“On the Bias” and “Postpartum”

UPDATE:  Photos from the exhibit Working on the Bias

 

My artwork will be included in two forthcoming exhibits opening in February and March: Working on the Bias in Salina, Kansas, and Postpartum in El Dorado, Kansas. Both are projects of the Kansas branch of the Feminist Art Project.

 

Working on the Bias

Watson Gallery

151 S. Santa Fe, Salina, KS

Feb. 22 – Apr. 21, 2013

 

I decided to make a banner for this exhibit after re-visiting a book I found years ago at a library book-sale called Banners and Hangings: Design and Construction, by Norman Laliberte and Sterling McIlhany, published in 1966.  The book was musty and plain with no dustcover, but the banners in it by renowned artist Norman Laliberte, and his banner-making process, were exciting and of their time in a good way.

 

I remember banners as a child growing up in the 1960′s and 70′s, some political and others religious.  My mother taught me rudimentary embroidery and sewing skills back then too, and these were the basic skills that I brought to my banner project.  The passing on of sewing skills from mother to daughter is relevant for Working on the Bias because the exhibit is framed as a feminist art show intended to link needlework and “identity”.

 

My banner’s themes also relate to my memory of the banners I saw in my youth because the words and images fall somewhere between  political and spiritual, calling for action on climate change. The angel in my banner is both a mother and a farmer, and a blazing sun and cracked earth of a drought surround her. The text is a plea, but not to a spiritual being for help. Instead the plea is directed to our own better selves or better angels and reads: “It’s too hot!” and “It feels wrong.”  And then, “Listen to our better angels, heed the warnings, and act!”

 

I learned from working on this banner that needlework, at least for a novice like me, takes time.  After working on the piece for several hours a day for numberswiki.com

a number of weeks, I began to develop a repetitive motion injury and a badly strained back.  It seemed a bit ridiculous to become injured by simply hand-sewing and yet why not? A friend whose mother is a quilter told me that this kind of injury is common among quilters. Think of our grandmother’s gnarled hands.

 

Rachel Epp Buller, regional coordinator of the Feminist Art Project, and Carolyn Wedel, director of the Watson Gallery in Salina, KS, are curating the exhibit. They will include artwork that explores gender and identity by either physically or conceptually incorporating stitched, embroidered, or woven elements. The exhibit will serve as an accompaniment to the nationally touring exhibit, A Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art, opening this month (February 2013) at the Salina Arts Center.

 

Postpartum

Erman B. White Gallery, Butler County Community College

901 S. Haverhill, El Dorado, KS

Mar. 1 – Apr. 5, 2013

 

Postpartum explores the postpartum experience of women through art, including such themes as the postpartum body and mind, the lactating body, maternal loss and grief, the reevaluation of family gender roles, and more. I will have two small scratchboard pieces in the exhibit: Steamed and Blessing.

 

I sometimes joke that even ten years after giving birth to my beautiful boy, I’m still processing his colic! Trying to console an inconsolable baby every evening for three months was stressful indeed, but in this piece I was considering a different kind of noise and stress. In Steamed (2011) the screaming baby, chattering squirrel, and steaming tea-pot are metaphors for what sometimes feel like a clamorous, confusing, out-of-control world crying out for attention and comfort — with a bit of whimsy thrown in, too.

 

When my son was a baby, I carried him around in a sling. When I was walking downtown on one of those days, a Native American man who seemed to be experiencing hard times or was maybe even homeless called out to me and said, “Don’t let those angel’s wings get scraped nowhere.” These words were a blessing for me, a reminder of the great responsibility that I was taking on as a new mother and a reminder that raising children really is the work of an entire community.  I call the piece Blessing (2003).

 

 

 

 

 

Better angels, a deer, and a boat

One evening I went on a walk with my family around our neighborhood. Storms were in the area, and the weather was overcast and very still. Suddenly out of nowhere a deer came running down the street. She was out of place and confused and was heading for a busy intersection. Neighbors grouped together and watched, but no one knew what to do. The deer was like a symbol (or an omen) for our world out of whack.

Lately I’ve been investigating ideas towards a theme for a show at Marty Olson’s “Do’s Deluxe” in Lawrence, in November. The process is like making a collage; images and ideas come from almost everywhere as I respond to experiences, memories, and the world around me.

 

At the core of this exploration, though, is the feeling that I along with many others are standing on a precipice – or facing an impending storm. The storm is literal (wildfires, massive thunderstorms, and blinding heat) and a metaphor too — how the rage of intolerance, war, corporate power, anti-science extremism and climate change threaten our neighborhoods, environment, civil rights, voting rights, human rights.

 

"Better Angels," 5" x 5", Ambersand Scratchbord

But the change that is in the air is also seasonal and sensual and filled with preparation. While we teeter on a precipice in a worrisome sort of waiting game with many people not responding quickly enough, some people are feeling the weight and see the risks and the hard times ahead. Some will roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done even though it will be hard to turn things around. They’ll try.

 

People know what to do with a storm. Memories of my mom and dad canning peaches in the heat of summer for the winter ahead come to mind. I think of the transition to fall’s bitter-sweetness and time passing, when wood is stacked in preparation for the looming winter. But more than that, people come together in the storms of winter and through their collective work and actions actually become the spring.

 

The seasons are like history repeating itself with a comforting regularity. I can hope for a more reasonable day because more reasonable days have come. Public schools, social services, healthcare and the arts have enjoyed broad public support, even in Kansas.  And a conservative supreme court (however cynically) can surprise us by upholding the healthcare law.  Maybe it is too much to hope.  But isn’t that a good role for an artist?

 

"Boat," 6" x 8", mixed-media collage

Foreboding and illumination. Churning and solace. Despair and reverie. Images as they develop in my mind and find their way into my sketchbooks, drawings, mosaics, and collages, are about storms real and political.  But more than that they are about the feeling that comes before the storm; the stillness, the headwind, the first clinks of hail. This work is about seeking the “better angels of our nature” and finding the comforting reverberations of possibility.

 

 

“On With the Show” in “Art Lives!” at CityArts of Wichita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On With the Show celebrates the creative expression of children, and is part of the exhibit Art Lives!, a statewide collaborative project coordinated by the Feminist Art Project as a response to Governor Brownback’s elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) a year ago.

 

The Kansas Arts Commission worked hard to support the making of art by children in schools and community centers across the state. When the KAC was cut, these programs were cut too. In addition, the state has cut funding to the public schools and this also means cuts to the arts. What happens when our state decides that we no longer need to nurture the imagination and creative spirit of young people?

 

Art Lives! opens tonight, March 30, 2012, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at CityArts of Wichita.

A Playground for “This Green Space”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What should the city do with “This Green Space” — the open lot on 9th and New Hampshire beside the Lawrence Arts Center?  A recent exhibit at the Lawrence Percolator put that question to the public.  My response: build a playground!  On Tuesday, April 27, a procession of Percolator members and volunteers took a model of the hotel proposed for that spot to City Hall, illustrating its large size in relation to other buildings and advocating for alternatives.

“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.

Wheatfields Bakery Exhibit, Lawrence, KS

Have some coffee and a scone and see my art at Wheatfields Bakery in Lawrence, Kansas!

 

My art is on display at Wheatfields Bakery (904 Vermont) from Monday, October 10 – Sunday, December 5, 2011.  The exhibit includes mixed-media collages, clayboard drawings, and mosaics that I have made in the last few years through the present.

 

Some of my work is now available as prints, and these are listed on the information sheet at Wheatfields. Wheatfields is open M – F 6:30 am – 8 pm, S 6:30 am – 6:30 pm, and Su 7:30 am – 4 pm.

Going / Home / Coming at the Percolator

This is a detail of "Democrats!" at the Lawrence Percolator.

Everyone is invited to the opening reception for the exhibit Going / Home / Coming on August 13, 6 – 9 pm, at the Lawrence Percolator in Lawrence, KS. The artists whose work will be shown explore the theme of “home” with the following in mind: When do you become aware of home? In what situations do you not feel at home? How does the idea of home change over time?

 

My piece in the exhibit includes an anecdote from my childhood about growing up as a Democrat in a Republican state — my home state of Kansas. I made the piece by applying and scratching off various inks on a clayboard surface. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing and reading this quirky little piece.

 

The Lawrence Percolator is located in the alley between 9th and 10th streets and behind the Lawrence Arts Center on New Hampshire St. The exhibit runs August 13 – September 11, 2011, and is open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon – 6 pm, and on the Final Friday of each month from 5 – 8 pm.

“Scratch, Sprinkle, Cut” at the Carnegie Cultural Center

Come see my clayboard drawings in a three-person exhibit called Scratch, Sprinkle, Cut, at the Carnegie Cultural Center in Ottawa, KS. The exhibit features the black-and-white art of Azyz Sharafy (sandtoning), Angela Pickman (cut paper), and me (clayboard).

 

The Carnegie Cultural Center is at 5th and Main in Ottawa, KS. The exhibit runs August 5 – September 30, 2011, and the hours are Wednesday – Friday, noon – 5 pm, and by appointment on Saturdays. The exhibit reception is open to all on Friday, August 19, 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

 

I will offer a two-hour Scratchboard Workshop at the Carnegie on Saturday, August 27, from 10 am – noon. The cost is $20. Call to pre-register at 785-242-8478.