“Art Lives!” / “This Green Space” / a mosaic

I’ve been having a lot of fun in my studio lately and I thought I would share some of my ideas, unfinished work, and creative process.  I’m working on a mosaic commission as well as several pieces for two group shows in March.

 

Art Lives!

This is the start of a collaborative piece that I am working on with Erika Nelson for "Art Lives!"

“Art Lives!” is a statewide collaborative project pairing women artists  to work together to make art about the theme art lives. The project was conceived by Rachel Epp Buller, an artist and professor at Bethel College in N. Newton, Kansas, as a response to the condition of arts funding in Kansas; Governor Sam Brownback vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission making Kansas the only state without an arts agency.

 

I am working in my studio on a collaborative piece for "Art Lives!"

I am working on a couple of pieces for this exhibit.  I am most excited to be working collaboratively with artist Erika Nelson of Lucas, Kansas, known for her “Worlds largest collection of the world’s smallest versions of the world’s largest things.”  I still haven’t met Erika in person, but I have enjoyed talking with her on the phone and through Facebook and email.  We’ve decided to begin two collaborative pieces, one that is “political” about the state of the arts in Kansas, and one focused more loosely on the theme art lives.  We are passing the two pieces back and forth in the mail, and by now have each had a chance to add to what the other has done.  It’s a fun process and we’re thinking of it as a dialogue.

 

This is the first layer of the piece that I am making for "Art Lives!" I will be layering ink and other media on clayboard and then scraping back into it with a scratchboard knife.

I am also beginning to work on a piece of my own for this exhibit.  I am imagining art lives as a depiction of a theatrical scene with dancers and actors springing forth and even flying through the space.  I’m imagining this “play” as including subtle references to the Occupy  movement because that movement has highlighted how publicly-funded programs like the Kansas Arts Commission are being taken over by wealthy corporate interests. I am excited to try a more  process-oriented approach with this piece, so the final product might be very different from my first thoughts.

                              

 

The exhibit “Art Lives!” will be on display at City Arts in Wichita, Kansas, from March 28 – April 21, 2012, with a Final Friday reception on March 30.

 

“This Green Space”

Call for entries

I am also planning a piece for an exhibit called “This Green Space” at the Percolator in Lawrence, Kansas. For this exhibit artists are invited to share their visions for imagining and re-imagining the green space at the corner of 9th and New Hampshire in Lawrence, a space that may become a large hotel — just across the alley from the Percolator.  Alternately, artists are invited to exhibit work that tells the story of how they have re-imagined “green spaces” of their own.

 

The green space that I am imagining at 9th and New Hampshire is a fantasy playground.  What I hope to convey in my finished scratchboard piece is a feeling of joy and play, focused on the needs and interests of children. I have quickly sketched out some ideas, made a more detailed plan, and am now in the process of rendering the piece in scratchboard.

 

“This Green Space” will be on exhibit March 3 – 25, 2012, at the Lawrence Percolator, and will be open for a reception during the March “Final Friday” event.

 

Mosaic commission

Mosaic in process

And as I move forward with the above new projects, I am also in the process of finishing a mosaic commission that I have been working on since December with a tree-theme.

New Mosaics at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, KS

Here are two new mosaics that I made, that will be on display and are for sale at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Kansas, from early November through December, 2011.

 

Each Mosaic, Winter Tree and From the Dark, includes many hours of work. I first created the basic concept and design for each, and then shaped the ceramic pieces to fit where I wanted them to go. The images change as I proceed, and I design each piece anew as each element is placed and new relationships are formed. I find the process to be a bit like putting together a puzzle that evolves as the creative process unfolds.

 

I made both mosaics from ceramic dishes that I found over time, mostly from thrift stores. Sometimes friends give me the remains of beloved dishes that were dropped or met some other dark fate, and I incorporate these, too. I stockpile dishes of particular colors that inspire me or that I know I’ll need eventually, especially black and white.

 

Each piece was inspired in part by the impending winter.  I wanted to create a stark winter beauty in the piece Winter Tree.  I have been thinking about the arch that appears in this piece for a long time.  It is a personal symbol for everything that is here within, a bit like a rainbow but matter of fact and without the emotion.  The other mosaic, From the Dark, is about illumination — the light that carries one through the dark — a dark winter or a dark time. The carrier of the light in this piece for me connotes fragility, yet the medium renders these papers boats rather solid.  The boats were interesting shapes for me to work with.

 

The Strecker-Nelson Gallery is located at 406 1/2 Poyntz Avenue, Manahattan, KS.  Hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm. Phone the gallery at 785-537-2099.

Commission Accomplished

 I’m pleased to have recently finished this commissioned mosaic. The theme is prairie grasses, and the piece is 12″ x 12″. I used recovered dishes and pottery to make the piece. When I make mosaics, I use a tile nipper to shape the ceramic pieces to fit, then glue them to a plywood backing before applying the grout.

Grout is Good: When Commissions Come Together

Occasionally I get the chance to create a piece of art that is commissioned for a particular purpose or occasion.

 

Once I made a collage time-line of sorts for a client who gave me important photos, memorabilia, and documents from his life to incorporate.  It was scary working with such precious things, among them a copy of his birth certificate, weathered and encased in fragments of plastic. He was someone I didn’t know and he didn’t want to influence my design or working process at all — total trust. And that was nerve-wracking. Would he like it? In the end I think he did, or at least he said he did.

 

Once a friend commissioned a piece of art for her wedding; two nesting doves portrayed in scratchboard. The original black and white image was reproduced in purple for the wedding invitations, programs, and t-shirts. Ten years later my friend’s parents commissioned another piece, now for my friend’s tenth anniversary. I used mixed-media collage for this one, again in purple. And now the doves have kids.

 

Today I am in the process of making a small commissioned piece in mosaic. The design phase is over, and for me that’s the hardest part of the creative process and also the most satisfying. The finished piece will be a gift commemorating new beginnings in a story that only my client could tell. I’ve enjoyed gathering some of the details of the lives that this piece will honor. I’ve worked alongside my client to find the right symbol and design: blowing prairie grasses. I am using broken shards of recycled dishes to make the mosaic. In addition, I’m incorporating small pieces of colored glass, special to my client who picked them up around her farm. I’ll know whether or not the mosaic will come together as a whole only after I grout it and it dries. Grout is the unifier. Grout is good.

Final Fridays art walk, July 29, 2011

Come join me for the Final Fridays “Art Party,” usually at Hobbs-Taylor Lofts, will be at a new location this month to beat the heat — 739 Massachusetts Street (Formerly Maurices) — in downtown Lawrence! I’ll be showing this new work:

 

 



 

Final Friday Events in Lawrence, March 25, 2011

Join me for the Final Friday festivities in Lawrence, KS, on March 25, 2011, from 5:30 – 9 pm.
I will show this new mosaic at the Lawrence Art Party,  at the Hobbs-Taylor Lofts on 8th and New Hampshire. I’ll be grouting this mosaic tomorrow, so wish me luck!

I’ll also be showing this new clayboard (also called scratchboard) piece at the Lawrence Art Party.

And finally, I made this new clayboard piece with colored ink, and it is only 5 inches square.  Come see it, and bid on it, at the Lawrence Arts Center’s annual art auction.  The opening is part of the Final Friday festivities on March 25.

Works in Progress and Upcoming Shows

Here are two new art pieces that I plan to finish for the Final Friday Art Party on March 25, 2011, at the Hobbs-Taylor lofts in Lawrence, Kansas.

Additional upcoming exhibits:

–My clayboard (also called scratchboard) pieces will be included in an exhibit of three artists who work in black and white, at the Carnegie Cultural Center in Ottawa, Kansas, in August and September, 2011

–My art will be exhibited at Wheatfield’s Bakery in Lawrence, Kansas, mid-October through mid-December

New Years Eve Art Party at Hobbs-Taylor Gallery

The Hobbs-Taylor Gallery at 8th and New Hampshire (Lawrence, KS) is hosting a “Final Friday” New Years Eve Art Party! Nineteen artists will be showing work from 5 – 9 pm, including me.  Here’s a couple new pieces that will be in the show:

Jost at the Yost Art Gallery in Highland, KS

My exhibit Linked in Spirit is showing at the Yost Art Gallery from Nov. 16 – Dec. 16, 2010, located at 606 W. Main on the campus of Highland Community College in Highland, KS.  The exhibit includes three new works that I’m showing for the first time: