Thursday, September 6, 2018

Creating a Book Out of Memories

This one kept me up because I was so excited. It began as a three ring binder of sermons from the 30s and 40s from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Most of the sermons were given by Dr. Peter Marshall (emigrated to the U.S. From Scotland and was appointed as the U.S. Senate Chaplain) but there is one from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. I added other letters, papers and a piece of cloth with the Old Rugged Cross printed on it. My family loves to keep keys. Do you? The photograph is from 1916 and is of Rachel Knuth Field. She married my dad's legal guardian in 1955. She was 43. She was one of the kindest people I have ever met. I still miss her even though she has been gone from my life for a long time. I hope she would be pleased.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Aunt Peggy's Student Nurses Apron

My great Aunt Peggy was someone I occasionally visited when I visited my grandparents in Maryland as a kid. She was my grandmother's youngest sister. Peggy's nickname was "The Queen" because her entire life she managed to only do what she wanted. She worked at the State Department beginning in 1940 for 60 years, never married, never had kids and lived in a small apartment. She never had much interest in me but I was interested in her. She was not boring.

Recently I learned that she had been in nursing school and quit one month before graduation. No one knows why she quit. I get the impression that this was something Peggy did. I did track down the hospital where she worked/studied and it was, at the time, an "insane asylum." Might make me quit too.

My mother was the executive of her estate and brought home boxes of things after her death. My mother is now going through things and disposing of them.  I have become the keeper of her nurses aprons (two), her nursing hat and medical book as well as some photos. This is a work-in-progress. I already see changes I want to make. The silk was dyed with avocado skins. I dyed the hanky bit. The other things were passed on to me. The gloves were mine and wore them to church on Sundays.  And so I continue to contemplate on why we keep the things that we do and what things will my children discover about me when I am gone. I do know I ask a lot more questions of those I love. Have you inherited things that now make you wish you had asked more questions?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Working, Working, Working

I am trying to be very disciplined and focused. It took a while to harness my nervous energy and now I just flow from one thing to the next.  I have completed a couple more collages. I work on them while the glue is drying on the assemblage pieces. Today I hope to actually fill some of the assemblages with stuff. I truly appreciate the time and space that A.I.R. Studio and my family has given me. It is a gift and one that I plan to make the most of it. Now that the Labor Day holiday is over, I have begun open studio hours. It should be interesting to see if anyone stops by. If not, you will find me working.

I do plan to venture out. Today I am making a trip to an art supply store named Ephemera Paducah. Does sound right up my alley! I will also make a trip to the Quilt Museum before quilt week starts. Until next time, go do something that makes you happy!

Monday, September 3, 2018

A.I.R. Gallery

I am pleased with how the gallery space at A.I.R. Studio is coming along. I need to take a photo at night for you to see it in its entirety. This will give you a taste.

I had two people stop by yesterday evening and both of them were draw to these new collages I made the week before I got here. I found that interesting. Brenda said that they spoke to her deeply. To say that I was surprised is to put it mildly and deeply touched. I loved making them and I plan to make more while I am here.

My newest in my "A Woman's Work, A Woman's Story" series also got attention. This one has the subtitle "The Crow" because I do collect things. I dyed the silk dupioni by placing it in the ground for several months just to see what would happen. The earth turned the very white fabric a very nice shade.

Now it is time to go to work! I am determined to make the most of my time here.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A.I.R. Studio Artist Residency

If you have read my blog, you know that I feel strongly about doing things that put me outside my comfort zone. For the next two weeks, A.I.R. Studio in Paducah, Kentucky. 

So what am I hoping to accomplish?

In 2013, nine of my friends died (some expected, most a shock) and my mother-in-law from Alzheimer's. The following spring, my dad died. I grieved. Each year brings loss of another family member and more friends. So much of my art in recent years has dealt with pain and loss, which has helped me come to terms with my own mortality and the need to not put things off. Having inherited things from both family and friends has also lead me to exploring the relationships to possession, loss, the notion of value and the act of keeping other people's memories.

I know that my children will not want most of what I own so it is my hope that I can take what has been given to me and create something that has new meaning and others will love. Cannot wait to share with you my new adventure. Setting up the gallery now. Photos soon! And if you're in town, stop by!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

Reaching for the Boro'd Moon
I like storms. They let  me know that even the sky screams sometimes too.   
                                              - Alice James-Book

For more than fifteen years, I have made putting stretch marks on my comfort zone a practice. Whenever I feel I am getting complacent, I look for something that makes me uncomfortable. When Cathy Neri approached me at Fantastic Fibers and suggested I do an artist residency in Paducah, I was hit with an uncomfortable moment. Crap! I applied and to my surprise, I was granted a two week residency at A.I.R. Studio in Paducah, Kentucky. I begin on September 2 so the count down has begun and I will be sharing more about what I want to accomplish in the days to come.

A Woman's Work, A Woman's Story
But first, I want to catch you up since I have been terrible about keeping this blog up-to-date. I have been going through old journals. I had high hopes after a crushing 2013 with nine friends dying that 2014 was going to be better. Only it wasn't. It was a year of lots of rejection, my husband being laid off from his job and all the stress that it caused, and my dad died. Remembering these tough times makes me appreciate all the great things that have been happening in my life. I try my best to practice gratitude. I have had lots of successes the last 19 months to the point that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  My work continues to be accepted into gallery exhibits. The most recent is Something Boro, Something Blue at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios in Lowell, Massachusetts. I entered two pieces and both got in! Not only that but "Reaching for the Boro'd Moon" was selected as the postcard image for the exhibit! To honor the Japanese tradition of boro I only used fabrics leftover from other projects that included a discarded print of my hand and arm and the indigo dyed dupioni moon. My other piece is a dress that is part of a series. It is titled "A Woman's Work, A Woman's Story." The opening is next month (August 11). Wish I could be there. If you get a chance, send me your thoughts.  Keep creating! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ending 2017 on a High Note

I'm going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life. 
                                                     -Elise DeWolfe

2017 ended on a high note. "Simpler Times" was juried into Big Fun Art at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Dowell, Maryland. The exhibit will be in the Kay Daugherty Gallery from February 16 - September 23. The idea behind the exhibit was to bring joy in these often troubling times. I love being a part of something that will hopefully make people happy. Truly wish I could be there to see it. 

"Simpler Times" was created to remember the summer I played Jacks with my best friend. The summer was not just about competition but finding the perfect spot to play. We declared the "tournament" a tie and planned a rematch the following summer. However, she moved at the end of the summer so a rematch never happened. And while she only moved three blocks away, her step father ended our friendship. It was the first time in my life that I was called "white trash." "My step father says that I cannot play with you anymore because you are white trash." I was ten at the time and had no idea what that meant.  I simply grieved. 

"Simpler Times" was created to turn a bad memory into a good one. It was to see if creating it could also help me heal. Whenever I decide to embrace a major change, I am forced to evaluate my thoughts and beliefs. The older I get the more I realize I need to pay attention to what is happening with my thoughts. So one of my goals for 2018 is to eliminate the unnecessary and I think my art is going to help me achieve that goal. 2018 is going to be an awesome year!