I haven't gotten much fiber art done recently -- not that I haven't been busy in the studio, but I've been on a different plane.
Let me explain. For many years I've been picking up interesting junk from the street as I walk. I'm always amazed at the quantity and nature of stuff that people are willing to throw away as they walk or drive along. Often I suspect, from the placement and size of the piles, that people occupy themselves while waiting at red lights by emptying their ashtrays, changing batteries in their flashlights, sweeping out their pickup beds or fieldstripping their weapons.
I am intrigued by the stuff that ends up on the street. I've taken to carrying plastic bags with me in case I find some appealing junk. I'm not a hoarder -- not much intrinsic value to dead batteries -- but I have always had a vision that this could become art.
Over the years I found a kindred spirit, my friend Debby Levine, who like me is primarily a fiber artist but who is also an avid walker and an avid picker-upper of junk. We try to walk at least once a week, each armed with our bags and with a sharp eye out for interesting detritus. And on one of our walks we had a brilliant idea -- hey, kids, let's put on a show!
Our show opens today at the Firehouse Gallery in Louisville, and for the last month we've both been busy getting that junk looking spiffy for the occasion. For me it has been exhilarating, challenging, satisfying and most of all, a lot of fun.
Although one of my pieces is mounted on fabric, the others are presented against wood panels in a sort of bas-relief sculptural effect. That has required me to take up woodworking, a skill that I have possessed in a crude way for many years but not practiced much since we got old and rich enough to hire people to fix the things that go wrong in our house. This show has forced me to get my saw, drill, wirecutters and glue gun out of retirement.
Fortunately my son is a whiz with wood and power tools, so he has made me the platform/supports for all my junk work. And in keeping with the spirit of the show, he is also a lover of picking up junk from the streets, except that where I pick up a half dozen rusty washers, he picks up whole pallets. So the supports are genuine street junk, just like the stuff displayed on them.
What has been fascinating to me is how working in 3-D, and with a whole new array of tools and techniques, has given me a huge shot in the arm. I still think of this as a frivolous sideline while my fiber stuff is my "serious art." But I'm dreaming about junk art, and it's been a long time since I dreamed about quilts.
After the show is hung I know I'll need to get back to the fiber art sometime soon, but for now I'm on a wonderful vacation with my junk.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Louisville between now and April 8, please drop in and see the show. If you'd like to visit at an unconventional hour, send me an email
[ email@example.com ] and I'll come let you in.