Thursday, May 26, 2016

new studio space

the east wall (ten feet high)
the west wall (ten feet high)
 the south wall (with a window on main street)
the north wall (door gives idea of height of these walls)
I'm renting a new studio space separate from my house.
I'm so happy to have this again as I've been without one since summer 2013.
When I go there, I work on just one project.

It has morphed from something about my daily walk
to something more
something about the days of my life and their accumulation
set down in an orderly way
step step step
the hurdles and burdens
the joys and unexpected visions
a summing up, a reflection
a frugal using up
a path through it all
a luminous halo.

Life is a luminous halo, a semi transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.  Virginia Woolf

Friday, May 20, 2016

with my hoop

In the work of their hands, they documented not only the world around them, but their inner world - a landscape of their loves, wounds, hopes, wishes, fears, and dreams.
The quilt was their confession in cloth, a form of visual music- life compressed, organized block by block, measure by measure, pulsing with heartbeat, rhythm, and melody - songs they never knew they were singing.
And that very object, the quilt, the consummate symbol of their femininity rolling, comforting, protecting, embracing all of their life, accompanied them through their rites of passage. 
It also became their magic carpet, their release.
I found this text in my 1990 journal
It was originally written by Barbara Damashek and Molly Newman, co-authors of the musical play Quilters.  They based their play on a book The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art

The photos are of two quilts I'm stitching now.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

looking at art that wants to be touched

Devour 1993  Anne Wilson  hair and thread on cloth 
We visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago over the weekend.  I enjoyed the Surrealist exhibition, especially the thread works, many of them by leaders in the textile field.  Anne Wilson's work with human hair and vintage domestic cloth has been very important and I stood in front of the small piece pictured above for quite some time.   It was the first time I had seen a piece by this artist other than reproduction or online.
Fragments and Dashes 1978 - 1980  Claire Zeisler
 beads, cotton, wool, shells, stones, woods, numerous small scale elements
This is also the case with Claire Zeisler, another leader within our field.  This collection of common objects delicately and carefully wrapped or stitched helped me to comprehend how much thought goes into her larger work.   Above, stones with stitched coverings, below wrapped wooden prayer sticks.
Claire Zeisler's personal collection of textiles from non-Western societies informs her work.  
Atrabiliarlos 1993  Doris Salcedo  shoes, drywall, paint, wood, animal fibre, surgical thread
I have seen Doris Salcedo's work in MOMA, New York.  This body of work using worn shoes that have been recovered from mass political violence is very powerful.  Loss, sorrow and the importance of remembering are emotions that flood the viewer through the artist's use of simple materials presented with care.
untitled 1990-2000  Lee Bontecou  welded steel, porcelain, wire mesh, silk, wire
I was mesmerized by the slow spin of Lee Bontecou's suspended sculpture.  I love the fact that she invested ten years in it, not completing it until she was 69 years old.  Again, care and thought are tangible in this artist's work.
untitled 2008  William J O'Brien  mixed media  (threads)
Standing next to William O'Brien's larger than human-size wrapped form was exciting.  I felt that I was absorbing some of the physical energy of his wrapping gestures.  Born in 1975, he is the most contemporary of the artists I've selected for this post, and is also the only male.  Click here for images of stitched work by this artist.
Grace and I are in Chicago for April's graduation from the art institute.
(above Grace in white, April in red)

Friday, May 13, 2016

her textiles

stitching by April Martin  cotton thread on canvas
I'm visiting our daughter April and this post is about the textile soul of her apartment.
 Many of the fabrics are of her own design, like this wall hanging and curtains.
screen print by April Martin on cotton fabric
embroidered quilt by April Martin in progress
 She was inspired by the eyelet embroidery in the circle project for this piece.
reverse of April's quilt in progress
string quilt by Judy Martin, Hearth Rug For Hestia, pillow covers from Ikea
 Some of the pieces are gifts from me.
I'm visiting this weekend because she graduates with MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Monday.
protection amulet from textile museum of Canada - a gift from Judy
Marimekko bedding
Chicago sky scrapers

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

stitching myself into a dotted line

Andy Goldsworthy said  "whenever possible, I make a work every day.  Each work joins the next in a line that defines the passage of my life, marking and accounting for my time and creating a momentum which gives me a strong sense of anticipation for the future."  
I try to do my best work every day.
I divide myself up yet keep myself together with my work.  At the same time.
My daily walk helps me manage this as I stitch myself to place, yes,
but also stitch myself together with each step.
I walk a line.  It represents time.
I sew a path measured by my own stride.
Each day, each dot, is important because it's another day that I've kept myself together, able to carry on with all my scattered-ness.

That walk gives me a container to wrap my self up in.
providence bay manitoulin island mother's day weekend
The future waits for me on a path not yet marked with my daily dot.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

when I was young

I knew I loved to work with needle and thread from a very early age.  I loved it.  My first memories of stitching include embroidering commercially stamped pillow cases, making my own clothes, and making Barbie clothes that I sold.  I would do those things forever.  I wanted to.  I felt right when I was stitching.
I made my family stitched gifts, a pillow for my older brother, a night dress for my mother.  When I gave my little sister a knitted skirt for Christmas one year, she cried so I bought her something else instead.  I made my husband’s wedding suit and he wore it.
When I was young I also realized that I had a talent to draw and paint and so I entered poster contests in elementary school.  I remember painting a bear for one of those.  I was asked to design the cover for the regional music festival and drew a portrait of Beethoven.  In high school I was allowed to use the art room at lunch hour and was provided with oil paint and canvas boards.  The teachers bought my paintings.  I wanted to go to art school after high school, but went to Teacher’s college instead.  I was 19, and that was the last year that you could enter teacher's college without a university degree. Also, it was free.  I met Ned during that year, taught school two years, and then married him.
I've used my paintings (our four children gave me such a beautiful and meaningful subject) to explain to others how I came to think of my quilting as art.  Painting made me realize that I could communicate what it was like to be me.
" I am here.  I was here.  I made this.  I am alive."
When I was mothering those children my art was about that experience.  I loved being a mother.  I loved watching my children in sunlight.  I learned from them how to have fun. I painted that .
But my SELF, my true self,  is with a needle and thread in my hand.  

I make paintings (art) with my sewing.  I have not stopped.

"I am here. I live here. I have relationships. I observe and dream and think."

Images are of some preparations for the Perivale gallery season which begins May 22.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

fold lines and silk patchwork

women's vintage handkerchiefs, some cotton, some linen,  unfolded
My dear friend Connie gives me things when I visit her.
Over the winter she gave me a box of handkerchiefs.  Then she gave me another.
I pinned the hankies up to see if they would cover my design wall,
Yes, I think they will.

Then I noticed the beautiful folds.
The hills and valleys, the lines and creases.
Then I thought about how those lines came to be.
Laundry.
Washing, bleaching, ironing, folding carefully, ironing again and again.
Making small packets of empty heat and time.  Holding it secret.
No stitching other than the occasional monogram, which I believe was done in a factory.

I just wanted to make a note of this.  Of me noticing.
Martha Agry Vaughn Quilt 1805  Maine  silk patchwork
I have also been looking at this beauty.
It's giving me a path.
It is in the collection of the Winterthur Museum.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

moon cloth

 
I worked from the back of the cloth, cutting strips off the bottom and couching them in angles and circles.
The fabric became so energized with hand work and marks I could hardly hold it.
 
I was inspired by the rotation of the moon, female figurines from pre-history and the immensity of our raw and vulnerable inner selves.
  new work