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.
I got ahold of a chair that had curvy aprons. Usually straight aprons form the heart of my sculptures. We were out running errands and passed a long, triangular collection of old furniture used to living outdoors. We always stop for places like this. I was immediately impressed. Robin, the businesswoman, said she would take a donation for the stuff I wanted. Stuff she didn’t have a chance in hell to sell to anyone else.
The first thing I picked up was the scroll work diagonally across the upper middle of this piece. It was bigger than this chunk, it was gorgeous and came from what was a very good chair at birth.
Later we found the chair off of which the scroll work fell. That chair had curvy aprons on three sides.
That’s the thing about wooden things living out in the weather. Most of the tough separation work has been done for you. The chairs are falling apart and it’s just perfect. The three major shapes in this piece were found that day.
Contrapposto is a Greek word referring to the way a human figure stands as we handle the weight of our body most efficiently. We stick out a hip and bend the opposite leg. The Greeks knew about this, and then the information was lost in the Early Christian world. The Renaissance rediscovered the phenomenon, and is one of the many reasons we call the Renaissance masters “Humanist”. Thinkers were observing nature now, as well as thinking about Christianity. You can see it readily in the art from the period.
Guess I am going through a Greek stage in my art making. A “caryatid” is a female figure which is carved into or applied to Greek architecture. I see the diagonal shape at the lower right as a caryatid. The chair leg at the left looks like a simple Ionic (there I go again) column to me.
At the top, there is more of that fancy scroll work used in the first example.
Back to my spoilage. Having started this discussion about aprons, curvy ones, let me post some “casual” photos. My friend the Art Curator gave me this term. It means photos taken by me in an ordinary atmosphere. Ones that give people who are knowledgeable about what they are looking at can still see the thing given all the background interference.
I want you to see the curvy aprons that have so excited my work and me.
Chair aprons usually have a series of parallel lines across them, as in above.
I am experimenting with sculpture that has more than one part and that can be assembled in different compositions. Look at the differences between the image above and the succeeding compositions of the two chairs.
Above is one part of the Symbiosis composition. Notice the compelling subtle curve at the left? The bottom of the line is part of a wooden crutch.
And here is the other.
I am part of a group of four who have been accepted to show at the Spartanburg Museum of Art in January 2020. I am hoping to show this piece and another that has four parts. The one that has four parts is too large for me to photograph.
Aprons, wooden spoons, metal scrub brushes all point to getting domestic in my work.
Not that this chair is any kind of self-portrait. Experiencing quite the opposite as former priorities are reshuffled to have more time to work on art, the houses and gardens are suffering. My fault.
The back of this piece features the armrest of a folding aluminum chair; the kind everyone used to have in the sixties. The front of the piece has a part of an old aluminum screen door from the same era. I love aluminum, but that is another story.
When about twelve, I asked my parents if I could wear nylons. This was back in the Dark Ages. In truth, I had been wearing them under white socks which were removed once we got on the bus. Did the same thing with mascara. I wore it and then asked if I could, and they said no.
Don’t remember how the mascara issue came out, but I do remember what my dad said about the nylons.
He said, “Young girls have legs like garden hoses! You don’t need nylons.” Try to imagine these kinds of conversations now. As it turned out, never was much of a nylon-wearer. I liked black tights. So did my sister. She put them on her head and swaggered around like she had long hair.
So here in my visual conversation about women reorganizing their compositions with respect to experience, is my tribute to girls with legs like garden hoses.
Two of the legs above are really just half of a leg. Two parts of the same leg. The third is bent at a severe angle requiring a spacer element to keep the leg from buckling.
My husband insists these sculptures should have bases. I do not agree. A solid base would interfere with the tension I claim as we women maintain our posture.
I am not finished with my visual discussion of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Just having done a piece called “Flying Buttresses” which illustrates one of the most important features of a gothic cathedral, the work now takes a broader look.
Pinnacles, towers, and even a rose window are included in this sort of cubist image of Our Lady. And of course, Our Lady is made from parts from different chairs which is my current visual language. And the topic is a woman. Perfect for me.
The weight transfer of buttressing is suggested here as well.
Above is the second side of the piece. I have found a way to make marks with my sanding machine which enhance the surface of the piece. Old paint remains on parts of the three spindles incorporated from three different chairs.
I was having great fun using the sanding wheel on my husband’s table saw. It was a stretch for me to get small pieces of wood in the right place. I couldn’t plant my feet correctly and often slipped, sanding parts of my fingers. A different sanding machine was delivered yesterday.
Now we have a device just for sanding where one can stand right in front of it and use it safely. Worth the money.
An “apron” or “skirt” can be associated with both a woman or a chair. It is the portion of the chair immediately below the seat. It supports the seat, adds character to the chair and hides the mechanical parts. It is a garment that a woman can use to hide the body (the skirt), and a garment that is protecting the garment that is hiding the body (the apron). This is all very complicated!
The design of chairs of course relates closely to the human body. Their design is because of our design. A woman at the height of the 1950s sits in a chair, her skirt and her apron cover the skirt/apron of that chair. Her role for the moment might be inferred by which apron she is wearing; her kitchen apron or her hostess apron.
Lucky for me. I modify real chairs in composition to reveal how women reorganize themselves as a result of various life experiences. These new compositions reflect a shoring up after a woman has lost a bit of herself. Think of scar tissue.
We have all suffered over the loss of part of the Notre Dame Cathedral. I wonder how we are able to process the seemingly unending bad events to which we wake up each morning.
What helps me is speaking about the events in my work. And knitting, which is another story.
Since buttressing is an engineering way to handle the immense weight of a Gothic cathedral, and transfer that weight safely to the ground, the idea fits nicely into my overall theme of women taking steps in their composition to remain upright. Buttressing is a good word for a bit of reorganizing.
The central curve of the buttress reaches out to a vertical element to transfer the weight from above. It was fairly recently discovered that sculptures were added to the top of the vertical element to aid in that weight transfer. Accordingly, I added my own extra weight.
I recently wrote a new statement about the goals of my work. It also includes references to how these Uneasy Chairs are made:
These chairs, symbolizing women, are created to the strictest of manufacturing goals. They feature elements uncommon to the woodworking industry. Tools with which you might be familiar are used in unusual ways.You might see a screw head. You might see wood filler used to point out a joint rather than hiding it. You will definitely see sanding marks.
Just as I had to, long ago in Girl Scouts, throw my bedroll three times to check the half-hitches (if they stayed intact, we passed), this piece has fallen off my workbench, revealed injustices and then been fortified. It has my seal of approval.
My voice in this woodworking parallels the content of the work. Mistakes have been made. Substitutions have been employed. Elements have been adapted and cross trained. These facts are responsible for every innovation of the composition which strays from the time honored shape of a chair. If women can dance backwards in three inch heels, we can change our compositions to maintain the status quo after bad experiences. We have our backs.
A visiting artist came to Coker College when I was teaching there. A painter, she discussed the concept of “creating light” in her paintings. I knew well what she was doing as I did the same things in my embroidered work. She used complementary colors against each other in parts of the painting, and modulated each against the other as they rose to a dramatic peak, and then calmed, making the dramatic detail a brilliant contrast to the rest of the work. It could be said that yes, she created light in that certain area.
I first found this in my work in undergraduate school, knew that it was something special, but did not know at that time how I created it.
Here is an example of “creating light” in a mosaic I did a few years ago. This piece is on a cement patio, is about 3″ x 7′. Notice the chevron shapes in the middle of the composition. These shapes alternate in dark blue and dark gold at the bottom and end up far lighter at the top of the composition. This is how I created color or value gradation, making the feeling of light. In this medium, broken tile, there will be an element assuring that the phenomenon is not nearly as brilliant as it can be in painting. The grout, which is applied after all the tile work is finished, minimizes everything because it surrounds each tile in the totality of the composition. Grout is kind of a unifier and creating light depends upon using colors as different from each other as possible.
Notice the real light at the left of the composition. Learning from this example, you can also create light in a composition by employing a lighter value of the same color in specific places.
That is the case in “Fallopian”. below.
And “Extra Limb”.
“Just Bones” concentrates lighter areas to one side of the composition.