Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Night that I Will Not Soon Forget--Going for a Dream

Last night was the opening of "Home" at the ARC Gallery in Chicago. It was almost a surreal experience. I learned that more than 400 pieces of art were submitted and 36 were accept. When I went to visit my piece, "Mirage: Not Always as It Seems," I discovered that I was one of four honorable mentions. There are also one best of show. If as the evening could not get better, one of the board members approached me about applying for membership in the gallery because my piece was her favorite and she was thrilled when it was accepted. She also liked the other piece I submitted and felt if this indicated the type of work that I do that I would be most welcomed into the gallery. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I am still processing it all. And, yes, I am considering applying because it scares me and I haven't done enough things that frighten me.

I thought I would share the other piece I submitted. I have been creating a series of dresses in cloth, clay, resin and paper. "Not in This Body" has to do with women and transgenders who do not feel at home in their own bodies. I was so proud of myself for actually being able to create barbed wire out of clay and successfully getting it out of the kiln in one piece.

"Mirage: Not Always as It Seems" deals with home not always being a safe place but the outside world does not know this. It's a deeply personal piece so having it accepted then acknowledge by the judges - Trevor Martin (Director of Exhibitions and Associate Curator at the School of the Art Institute) and Asha Veal Brisebois (graduate student in art administration and policy student at School of the Art Institute Chicago)- is beyond words for me. My parents never embraced my desire to create art. They thought I should become a teacher or a secretary. Seeing the world differently was something that made them uncomfortable. Deciding it was time to risk more has paid off more than I ever imagined. What risk have you taken that has paid off more than you imagined?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Planning Ahead- New Journal

This pouring thoughts out on paper has relieved me. I feel better and full of confidence and resolution.”
― Diet EmanThings We Couldn't Say

Thanks to everyone for their kind words about the passing of my cat E.G. I thought I was handling it well until a traffic jam at my grocery store had me making a quick detour. I suddenly realized I was in the pet isle and starting crying. Thankfully I had tissues with me. I felt a little silly, but I know grief is a process and stopped beating myself up. Progress!
Journal is 9.5" x 6.5" x 1".

I have not felt overly creative but I have been working on a new journal. My intention was to use it for next year but I wrote about E.G.'s death in it and a short note on Thanksgiving. It is a handmade book that I purchased years ago. As I have said in the past, I am going to start using things that I have "saved." This felt like a good start. The handmade paper is presently some challenges. It absorbed the watercolor paints so much that getting a watercolor look did not happen and it does not like fine point pens. A Sharpie seems to work best so I will need to go with the flow.

I decided to do things a little differently this time because I want to be able to list somethings and think about others.

Here is just one example-- "Things to Remember" has to do with having more gratitude. "Things to Let Go" has to
do with healing the past. I have a place to list all the books I read and things I want to learn. Some pages have photographs, found and created paper, envelopes to put things in, blank pages for sketching, etc. I am excited!

Do you journal? Have you created your own? What have your challenges been?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Life Had Other Plans

I had planned to start a couple of new projects on Monday, but returning home from picking up by piece at the Burning Bush Gallery, I discovered that my cat of more than 20 years, E.G. (named after one of my favorite authors- Ellen Gilchrist) had decided to die. By the time I found her, she had slipped thankfully into a coma. I sat with her until she drew her last breath. While it was and still is extremely sad, I am glad she died at home. She hated car rides and really hated the vet. I knew it was coming because after all she was old and had been going downhill for quite a while. She lived far long than I had ever thought possible especially considering she was feral. The grieving continues and I am ready to start my new projects that I will be sharing soon. How have you coped with the loss of a pet?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

ARC Gallery

I joke that I am trying to get all my vices in one room and it's true! I have collected and made so many things and it is time to start using them before it is too late. Assemblage has always fascinated me and this came together while I was working on a class proposal for ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center in Lisle. It actually came together rather quickly. It is made from an old cheese box that I added some chair pieces. The chair was in my yard and fell apart. Now I wish I had kept more pieces from it! The nest is an actual robin's nest that I dipped in slip (runny clay) and was wood fired. Because of where it was in the kiln, it got over fired and fused to the kiln shelf. I added other found objects like a mouse skull, bones, rocks, a piece of glass, whole nutmeg and a shell piece. I really like the way it came out. It's called "Mirage: Not Always as it Seems."

Then the call from ARC Gallery (2156 N. Damen Ave., Chicago) came into my inbox for an exhibition called "Home." I decided to enter my piece and pinch me! I got in. I still cannot believe it. The judges were too people from the School of the Art Institute. The exhibition runs from November 23 - December 17. The opening reception is December 2 from 6 pm - 9 pm. I cannot wait. ARC Gallery has been around since 1973. It grew out of the women's movement and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever have a piece of my artwork hanging in it. Once again, I am glad I ventured outside of my comfort zone and I cannot wait to create my assemblage pieces.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Michelle Owens Free At Last

More than seven years ago, I drove to Maryville, Ohio, to interview quiltmakers for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, an oral history project, in the Ohio Reformatory for Women. The women had made quilts for a special exhibit for Sacred Threads called Beyond the Barrier. This is where I met Michelle. To be honest, I did not feel a strong connection to Michelle when we met, not like I did with some of the other women. And yet, I have the closest relationship with Michelle.  I have watched her grow, work hard and become self aware. Michelle was 35 years old when she entered prison and it is now more than 12 years later. Tomorrow she will be released after serving her full sentence. She will be facing lots of challenges. Her mother is suffering from dementia. She will need to get a job, but will not have a car, etc. She hopes to knit for homeless and children in need. She truly has a good heart and knows that she made some bad decisions including the man she married and hopes to divorce soon. He did the crime, made a deal and got out early, but that isn't what I want to concentrate on here. It does explain her new last name. I hope you will join me in helping Michelle feel supported and encouraged by sending her a card and/or a fat quarter, etc. Thanks!

Michelle Krajcovic
874 Triplett Blvd.
Akron, OH 44306

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Lesson of Burnt Toast

Dropping Out of the Conga Line to do the Merengue 
"Being tolerant does not mean that I share another one's belief. But it does mean that I acknowledge another's right to believe, and obey, his own conscience." -Viktor Frank

It's interesting how a memory from childhood suddenly sprung in my mind as I listened to a woman behind me rant about art quilts to her friend. I didn't mean to ease drop but it was impossible not to hear her because she was so loud and passionate. "Quilts can never be art." "People who make art quilts are snobs and disillusional." I so wanted to take her friend, new to quilting, aside. I thought about saying something but from past experience, I knew that there was nothing I could say that would change this woman's mind. And that is when my childhood memory popped into my head. I was 10 or 11 years old and visiting my grandparents in Maryland for first time with just my brother along. My grandfather was never a warm man and even though he had three daughters and no sons, he always seemed awkward around me. Since my brother was also present, the "boys" hung out together as did the "girls." Anyway, my grandfather liked his toast burnt--black and completely lacking in any moisture. When he ate it, you could hear the crunch and watch the crumbs fall.  I liked my toast "warm" as he would call it. He did not think I should be able to have my toast the way I liked it. Thankfully after listening to a long lecture, he left the table and my grandmother gave me "warm" toast. To this day, I do not understand what the big deal was about the way I like my toast. So I turned around and asked the woman, "How do you like your toast?" and then asked anyone that was nearby. As I suspected, no one answered the same way. "Making quilts is a lot like toast," I said. "There is lots of different ways to make them." I got applause from the person behind the cash register. I wish I could tell you that I got through to the woman instructing her friend. I did get a thumb's up from her friend (when her friend wasn't looking) so I am happy. Do you have a burnt toast experience? If so, I would love to hear it.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Real Simple magazine

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  -Ben Franklin

When I lecture and teach, I talk a lot about taking risks and not being afraid to fail because that is how I try to live my life. Over the years I have entered Real Simple's call for their "Your Words."  I have never been selected until "What is your secret to hosting a great Thanksgiving meal?" I was and still am in shock that I was selected because my "secret" had nothing to do about planning the meal or selecting a theme as others shared.

The actual experience was interesting. When I first received the list questions, my answers were not long enough (they got edited in the end anyway). When asked what I do for a living, I stated that I make art, teach, lecture, write and curate. The reply was to ask if I was retired. LOL They would not list everything that I do . I still don't understand why so they chose mixed media artist and curator. I am fine with that, but still wonder why doing many things that all feed my soul and for me, are all connected, could not be listed.  So far only my mother and one friend have noticed I am in the magazine so I guess I won't have my 15 minutes of fame. I can only hope that if I can start a movement for sharing more about what we are grateful for in the people we love then I will have accomplished something. Here's to "the buffet in between." I do love Thanksgiving and I am so thankful to those who read my words.