I am an artist and former college instructor who has found a way to make art and furnish my life using things others have thrown out. I am also a runner, a gardener, a reader, a cat lover, and have recycled my life in large and small ways.
My work is being exhibited in Spartanburg, SC now until February 29, 2020. The opening is January 16, 6-9 PM during the Thursday night Artwalk at the Venue Gallery 578 West Main St. The work will remain there for the February Artwalk as well. http://email@example.com
Disguise is the earliest chair in the group, and the one with the most color.
This piece was shown last summer at Peter’s Valley School of Craft in an exhibition called “Domestic Matters: The Uncommon Apron” and was curated by Gail Brown.
In this piece there are two separate elements which can be placed against one another in many ways.
A caryatid is a female sculpture on a Greek Temple. A draped figure, they are usually located under the roof line and look as though they support the building.
With this piece I started experimenting with acrylic paint to increase contrast.
As I said in an earlier post, this piece was a “burp” meaning it is much different than the pieces created before and after it.
The next three pieces are meant to be shown together. It was impossible for me to photograph them that way. I hope to be able to do so at the opening. My husband made a platform for them out of tongue and groove wood.
In an earlier post, I said that I never paint. Lately, making a liar out of myself, I find that painting can do the same job in a work of art as sanding. It can change the value of a wooden element and help establish it in space with reference to the rest of the piece. For instance, on the tallest element in this piece, painting black the sanded areas that once were “wood” color, unifies that element as the furthest from the viewer. It is more comfortably established in space.
Above is an element from another piece which shows the contrast the element discussed once had. With its high contrast, it is bolder and therefore attracts the eye. It would not be a good team player.
Referring to the first image again, the black paint and dark stain applied to the chair caning behind the crutch pushes the crutch visually forward from the apron of the chair.
In a similar (but different) fashion, the medium brown elements here establish a relationship. They are dissimilar in shape, but united by their color, and therefore they seem natural together. Unified.
The thing about sculpture is, this evaluation has to work from many different angles. These things are meant to be viewed “in the round” meaning from all sides.
From this position, we see very dark elements link up. The inside of the “bite” taken out of the tallest element, to the horizontal line under the apron of the chair, to the line of dark dots along the part of the wooden crutch. Even the fasteners used, the pull from an old window and the mirror pivot from a vanity are dark. So is the slot along the inside of the tall element. These darks all relate to each other and justify themselves.
Another source of organization in this piece is the use of the circle and half-circle. Strangely, this use of circles actually started with the renovation of our kitchen! I found a bunch of wooden bowls, crude and rejected starts made by a woodworker and bought them at a flea market. I put them in a kitchen cabinet, and they proceeded to live there more than ten years forgotten. In tearing up the kitchen for a re-do there they were.
And this is so MY way of working: always stimulated by the new “find”. I cut one of the bowls in half and used them to mirror the circular “bites” taken out of the tall element, and the line of small circles in the crutch.
Every composition has many such evaluations made by the artist as the sculpture comes together. There ARE basic rules for the artist, but the thing about Art is that you can break all the rules and come up with something even better. That is why we are all crazy.
They are forced to trade sex for a subsistence living of buying fish in small quantities, every day, to clean and sell that day to feed their family.
Imagine that routine. They confided one day to a Peace Corps worker, and he started a movement that ended up with their getting a grant for some fishing boats of their own.
They were very strong verbally about the change that this purchase would make in their lives. They named the boats “No Sex for Fish”.
Tell me how you REALLY feel! If you read the article in the link above, you will know that total success in sex-free fish was not at first achieved. A business is difficult to build. Miracles do not happen. But the idea still moves forward.
I sent my daughter to Nairobi for a summer when she was ten or eleven, with a friend and her family. This kind of interaction should not comprise your total image of Kenya or Lake Victoria. My daughter had an employee of the family take care of her things as they moved between the Nairobi house and the house on the coffee plantation.
We are all so different in our cultures, but some things are just beyond the pale. Women everywhere are rebuilding their compositions to deal with their experiences.
Sometimes my work leans oddly. The sculptures are stable on the pedestal, but feature a relationship to gravity that we notice. The stance is unsettling. Such is the case with the piece above.
A piece might lean due to the way the first two connecting surfaces are glued and screwed together. To get a good fit the two pieces might have to connect in a strange way, and this joint dictates the rest of the joints.
It is then that gravity comes into play. The piece must stand; one cannot deny gravity so it is my partner in the rest of the composition. When we look at this work, we sense whether gravity is confirmed or denied.
Physically, if the piece stands, then it is true to gravity.
Another feature contributing also to the unsettling stance is value.
Above is the front of “Curtsy”, photographed dead on so the textural element seen in the first image is missing. Reading a book in about 1981 when I was a young instructor at Columbia College, I had no idea that the discussions from that book would play such a part in my work. I did not record the name of the book, or the author. All I remember is that he taught at Yale. His theories have ruled my work all these years, whether 2-D or 3-D.
As anyone who has ever taken an art appreciation class knows that colors and values have visual weight. Dark things seem heavier than light things. That is the expectation due to the rules of our physical world. Therefore, if you are looking for a stable and understandable composition, place the dark areas near the bottom.
If you want drama or tension, deny this notion as to how we view the world, and place them at the top.
So I am thrilled at the comments received from my most recent post (scroll down for that one). A conversation started. I was confused; an artist in need of a critique. This is not at all unusual.
When out in the studio last night, thinking about what I had written and looking at the simple piece about which I had written (belatedly I realized was made of FIVE chair parts instead of the FOUR stated in the former post), it occurred to me that my problem was in the process of being solved.
And why? Because I had written about it.
Writing that post yesterday, describing my problem was the first step towards solving it. It brought to mind something I used to know. When teaching at Coker College in Hartsville, SC, years ago, an educator was brought in to conduct a workshop. He was well-known, and his focus was writing for classes, no matter what discipline was being taught.
I can remember this example very well. When this man was in the classroom, he taught math. And he always maintained a question box in the room as one way students could communicate with him and ask questions. He cited one example where the student, writing his question, answered it for himself within the body of the question. He posed the question and said in real time, “oh, now I get it”, and then went on to something else. It was the writing of the question that got the problem installed in another part of his brain, and it was then dealt with in another way and answered.
This was the basis of his support of writing enhancing understanding. In writing the post yesterday, asking the question of how a very simple “calligraphic” piece might end up a winner, I got my answer when in the studio last night.
The answer was to enhance the surfaces of the simple construction. Thanks, y’all for letting me write!
I used to say that sometimes a work of Art will be born as a burp, and that meant that it had no place in the spectrum of my current work. These works of Art are too different from ones that came before or after them. A wild child. Projectile vomiting.
When making art with stitches years ago (as seen in the insert on my masthead), I lusted over simple, calligraphic work. It seemed my stitched work was way overdone, and the truth was that each piece took FOREVER to create.
In “Shield” above we see where my work is currently. I am heading towards making a piece that might be described as calligraphic. But not quite yet. There is detail in the piece that might not need to be included. Currently on my workbench is a piece with just four parts of a chair, reworked. If that chair finishes as a winner, maybe the c term can be used.
And that’s how artists work; on a continuum. You make a piece, finish it, and then ask “What if?” For me, the process goes—ooh, I like that part, what if I can make it do this in the next piece? But do it better?
And also I like to think of a piece of work as a poem. Nothing unnecessary is used. The form is stated in its essence.
Above is the back of “Shield”. It is quite different from the first side. I like that to happen too, and as I sit and write this, it occurs to me that if my work were to get more calligraphic, there would be less of the contrast of two or more sides going on in the piece. Hmmmm.
So here is my burp. What the hell am I doing? Is this lush or what? I like the repeat of the swirly shapes, I love the aluminum screen porch door elements. But there is a lot going on here.
This is not like a poem. It is like an orchestra. It satisfies my textile sensibility only in wood. But should I want a textile sensibility in wood and aluminum?
I may have sacrificed it in a monsoon of working my visual voice lately.
This piece has been invited to Eastern Kentucky University for an exhibition called “The Chautauqua National Juried Exhibition: Balance and Resilience”. It takes place in January and February of next year.
This show was right down my alley as my rebuilt women are continually doing so, navigating a culture that can be tough for them.
My woman-chairs have become triangular of late.
I was listening to one of my favorite NPR music programs a while ago, “Mountain Stage”. A person unfamiliar to me belted out this song, “Put a Woman in Charge”. I live in that world! Looked it up and Roseann Cash wrote it. I am crediting Roseann Cash for this inspiration. Thankyew.
In place of one leg of a chair, there is a baseball bat. That’s a tool some women use. The “crown” at the top of the piece is actually part of the apron of a table, not a chair. But close.
I started working with wicker on this chair and am loving its ease and its texture.
There is just so much great trash. It overwhelms me.
So this is fun. It is my responsibility to photograph my work and present it in the most readable way; the most correct couple of images in two dimensions that represent a three dimensional composition.
I photograph the pieces in 360 degrees. Therefore some images taken are valid images of the work, but really don’t represent the concept of the piece, or really what it looks like in space.
If you were in a gallery viewing this piece, you would adjust yourself to get a better view of it, knowing that this view does not depict how wide the piece really is.
But they are real representations of the work. Just deceptive.
This is “Birthing Chair”. Abstracted and simplified when viewed from this angle.
This is an odd side of a piece called “Duck”. The name is meant to be a double entendre. The upper right white piece in the composition is an actual cut-out of a duck.
Although this is a better representation of the piece, it still is not truthful. The part between the two leg forms, on the far side, moves, addressing the other meaning of “duck”. As in defending oneself.
I had eight of these chairs. Above is their bone structure and from them have come a group of four sculptures and a group of three, with two sections made from each chair. These are really good chairs and well-used. Think patina. Look at the two white circles at the lower front of the chair apron. Nesting bugs are inside. Before working, I have to drill their little (asses) out.
Basting Stitches as a term is something a textile worker would use. They are meant to be temporary and hold several layers of fabric together until the permanent fix is applied. Basting Stitches is a good descriptor for the concept of a woman reorganizing herself in order to keep moving forward.
Above, I have taken my chair apart and selected the “bones” that I want to repeat in each section of the piece. Then, structure is invented to allow the bones to stand, and composition created to fill the negative space in a pleasing way.
Most but not all additional elements are from other chairs. The loopy wire element was recovered from a chair seat. In all three parts of this piece, I have taken a Dremel tool and carved repeated chunks to various parts which look like basting stitches to me.
You can see that I have attached an aluminum name plate to the upper right. In a fit of frenzy and ego with my Dremel tool, I have also scrawled my name across the inner shoulder of the chair. Look below.
My name and the year 2019 are written in the center of the upper part of this section, along with other sandings which create a lighter value around the bored circle. On this side of the piece, the marks the table saw left on the wood when it was cut have been saved for visual texture.
And on this side of the chair, I manipulated my table sander to create repeated marks.
This section features a piece of an aluminum door that was recovered from dumpster diving years ago. I adore aluminum and use it whenever possible. I used my Dremel again on the aluminum to make it sparkle. On all three sections of the piece there is a “rope” element recovered from a side table. I have sanded it on each section to be light at the top moving to dark at the bottom.
The idea of gravity leads me in the evaluation of what should be light and what should be dark in a composition. Dark elements are heavier visually and we want to see them lower in the composition because we are aware of the concept of gravity. This is a general rule for me, but there is no rigidity in visual art, and often the opposite idea works and that’s just the way it is!
This piece was juried into the 20th annual Will’s Creek Exhibition in Cumberland Maryland.
This exhibition is to be held at the Saville and Schwab Galleries in downtown Cumberland, Maryland. The juror is Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, and Chair of the Maryland State Arts Council.
The opening reception is to be September 21, with the juror speaking about the work from 5:15 to 6 PM. The show is up until October 5, 2019.