Odd Sides of Work

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.

And simple.

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.

Duck 2019
22″ x 17″ x 9″

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.

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Basting Stitches

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 1 2019
24″ x 33″ x 15″

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.

Basting Stitches 1 2019

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.

Basting Stitches 2 2019
24″ x 32″ x 13″

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.

Basting Stitches 2

And on this side of the chair, I manipulated my table sander to create repeated marks.

Basting Stitches 3 2019
23″ x 33″ x 12″

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.

Basting Stitches 3

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!

“Pose” is going to Maryland

“Pose” 2019
33″ x 15″ x 15″

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.

Spoiled

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.

Contrapposto 2019
28″ x 18″ x 11″

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.

Caryatid 2019
24″ x 20″ x 17″

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.

Wound 2019
21″ x 17″ x 14″

Chair aprons usually have a series of parallel lines across them, as in above.

See the gentle “S” curve?

Upcoming Exhibitions

“Vertabrae” has been chosen for an exhibition in Fayetteville, NC. It’s name is “Reclaimed!” and work must be made from waste and have had another job in its life. Waste Management, of course, is a sponsor of this event.

The exhibition will be held at The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County from June 28 through August 17, 2019.

“Domestic” will be shown at the Virginia Beach Art Center from July 5 through August 11, 2019. “Fusion Mid-Atlantic” is the name of the exhibition and work must combine two or more mediums. Aluminum is the second medium here.

An aluminum armrest from a 1960’s folding outdoor chair is included as well as a spiral from a screen door, which is on the other side of the piece.

“Solo” is going to Virginia Beach as well.

Studio walk-through

Chairs rise up on the path to the back of the barn. Stacked upon themselves at about the height of eight feet, I keep hoarding old chairs, more than I should, for fear the free ones will vanish.

Glenn’s collection of bicycles is a nice addition. Stalactites and stalagmites.

I have so much raw material there is no room to store the art product. But the chairs are so perfect for me; they have been rained on and elements of the chairs that are made of multiple pieces of wood kind of crack apart into beautiful detail.

See how the upright leg on the left has lost about a quarter of itself? Failed glue. A part of the leg stripped away leaving a clean cut. I couldn’t have created this myself. I needed years of rain. Same is true for the foot of the chair. Part of it has been sheared off because of failed glue. I save these parts to use in other pieces.

It would be very close in the studio if I couldn’t open a door to the outside. Hummingbirds fly in. A possum ran in one late evening. The studio is the best place to be.

On my workbench sits “Whole”.

“Whole” 2019

Lean In, Y’all

Lean In 2019
30″ x 19″ x 15″

We all remember this title from the book by Sheryl Sandburg. The term means to grab opportunities without hesitation.

Not bad advice really, but one has to wonder as Facebook defends mountains of questionable decisions. Every action has a reaction as this chair displays in seeking equilibrium.

Advances in one part of your life will require changes in another. That’s not to say that it doesn’t create a more interesting composition.

But you still have to be able to stand.

Domestic

Domestic 2019
38″ x 19″ x 13″

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.

Creating Light

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.

A Path of Development in One artist’s work

Work develops and hopefully matures. Throughout the years, I have benefited from comparing one art image against the next. To put them in chronological order and see what remains constant and what changes.

When working in narrative embroidery, I had to make a chronological document for some now unknown reason. I laid all my slides out in order and viewed graduate school, college teaching, having babies, understanding responsibility, understanding marriage, and dealing with cancer, among other things. When the visual chronology was finished, I sat on the floor of my studio and cried. There it all was, 40 years.

So now embarking on a new style of work, one that has been in existence for only a year (not counting all the crap I made learning to work with wood), it is easy to see development. That is what I aim to do here.

The chair above, “Pussies” takes the shape of a formal chair but one that employs the combination of parts from many chairs. Its title refers to the Women’s March in 2017 and the demeanor of the 2016 campaign. This chair could be drawn to a table, but nobody would be able to sit in it, also tagging a continuing problem for women.

(The chair below, “Dreamgirl”, just won the prize for sculpture in a national exhibition.)

After came chairs where the fourth corner disappeared and I was interested in defining one outside plane of the chair with objects and shapes. A kind of defensive armor, possibly. I wanted to employ the most diverse collections of shapes possible but stay this side of chaos (this idea played a big part in my narrative embroideries).

For a while, I left more of the original chair intact. With that done, the viewer can focus on what it not normal about the chair. This chair, called “Protect Yourself”, employs diamond shapes around the composition as armour. Two half spindles on the seat try to imply an invisible plane by stopping at the same point.

“Mamah” utilizes almost as much of a ladder-back chair as
Protect Yourself”. Ideas tend to come in groups like this until they aren’t fun anymore.

In “Vertebrae” above, the amount of chair parts to create the composition is less than before. The pieces are simpler. And they refer to parts of the body further carrying on the comparison between women’s bodies and chairs. In the below two images, “Fallopian”, the title names the familiar curve in the major shape in the piece.