April 28, 2010

Them Bones, them bones...

Proving once again that you can find just about anything on the Internet, I've received my order of animal skulls. From largest to smallest, they are a red fox, a gray squirrel, an Eastern mole, and a red-toothed shrew. Although I found them on the world wide web, it turns out that the vendor lives nearby and they are from local animals, which is important for my project.
The second batch of bones I've borrowed from a generous and helpful individual who has the rare propensity and talent of finding interesting things while walking in the woods. It's not just opportunity and observational skills--I'm out in the woods often, looking carefully at things, and don't have finds like this--but a deeper talent that allows him to spot them, and I'm grateful for the loan. The large one on the top left is a deer skull, the large oval object on the right is a turtle shell, and the rest await further identification.
I'm focusing on the bones of animals that are common here in my part of PA, and that I've encountered in the flesh while gardening or hiking. My interactions with most of them are fleeting, but they are an integral part of the environment and of my world view. I'm interested in the bones both for what they represent and for their graphic visual impact. The reality of the animals, and their remains, contrasts rather sharply with the images in my collection of vintage embroidered textiles, like this Bambi-esque deer and bunny:

And these squirrels:

At this point you may well be asking yourself, "how is she going to integrate images of those dry bones and those kitschy textiles into her artwork?" Good question. I don't really know yet. Wondering about it is occupying a good portion of my conscious and unconscious mind right now, as I busy myself working in the garden. It's very exciting. I do know it won't be macabre. No matter where I start from, my work always seems to end up looking cheerful. Stay tuned!

April 17, 2010

Plume Poppy reveal; Images 2010 Acceptance

I'm happy to reveal my newest major work, Plume Poppy. It's very large--81"h x 74" w--and very intricate. Plume Poppies are one of my favorite garden plants; I love them for their huge glaucous leaves and the delicate little flowers on the plumes, but mostly just for their sturdy and reliable presence. I began this work almost five years ago out of a desire to portray what I find so captivating about the plant, and have worked in fits and starts since then, while addressing the various conceptual, design and construction challenges. You can track it back as a work-in-progress by clicking on "Plume Poppy" under Labels in the right sidebar.

The plume is a cyanotype, enhanced with small seed beads to add the bit of coral color the blossoms acquire as they mature. To the right and the left of the plume are handpainted silk noil panels. The center panel is also a cyanotype, delineated with a lot of stitching. I love the way small leaves develop in the axils of the large leaves.

The side panels are heliographic prints done with textile paints, also heavily stitched, and with semi-precious stones sewn on the stem junction. All of the panels are joined by bands of patchwork, made from handpainted and commercial cottons, silks and wool.

I made this art quilt more because I was driven to do so than as a practical venture. It can be problematic to find exhibit venues for a work of this size. Therefore I am thrilled to be able to announce that it has been accepted into Images 2010 at the Robeson Gallery at Pennsylvania State University. I've been lucky enough to have work at this venue previously, and I know from experience they do an excellent job of displaying the work and lighting it properly. The show runs from June 9th to July 11th, with an opening reception on 6/11 that I'm looking forward to attending.

Also selected by juror Dan Mills was White Mulberry. This one is so much better in person than my best photographic efforts can do justice to--the greens and purples don't come out quite as true as I'd like--so I'm really pleased at the opportunity to exhibit it.

Publications - 1000 Artisan Textiles & SAQA Journal

I had time today to sit down ard peruse two publications featuring my work that came in the mail this week. First up was 1000 Artisan Textiles. Above is the page with Fireball, full and detail shots, and Cold Cave, full and detail. On the opposing page is a full page shot of November Pawpaw. (My scanner is mediocre, so forgive the mediocre quality of these images.)
To my surprise and delight, as I turned the pages I discovered I had another work , Sumac, in the book (it was missing from the notification email, but is credited in the directory).

My friend Brenda Smith has written up an excellent review of the book, you can read it on her blog here. I would add that if I had a friend who wondered just what constituted contemporary fiber art, I would send them to this book--it has depth as well as breadth. There are inclusions by artists I am familiar with, but also some that are new to me, and I will be spending some happy hours checking out their websites.
My other happy discovery was to find Fireball in the Spring volume of the SAQA Journal, in the Member Gallery: Pieced Quilts.
Lest you think I'm spending all my time resting on my laurels, such as they are, rest assured that I am hard at work in the studio on the preliminary phases of a LOT of new work; pictures will be forthcoming as things progress.

April 16, 2010

Building Collapse in Lancaster

A building collapsed in Lancaster on Wednesday morning. It was unoccupied, and there were only a few minor injuries reported, to some riders on a city bus that was hit by debris (although I always feel that if it were me, I don't know how "minor" I would consider any injury!). Above is the view from the first block of East Chestnut St., below is the view turning the corner onto N. Queen. About a third of the front of building collapsed spontaneously, and more was demolished later in the day to temporarily stabilize the situation. I took these with my iPhone camera, and once again I'm impressed at how well it works.

For many years the building housed the Empire Appliance Store, familiar to generations of Lancastrians who shopped there before the big box stores came to town. Recently it was slated to become the new home of the Lancaster Museum of Art, but funding difficulties in the recession put the kibosh on those plans. The lot next to it is being excavating for a planned garage/condominium project, and there's speculation that the excavation contributed to the collapse; the insurance companies and lawyers will doubtless wrangle over this.

Aside from the morass of all the practical concerns in a situation like this, I am struck by the imagery. It's such a unexpected and unprecedented view into the interiors, that reveals both architectural/construction details, and glimpses of how the space was apportioned and utilized.
It's currently undecided whether the structure will be stabilized and rebuilt, or further demolished. Either way, I will be there with camera in hand.

April 12, 2010

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

We took advantage of picture-perfect spring weather on Sunday and explored the nearby Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. It's a large property that includes a sizable lake, popular with migrating waterfowl, and a variety of terrains and environments. We started by climbing the Valley View trail, which delivered on its promise with this sterling view of the lake and neighboring farmlands. Below is a panoramic view; I'm experimenting with how well the panorama shot works on the blog.
Further exploring took us to a set of ruins, with this very cool springhouse that drains into a small rivulet:
And the foundation and chimney of a cabin. The masonry work is especially fine:

At the sides of the chimney, you can see impressions where the logs once sat, and the large hand-forged spikes used to hold them:
The rivulet joins up with a shallow but lively creek:
Along the way, as always, I kept my eyes peeled for interesting botanical subjects, including this blooming wild strawberry plant:

And a chestnut oak sapling with the leaves just emerging:

There were many large stands of mayapples just opening. All parts of this charming plant are poisonous, except for the "apples" which ripen in the fall, and even those can be toxic in large qualities. I've sampled them, and am glad for the experience, but had no desire to consume mass quantities.

Here's the more conventional kind of apple, a tree growing wild and blooming:

One of many groups of skunk cabbages growing in the the streams and boggy areas. I've done a quilt featuring a skunk cabbage leaf.
A nice vignette with a skunk cabbage leaf detail, and a violet at the bottom of the frame for scale:

Last but not least, a blooming marsh marigold:

It was a good long hike and an excellent day. I wish you the same.

April 9, 2010

Watt & Shand Wrap-up

This is the last weekend my "Transformation: The Watt & Shand Series" will be on display in the Gallery at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. It's been a wonderful ride-- I've met lots of interesting people at the receptions and had some great conversations, I've heard from visitors to the hotel and gallery who were kind enough to email me and tell me their reactions, and I've had some great local press coverage, including this article in the Lancaster Sunday News. It's been very gratifying and I'm deeply appreciative of all the support.

As I move on to other projects, I wanted to wrap it up visually by sharing a sampling of the photos I took that, for one reason or another, didn't make it into the artwork but still deserve to be seen. Below is the gigantic crane that dominated the skyline for many months:
An architect's depiction on a banner hanging on the construction fence at street level:

Another shot of those fabulous orange banners that informed my color choices:

A nice juxtaposition of the old and the new:

The roof of the convention center taking shape, taken from the roof of the neighboring parking garage:

Street level scene during the installation of windows in what is now the Penn Square Grille.

Closeup of one of the carvings:

Old window frames and new window frames:

I'm on a short hiatus from intensive studio work while I enjoy the fabulous spring weather and indulge in some gardening, but stay tuned for work-in-progress coverage of a new series coming soon.

April 4, 2010

1000 Artisan Textiles

I'm pleased to announce that 3 of my works are included in 1000 Artisan Textiles, published by Quarry Books. I'm familiar with the work of many of the other featured artists, and it promises to be an excellent and inspirational book; I'm waiting for my copy to arrive.

The works included are Fireball:
Cold Cave:

and November Pawpaw:
4/17/10 Addendum: Now that I have my copy, I've made the happy discovery that a fourth work, Sumac, is also included. More details in a new blog post here.