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Archive for the ‘documentation’ Category

the big reveal…

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Somebody’s Child 2 photo credit Digital Grange

Now that Quilt National ’21 has officially opened, I can reveal my work juried into this prestigious exhibit. This is Somebody’s Child 2, which was digitally printed on silk organza, fused, machine and hand stitched with tear-drop shapes. This piece was a followup to my work Somebody’s Child 1; both of which were inspired by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN .

The artist statement reads …”after the recorded murder of George Floyd calling out for his Mama, I researched black lives taken at the hands of police. Over 4700 names of African Americans who died of gunshots or asphyxiation in police encounters in the past 20 years were digitally printed to silk organza and then layered. Each one was Somebody’s Child. All of these folks had Mamas.”

Somebody’s Child 2, detail photo credit: Digital Grange

This work is intentionally difficult to read, both in scope of the number of black & brown folks killed in police encounters but also in structure. My primary emphasis was on the horrific numbers of people killed just in this century (up to June 2020). There are sadly, so many more, now.

Photo credit: Joe MacDonald, Digital Grange, Petaluma, CA.

Simultaneously the images of Somebody’s Child 1 have been added to the virtual gallery of Art Against Racism.org while the actual work just concluded a run at the Textile Center in Minneapolis through the Women of Color Quilters Network exhibit We Are the Story, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. (You can see my work in the bottom center of the banner for that show, on the above link).

Somebody’s Child 1 is now off to Cincinnati to join 41 other pieces from We Are the Story at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, opening July 2 for a 2 month run. I am honored to have my work in this venue.

Meanwhile, another new piece that says something and potentially makes people think is evolving in the studio.

 

Somebody’s Child 1, detail

missing Marion…

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Marion and I, 2018

Today I have been working on a powerpoint presentation I am making next month for the SAQA Board. Essentially it is about introducing diversity to the organization by relating how my friendship with Marion Coleman led me to self-educating about black history. I designed and tweaked most of the morning, and when hubs needed the computer to Zoom with his Parkinson’s group, I left to go pick up some groceries.

As I drove to the store, I suddenly burst into tears. Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of Marion’s death, and it hit me how serendipitous that I am working on this presentation about her impact on my life & art-making, on the very anniversary of her leaving.

I have a friend who says I am the most ‘woke’ person she knows. While I consider that a compliment I am well aware that I still have far to go. I continue to self-educate, by reading books, watching videos and every black film I can get my hands on. I even took an online course about the Civil Rights Movement, which I lived through, but had paid little attention to as it did not apply to me, in my white privileged world. I also catch myself and others, on their stuff all the time.

I owe all of this growth to my friend Marion. We were acquainted for 15 years and had talked about most everything. It was her question, near the end of her life, that prompted this growth in mine. How many black people do you know as well as you know me, she asked? I responded that maybe it was 5-6; to which she said, no I mean who you can talk to as comfortably as you speak to me?  Well that was the kick in the pants I needed to look out beyond the lily white meadow and learn something.

She might be surprised how far I have come from Pollyanna in just two years time. I am continually grateful to her for so much, not the least of which was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I miss her so much.

RIP girlfriend.

musings in the night, part 47…

Monday, April 12th, 2021
RHODIE BLOSSOM

Mendocino Botanical Gardens, rhododendron

The other night’s musings brought me some awesome titles for new work. Not the work itself, just the title! I particularly love ‘the writing on the wall was in invisible ink.” Or “how I became an activist on my way to becoming an old woman.” The funny thing about night musing which most often follows a potty break, is if I just focus on my breath I fall back asleep in seconds. Often I forget that and get a good 2-3 hours of musing, worry and planning in, before I drift back off. People often chide me for being a multitasker, and yet it is my happy place. If I did one task at a time I likely would be committed!

After returning from a 4 day getaway to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (shocking, I know!), my plate quickly filled. Before the celebration for two, I had been scanning and resizing a myriad of photos from the past 50+ years for a Powerpoint for hubs on the big day. Well into it, I realized that he might not be as thrilled with it as I was, so I decided it really was a gift to myself. And good thing, because the stoic Swede came through with a lack of enthusiasm, as anticipated. Yet I loved every minute of putting it together! This is what 50 years teaches one…tamp those expectations!

air bib

rental on Mendocino Coast for our 50th anniversary celebration… comfortable and luxurious

the view from the house

When we returned home, I resumed researching the next piece, and designing the screens for fabric printing. I had to go with plan B when plan A failed to give me exactly what I wanted. And now I am waffling on plan B. So when someone asks me how long it took me to design something, I always include these days and hours of research and photoshop. The actual construction takes little time! It is really how folks justify in their mind, the price of something. If I am charging XYZ it must have taken me hundreds of hours. Well, that just might be true!

Post-trip, I also entered the overscheduled Zoom zone and yet I am loving it. I am learning so much in the Plastic Pollution class, a virtual multi-week course from Bennington College, taught by Judith Enck, former EPA administrator in the Obama-era.

The SAQA virtual conference from Australia-NZ piled on, but fortunately those sessions are mid to late afternoon in my time zone. Hubs has some OLLI Zooms, which require my setting him up, as he is mostly computer illiterate. And in May I am taking a weeklong immersion on Baja CA with Road Scholar, in lieu of actually going there.

All this has been made possible by my unloading an energy vampire which had been haunting me for months. Wow, what a huge difference! That and dropping 20 pounds, walking regularly and I feel like a new woman. A newly educated artivist woman!

supporting other artists…

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

Family Farm, from catalog. Photo credit:
Larry Berman

Decades ago when we bought our house, we met a neighbor who was a painter, unbeknownst to me, at that time. Her husband was a corporate executive and she dutifully maintained the perfect homestead for all of their married years. When he died, she painted the living room bright yellow and hung her paintings salon style covering the living room walls.

I was raised by a woman who never hung any artwork without consulting her decorator first; and had gone through a myriad of my own design styles by then. I was experiencing great angst about having too much artwork on my walls; and about spacing of said work. After I saw the bright yellow living room covered with her art, I had a revelation! Why not mix it up? And thus began my quest for installing my own art and that of others. That was also the turning point for the man who hates making holes in the walls. Relax, they have spackle for that!

Initially I had a vast collection of Navajo rugs, on the walls. Several came down and were relocated to the floor (what a concept), the sofa, a vintage trunk. Up went other people’s artwork. Well, that was easy. I inherited some paintings that I loved so I kept, and others I did not, so I released so others might enjoy.

Then I started buying 12″ quilts in the annual SAQA Auction online. It started with a blue piece with circles by Jill Ault. Within a few years I had acquired several pieces featuring circles, many of them blue. I installed them on my office wall, below the southern window, to minimize fading. Then I bought a few more in earth tones which were hung in the guest bath. I know, you want pictures, but ironically they all mostly reside in places that are difficult to photograph because of the light. Take my word for it though. Over several years I have collected over 30 auction blocks. They brighten my day, and adorn the walls of our home. Other than the 12″ auction blocks, most of other people’s artwork I buy are not textiles. They are primarily mixed media and paintings.

That is, until two weeks ago. SAQA sent me a care package of two exhibit catalogs and price lists. Most of the work did not move me in any way, but when I saw Patty Kennedy-Zafred’s Family Farm I felt a chill. I kept going back to it. I looked at the price list. It was still available after two years of traveling shows. I slept on it. The next day I was still thinking about it.

This piece resonated as my grandparents were the people represented in this piece. They were farmers in the Midwest during the dust bowl. They lost the family farm and moved to California lock, stock and barrel. Life was hard for them, their entire lives. And yet, here I sit in my comfortable 3 bedroom home in suburbia, surrounded by art I love, in perpetual gratitude for all they endured, suffered and survived. Yes, this work was speaking to me. I bought the Family Farm! (so to speak)

The piece arrived on Friday. I cut the stick and screwed in the eyes. It was ready to install. But where? I had two logical choices, neither of which I figured would offend hubs’ nail anxiety. I had him hold it up while I assessed it from afar. The decision was quickly made… the end of the entry hallway. Bam! It was installed requiring only one new nail hole. Rejoice. And the clutter of the coat and hat rack can easily be remedied. Even the curator approved.

I am thrilled, not only with this exquisite piece of art, but owning a piece of art from someone whose work has dazzled me for years. I am in awe of her research, process and ongoing pursuit of meaning in her art.

I wholeheartedly believe in supporting the arts…and other artists.

Family Farm installed by curator Mopsy

Too Much Information…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

scanned papers that found their way to the recycle can

I spent the morning sorting through my Inbox. Not my email inbox but my IRL inbox. Yea, it’s a holdout from my office days that I still have a real life inbox. This one has no sense of urgency however, but rather a place to stash papers I want to remember, revisit or read later. Then once in a blue moon I sort through the inbox.

I find several papers that have essentially expired, in that whatever is printed on them has already passed or is no longer valid. Sometimes I find calls for entry that I have already entered , decided against, or with a deadline that has passed. I find papers I should have scanned in the first place, and then I do so, and file away on the hard drive, most likely never to be read again.

I find words of wisdom, which is possibly my largest category of saved papers. Quotes from the Dalai Lama, Sharon Salzberg, Albert Camus, a friend’s poetry, etc. Wisdom quotes have no expiration date! They are always wise words into perpetuity.

In addition I have the bookmark folders on browsers with articles and websites saved to remember and/or to read. There are videos and TED talks to watch and listen to. Then there are the tangible books to read, the stack now measures 7, not counting the minimally 75 on my Kindle. All this is just Too Much Information!

I had one of those mothers who cut out things in the newspaper and mailed them to me. I promised to never do that to my kid and pretty much have stuck to it. I have sent her maybe 3 things in 20 years, so they must have been really important! I knew my mother was doing what every good mother should do, but then when I started receiving clippings about people spinning goat hair in Montana, from my father’s bestie, I knew a line had been crossed. If one cannot retrain their own parent, how can they possibly retrain someone else’s?

I now believe this obsessive saving of stuff to read or remember is the 21st century version of the newspaper clipping mailed by a ‘well-intentioned’ person! The other day it occurred to me, as I was marking yet another article to read in case I ever want to design work on ‘that subject’, that I may NEVER ever read this article. If I don’t have time to read it now, will I read it later? Will I be sitting in my rocker 20 years from now, with nothing to do but read all this stuff? Will any of it be relevant other than the wisdom? Really it is all information overload…TMI.

We are deluged with facts, figures, quotes, commentary, opinions etc. I never was a good reader to start, being a visual learner. So maybe scanning and filing words away on the hard drive is my adaptation to visual learning?  I think not.

Perhaps the moral to this little ditty is to stop saving stuff I am never going to read. Read it now, or don’t, but please stop saving it! Besides anything I ever desperately need I can likely Google.

And don’t even get me started on the photographs I’ve scanned…

 

 

 

loose ends…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

I’ve been fraught with anxiety for much of the past four years. I made a lot of art about subjects that got me fired up and am now exhibiting it as much as I can, in a pandemic. After the election I calmed down a bit until the domestic terrorism two weeks ago. Today on the eve of the inauguration I am beginning to feel as if I can breathe again, knowing full well that we as a country still have a long, long way to go, before we can feel complacent again. In fact I don’t believe we will ever see “normal” again. You know the kind of normal where you don’t think every day about your government, or the pandemic.

In the meantime, I have been preparing for a SAQA Textile Talk next week. If you want to watch, comment below and I will send you the link to register. I am one of 5 artists whose work is being featured from an exhibit titled ‘Upcycle’ on recycled materials. I have spoken about my work on many occasions, so that is the easy part. I was able to put my vintage PowerPoint knowledge to use and prepare 10 slides of art and studio shots for my portion of the talk. Where I got hung up was on the lighting for my ‘person’ on Zoom.

I decided I wanted to do a custom background, featuring some of my work, as one would do. Yet the problem was still with the lighting. A colleague suggested I bring a lamp with a shade to my computer. Uh, I no longer own a lamp with a shade! Our entire house has been upgraded with overhead LED lighting. I tried my Ott-lite and that sort of helped.

Another suggested a green screen. I researched green screens, and decided against it as I did not need more stuff to clutter my office. My sister gave me a new green screen which she bought but decided not to use. I also decided not to use it and passed it along to Goodwill.

Finally I decided to swap out the wall quilt behind me, forgetting that a 6 ft table bearing a heavy midarm sewing machine was between me and the wall as a deterrent to hanging another quilt. Thank goodness for these long arms, as I was able to reach over the extended arm of the table, up the wall and with a little -uh hang a different quilt!

Then I remembered a recent purchase of a clamp-on light can, down in the basement. I brought that up, put a 5 watt bulb in it, clamped it on the shelf above my computer and voila! Let there be light. Essentially I spent two weeks fretting over the lighting.

Some time ago, before the pandemic, as I recall, I volunteered to design a memory quilt for the family of a slain person of color, for the Social Justice Sewing Academy. I  heard back a week ago, asking if I were still interested? I replied yes.

This past weekend I received the information, photos, likes and dislikes for my first memory quilt assignment. After reading the information about this woman, I felt such a tremendous responsibility to create this quilt, which I need to do in 6-8 weeks. What a huge honor to be asked to design something memorable for a family who has already lost so much. Especially in this era of Black Lives Matter, and white supremacy, it is so important to me to step outside of my life as a person of privilege and really look at the life of a woman who didn’t have a chance. The easy path would be to turn away, as so many of us have done for centuries. My hope is I have it in me to do more than one. Stay tuned…

Lastly, I have been mulling over the role of social media in my life. Several people whom I know have left Facebook, and thrived! I have considered it many times. What keeps me there is the contact I have with so many of my art colleagues, all over the world; friends and neighbors. It’s a place to read about others art and blab about my own. I also enjoy reading about local restaurants, taking a class or two through groups, reading local gossip, as the paper comes out just once a week; just catching up.

The lack of security is what bothers me most. And yet I wonder if I do walk, where will I have human contact? Where will we meet up? It looks like it will be another 2-3 months minimally before I get the vaccine, before I can meet friends for lunch, go to exhibits, resume some sort of a normal life.

I guess if I do sign off, I will just have to pick up the phone, which is not exactly a bad thing. I’ve noticed that my ability to actually speak language rather than type it, is occasionally challenged. As in, if you don’t use it... all good food for thought!

 

 

 

stuck on a title…

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Choose Love Over Hate

Usually when I make a piece of art, the title is the least of my concerns. Not so this time. When I was self-educating on black history I came across a talk by a director of the Southern Poverty Law Center who spoke about hate groups in America. Of course I had to follow that lead, only to learn to my shock and amazement that as of 2019, there were over 940 hate groups within the United States. I found that an unbelievable statistic so I explored further. What I found out was that there is not just one anti LGBTQ group in the US but 49; there is not just one anti-Muslim groups but 100 and so on. Nine hundred and forty hate groups in the US, and that was in 2019. How many more are there now? 

This lead me to reading about hate groups, and how hate is a learned behavior. No one is born a hater. They have to be taught to hate. Which lead me to thinking, why could these folks not be taught to love instead, which led to designing this work.

I had Spoonflower print the numbers/names of the hate groups on white cotton. I then designed a collage of love words, from love songs and poetry; both things I recalled or collected over the years. I screen-printed those in white paint over the hate group background, which kind of distorted it, and what I was hoping to achieve. I also screen-printed the same words in red on a vintage French tablecloth. I cut that randomly to create a mosaic effect of a heart partially covering the hate group background. Perfect! I achieved exactly what I wanted…that is until I got to the title.

At one point the label had one title, it went to the photographer with another title, my website had a 3rd title! Right now, they all say “Choose Love Over Hate.” I think that is actually quite adequate as really, is it not a choice whether to love or hate?

Initially, it was ‘Love is The Answer’. Then it was ‘Only Love Conquers Hate’ and then ‘Choose Love Over Hate.’ It seems important to me to include the words both love and hate; otherwise will the message may not be apparent. Maybe so? The jury is out! Your thoughts?

high anxiety elixir…

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Somebody’s Child 2, detail. Photo credit, Digital Grange

It’s rather remarkable to me that in this time of high anxiety I have been prolific at art-making. It seems everyone I talk to or read about, including myself, is struggling with anxiety during these “uncertain”, “unprecedented,” “troubling “(insert an adjective) times. It’s remarkable to me that as my body reacts to living in these anxious times I am making art. Believe me I am grateful, but also somewhat puzzled by the whole thing.

Since my last blog post, I have finished two more pieces of narrative art. And one of them was juried into Quilt National 2021! For the uninitiated this is one of the top-drawer contemporary quilt shows in the world. One has better odds of getting hit by a meteorite than having their work juried in! I tried and tried for years with no luck. Just shy of giving up, in 2016 I entered Defining Moments 12: NO Means NO, my piece about campus rape into QN 2017 and it was juried in! I skipped 2019 as I had nothing that fit the criteria.

I entered again this year, submitting two of my recent works about politics and social justice issues. Somebody’s Child 2 was juried in. This piece was a vision in my head that proved quite difficult to execute. My initial thought was to make the layered silk organza pieces into a square, but then it occurred to me that the names would be more impactful as a list, a long skinny piece. It finished 63″ x 16″.  I also considered it as 3-D with LED lighting, sort of as a totem but it looked too much like Christmas; and this is not a festive narrative. This is a somber narrative, showing the over 4700 names of black lives extinguished at the hands of police in this century.

In the end I decided to just let the fabric do its own thing. It is three layers of digitally printed silk organza, fused together and hand-stitched with tears. I have no doubt people will whine that this is not a quilt, as it moves silently in the air! It does however meet the criteria of two layers stitched; actually being three layers, hand-stitched with tears.

It will be interesting to see how they install it, whether it will be backlit which will show the names laid askew to emphasize the horrendous number of lives lost. I likely will not be going to the opening or to see it in person, unless these “uncertain” times bring a miracle. So hopefully another artist who does attend will send me photos. To me the best thing about being in this prestigious exhibit is the other artists I meet; which is the truly sad part about not attending.

After that, I whipped together a piece about Your Tax Dollars at Work. I had the fabric commercially printed and I screen-printed the text months ago; then it languished in the studio. A 3 am design session gave me the idea of money growing on trees and after that it came together quickly. And I love it, which is always a bonus!

Your Tax Dollars at Work, a study in pork barrel projects

We are all coping with these “uncertain times” in our own ways. Some spend hours online debating/arguing/sharing political posts, others are streaming serials and movies; or baking the world’s supply of sourdough, while several friends are writing postcards, and letters to voters in other states to encourage them to do their civic duty and vote. I am so grateful to those folks for taking the time to do this important work!!! THANK YOU!

At the same time I know I would be creating more stress for myself to do the same thing. My activism is coming through in my work, for which I am enormously grateful. I even had that thought the other day, you know that one, that no one wants to consider. What will happen to all this when I am no more? Immediately I dismissed it… that’s not my problem!

So while I deluge myself in mindfulness reminders, yoga stretches, morning walks, and really annoying twice daily blood pressure checks, I continue to make art that says something. A new work is going under the machine today! Life is good in these “unprecedented’ times.

so how is your sleep?

Friday, September 11th, 2020

new WIP

A couple weeks ago I wrote a comment on FB about having attended a Zoom class on End of Life Options. My comment ended with the paperwork alone would kill you! I came clean in my comments about my husband’s descent into Parkinson’s, a disease he has battled for 9 years now. Because this disease does not actually cause death, we are exploring his options for when he decides he has had enough. In opening up about this, I received incredible support from hundreds of people. I was a bit embarrassed because I feel it is his story to tell, until someone reminded me it is also my story, as his caregiver and spouse.

My ‘coming out’ with the story led me to seeking support for myself as his caregiver. I had been down this road before, as caregiver, and yet how quickly I had forgotten about self-care and self-compassion. In one of my encounters in ‘building my team’ I was asked about my sleep. How is your sleep? I say, it’s fine, as it generally is…that is until it isn’t. Some of my best work has been designed in the night. As example…

Way before the pandemic, maybe 9 months ago, maybe a year ago I had some cloth printed at Spoonflower with words related to taxation. I took it into the wet studio and printed the same words on the whole cloth. I heat set it, brought it into my upstairs studio, folded and placed on the bed of the overhead projector,  where it has resided since. After finishing my second BLM piece, I felt like I needed a break before embarking on no 3. The long ago but not forgotten aforementioned piece of cloth came to mind. I pinned it up on my design wall, and nothing happened! I masked off certain sections to give me some perspective, nothing happened. I envisioned trees, but still nothing happened.

Two nights ago I was awake for several hours in the night. I forgot what started the conversation, but somewhere in the depths of those thoughts came divine inspiration. Money growing on trees! This morning I went in and in 20 minutes designed this piece that has languished for well over a year. Tomorrow I will begin the stitching! When someone asks how long this one took me, I can definitely say, a year!

I am humbled, grateful and surprised, how with all the despair in the world right now, that I am able to make art. Just yesterday I felt overwhelmed by the 6 months we have lived in isolation, while others go to the beach, to Vegas, to dinner with friends and on and on and on….because they are weary of isolation. I’m weary too. I miss travel too. I miss seeing friends too. It’s not just about you!  Our beautiful West Coast is on fire again, we can’t breathe the air, we can’t meet inside, we can’t go outside, the horrendous vitriol being slung from both sides, and yet somewhere within there is this bright light that seems to need to be making art.

It is a wonder, to me, as well.

Somebody’s Child…

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Somebody’s Child

There is a lot of hesitancy on my part in posting about this work. I recognize that old master, the stay quiet, keep your feelings to yourself, don’t show initiative or courage or emotion. Go to your room, sit back, look pretty, don’t speak, no one cares what you have to say, don’t embarrass the family, don’t talk about personal things and never ever speak about anything controversial. Keep your mouth shut. These were not just words of my programming but by the white privilege culture in general.

No growth ever comes from playing it safe. In fact, stagnation comes from playing it safe. Stagnation and fossils grow from these outdated rules and old threats. None one challenges them. They just keep playing by the same rules, because that is all they know or they are too scared to learn differently. Nothing good comes from it.

Growth only comes from stepping way outside the comfort zone. Growth comes from allowing myself to be embarrassed and humiliated for how people of color have been treated by people of privilege for far too long in American history, let alone world history. Growth comes from worrying about saying the right thing, so as to not make the situation worse. So, I put on my big girl panties and post my work, which undoubtedly will embarrass or humiliate those I know who still play by the rules. Growth is painful. It is cumbersome and full of missteps. But I am stepping out, taking baby steps in my size 13’s.

When George Floyd was recorded as he was being asphyxiated by a white cop in Minneapolis on May 25th, like many I reacted not only to the brutality of his murder, but to his dying words calling out for his Mama. I doubt any mother in touch with her humanity did not feel that heartbreak. Those moments were the inspiration for this new work about black lives matter. I researched the numbers of black people killed by police in America and sadly learned over 28,000 people (of all nationalities) had fatal encounters with police in this 21st century. I gathered names, states and causes of death of over 4700 African Americans who died of gunshots or asphyxiation from police encounters.

detail…left are names of 76 asphyxiated by police

The center section of this piece reflects the printed names of the 76 black lives extinguished by police asphyxiation and/or restraint between 2000-2020. The surrounding names are but a tiny percentage of the over 4700 black people killed by gunfire in encounters with police.  I found this information to be so profuse that I really struggled with who to include, who to exclude, as if I were extinguishing their flame a second time & also how best to honor all these lost lives. How to create an artwork to honor all these murdered black people?   It seems very apparent to me that more, larger works will follow.  This work is titled Somebody’s Child, (click for larger view) as all of these folks had Mamas. Many mamas are mourning.

It is not lost on me how traditional this piece is, in shape and design. It was not intentional, but the shapes of the components really created it. Another old master, perfectionism nearly caused the piece to land in the trash a few times. Once I was able to get out of my own way, and ignore the errors I made in technique and construction, I was able to recall the passion of my intention. After all, it is not the messenger but the message.

Besides that old rule, about perfectionism can work to my benefit, allowing me the opportunity to make more work on this subject…until I get it right! Sadly there is endless inspiration.