I know, I know. I said I was finished gathering unwanted textiles.
While I'm not "officially" accepting more contributions to the Inheritance Project, I'm not saying "no," either. If someone sees value in my work, would like me to be the final inheritor of a rescued or abandoned piece of cloth, is willing to take the time to send something to me here in Alaska, share what they know about the object, start a conversation and a relationship and maybe have a cathartic experience in the process...I'm not going to stop that person. No way, no how.
The Stripper Jacket.
I love meeting other artists online. It's been an incredible way for someone really far away (me) to gather folks around her who have the same goals, material questions and focus. Meeting Carol Larson in this ethereal way was one thing, but meeting her in person at Quilt National 2017 took it to a whole new level. Not only did Carol and I travel together, share a room and many meals in Athens, Ohio, but we also became temporarily lost driving out to Nancy Crow's studio for a visit (this was resolved with a quick call to Judy Martin, who assured us that we were off by one rural driveway). With all the driving and sometimes lost-ness, I think the two of us managed to discuss everything from children, to aging, to politics, to personal history, to clothing to business. I think we spent a total of 5 minutes talking about art, itself.
A few months ago, Carol sent me "a stripper jacket," an article of unknown origin she'd located in a drawer. It was carefully wrapped in tissue, clearly cared for at one point, by someone.
The evening jacket (it's not actually a stripper jacket...although, how would I know this?) is a frothy concoction of fragile mesh, embroidery and soutache braid. The center back is damaged and the bottom edge indicates it was separated from something at some point. I entertained the idea of wearing it to the Quilt National opening, but I settled for wearing it out on my deck instead. It doesn't really fit.
Carol's piece, "No Means No," part of her "Defining Moments" series, was selected for the 20th Quilt National Biennial. She delivered an eloquent, poised statement about the personal history embedded in this piece, with a bravery that comes from a life lived and decades of separation from a single moment, despite a smoldering anger. Those embers flared while she built this piece and followed Brock Turner's 2016 lenient rape sentence. She drove that narrative into this provocative work.
I was so happy to spend time with this lady.
About 110 years old...could be...
Ann McNeely is a family friend and part of "The Lunch Bunch," a group of women my mom has met with monthly for years. I've only attended a Lunch Bunch once, several years ago, and it was a scream. Presents arrive in tissue stuffed bags for whomever has a birthday that month, my mom always bakes for everyone during the holidays, they exchange jam or chocolate. These women were incredibly generous when I had my first baby, and continue to share their hearts with one another.
This unfinished quilt top, made by Ann's grandmother, is a continuation of this generosity.
I love that this quilt is made from fabric samples, and yes, it's possible there are portions that are over 100 years old, but there are also fabrics that have a 50's or 60's vibe. Which tells me Grandma Ruth picked this up and put it down for decades. Decades. And it's enormous, well on its way to fitting a queen-sized bed. Each of those hexagons is sewn together by hand.
I'm honored and blown away to receive such a labor of love. Thank you.
One year ago on this blog:
Two years ago on this blog:
I’ve been working with Creative Capital, an organization that, in part, works with artists to bolster their business skills — strategic planning, budgeting, time management, etc. A full day workshop and on-going webinar series are perks for this year’s Individual Artist Award Recipients, generously made possible by the Rasmuson Foundation, and I’m grateful for the guidance.
One of the things the presenters from Creative Capital stressed in our first day-long workshop back in May was the concept of “Doing Less with More.” Let me repeat that: Do. Less. With. More. I know. This goes against the Artist Super Power of “Doing More with Less,” but it’s a new mind-bender to try and apply to my own practice in a few different ways.
So, what do I have a lot of? What might this "more" currently be?
And that is a ridiculous combination of things.
But here are a few jobs I realized have already spun from that kind of kooky abundance, and one of the ways I'm applying that "less-with-more" mind set.
Dragons + Words = Article
Last winter I completed a public art project at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library. The 15-foot, 3-panel triptych originally commissioned in 2003 (for a different library), was taken apart and expanded to a 30-foot, 6 panel banner, featuring a community art project on the reverse. Now the dragon fits the space properly and the project feels complete. I blogged about it in a 3-part series (links at the end), which some of you may have read.
The editor for Machine Quilting Unlimited also read those posts, and hired me to craft an article based on them, sharing the process with her readers. The current May/June 2017 issue features that article.
Is this piece machine quilted? No. Is it a quilt? No. Does that matter? No.
But here's a sidebar that does matter: fiber people and quilt enthusiasts -- please ensure you are paid appropriately for writing print articles. Getting paid in "exposure" or magazine issues doesn’t count, because that’s like the time I received 9 bounced paychecks as a pattern maker in the fashion industry and my then-boss offered to pay me in the clothing we were designing for 14- and 16-year olds. I was 23.
Is it ironic that I blog for free at 45 yet still feel compelled to tell you all to pull up your Big Girl Pants? Yes. The amount artists and writers are paid sets the precedent for those who come after them, so ask for what you are worth. If you didn't make enough last time, get that figured out and make it right next time. The generation coming up will thank you.
Right. Enough said.
Dragons + Doilies = Commissioned Painting
This spring, a friend named Sherri (whom the kids called “Miss-Sherri-Our-Librarian,” when they were 3 and 5) retired after 31+ years with the Anchorage Public Library. I've had a long, lovely relationship with our state and municipal library system illustrating Summer Reading Program posters, custom painting computer kiosks, setting up my table in the youth services area and selling children’s books, reading and showing illustration sketches to groups of kids….and a lot of this was facilitated by Miss-Sherri-Our-Librarian.
Not only did I work with Miss-Sherri-Our-Librarian on the original Dragon textile banner in 2003, but I also got to write grants with her in 2015 and 2016 to double its size. She was also a contributor to the Inheritance Project, her family linens (above) were in The 19th boxes of mystery.
This is all coming together, I promise.
Did you know I've illustrated a dozen children's books? It's true. I'm taking a little break from that super good stuff, but not forever, so when another librarian contacted me to create a commissioned retirement gift for Miss-Sherri-Our-Librarian, I was thrilled and knew exactly what I wanted to do.
This idea put into words would've sounded ludicrous and I was glad I didn't have to explain it to anyone in advance. Like, to an art director.
This cracks me up every time I look at it.
Less with more, I'm telling you, stick it in your brain. Figure out what you have an abundance of and go make something fabulous with it, or with them.
Elsewhere on this blog, there be dragons:
One year ago on this blog:
Two years ago on this blog:
Commissioned work & public art:
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.