Thursday, March 26, 2015

Signs of the week

Thanks to my guest photographer, Matthew Loomis, for this shot of the Capitol in Madison WI.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It worked!!

Last week I complained about an entry form that wanted to know my age, as if that is important to the kind of art you make.  I'm pleased to report that entering "0" did not get me thrown out for bad attitude.  I was the featured artist on yesterday's "Artebella," the daily email from the Louisville Visual Art Association.    (click here to see the entire post)

One Word of Advice

Three Words of Advice

Four Words of Advice

I sent in photos of my recent hand stitching project, words of advice.  Not sure I have shown them to you before, so here are all three that I have completed.  I used a set of small linen napkins that I acquired at our monthly grab bag, and mounted them on larger squares of linen.

I was disappointed that they didn't use the artist statement that I so thoughtfully wrote for this series, but seized upon "making her own clothes" and "quilting," references they found by apparently checking out my blog and website.  I try to escape the Q word but can't run fast enough.  But they did spell my name right!!

  Here's what I have to say about the advice series:

After a career in journalism and corporate communication, I resolved to have a new life in visual art -- but I couldn't escape the text.  And after decades of making fiber art with a sewing machine, I have happily resumed the simple hand stitching that I learned at my grandmothers' knees.  

These samplers are a combination of old and new, as are so many of the good things in life.

Some of the advice is ancient, some is as new as the century.  The found linens, lovingly used for decades on someone else's table, carry an aura of family tradition, now repurposed.  Some of the advice is handed down through the generations; some is handed up from young to old.  Choose the advice that you like best....

I still need to make the last piece in the series, "Two Words of Advice," but I have used all the napkins in that set and need to find two little napkins that will be the right size and character to work in the series.  Just remember, "Carpe Diem." 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Laurie Wohl -- Unweaving

I've seen a bunch of art and attended a bunch of art activities over the last several months that never managed to get written up for the blog.  So in anticipation of a trip, during which I probably won't be able to post new things, I'm trying to catch up with some of the pending subjects.  My apologies that some of the shows have already closed and the activities are long past.

I'll start off with a show by Laurie Wohl, a New York fiber artist who has concentrated on liturgical and religious-themed work.  Her show at the Patio Gallery in Louisville was a series based on Christian, Jewish and Muslim poetry and spiritual texts.  She wrote: "For this project, I emphasize particularly the common themes and striking parallels between Arabic and Hebrew texts, similarly rich in a poetry of spiritual love, an extensive poetry of exile, a poetry of nostalgia for Andalusia, and poetry speaking of enemies and reconciliation."

It's a daring subject in this era of widespread fear of radical Islam, to seek similarities between that religion and Christianity and Judaism.  In fact, viewers might have shared the tiniest start to read Wohl's categorization as "the Abrahamic religions" -- we Judeo-Christians don't usually think of Islam as our sibling.

Wohl's works in this series make extensive use of calligraphy, mostly Hebrew and Arabic scripts, and also repeat the imagery of a veil, through her signature "unweaving" technique.  Working with a heavy canvas, she slices either the warp or weft threads around the edge of a shape, then unpicks the weave to leave the other strands loose.  Because the weaving process puts a lot of crimp into the strands, when they're set free over a long distance they're significantly longer than the woven part of the canvas, so they droop and/or bulge.

Laurie Wohl, Window of Prayers (detail below)

I missed the gallery talk so I didn't learn how Wohl achieves the sharp raised edges on her letters and shapes.

Laurie Wohl, Babylon (detail)

I could tell that she painted the "unwoven" strands of her canvases and often strung beads on them.  Sometimes she sliced the free strands at the top of the shape so they would hang down below the unwoven area.

Laurie Wohl, Elegy for Cordoba (detail below)

(Note how the rods at the bottom droop slightly at the center where more of the weave has been removed.)

Usually she removes the horizontal threads and leaves the vertical, but not always.

Laurie Wohl, Watchwords (detail)

I'm always intrigued by art that uses text or letterforms, and though I read neither Arabic nor Hebrew, I could tell that Wohl's calligraphy is exquisite.  The works have a solemn presence as well as a bright and lively sparkle.  The show was well worth a visit.

I've cross-posted this to Ragged Cloth Cafe, a blog about art and textile art.  Drop by and visit us there some time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On retreat again

Last week was the second annual art retreat for ten of us who cherish a couple of days away from home (but only a half hour down the road), a whole empty table to yourself, and a lot of wine and junk food.

There were a lot of different things going on.  Some people brought work for comments and suggestions, or questions about specific things that had to happen next.

One person brought her entire stash of hand-dyed embroidery threads (this is only half of it!!) for sorting, and then stitching.

Somebody else was working on a template for a fantastically complex pieced quilt.

Another was using a woodburning tool to put a charred edge on a piece of "fire" for a fabric collage.

On the last afternoon it was warm enough to work outside with wet stuff.

In many ways it made for a much more interesting retreat because of the different things, compared to gatherings where everybody has their sewing machine pedal-to-the-metal piecing.  We learned a lot by talking with others about their work and processes, and of course there were fervent discussions about what is art.  A success all around.