it makes him really happy. One of our goals when we moved to Atlanta was to try to make art together–even if we are both working on very different projects it’s nice to work in the same space. I took this photo of him on the first night that we worked in the space together–I hope that we can make a practice of it!

Adapting to my new schedule, I’ve had limited time for art projects over the last month,  but I have been working a little at time on clothing alteration projects. The current project is a great little vintage set (a skirt and blouse) that a friend sent to me, and even though it was too small I couldn’t bear to part with it. So I’ve been working on altering them, and had some help from my friend and talented seamstress Christin Ripley ( here’s a link to a skirt she made that is a similar pattern– http://www.flickr.com/photos/27609855@N06/6585937621/in/photostream). I’m still trying to decide what to do with the top–it’s a bit short for me, so I’m thinking of adding a panel–perhaps a peplum at the bottom. I hope to share the finished piece soon.

Today I was looking for a pattern to alter a sweater–again something that is too small and I can’t seem to get rid of, and found this great pattern http://trash-collector.livejournal.com/9794.html –I’m going to try something similar with my sweater soon! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I’ve also included a photo of some prints I carved as christmas gifts–they are address stamps for some family members. I chose to carve the text in the negative, into the silhouette of different animals or shapes, because the text is delicate and would hold up better over time this way. I also love silhouettes, and enjoyed coming up with different objects to represent these loved ones. The orange block is meant to be viewed on it’s side–it’s the state of Georgia, and should read “Georgia Fat Wood”–We collected some from a fallen pine tree and gave it to my dad for Christmas.

embroidery

Hey Y’all! Merry Christmas! I absolutely love all the christmas lights and figurines all around the neighborhood, and I love bringing out my little motley crew of weird xmas dolls! So, I’ve been busily making little gifts here and there for the past month, and one of the things I’ve been working on is learning to embroider. I was really inspired by the work of Jenny Hart http://jennyhart.net/#_ after my friend Lindsay McCulloch http://www.lindsaymcculloch.blogspot.com/ posted about seeing the 40 under 40:Craft Futures show at the Renwick Gallery in DC this past September http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/renwick40/. Jenny Hart has a great tutorial on her site about basic stitches, and so I went out and got some pretty colors of floss and started playing. I decided to start with some iron on patterns, since I haven’t researched how to transfer my drawings onto fabric without permanently staining it, so I found a lovely set with floral patterns and a little deer. I’m excited to try out some of my own drawings next!

Showing at The Imaginary Million

Later this month I’ll be one of 100 artists participating in a really interesting exhibition/art auction here in Atlanta. It’s called the Imaginary Million, and the auction is only open to the participating artists, using an imaginary $10,000 to bid on their favorite piece. Essentially it’s an art exchange, and includes a panel discussion on collecting for artists, which I think will be quite interesting. I’m so excited to be able to participate–and can’t believe I’ll be coming home with a new piece of artwork! The piece I’ll be showing/exchanging is “Goat-like, agile,” (a polyester plate lithograph that I made shortly before moving here)  is about my fears and excitement about the move to a new city.

The event is Wednesday October 24, 2012 from 7pm to midnight at 200 Peachtree (formerly Macy’s), Atlanta, Ga 30303. There’ll be a DJ (Santiago Paramo) and a cash bar, and otherwise the event is free and open to the public. The sponsors for this exhibition are WonderRoot, MOCA GA, The Zuckerman Museum and Atlanta Cultural Affairs.

Long overdue sewing class

We’re back in Georgia now, and while it does feel like a homecoming it’s never easy to relocate, at least not for a nester like me. So John, being the sweetheart that he is, encouraged me to sign up for a sewing class that I had read about at the Beehive Collective here in Atlanta, as he thought it would be a good break from the full time job searching that I would be doing once we arrived. Boy was he right. I’d been wanting to take a sewing class for so long but had never invested the time or money into learning the right way to do things, and this class taught me how to read a pattern, make adjustments for a better fitting garment, and sew a zipper! Our class project was the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated, and I decided to take this opportunity to design and print a pattern for it. It took me about one full day to figure out the best way to register this and to make my jig (this part of printing always takes me the longest, but then if it’s done well makes the printing so much easier!). I printed 3 yards, and plan on printing some more colorways of this pattern soon for other projects and my soon to be launched etsy shop.

Also, I got to use my new dress form for the first time! My good friend and awesome seamstress Jody McLean and I teamed up to make custom dress forms using paper tape (here’s a tutorial if you want to try! http://makingitwell.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/i-made-my-own-dress-form.html). We thought about making a plaster cast and then using that to make the dress form, which would have looked much nicer, but would have taken longer and been a lot more expensive. Here’s the tutorial for that one http://lulushion.blogspot.com/2011/05/cast-yourself-or-making-of-dress-form.html. The next thing I’m thinking of making is shorts–I can’t ever find shorts that fit right! And that’s what is so awesome about knowing how to sew!

Oh, another cool thing about my sewing class–the instructor was Brooke Helfen, one of John’s housemates from college in Athens. It was a fun surprise to run into her again, and she’s a great teacher and runs her own business making clothes! Here’s her site http://soshesews.com/

 

Gaia artist talk at Smith Commons

I just returned from a great artist talk at Smith Commons, which happens to be around the block from my house. Baltimore based street artist Gaia recently painted a mural on the side of their building, and had a talk about that piece as well as his work in general. I was a bit shocked to learn that he’s only 23, and yet has a very clear vision of the work he wants to make and the impact he wants to have in his community (and globally). His work is primarily in urban spaces–wheatpasted linocuts on abandoned buildings, murals both on buildings that will be demolished and in areas of rejuvenation and/or gentrification. I appreciated the thoughfulness he puts into his work–he seems to be very eager to serve his community in a positive way, and he seeks to make work that touches people’s spirits. I have been seeing his work around DC and Baltimore for the last few years and felt a deep connection with the animals he uses as symbols, as this is something that I often do in my own work. I know some great muralists and street artists who work to make their cities and others all over the world a better place, but because Gaia works in the same medium as I do, and seems to speak the same visual language I do, I was quite inspired.  I was inspired today to think bigger, to practice my craft, and to have fun! If you’re not familiar with his work, check out http://gaiastreetart.com/

Woodworking

I wanted to share some photos of a project that my husband John and I just finished. We needed a larger bookcase and decided to build one. This was really fun–John art form is music, and mine is visual arts, so we don’t often get to work on creative projects together. And even though a bookcase isn’t necessarily a work of art, it was really fun for us both to learn a bit about woodworking and craftsmanship. We were lucky enough to get some direction from John’s dad, who’s built several pieces of furniture for us, and also got some tips from our friend Morgan Ward, who’s got some great building experience.

We also used milk paint for the first time. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s probably the oldest paint formula, found in ancient cave paintings, and used notably by the Shakers among others here in the U.S. It’s made of completely non-toxic ingredients, in fact, you could eat it if you chose to…We selected a grey/blue for the outside and a burnt orange on the inside. This is a combination that John’s dad told us he had seen in colonial Williamsburg. You can order it online here http://milkpaint.com/prod.html

I approach almost everything from a perspective of “I think I could make that,” which can be a bit frustrating because I am a beginner at a lot of things, and an expert at only a few. Thus my unfinished knitting projects, clothes that are half taken apart for alterations I don’t really understand, and questionable kombucha. Somehow I proceed undeterred,  so hopefully this will be the beginning of a lifetime of woodworking. John and I have been working to fix up his grandmother’s 100 year old farmhouse in Georgia, so we’ll need those skills for sure!

As a sidenote, I’ve also included a picture of a lovely sculptural piece I read about online–made from the remaining wood from a burnt down house in detroit. http://www.cathlynnewell.com/#Salvaged-Landscape

Interesting encounters

I recently attended a performance/lecture by Christine Fentz, an artist and performer from Denmark. She came to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center to share her “In the Field” performance. I’ll start by saying I’m often skeptical of performance art, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole experience, and what Christine offered were some very thoughtful ideas about time and place, and how those can be interpreted very differently by people from different cultures, and a very “real” interaction with a group of strangers. What I mean by this is that she made an effort to make us feel as though we were guests in her home, serving us tea throughout the performance, asking us to share parts of our experiences of time and special places, like home.

I’ve recently been somewhat stressed about my upcoming move–back to Georgia–and have been thinking a lot about my attachments to my home in DC. That may be why this exercise was so personally meaningful. Christine discussed how nomadic people in Siberia who she has spent some time with think of home. She talked about how they have a very particular order to how they pack up their things when the move to a new place, and a very particular way of unpacking. Then she asked us all to close our eyes and think of the things in our home that really matter. Then we imagine how we will pack for our journey, whether we will carry our things on our back, whether we will use a cart. It didn’t necessarily relieve my stress, but it did make me think about my journey with less trepidation.

Finally, after several other interesting exercises, we all lay on the floor on our backs and sort of meditated to sounds of birds, insects and things, and when we were instructed to open our eyes again we found a bowl of soup next to us, and passed around a basket of bread. I find these sort of moments quite lovely, and a bit disarming. I’ve shared a few photos from her website here to give you an idea of what it was like.

http://www.secrethotel.dk/produktioner/in-the-field?lang=en

knit/crochet sculpture

Several friends have shared photos of Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s knit and crochet sculpture, and I find it quite inspirational. I also happened upon Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto today while reading through a designboom newsletter–both artists create large scale, interactive sculptures using industrial yarn/rope that’s been hand knitted into a lovely web. The vimeo video of Neto’s installation is quite amazing–he had quite a large team installing his hanging labyrinth and I couldn’t help but wonder how such a project is funded. For more info about Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam check out this blog

http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/2012/01/playground-crochet-artist-toshiko-horiuchi-macadam/

Cast Paper and Lithography

 

I recently took my first lithography class with Gretchen Schermerhorn at Pyramid Atlantic, working with aluminum plates. I have wanted to give litho a try for a long time because it’s the only printmaking technique that can seamlessly transfer the line quality of a drawing to print. It was a great intro class, and my friend Lindsay McCulloch and I have been setting up printing dates ever since so that we can practice (we have to have a glass of wine to lighten up while we work because the process is so intense!). We’ve done two prints so far, have been learning a lot, and if there was ever a time to have  a studio partner this is it!

Luckily, these prints I’ve been working on fit nicely into the theme of a show I’ve been invited to participate in called Art @ Work.  The theme is unemployment, and how it can lead to depression, isolation, and breaking families apart. Conversely,  art can play a powerful role in our communities and Albus Cavus , the arts organization that partnered with The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery to put on the show, uses public art to uplift and strengthen communities.

The prints are inspired by a stereogram I found at my husband’s granny’s house a few years ago–the photo was of soldiers baking bread in a field kitchen, during WWI I think. The image was very stricking because of the huge stacks of bread they were amassing. This led me to many other bread images, including photos of bread lines from WWII. Bread is a powerful image representing hunger and nourishment, and even though we don’t see the large piles of bread in them today, bread lines are still a necessity for many people who struggle to make enough to feed their families.

I’m very interested in finding alternative ways to display works on paper, and eventually settled on the idea of creating cast paper loaves of bread, and mounting the prints inside. The idea came to me while browsing Elisabeth Omdahl’s blog, which I discovered in a random google search a while back, and go to often for inspiration. How strange to find a kindred spirit in another part of the world–for example, she posted recently about her cat “little prince” dying. My childhood cat was named little prince!! And we have a very similar aesthetic. Anyhow, check out this lovely paper egg she made http://omdahlart.blogspot.com/2011/07/installation-tests.html . My camera started acting up recently, so I haven’t been able to get a great picture of the finished piece. These will have to do for now.

I had to work fast to get the pieces ready in time for the show, but I’m so glad to have had that push. And really glad to have had help from Gretchen and Ripley making paper, and a tip from my friend Morgan Ward about where to find a nice piece of weathered wood! It was really fun to experiement with these new techniques!