April 30, 2011

Sujani Embroidery from Bihar

 This was the best kind of impulse buy--Fiona Wright posted a snapshot of this piece, and I was instantly smitten. Although she had already packed it for her visit to Australia, she was kind enough to set it aside upon her arrival, and due to the magic of Paypal and the post office, it's now mine.
 From the tag: "Swani Embroidery from Bihar. This work is produced by a woman's co-operative. The work is lively and naive and tell stories relevant to the women's lives, daily chores, healthcare, education-especially for girls, marriage and the Gods are some of the most common themes."  You can see more examples on Fiona's website here.
 I think this is a particularly fine piece, both in its composition and workmanship. The majority of the stitching is done in a simple running stitch, but the way the stitcher employed it is masterful.  I use a lot a echo stitching in my work, and am in awe of how effectively the curves and the color changes are handled here.  I also love the subject matter, which I'm assuming deals with a Tree of Life legend.
It was meant as a cushion cover, but I've taken it apart and will be having the embroidery panel framed--it deserves a good presentation.  This is my second piece of stitched Indian  artwork bought from Fiona; I wrote previously about this Sirali Santal Khatwa piece that now hangs in my kitchen and brings me pleasure each day.  (A standard disclaimer--I have no vested interest in Fiona's enterprises, I'm just an appreciative customer.)
My upcoming trip to India will be at the opposite end of the country from Fiona's location, but I believe in dreaming big, so perhaps someday I'll get to go meet some of the artisans who are producing this wonderful work....

April 27, 2011

Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2011 Acceptance - Watt & Shand #9

 I am pleased and excited to announce that Watt & Shand #9 has been selected for Art of the State:  Pennsylvania 2011, held June 19 - September 11, 2011, at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg, PA.   This is a very competitive exhibit, with 135 works in all media chosen out of 1,942 entries.  The juror for Sculpture and Crafts is Beth Ann Gerstein, Executive Director, the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, Mass.
 Watt & Shand # 9 is part of a series of ten works I made about the transformation of the former Watt & Shand department store into a hotel and convention center; the original facade was preserved, and I became fascinated with architecture and imagery of the construction work in progress.  You can read more about #9 here and here, and see the entire series on my website here.
#9 has digital prints and thermofax prints, and I've always been particularly happy about the way I was able to work out the colors for this one.  They seemed unlikely at the onset but I soldiered on and it all worked out.

April 25, 2011

Saved by the silks - "Ginger" in progress

There's nothing like a stack of luscious silks to propel the right side of the brain into gear.  As I prep logistically and philosophically for my upcoming trip to India, I was searching for artistic expression but feeling a bit blocked, and frustrated by several false starts.  I don't usually dither, but was falling victim to overthinking and undue pressure to perform.  I do my best work when I am having fun and letting things flow, so I turned to my old standby, simply sewing things together and seeing what happens.
I brought out my cherished stash of silks from Mysore, India, including a few lengths from my student days and an assortment my husband brought back from a business trip years ago.  These are old friends, used in many pieces and now down to their last cherished bits, but since they have been supplemented by a new batch, and especially since I am travelling to do my own replenishing, I cut and sewed fearlessly.  As an exercise in abstract optics it was getting interesting, but I like imagery in my work.
Six years ago I participated in a textile art book round robin.  Part of the great pleasure of a collaborative project, aside from the artwork, is the people you get to know.  One of the book artists, Sandra B., expressed an interest in my cyanotype process, and out of the goodness of her heart sent me a box full of foliage from her Florida garden.  I was able to make prints (in late November--don't try this as home, kids!) from some of the delights she sent me, including this ginger leaf, above.  I was immersed in other projects at the time, and the tropical foliage prints got set aside until just the right moment, which was now. 

A perfect pairing for the silk blocks, and just like that I have an exciting new project underway.  Further sewing of blocks led to this placement audition, emphasizing value:
Already it's exploding!  Stay tuned as things progress.

Administrative note:  I've turned off the "Captcha" feature on the the comments, in the hopes that it will make commenting easier, especially from a mobile device.  I will continue to monitor comments to prevent spam, so there might be a slight delay before yours shows up.  And as always, thanks so much for reading - and commenting!

April 12, 2011

Watt & Shand #4 Acceptance in Images 2011

 I'm very excited to announce that Watt & Shand #4 has been accepted into Images 2011, the juried  fine art/fine craft exhibit of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, held at the Robeson Gallery at Penn State University.  The dates are June 8 - July 17.  This years's juror is Ron Rumford.

This is one of my very favorite exhibit venues, in part because I have had the incredible good fortune of a run of acceptances there, including last year's Best in Show award and a Viewer's Choice award,  but primarily because of the high quality of the exhibited work and the excellence of the exhibit space.  The staff takes great care to properly hang and light and showcase the works in all mediums, and it shows.
 Watt & Shand #4 is a unique work in the series in that it features images from inside the preserved facade of the former department store building that was repurposed into a hotel/convention center. (If you are new here, you can track back the series in progress by clicking on Watt & Shand under "Labels" in the right sidebar, or see the entire series on my website.)  I went to the top of a nearby parking garage to get the photos I used.  Above you can see the foundation piers being poured, the giant crane that was a fixture of the skyline for many months, and the previous "skyscraper" pride of Lancaster, the Greist Building, in the background (designed by C. Emlen Urban, its height was eclipsed by the new construction).  I love how you can still see some of the interior paint colors along with a lot of architectural and construction detail here. It was such an interesting and transitory scene.
 The building to the left is the historic Montgomery House, which was incorporated into the new construction as well--if you have been to the convention center for the AQS quilt show or another venue, you've seen it in the lobby.
 I used a combination of digital prints and cyanotype images for this work, and included cyanotypes in the pieced work as well, along with handpainted fabrics, lustrous silks, and wools.  I think the work as a whole walks a fine line between chaos and control, which is sort of where the construction project was at the time.

April 10, 2011

New Work - Columbine

  Early spring seems like a propitious time to unveil images of my latest work,Columbine, part of my ongoing series The Garden.  I was able to capture the delicacy of the flowers and seedpods using the cyanotype process on silk, and I used many silk solids and plaid fabrics in the pieced sections.
 The lustre of the silk came through well in the photos, as did the texture from the intensive stitching. 
I'm very happy with the color combinations and transitions in this piece.
 The columbines in my garden are blue flowered volunteers that drifted over from a neighbor's yard.  They pop up in unexpected places and they are always welcome.  The foliage is currently emerging, and I am impatiently awaiting the return of the blossoms.
You can track back this piece as a work in progress by clicking on "Columbine" under Labels in the right sidebar.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope your spring, or fall, is filled with natural wonders.

April 7, 2011

Vintage India - Taj Mahal and Agra

 In the summer of 1974 I embarked on a grand journey of six months of University study and travel in India.  I was coming from a very rural and sheltered upbringing, and was eager to broaden my horizons.  I took with me some clothes and essentials, a Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera and 20 packs of 110 cartridge film, $200 in traveler's checks, and a keen longing for adventure.
I knew very little about how the world at large or India worked, but I was eager to find out. 
 There are probably dozens of things that could go awry in a scenario like that, but nothing bad happened.  On the contrary, most of my experiences were quite wonderful.
 In retrospect, I think it was because my heart was pure.
 I fell in love with the country, and especially with the people.  There is always a risk in generalizing, but I would still assert that Indians are some of the friendliest and most gracious people on the planet. 
 My first port of call after landing in Delhi was the red fort at Agra and the Taj Mahal.  I had a big dose of culture shock and cultural awe right at the start, and I embraced it and ran with it.
 I've scanned all my prints and ephemera from the trip and am working my way through editing them.  Some of them have faded and the colors have shifted, and there's only so much that can be done to correct them digitally, but I'm okay with that--the vintage look adds to their considerable charm.
 I had zero experience or schooling as a photographer, and had to carefully limit my shots because of my finite film resources, but still I am impressed with some of the images I captured.  My younger self had a very untrained eye, but an eye none the less.
 I am delving into the past as preparation for the future--I am going to return to India this summer and am terrifically excited about it.  I just received my visa, and concrete travel plans are being laid.  Stay tuned for more tourist photos, Indian textiles, and art work in progress!