Monday, May 24, 2010

The Daily Art Challenge -- Joanne Weis

As I told you on Friday, earlier this year I challenged members of my textile art group to make daily art for a month and see what happened. They reported back this month.

Some of them found the project exhilarating; others said they were happy with what they’d made but will never do it again; others made the commitment but found they couldn’t see it through (not because they got hit by a bus, but because they just weren’t emotionally or intellectually engaged).

I’d like to show you some of the pieces that people made for the challenge. First off is Joanne Weis, whose “day job” art consists of silk, dyed, discharged and screenprinted, enhanced with hand stitching. She has lots of bits and pieces of leftover hand-dyed silks and threads available. Joanne has always enjoyed making cards and her daily art challenge was to make a card every day, combining her fabric leftovers with junk mail.

Every day, she would go through the junk mail that arrived and choose a piece with interesting color and design. That would provide her with the color palette for a small collage on a 4x5” folded card. Usually the collage was predominantly made of fabric, with the junk mail in small snippets as accents. She would put some hand stitching on the collage, and finally glue a piece of paper inside the card to conceal the stitching and provide the writing surface.

The first thing that strikes you about Joanne’s cards is the visual impact of her small collages. In some cases the junk mail bits are virtually indistinguishable from the fabric bits, except for the different reflective qualities of the two materials when held at a certain angle to the light. In other cases, especially when the junk mail bits included type, the paper takes a more prominent role in the composition.

The second thing is how nicely the hand stitching complements the design of her collages. Joanne uses various fibers for her stitching, dyeing hanks of thread along with the silk fabric so they coordinate. The thread turns out to be ever so slightly variegated, and her stitching plays a major part in the overall effect of her larger works. For the daily art cards, she left all her knots and thread ends on the top of the work so the inside of the card was kept clean for writing.

We know we’re supposed to think more about art than about technique, but you’re also struck by how beautifully Joanne has adhered her materials to the support paper. She used MistyFuse to paste down the silks, Elmer’s Glue for the papers, and Elmer’s glue stick for the inner paper liner.