INSPIRED BY MATERIALS

INSPIRED BY MATERIALS

 

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Ronald Reagan’s Egg, 1987        Lee Malerich, 2016

The making of a work of art involves searching in many ways:  searching your soul, your opinion, your surroundings.  And then organizing this information in the way it must be.  The best work takes advantage of an expressive shape, and sometimes moves it into a foreign context.  This is what I want to do.  Connect unlike things.  Connection is powerful; I watch my 22 month old grandson connect and sort and arrange often.  It is his work.

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Lots of materials are given to me.  Some I buy, but won’t pay too much.  It’s a game.  I always wanted to do this while still teaching, but never did.  Give each student the exact same group of materials, and have them put them together.  Set the compositions up in a gallery and view the relationships and connections between the finished works.  There, the artist exists.  In that indefinable space.

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My search for materials is always exciting.  It is with the odd inspirational shape that the pieces begin.  My windows are the canvas, only they have more than two dimensions.  See the blue legs above?  A great find from last Sunday.  Have to hold myself back from cutting in to them.  Must live with them for a while to make sure they end up in the correct piece.

Not many of the shapes in the works have I actually owned beyond as art materials.  The piece above, Ronald Reagan’s Egg 1987, contains an exception and a story.

 

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Ronald Reagan was in office at the time when he sent 249 other artists and me wooden eggs.  Five from each state.  We were to use the egg and work in our characteristic way to embellish it.  We were given two.  The exhibit was to accompany the annual egg roll which was celebrated each Monday after Easter on the White House lawn with children.

I was a stitcher at the time, and you can imagine my terror of having to do something with this surface.  Spray painting them both black first seemed to be a smart thing as a stitching frenzy began.

Ended up stitching on my typical surface, cutting the stitched part off the frame and gluing it in a certain area of the egg.  Then over and over again.  A satin-stitched egg.  Don’t even have a picture of the thing except in a flashy newspaper article done in “The State” on the five  artists in SC that contributed.  That was worth the trouble.

On a rampage through my studio for some elusive thing last week, I found the black egg that (laid) unused in a drawer.   A yellow sticker on the flat bottom read “1987”.  Raw material!

And an egg was currently a symbol/shape that I had been using, only the black egg was bigger.

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F. Scott, 2015

This piece featuring the wooden roadster sinking into a surface has two eggs in it: one representing East Egg from “The Great Gatsby” and one representing West Egg.  Just love it when the Universe provides the correct materials.

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LOUISE-MUSE

LOUISE-MUSE

Dear Louise, some of the pieces have more complicated bases and therefore are not as simple as those in the last post.

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Flood,  2015.  From the side, this piece looks fairly simple, and very different than most. It was created during the time of our recent thousand year rain in Columbia.

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Pushing the bases beyond any kind of norm is really fun.  So is using hardware in an unusual way.

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Male/Female,  2015

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In this piece shapes were composed on a plane to have enough diversity to anchor the window. Then the bookends were placed for added strength. Wooden figures found at the flea market populate it, a bent wood section of a chair encloses an alligator reaching for a shape at the top, while two croquet mallets without their heads frame.  The longest diagonal line is actually a hardened wooden vine from our woods.

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Above and below are two sides of a piece currently on exhibition (but to come back in ten days) for which I have forgotten the name.  It has a complicated base that contains the front two legs of a chair, plus the front seat base with holes for wicker.  A portion of that base with holes is also the crown of the piece.

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Confused, dear Louise?

JEEZ LOUISE

Some of the new work is more simple.  As always, more views of this work can be requested.

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Curveball, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

Worked a long time on this one.  Hoping less is more.  Spent time adding and subtracting, trying and rejecting.  I see this as if not one more or one less element should be included.  Haiku.  Maybe another view is in order here.

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The two curved parts which make up the base are from the same Captain’s chair.  Primary colors dominate.  The longer I have this piece the more understandable it is to me.  It sits outside of my usual composition.

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Animal Shadows, 2015   (still in an exhibition:  approx. same size as others; the crown makes it slightly taller)

Another thinly orchestrated piece.  The curvy loop is a metal tine from an old hayrake.  Perhaps influence from my husband’s work.  A bent wood chair leg makes up the crown.  Part of a find of an old wooden croquet set provides color here.  All gone now, it was a thrill to use those pieces that reminded me so much of my childhood.  Hardware from the window used in a different way fixes some shapes in place.

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Pattern, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

This piece is simple on one side, not so on the other.

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Had fun with the dremel tool making fake wood grain.  Another bent wood element is present here, along with a “chip” off my husbands old wooden scrub brush, repeating lines in a different way.

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Thinly Orchestrated, 2015    (on exhibition, similar size as others)

Fine contrasting colors of aqua and orange make up the base; most other elements are a washed gray.  The focus is a kind of crescent shape, repeated in different ways.

Lastly, dear Louise, an image of “Play” in situ.  Beautiful morning.

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FAVORITE TOOL?

FAVORITE TOOL?

Climbing and tripping my husband up on a little rise in the earth to attend the opening of the “Envisioning O’Keeffe” exhibition at Columbia College the other night, a friend questioned me about my favorite tools.  Gobsmacked, nothing came out of my mouth.

You know, she said.  When you were creating all your textiles, the needle was your favorite tool.  What is now?  Now that you are working differently?  I still had nothing to add to the conversation.

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The needle was certainly my friend when it came to applying stitches to this crazy quilt of a fabric base also created by a needle in the sewing machine.  It was a means by which a message came forth.  And once in a while a needle would last for years. I would notice that.  In the piece above, my notation says that “Film Noir” was the 39th piece done in 1998.  Whew.  If a needle survived a couple of years, that is a lot of stitching.  Then, it simply snapped, which always was a surprise:  What the hell?!

Not having my mind on the means, but only on the satisfactory end, tools do not mean much to me.  Would that I could snap my fingers and chair rail would merge with window edge.  When my husband and I were dating, he would talk about “faith in tools”.  He is ga-ga about tools.  Observing this in him, our contrast is great.

One of my girlfriends is much the like Glenn.  I have seen her work through a tiny tooled process when pruning shrubs  here with great interest:  How can that shuffle possibly make the slightest difference?

And then there are the “Car Talk” guys.  They celebrate an opportunity to buy a new tool.  Not me.  That just makes my overhead higher.

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Above is my piece for the “Envisioning O’keeffe” exhibition.  The piece, called “College Bound” tries to discuss what I know about Georgia O’keeffe’s brief history at the institution of Columbia College, as well as my own.  The best thing about my history there is that it got me here to South Carolina. That is huge.

This piece practically made itself, and required many tools.  Even a needle.  These shoes were worse for wear and yawned in the middles.  I made neat zig zag stitches to hold their sides together.  In the image below you can see the tiny tails at the middle of each shoe.

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Perhaps finding elements for a piece is the most pleasurable for me.  Broken scissors, a line of copper from the sash of a window with the nails still intact, antlers sacrificed from the house, a wooden spoon that cradles and contrasts with the line of the shoe:  this is what gets my blood racing.

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Above is the piece in situ.

Finally, after much thinking, I have an answer for my favorite tool.  Along with all the skills with wood I have learned from my husband, my answer is “gravity”.  Gravity is my favorite tool, and being cognizant of it makes lots of jobs much easier.

What is your favorite tool?