long arms vs. my arms which are also long…

October 15th, 2016
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detail stitching, no 15

For most of the time that I have been working on this series of 25 large pieces, I have been ruminating about my machine. I actually have three at present. I have a Pfussy Pfaff workhorse which does great free-motion stitch, I have a Janome 3000 for when the workhouse is in the shop and I have a Baby Lock serger that threads itself.

Yet everytime I stitch large work I get into a tug of war with the small apron on the workhorse through which¬†passes¬†a lot of fabric. Last time I took Pfussy in for service I was seduced by a mid-arm placed strategically by the door. Oooh, aaah I thought, for a mere $6K I could stop fighting with Pfussy and acquire this dream machine with its three foot table and my life would be perfect! And hey it is a lot cheaper than a long arm machine, I rationalized. I didn’t buy it, but I have given it a lot of thought.

The long arm, for example, would take up a lot of real estate but I could put it in the basement, as in out of sight, out of mind; which of course would mean standing on that cold hard concrete floor to stitch. Ok, a rug would fix that but must I stand to stitch, really? The mid-arm would allow me to sit but where would I put it?

There is nary three square feet of space available in my studio, let alone for me to pull up a chair and sit next to it. I suppose I could put it in the living room but then would have to move it for entertaining, or I could also put it in the basement, but then would have to put in better lighting to use it there. And so it goes.

This weekend is PIQF, the big Mancuso quilt show in Santa Clara, which is a perfect chance to see all my¬†choices front and center, to tear and compare. And yet¬†I decided to stay home and stitch #15 on Pfussy.¬†Apparently I don’t want one bad enough!

Today I encountered even more challenges¬†such as the machine and slanted board on which it sits, hitchhiking near the table’s edge; the dog having a¬†corner of the quilt in her mouth thinking this was a game and my ongoing covet of the slick pulley system to lift the quilt’s weight, for which I put in my order to the honey-do list at least 3 months ago. I trudged on. I fretted about my curved stitching on this manly piece. I envisioned my¬†conversation¬†at the hardware store asking in clear mud for just the part I need…I need one of those do-hickeys that cord wraps around in a figure eight. And I need a thin mat of rubber, like those round jar openers that realtors sent out twenty years ago, to put under my machine so it doesn’t walk. Huh?

Why am I procrastinating on buying a machine¬†&¬†table that will greatly enhance the quality of my life as textile artist? The real reason is I don’t know how much longer I will be doing this type of work. My brain is overflowing with ideas of work to do after this series but I don’t know how they will manifest so I don’t feel like investing in major equipment that I may or may not be using for another decade.

Or in plain English decluttering has taken possession of my brain.

great news…

September 26th, 2016
detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

Apparently I did not blog post earlier about this piece and now I have very wonderful news. The Cliff Notes version is Defining Moments 12: No Means NO has been juried into the biennial Quilt National 2017.

With just 11% of the entries chosen for the 2017 exhibit it is a highly competitive process to have one’s work accepted. I have entered other years and my work never¬†made the cut. The last time I entered was 2009 as knee replacements stole my attention after that. This year I entered just the one piece as I¬†felt it conveyed¬†a very important message as well as good crafts(wo)manship. Traditionally the rules have disallowed online publication of said work before the exhibit opens, so the piece is not on my website nor have I posted it in total anywhere. But I will give you a taste, a detail of the hand-stitching which made this work so remarkable.

The design¬†evolved¬†when the Stanford swimmer got such a lenient sentence for his sexual assault on campus. His ‘victim’ wrote a very profound letter which stirred my repressed feelings about my own campus rape over¬†50 years ago. I got really angry, and I felt shame (for not reporting it). I¬†was just about to¬†commit to fight for social justice for women on college campuses nationwide when¬†I realized I hate being an activist! I’d rather make art. So make art I did. I made a new #12, squeezing it between two previous pieces in the series.

I screen printed my own story to white cotton, slashed to represent the shattering of my sense of personal safety and trust, and then hand-stitched like crazy. As I neared the bottom of the piece my stitching became much more intense and deliberate. Afterwards I realized that was old emotion leaking though.

There has been some rumbling on social media from artists whose work was declined. Some say no one wants to see narrative work, no one wants to be told a story. They want to see only beautiful quilts, work they would love to hang in their home. To these artists I say three things.

One, everyone is different. If we were all the same and made all the same work, how bloody boring would that be? Secondly, while I appreciate a beautiful quality piece suitable for the living room as much as the next person, I feel storytelling/narrative work also has a place. It takes great courage to excavate these old stories but in doing so¬†we give others permission to think about and tell their own…and everyone has a story! This work starts conversation. Just think what a different world we would live in if more people felt permission to speak their truth instead of bury it in addiction or aggression. And finally,¬†it is simply¬†good¬†karma to be happy for your colleagues’ success.

 

lessons learned…

September 17th, 2016
sunset on Norwegian sea

sunset on Norwegian sea

In my last post I eluded to being away from the computer for awhile…We made a trek to Norway to cruise the coast and see the fjords, which has been a long time dream of hubs. Originally we were to go in May but had to postpone the trip to fall¬†so we¬†chose these particular dates to get the best of the autumnal colors, but alas we were about a week early, and saw maybe 2-3 orange shrubs in over 5000 miles of sailing.

We also saw lots of clouds, fog and rain. In 12 days at sea, there were two half days of glorious sunshine, and surprisingly one of those was at the very far north of the planet in Kirkenes. The fjords though were fabulous! It was astonishing to me how so many people made their homes on this hardscrabble land.

We cruised on a Hurtigruten cargo ship. They sail daily out of Bergen and in addition to cargo, there is a car deck, 200+/-passenger cabins. three restaurants, a bar/lounge and laundry & excursions. I can heartily recommend this line for the same cruise as the luxe ships for half the price.

how would you like your salmon today, m'am?

how would you like your salmon today, m’am?

While the cabin was built for munchkins the food was out of this world. The first night in¬†conversation with my ‘personal server’ about my food allergies I jokingly said¬†I love salmon so much I could eat it everyday. Well, careful what you ask for! I ate smoked salmon, gravlax and poached salmon with fingerling potatoes twice a day for most of 12 days. Actually I began to skip lunch and just eat a handful of trail mix I had brought with me, to avoid the fish!¬†I had to laugh on the return flight from Oslo on wonderful Norwegian Air when¬†I was served poached salmon and fingerling potatoes! I did eat however way more than I should have of fabulous desserts and yet still managed to lose weight on this trip by skipping¬†lunch.

best desserts i have ever eaten...and not super sweet!

best desserts i have ever eaten…

I learned so much on this trip. I love it how sometimes it takes relocation for the message to get through, and while it took several incidents to come across; it finally came through loud and clear. An aggressive chap from Down Under peppering me with unwanted attention and sexual innuendos, a stumble on a levitating floor mat, a nasty head cold and finally my trick knee making an appearance all appeared as clues in my telegram from the Universe.

When I could no longer walk without assistance, we changed our plans to go from Bergen to Oslo by train, stayed two extra days in beautiful Bergen and flew home from there. I spent the final two days of the trip, hotel bound in a huge spacious room with natural light, hand-stitching. I also tweaked a lot of photos with apps which is endlessly entertaining. It was pure bliss for me while hubs traipsed through six museums in the two days, which would have bored me out of my gourd. Everyone was happy!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

So what did I learn? I learned that after four cruising trips (Mexico, Lake Powell, the Seine in France and this one) that I really HATE sitting and staring out the window at life at 9 knots per hour!

I learned that as much as I love world travel, I am retiring my passport. I may go to Canada but that is it. There is nothing worse than having the body fail in a foreign country. Never say never, but with us both having health & aging issues, I am just not up for the long haul game anymore. Ironically in having this discussion with peers, many are hanging up the passport! It is a sad decision and yet to reinforce it I made a list. I have been to 46 of the 50 states and 17 countries; four of those more than once! How blessed am I.

I was reminded how often I am embarrassed to be an American abroad. To be away from all the election noise for two weeks, to hear no mention of either idiot running for office for two entire weeks was absolute bliss. To visit a country inhabited by adults and not childish pettiness, self-absorption, celebrity worship, media manipulation is so completely refreshing. Sure most people here are good but that is certainly not the image we project abroad. It is just embarrassing.

I got my final lesson on the trip home. In the airport in Bergen there was another woman in a wheelchair. We discovered we lived 10 miles apart and were headed home on the same flight out of Oslo. It turned out we “knew’ each other from past lives in fiber¬†and¬†knew many of the same people. She had been visiting a friend in Norway who she had visited¬†several times before. However this time she sustained 3rd degree burns over much of her body in a propane fire at a farmhouse. She was returning home after a month in the burn unit in Bergen. Her strength and courage made such a profound impact on me. And made all of my physical challenges seem quite minimal.

We’ve been home enough days that sleep is returning to normal and enjoying an intensive in dog cuddling. So as soon as I shake the rest of this cold which is holding my ‘sea legs’ hostage I will be back in the studio. I’ve postponed an October trip to next year and also plan to change another. Before we left I had booked us to go in a 3 week CRUISE¬†next year to Australia-NZ! For now just packing up the car &¬†dog and heading up the coast seems a lot more feasible.

Meanwhile I continue to post collages of trip photos on my Instagram feed.

coming up on #15…

August 19th, 2016
memorabilia photo collage

memorabilia photo collage

After an incredibly short month, a quick trip, a class, and a whole lotta hand-stitching I finished the new #12 not to be confused with the former #12. My reward for same was that I strained my dominant rotator cuff from all the hand-stitching. So I have spent most of this week recovering and finally today was able to get back into the gym, and into the studio.

Now back to where I was before I interrupted the series. Number 15 is about hubs. It’s interesting the stuff that is saved for us by our parents and that we then choose to save for ourselves. A couple years ago we found treasure in the attic, i.e. a box of his scouting paraphernalia: his Boy Scout shirt front which had been super glued to a stiff piece of cardboard, intention unknown; his Eagle Scout shirt respondent in patches and decoration, his Eagle Scout sash with 24 badges, plus all the paperwork for the accomplishment, the menu from the celebratory dinner, the letter from the then president of the BSA, a newspaper clipping about it in Swedish, another in English and a journal article. Most of this is going into this piece, or rather on to this piece as well as his Army photo, a couple great teenage photos¬†and fire department imagery. The shirt will be sewn on last.

Undoubtedly there are some who would criticize my use of these materials, as if I am destroying them. I met with some of the same resistance when I decided to dismantle and paint my wedding dress. I figure those who are overly sentimental have never truly cleaned out their attic or even begun to think about where all this ‘treasure’ will go when they are no longer here. I am simply upcycling, making art out of treasured cloth, which to me is far more exciting that having it sit in a musty box in the attic, to then someday be given to charity so some kid can wear it for Halloween.

I am pretty stoked to be on #15 (out of 25). It feels as though I have reached the peak of the mountain and am on the downhill slide. It feels good, and yet still so enjoyable.

out and about…

July 30th, 2016
detail of stitching on  canvas

detail of stitching on canvas

Another month has zipped by…do we see a pattern here? I continue on my series which I am so loving. I worry a bit about what I will do when I finish it next year but then I chase that thought away. I will deal with that when I get there. In the meantime I am having such a great time.

I am currently doing some handwork on #12 which was an afterthought piece. And I have gathered the memorabilia and collectibles to begin #15 which is about meeting Mr. Right. I have some great things to work with including his Eagle Scout sash and uniform, which is another sacred garment to dismantle!

Last week I took a four day jaunt up to Portland to see good friends¬†and to take an art class at OCAC. Synchronistically both Franki¬†and I have been craving some hand-stitching so Radical Embroidery seemed to be just the ticket. It was a great class taught by Victoria May, and chock full of inspiration from the work of other hand-stitchers and our classmates. By the fourth day my stitching became very radical and I was enamored with stitching again. While I plan to complete my class samples eventually, I went straight to work on #12 when I got home. Details to follow…

Napa county salt pond,...looks like a Diekenborn

Napa county salt pond

In the meantime my work was selected for a future issue of Art Quilting Studio magazine so I need to prepare the text for that. And also had work chosen for the Boundaries exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. I went to the opening reception last night and was very intrigued by a photography exhibit on sexual abuse in one of the smaller¬†galleries within the center. It was crowded and I could not get close enough to read the statements, so when I went back today to give my spiel for the docents’ talk I went through the photography exhibit.

I was so moved. Here is another woman, another artist, speaking her truth, telling her-story which is by no means pretty. This was my first experience since going public with my own story, to read and observe another’s. Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz¬†was there so I spoke to her and told her how meaningful her work was. Actually the photography was done by another, but she was the model, acting out her childhood¬†emotions for the sexual abuse she suffered. It was such profound & moving work. She and I agreed that so much healing came to us from telling our stories. And it reminded me again how every single one of us has a story. Yet¬†very few have the courage to speak it. To do so is extremely liberating. So I keep on…telling stories while I¬†observe my own¬†transformation¬†from visual artist to storyteller. It may just be what I’ve needed to be doing all along.

it has come to my attention…

July 6th, 2016
Mops editing text

Mops editing text

…that my dog may need a blog! This weekend I caught her editing my work when it was suggested to me that she needs her own blog. Personally I cannot imagine this being a fruitful enterprise as it would require my giving her my passwords, and I am not sure she can be trusted with those, just yet.

Besides what could she possibly talk about? Sure there are the other dogs at doggie daycare, aka DDC, or¬†perhaps she could gossip about the other dogs on the block, or Pooki and Coco next door. She could talk about her down dog pose or she might critique her dining options, or even the cleanliness of her dog run. She can’t complain about her sleeping accommodations as she readily pops into her crate each night at¬†the mere utterance of ‘nighty night.’ She might grouse about how sneaky I have become about getting the harness and leash on her to go in the car. Or she might carry on about her carsickness which we seem to finally have a handle on.

But after that, what? Oh yea, nothing.¬†Life is good in Mopsy’s world, and by default in mine, as her human.

just chillin'

just chillin’

and then what happened…

June 26th, 2016

15.wed.dress.laceIn the month since I last blogged,¬†I completed, but not yet photographed #11 and #12 in the series. Synchronistically the Stanford rape verdict which made the news enraged me again¬†so I decided to go backwards and do a relevant piece and title¬†it the new #11 which will push the aforementioned two to #12 and #13! I went ahead and printed the cloth for the new eleven and will start stitching it next week. I’ve also gathered all the materials for #14 which I will start after I do the new eleven.¬†wed-040371

Today I began to tear apart my wedding dress for #15. I plan to both embroider and screen-print it.  My mother made my dress as well as the three bridesmaids dresses. I knew she was an exemplary seamstress but now have an even greater appreciation as I labored to take the dress apart! It was so well constructed it was very difficult to dismantle. It was not your average low cut sleeveless number but rather peasant style. The heavy cotton pique was fully lined with cotton flannel, apparently to give it body. We were not married in Alaska but Northern California in spring whereas the dress would have withstood an elopement to Aspen!

flannel lining of wedding dress

flannel lining of wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

My¬†aching hands are¬†my reminder of¬†the¬†courage to tear the dress apart! I had about 10 seconds of remorse until I thought¬†what will I do with it otherwise? It doesn’t fit any one I know¬†who might wear it. Am I supposed to leave it lying in a trunk in the attic until I am no more, or move out of the house, and then it goes to charity? Or let some kid have it for Halloween? No! I actually feel really good that I am repurposing it.

I will likely toss the pieces into the laundry tomorrow to see if I can rid it off the old smell; after all it is 45 years old. And then I will begin the printing process.

As I have reached the midpoint of this series I continue to love this work!

overwhelmed by words…

May 27th, 2016

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by¬†all the input available to me to read, digest and potentially put into practice. When the Kindle came out I was overjoyed that I no longer had to feel guilt for the stacks of unfinished books. I could download¬†onto the¬†Kindle, out of sight, out of mind. If I still don’t read¬†them, they are not physically present to remind me of that.¬†Despite being a visual learner I seem to think I need to read everything in order to learn..crazy!

So why in the past few months have I bought 3 hardcover books, which now languish around the house all with maybe a read chapter or two? Right now there are four magazines and three books on the kitchen table for me to read. One of the books has been there since January!

Beyond the hardcopy books and the Kindle books are all the¬†emails I¬†get with stuff I need to read. Then there are the links to wisdom all over social media. How does one read all this stuff, let alone remember it and have a life? I am finding myself overwhelmed by just too much knowledge. And yet I feel if I don’t read it, or don’t follow it, I am going to become some sort of ignorant dolt.

The¬†irony in this is I am now finishing #12 in the collaborative series. This piece is about my quitting college, which was a big tragedy in my parents’ eyes; yet for me the smartest move I’d made to date. Perhaps this ‘need’ to digest every thing I can get my hands on is a hangover from that time. If I read everything I can keep up with the college graduates, many of whom have not opened a book since!

Years ago I had a healer who told me she never watched the news nor read a newspaper. I thought WOW! And now I get it. For to read some of this stuff,  particularly now in another election year, mostly just makes me angry. Why am I doing that to myself? You can call it ignorant if you want, but I think abstaining from it may really the key to sanity. And yes, I do vote, and in fact already have.

My¬†intuitive wisdom continues to awaken¬†me to the fact that I am experiencing artistic and spiritual growth by simply making art, doing the work and being true to myself. Ah “permission” to¬†just let all that other stuff¬†be. How liberating!

Upheaval 2

Upheaval 2

Today’s image is of my work Upheaval 2 which is currently in the Zeitgeist¬†exhibit at the Petaluma Arts Center (until July 10). This juried exhibit captures the times through art. My¬†work is based on the challenges of a family member with dementia. First it was my parent¬†and now¬†two others have been afflicted so it is a subject with which I have become quite familiar. I was pretty dazzled to see they installed this work on an orange wall. It’s the little things that bring me joy!

this and that…v.12

May 22nd, 2016
morning walk: rotted wood, roses, yarrow, red cabbage, potholes

morning walk: rotted wood, roses, yarrow, red cabbage, potholes

I have been preoccupied with life for the past month. I continue to work on #12 in the collaborative series, with 13, 14 and 15 fermenting in my cranium.

And we continue to work on dog training.¬†Mops is coming along so well, aside from the times when she chews up something important. I work diligently to stay¬†one step ahead of her. Most recently she chewed the straps off the face mask I wear to breathe when I sleep! Not very helpful…but we love her anyway!

Mopsy, in witness protection program

Mopsy, in witness protection program

We regretfully postponed a big trip but in doing so got to add more on to it, so in the end it will be a better vacation. We would have been away now so this opens up my studio time. Abundant free time however often makes self-discipline much more difficult!

morning walk: Mops, pond scum, bbq grate, goose poop, weeping willow reflection

morning walk: Mops, pond scum, bbq grate, goose poop, weeping willow reflection

One thing I have been doing a lot of is taking photos of interesting textures, patterns, colors, etc on my morning walks. I then collage on an app and post to my Instagram feed. Many have told me they love my morning walk photos. For me it trains my eye to see the art in everyday living.

Of course medical science would say that to stop and photograph while walking is not exactly stellar cardio. We all have our priorities! ART is mine.blog.walk3

stories of migration…

April 21st, 2016
GWU Museum & Textile Museum, April 15-Sept 4, 2016

Stories of Migration at GWU Museum & Textile Museum

A week ago today my daughter & I were winging our way to Washington DC for a long weekend & the opening of Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora at the George Washington University Museum & Textile Museum. 

I am honored to have my work Defining Moments 7: Fleeing the City chosen for this prestigious venue and exhibit, which runs until September 2016.

Defining Moments 7: Fleeing the City

Defining Moments 7: Fleeing the City

Most¬†of the artists whose work was juried into this exhibit ‘migrated’ to our nation’s capitol for the opening. There were many¬†festivities including a videotaping of artists talking about our work, an opening reception for artists, their guest and members of the museum; an artists’ talk during the public opening, a private lunch with the director of the museum, a walk-through with the museum’s curator and a group¬†photo.

In addition¬†we¬†took in¬†three highly-rated vegan establishments for yummy fare, had dinner with good friends of mine also ‘in town’ for the weekend, visited with¬†my¬†long-time¬†peers, artists from all over the country; explored¬†DC by¬†Metro, walked a lot, slept little and tried to get into the Renwick for the new WONDER exhibit, for which we were unsuccessful & and had martinis at the Hay Adams Hotel bar called Off the Record!¬†Then we turned around early Sunday morn and flew home.

IMG_2529

We were dazzled by spring in DC…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always I took many¬†aerial photos along the way. I am¬†particularly inspired by salt ponds, around Salt Lake City and on San Francisco Bay. People always say to me, there’s a ‘quilt’ in that; although a photo often¬†serves its purpose by just being. So many ideas, so little time!

various salt retention ponds

Back to Diaspora…if you plan to be in the Washington DC area before September 4, 2016, go see this exhibit. You will not be disappointed. There are two floors of¬†exquisite work, many¬†pieces 3-D as well as video presentations and many¬†personal family stories of migration. It is a fascinating & interesting¬†exhibit of which I am so proud to have my work included.

Even the staircase is artful! Stories of Migration_Logo

staircase, Textile Museum

staircase, Textile Museum