I Don’t Know Where to Begin

It’s been two months since my last post, and that was titled ‘Catching Up’! So here I am, behind again, and so much ground to cover. Let’s work backwards, shall we?

Last Sunday, in Oxford, MD, the Bayside Quilter’s of the Eastern Shore held their semi-annual show. A Garden of Quilts showcased older quilts from private collections:

Sue Bonnet Sue variation circa 1930-40s Hand appliqué and embroidery, hand quilted. Collection of Catherine Spence.

Sue Bonnet Sue variation
circa 1930-40s
Hand appliqué and embroidery, hand quilted.
Collection of Catherine Spence.

Fox and Geese, circa 1880-90 Collection of Catherine Spence

Fox and Geese, circa 1880-90
Collection of Catherine Spence

The quilts displayed by the guild ranged from traditional to modern

Falling Triangles Ann Clayton

Falling Triangles
Ann Clayton

Love the scrolled stitching!

Love the scrolled stitching!

The B&W color scheme makes for a very striking quilt:

Zena's Quilt Gail Benjamin

Zena’s Quilt
Gail Benjamin

and included a few mixed media art quilts as well:

Time Jeanne Hechmer

Time
Jeanne Hechmer

Clever use of old watches

Clever use of old watches

This was my favorite, not only executed beautifully, but a clever design and visually so interesting:

Blue Print Nita Brayton

Blue Print
Nita Brayton

All in all, a lovely show. I think I had a very narrow view of what a constitutes a quilt, and seeing so many different examples definitely opened my eyes. Hard to say where craft ends and art begins. When does a quilt move from a textile for the home, to artwork to a mixed media piece? Is it defined by the design process? Even if a pattern (new or traditional) has been followed, there are still so many design choices, so much time and talent involved. The care with which these quilts were made was very evident. They all, even the ones that I didn’t care for, seemed like a form of art to me!

As someone who has never quilted, and has minimal sewing machine skills, I can’t explain why this came home with me:

IMG_2877

I blame the cute jar!

Weavers

While researching images for this part of my course, I discovered so many interesting, talented textile artists. As weaving is my main textile-related interest, I found these three inspiring:

Machiko Agano, born in Kobe, Japan, started out in textiles as a weaver. She studied at Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan in the 1970’s, and is a professor at Kyoto Seiko University. Her large scale installations are designed specifically for the space in which they will be shown. Agano uses a broad selection of materials, ranging from fishing line and wire to fabric and bamboo to inkjet printing and mirrors. Agano’s work has been shown throughout Japan and the UK. In 2001, she participated in Transition & Influence‘s Textural Space project, with her well-reviewed installation at Fabrica, and again in 2003’s Through The Surface. The Fabrica piece, a large scale installation composed of nylon filament, silk thread and handmade Japanese paper, is a beautiful example of her work, with an organic, almost ethereal feel, and a strong sense of movement. This piece certainly achieves her goal of wanting the “viewer to feel enveloped by the mysteries of nature when they see my work.”

Jo McDonald is a Scottish tapestry weaver. Her work is visually almost the opposite of Agano’s, more solid and earthy. She uses old books and other found papers, layered and rolled, woven or held together with monofilament, to form installations that create a new purpose for theses items. McDonald considers herself the “editor in the recycling of this material.” With an MFA in Tapestry from the Edinburgh College of Art, McDonald’s work has been shown throughout Europe, as well as Australia and the United States.

Amie Adelman, an Associate Professor and Fibers Coordinator in the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas, has taken her weaving knowledge to create large-scale line installations. Her work makes me think of Spirograph, in 3D form. Though her work feels mathematically based, Adelman says she “didn’t set out to be a mathematician. I became more interested in math as my artwork developed.” [FiberArtNow, Winter 2014/15] The layering of the thread combined with her use of color create dazzling, energetic pieces. Even though only seen in pictures (unfortunately), the installations seem to glow and shimmer. Deflection, 2014 conveys the energy of the sun’s rays through the use of color in high contrasts and more subtle shifts, as well as the increasing/decreasing sett of the threads.

I hope someday I can view some (all!) of these works in person. It would be interesting to compare my impressions then with now.

Mary Delany

Mary Granville Pendarves Delany

(May 14, 1700-April 15, 1788)

Portrait of Mary Delany by John Opie, 1782.
Mary Delany, born in England, practiced the traditional crafts of her time, such as needlework and silhouettes. It wasn’t until the age of 72, four years after the death of her second husband, that she tried a new technique that was the beginning of collage as we know it today. Delany called it a ‘flower mosaick’, and went on to produce close to a thousand of them, which can be seen at The British Museum.
Pancratium Maritinum (Hexandria Monogynia), formerly in an album (Vol.VII, 45); Sea Daffodil. 1778 Collage of coloured papers, with bodycolour and watercolour, on black ink background

Gloriosa Superba (Hexandria Monogynia), formerly in an album (Vol.IV, 96) Collage of coloured papers, with bodycolour and watercolour, on black ink background

Delany made almost all her collages against a background of black, creating a striking effect quite different from most botanical drawings. She used layers of watercolor to create the background papers, as well as most of the paper used for the flowers. Delany meticulously layered small pieces to create shapes, shading and colors that are very realistic and still admired by botanists today.

Phlomis Leonorus (Didynam: Gymnos:), formerly in an album (Vol.VII, 62); Lion’s Tail. 1777 Collage of coloured papers, with bodycolour and watercolour, on black ink background

Not only is Delany’s work breathtakingly beautiful, I was also (as a 53 year-old art student) drawn to the fact that she started so late in life. Her attention to detail, the subtle shading and painstaking nature of her work all impress me greatly. Mary Delany created a body of work, as well as an art form that lives on today.

Peacock, Molly. (2011) The Paper Garden: An Artist [Begins Her Life’s Work] At 72. New York: Bloomsbury
Collection Online. [Internet]. The British Museum. Available from: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=mary+delany [Accsessed 18 November, 2014).
Explore/Articles. [Internet]. The British Museum. Available from: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/m/mary_delany_1700-88.aspx [Accessed 18 November, 2014]

Romare Bearden (Part Two: Collage, Ex. 2.1)

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) was a versatile American artist, exploring many different media. Painting, printmaking and collage, caricature, set design, writing and songwriting were all part of his work.

Bearden grew up in Harlem, and his family home “became a meeting place for Harlem Renaissance luminaries” ¹, including writers, painters and Jazz musicians. He also was a social worker in New York City, even after he achieved artistic success². These influences can be seen in his collages, as many portray daily life in Harlem, or Jazz club scenes:

https://i0.wp.com/americanart.si.edu/images/1996/1996.71_1a.jpg

Empress of the Blues

1974 acrylic and pencil on paper and printed paper on paperboard 36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in part through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment 1996.71 Not currently on view

As Biography.com said, “his works depict aspects of family culture in a semiabstract (sic) collage and Cubist style³. Spring Way is a good example of this, with its contrast of dark realism seen in the black and white street photos, versus the pops of brightly colored shapes:

https://i0.wp.com/americanart.si.edu/images/1999/1999.9_1a.jpg

Spring Way

1964 collage on paperboard sheet and image: 6 5/8 x 9 3/8 in. (16.8 x 23.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design 1999.9 Not currently on view

 

The Block is one of Beaden’s most famous works, currently residing, though not on view, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. I can’t reproduce the image here, due to licensing restrictions, but the Met has an inter-active site, Let’s Walk the Block,  that allows for close examination of the whole work.

It is a fascinating, beautiful piece, from 1971, a large collage, on six panels, measuring 4×18′. Each panel shows a different aspect of city life, as Bearden saw it from a friend’s window, though he moved away from a literal interpretation, to a more imaginative one (http://metmuseum.org/content/interactives/the_block/foot5.html).

I find the range of street life represented fascinating. At the beginning, there are families and well-dressed people outside a neighborhood liquor store, while upstairs you see children in a room with a mousetrap for a window shade. The third panel depicts a funeral, complete with angels helping the soul to heaven. More religious imagery can be seen in the fourth panel, where an angel is blessing an unborn child, contrasting the primary colors and simple shapes of the next building.

There is an ironic touch of having a church in the fourth panel, while homeless people are being frowned upon in front of the next building. The windows above the barber shop contain slightly disturbing images, perhaps representing the darker side of the city, and conveyed by Bearden’s use of muddier colors and less crisp lines. The use of different panels disrupts the flow of the scene, perhaps to add the chaotic feel of city life.

Bearden was a strong voice for African-American artists and culture, as well as being an incredibly diverse artist, though I chose to focus only on his collages. I found his life very interesting and his work fascinating and inspiring.

Reference:

Corlett, M.L. (2009) From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden. New York: Romare Bearden Foundation/ California: Pomegranite Communications

Romare Bearden. [Internet]. Available from http://www.romare-bearden.com/ [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Romare Bearden Foundation. [Internet]. The Bearden Foundation. Available from: http://www.beardenfoundation.org/index2.shtml [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Let’s Walk the Block. [Internet]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from: http://metmuseum.org/metmedia/interactives/art-trek/romare-bearden-lets-walk-the-block  [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Spring Way. [Internet]. Available from: http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=37393 [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

The Art of Romare Bearden. [Internet]. National Gallery of Art. Available from: http://www.nga.gov/feature/bearden/index.shtm [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Romare Howard Bearden. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/romare-bearden-40540 [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Robert Rauschenberg (Part Two: Collage, Ex 2.1)

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was an American artist whose works, using traditional and found materials, forged a path for the pop-art movement of the ’60s (Lancher, 2009).

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenberg studied at Kansas City Art Institute, then at Academie Julien Paris. In 1948, he attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under Josef Albers, and befriended fellow artist Jasper Johns (Tompkins, 2005).

The works I find most interesting are from the mid-1950s, when Rauschenberg began using non-traditional items in works he called ‘combines’ (Tompkins, 2005).

Bed (1955)

Combine: oil and pencil on pillow, quilt, and sheet, mounted on wood support 75 1/4 x 31 1/2 x 8 inches (191.1 x 80 x 20.3 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York Gift of Leo Castelli in honor of Alfred H. Barr Jr.

While Rauschenberg himself claimed to worry people would “want to crawl in it” (Lancher, 2009, p.14), the work is actually very violent. The pillow and sheets have agitated pencil marks, with  bold, splattered oil paint dripping down the quilt. It leaves me feeling unsettled, as though something horrific occurred.

Bantam (1955)

Combine: oil, paper, printed reproductions, cardboard, fabric, and graphite on canvas 11 5/8 x 14 5/8 inches (29.5 x 37.1 cm) The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection, Los Angeles

The contrast between the NY Yankees across the bottom of the work and the feminine references on the top half are divided by cardboard. The photo of Judy Garland is covered by sheer white gauze, and the reclining woman, by red gauze (a reference to the fact that she’s posing nude?). The slashes of yellow and red paint drips to combine or link the masculine and feminine images.

Rebus (1955)

Combine: oil, synthetic polymer paint, pencil, crayon, pastel, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers, including a drawing by Cy Twombly, and fabric on canvas mounted and stapled to fabric Three panels: 96 x 131 1/8 x 1 3/4 inches (243.8 x 333.1 x 4.4 cm) overall The Museum of Modern Art, New York Partial and promised gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and purchase

This is perhaps my favorite work of those I’ve seen. The division between the three panels form vertical lines, while the image forms a horizontal line, enforced and supported by a shelf-like row of small colored squares. Near each end are photos of runners. Are they in the same race, and do the pictures and colors in between represent obstacles they must over come? It reminds me of graffiti on a city wall, with the bold, dripping colors and partial printed papers. “THAT REPRE” in the upper left is intriguing. That represents? Represses?

I chose Rauschenberg to research because his works fascinates me and he had such an impact on modern art, but also because he’s a fellow Texan. He was a very prolific and diverse artist: a painter, sculpture, printer, as well as his combines using photography, print and found objects. It’s very difficult to assess art in books and online. I look forward to our NYC visit in October, when I can go to MOMA and see some of Rauschenberg’s works in person.

ETA 9/28/17: Be sure to check out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit!

 

Reference:
Lancher, C. (2009) Robert Rauschenberg. New York: The Museum of Modern Art
Tompkins, C. (2005) Off the wall. New York: Picador
http://www.biography.com/people/robert-rauschenberg-9452410
http://www.robertrauschenbergfoundation.org

Chestertown River Arts

I recently went to Chestertown River Arts, a small, community arts center on Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore (I may be prejudiced…) that hosts a monthly rotating art exhibit in their gallery. August features two fiber related exhibits, Fiber Finesse and Fabrications 2014.

Fiber Finesse, in the main gallery, featured mainly handmade items for wear and home, such as knitted sweaters, shawls and blankets, needlepoint and cross-stitch hangings and quilts.

Shibori Scarf, by Lesley Campana

Shibori Scarf, by Lesley Campana

 

This scarf, was handwoven of Tencel, then hand-dyed (type of dye was not listed). The Shibori dyeing technique Ms. Campana used resulted in beautiful, softened geometric shapes. I also liked the shift of color prominence, anchored by the matching fringe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplemental Warp Scarf, by Lesley Campana

Supplemental Warp Scarf, by Lesley Campana

The Supplemental Warp Scarf was handwoven using rayon, nylon and mohair. This is a weaving technique I’m very interested trying, and I think she uses it for a lovely effect here.

 

 

 

 

 

I found Fabrications 2014 a fascinating exhibit. There were offerings in pottery, wood & mirror, and kiln-formed glass & steel. My favorite artist there was Joyce Murrin, whose works of fabric used color and contrasting prints to create evocative nature pictures.

Moving Water, by Joyce Murrin

Moving Water, by Joyce Murrin

by Joyce Murrin

Winter Coming On, by Joyce Murrin

Deep Forest, by Joyce Murrin

Deep Forest, by Joyce Murrin

 

 

In Moving Water, her use of not only curved pieces of fabric, but the tonal shades gives the piece fluidity. Winter Coming On uses cotton print, paint and pen, and tucking of the fabric for the Birch trees . Deep Forest also utilized machine stitching, and unexpected flashes of color throughout the bottom half of the work.

 

 

 

In Fabric Interpretations of Photos, Ms. Murrin gives us a side-by-side view of the original photo and her fiber version. While it’s very impressive how accurately a photo can be reproduced with fabric, I find the more abstract interpretations to have a greater impact.

Fabric Interpretations of Photos, by Joyce Murrin

Fabric Interpretations of Photos, by Joyce Murrin

Fabric Interpretations, by Joyce Murrin (detail)

Fabric Interpretations, by Joyce Murrin (detail)

 

 

(Lesley Campana, of The Celtic Knot Studio, can be reached at lcampana99@verizon.net)