Wednesday, October 29, 2014

a safety net

I've been working on Aili's quilt.
I am making it as perfect as I can.
Saying this reminds me that Agnes Martin said something about perfection.

"In our minds, there is awareness of perfection; when we look with our eyes we see it, and how it functions is mysterious to us and unavailable. 
When we live our lives it's something like a race - our minds become concerned and covered over and we get depressed and have to get away for a holiday.
And then sometimes there are moments of perfection and in these moments we wonder why we ever thought life was difficult."   Agnes Martin
She goes on, speaking about seeking out those moments and trying to represent them in art, and that generally those 'moments of perfection'  allude us.
I believe in those moments, but they are not exactly what I wanted to say about this baby's quilt.
I want to say something about her innocence and perfectness - so fresh and young, unspoiled by the world.
And about the responsibility and blessing her little perfect self is for her young parents.
And what I, her grand mom, want to create for her.
A place where for just a few minutes, maybe as long as a nap, things do seem to be perfect.
Almost perfect
As perfect as I can manage.
And so I pick it apart.
Re-sewing almost every stitch.
I spent all day yesterday on it.
I will be spending months, a year of my life on it probably, so that she will have it.
She will have me, for the rest of her life.
This near-perfect log cabin will touch her across all that time.
A gift of caring.
An heirloom.
A safety net.

Monday, October 27, 2014

threads and the human body

Tongueflower  by April Martin,  burlap and rug-hooking cotton  2014

"I began with the notion of creating a large scale tongue that mapped lumpy taste buds.  The result is a floral/fungus shaped sculpture that oscillates between the abstract and the real.
The highly textured surface connects to the language of the body and simultaneously offers microcosmic and macrocosmic readings that allow for the stitches to be interpreted as accumulations of seeds or as landscapes."
Soreness II  by  Li Chai  polyester thread, fishing line, acupuncture needles, wire  2013

"According to traditional Chinese medicine, stagnation causes pain/soreness.  This soft sculpture of organic form is constructed to imitate an imaginary stagnated mass and explores the theme of soreness both physically and psycho-emotionally."

Play by Marianne Burlew  electrical wire, yarn, wax, rubber, concrete  2014

"I strive to create interactive sculptural and wearable works that explore the relationship between the built world and our bodies.
Beginning with the idea of weaving as the manifestation of humanity's basic need to build and create, I emphasize the commonality between crochet and architectural design by appropriating mathematical patterns and industrial materials into my work.
Through making studies that play with colour, surface, form, patterns and stitch types are accumulated.  These experiments represent an effort to create objects that instigate physical responses between audiences and the materials of a space."

Ned and I went to the Fiberworks biennial at Cambridge Idea Exchange last week.  While I always try to see this juried exhibition, this time was special because our daughter April had a piece (top photos) included.  April is currently working on her MFA in sculpture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and uses all kinds of materials to make her conceptual pieces.  

Also included in this post are works by two other artists in the exhibition who work with thread-like materials to make three dimensional objects that reference the body. The text in the post is from the artists' own statements and I was given permission by the gallery to photograph the work.

Fiberworks remains up until November 2.

Friday, October 24, 2014


We installed Not To Know But To Go On at the World of Threads Festival venue in Oakville Ontario this week.
This is the first time it has been hung from a ceiling.  A high ceiling.  The Festival booked us time with Dan, the gallery's certified operator of the scissor lift.
 It's so nice for me to experience the piece installed.  Much different than what is possible in my home studio.
In previous installations (example here) the 220 foot piece was wrapped around a rod suspended out from the wall.  This new installation is simpler - a little more casual perhaps. 
We also installed three of the four Manitoulin Circle Project panels.  I hope that the fourth panel will also go up.  We left it with the curators to decide. 
The World of Threads Festival opens on November 1 and remains open for the entire month of November.  Further information is in the sidebar of this blog.

Before we left, I was able to glimpse some of the other work being installed and was very much impressed and inspired.  The work is innovative and there is a lot of it. There is nothing quite like seeing textile art in person as photos can not do this tactile medium enough justice.  I really do encourage you to try to go if you are close enough.

I'll write more about some of the other artists represented once the show opens.

Monday, October 20, 2014

little gatherings

How does making help us develop thinking?
How does re-making help us develop re-thinking?
These little bundles started out over 3 years ago.  See here.
Each contains four hemlock twigs.  There are more of them than I thought.  That's nice.
Each bundle is wrapped five times.  
dyed cloth
embroidery threads
wool yarn
red cotton thread 
They seem to have reached a resting place. 
Maybe they are finished.
Maybe they will continue to evolve.

Like me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

key note

I take my work seriously.
I take it everywhere. When the kids were little I took it to playgrounds and ballet rehearsals.
Now I take it to doctor appointments and on air plane trips.  People ask me "what are you making?"
That is a difficult question for me and I answer very carefully.
Sometimes I avoid giving an answer.
Because the what is not as important to me as the fact that I am making.
I am a moving thread.
I am in the process of becoming.
But that is hard to explain.
We are here to begin a fibre festival.  We have come to this northern ontario town at this period of time to be with other people who get it.  Who understand how much we love to do it. We love to stitch, weave, spin, dye, felt..all these things.  We love the process.

Remember what the key is.  Fibre.
And what the note is.  The process itself.


(this post is a hint of the key note address I will be giving this coming Friday evening during the opening ceremony of the Espanola fibre festival.  The Manitoulin Circle Project will be on display, still room in some of the great workshops here)(wish you could all come)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

cloud of time

cloud of time 2014 Judith e Martin  365 days marked with stitch
Time is a gift
Time is a whirl
time is a zone
one day = one complete skein of cotton floss used up
time is spent
time is marked
                                                  we are so small in the big picture
                                                                  time is memories
time is the most valuable thing we can spend

Friday, October 03, 2014

Yin Yin

Yin Yin side a detail Judith e Martin 2014

The title of this piece refers to the philosophy of yin and yang.  
If yang is fast, yin is slow.  If yang is sun, yin is moon. 
Yang is my outer self, while yin is my inner.

The photo above shows the first side of this small piece.  
The raw tactility of the wrong side of reverse appliqué dots is emphasized.
I consider them metaphors for our interesting, vulnerable inner selves.
Yin Yin side b  Judith e Martin 2014
The back of the piece, 
usually against the wall,
is marked with the right side of those very same dots.   

This work explores the idea of inner self.
Humans have two sides, public and private.
With two 'wrong' sides this piece represents private and private.  

Included in Visions: The Sky's the Limit opening today in San Diego, California.

It's quite small, only 27" x 36"
Hand stitched with red button thread.
Full views of both sides are here