Friday, May 20, 2011

On My Desk Right Now

I am a sewing fool. With the help of a mix CD leftover from a pre-teen girl party (B-52's Love Shack, anyone?)  I have been stitching away on the Trio. I basted up the first Monday afternoon, quilted it Tuesday and buried the ends while waiting in the doctor's office Wednesday.
Cut trim for the edges and basted a second last night while my daughter ran through her Latin. Trimmed and sewed on the first's edging this morning.

The house has been empty today, and so the second two are quilted.

So many steps beyond creation to completion. Are there as many for painters? I know that bronze, when removed from the mold, requires hours of brute work to go from rough to smooth. My goal is to have all three ready for hand-stitching Monday, so I can move on to other pieces that have emerged since this project began.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Field Trip

 Satuday I met three of my colleagues from Lowell Fiber Studio at Wellesley College's  Davis Museum. To our delight, the finalists for a fashion course had their work on display in the lobby. This one's made of magazines. Notice the origami detail at the neck.

This one, by Wendy Chen, '14,  combines computer parts and old lace. I love the computer keys for a bodice. The "tulle" over the lace is made from transparencies for circuit board manufacturing:


But we were there to see the exhibit, "When I Last Wrote You about Africa," by El Anatsui.

This photo is the small image from the college website. No photos were allowed inside. That's okay, because quickly I was so engulfed by color and texture that I had no mental energy for photography. I wish I could fill this blog with images. Instead, you will just have to here to read about his process and here to see the results.

The exhibit is his first career retrospective, and the show has paused here in Massachusetts on its way between much larger venues. The work spans ceramics, painting, prints, drawings and sculpture, but the most amazing pieces are the monumental cloths created from cut and pounded metals. They drape and shimmer. They are huge. They speak of hours of labor, and, by extension of years and of lives.

The show is up through June 26, and it's free. Grab a friend and go.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

burst of energy

 The weather has been grey, with a steady, smart breeze, for three days now. Something large hangs off the coast: you can smell the sea. We need some sunshine.
Yesterday afternoon I taught my Alzheimer's painting class. A full house, new and old faces. Favorite students ares slipping away; new ones have joined us. One woman, once so calm, frets and repeatedly asks, what are we doing? I don't know why I'm here. Another, a former engineer, still smiles and enjoys the painting but the images he produces are much more simple than two months ago. A third, lovely, genteel woman, now has visible trouble making the brush go where her mind would will it. I rest my hand lightly on her frail one; we draw together. She smiles.

Yesterday, for some reason, the class was full of energy. The work spilled out so fast  I was running around the table.  Perhaps they've learned, about simplifying the image, about being free to make any mark. Perhaps there was a group activity in the morning. Perhaps everyone had a good night's sleep. Who knows?
One student put little dots, like a horizon, across her painting. I was so charmed, I had everyone do the same. I love the rhythm of those marks. Another spent considerable time painting the horizontal stripes made by the ripples in the glass that held the flowers. I showed him how to paint little marks that say "birds" to the viewer. "It's all magic tricks," I tell them, "It's like writing. These are symbols. Not the real thing. No one can paint the real thing. But with your paint, you tell someone else about what you saw, and how it made you feel."

Most of all I love how they unwind and focus during our hour together. Breath relaxes. Trouble floats away. Each person comes into the moment: Paint, color, line. At the end, I thank each one for coming. From the heart, I mean it. They are a highlight in my week, and put so much into perspective for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On my desk now

Three more works for the summer show are pieced. They are a trio, related in size, color and imagery. I basted the second last night.

I stitched most of Saturday, while I gallery-sat for Open Studios Day at the Loading Dock gallery. Some experimental works continued, no pictures yet. Plus, hooray, I attached the binding and sleeve on this, probably the largest piece for my show in August:
The transition from flat to textured is always a surprse. It's not always right for the piece, but here the quilting lines are themselves part of the image, of trees and growth:


But first, Work. I need to arrange flowers for my painting class this afternoon. Also, I have to revise and print out photos for a commission in progress, about a family and their home in France. I've got the fabric primed; I'll print their additions tonight, and hope to start stitching the work together tomorrow.