Category Archives: Commentary

Artistic Endeavors – Individual Artists

Each week since January I’ve been featuring websites related to art and the art world. I have four more weeks in 2018 and way more possible websites I want to feature. So, I plan to present groups of websites for the remaining posts in this series. Individual artists are up this week. I think there’s something for everyone, even my husband.

Fiona Richardson – landscape embroidery

Ruby Silvious – teabag miniature art

teabag kimono

Isobel Currie – threads 3D art

Rogan Brown – paper sculptures

Chris Perani – photography of butterfly wings, other microphotography

Barbara Takenaga – paintings and installations




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Artistic Endeavors – Quilts And Real World Issues

Quilts often seek to evoke warm, cozy feelings associated with rainbows, puppies, and holidays; but some are deliberately different. They are meant to make the viewer question assumptions and possibly feel uncomfortable.

Most recently the Threads of Resistance show has been exciting reactions, but quilters were making social and political statements in the 19th century about topics like war, temperance, and women’s suffrage. The tradition has continued through civil rights, environmental issues, AIDs, refugees, gun control and other contemporary concerns.

AIDs quilt

Women’s Christian Temperance Union Bear Paw quilt

I addressed the social commentary quilts shown at 2018’s QuiltCon earlier. Here’s my favorite one, a tribute to Heather Heyer, the activist killed during the white supremacist march in Charlottesville last August.

Juli Smith B4U

I viewed the Threads of Resistance exhibit at the 2018 Sewing Expo in Cleveland, Ohio, after reading the printed warning about the graphic nature of some of the work. The exhibit was cordoned off, with only one entry point. I took photos of ones I thought combined a message and artistry. See all the entries here.

Get Woke – Julie Parrish

Seeking Refuge – Do Palma

Patriotism – Amy Sullivan

My Body, My Rules – Sue Bleiweiss
Nevertheless, They Persisted – Do Palma

The societal/political aspects of quilts are stronger than you’d think if you went only by what’s exhibited at many quilt shows. Part of the International Quilt Study Center’s website, World Quilts: The American Story, is devoted to engagement. Thomas Knauer posted an impassioned editorial about what he calls the whitewashing of quilts’ context

I looked over my work and found almost no topical subjects. I just don’t do what I call message quilts. But maybe I should. Let me end with a quilt I think, and others agree, epitomizes the use of quilting skills in service of a message.

Freedom quilt by Jessie Telfair, 1983




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Artistic Endeavors – Tokyo at Night by Liam Wong

If you’re a fan of the movie “Blade Runner” you’ll love the neon colored  photography of Liam Wong. Wong is a Scottish (I didn’t see that coming) graphic designer who works for a video game company in Canada. On a trip to Tokyo he set out to capture the city in all its nighttime neon glory.

Memories of Green


Tokyo Night Train

Walking The Nocturnal Streets of Shinjuku



Purple Rain

Minutes to Midnight


I’m drawn especially to the rainy night scenes. Wong has an Instagram feed for his work, @liamwon9. You can also buy merch printed with his photos. See his website for details.


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Artistic Endeavors – Luiz Zerbini

Sometimes I see a painting that at first I think is a quilt, like the one below.

Tatu Bola by Luiz Zerbini

Recently I’ve been working with Drunkards Path blocks so that’s what immediately came to my mind. But, Tatu Bola is one of the paintings by Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini that was recently exhibited at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

According to the Stephen Friedman Gallery writeup of his work, “Zerbini uses a rich and luminous palette on a range of different subject matter from landscapes, cityscapes, and domestic scenes to those with a more obscure or even abstract intention. By juxtaposing styles and techniques, organic and geometric patterns, fields of light and shadow, he creates optical effects that beckon for contemplation. He is an artist that constantly multiplies the formal possibilities related to his painting and rejects any potential stagnation of established formula, making it difficult to define any linearity in his production.”

I take that to mean you can’t really pin down his style. But, no matter, here’s some of his work that appealed to me.

I find an intriguing combination of grids and curves in Zerbini’s work, and some of his painterly effects, like the lower right corner of the last work shown above, look like they could be hand dyed fabric.


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The Rest of the Story

About a month ago I featured my adventures in an online class called Abstract-A-Licious, run by Lyric Kinard. The class ended in mid-October, so I want to show you my responses to the last class exercises. We were to take some of our abstractions and develop them further into a design in fabric.

I used my drawings from earlier lessons, though there was no requirement to do so. Lyric encouraged us to “go rogue” if that’s what worked for us.

I began with my Degas dancer abstraction. First, though, I played with my tracing paper drawings just for fun.

 Maybe an idea for a transparency work?

The abstraction I used.

First version, which Lyric said was top heavy.
Second version, flipped and shapes added. From here on, I stopped fusing the shapes and just laid them down.


Third version, color and position of “ball” changed. Both Lyric and I think it still needs work, but I need the perspective of time.

For my final class project I cut a window in a sheet of paper and selected part of a drawing for a paper collage design. I think this design was to be in fabric and more finished than mine is, but I had the colors I wanted in paper only. I hope to make it in fabric, though the translation will be tricky.

Lyric commented, “There is a fantastic flow in this work… lots of organic shapes that lead the eye from one place to another. It’s in a mostly analogous color scheme so the colors aren’t really competing with each other. The point on the yellow really moves your eye up to the orange then swings it back down and around.”

One side benefit I got from the class came from Lyric’s push to articulate why I made my design decisions. Many I thought were intuitive actually were rational. I’ve begun to see that it’s important for an artist to be able to talk another person through her work.

Each online class I’ve taken has had varied student participation and interactions. I think Lyric’s class began with about 15 students. Just two of us completed all the units. I know at least one student was preoccupied with Hurricane Florence, and had very limited internet access. Still, I wonder why so many of the others never posted beyond the introductory unit. Lyric was very supportive in her comments so I hope students didn’t fear criticism. While you can read and benefit from the class materials, you really learn by doing the work.

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Artistic Endeavors – The Chicago Art Institute’s Digital Collection

As if last week’s Library of Congress’s digital holdings weren’t enough, this week I’m featuring the newly organized Chicago Art Institute’s digital collection.  Not only is the collection more accessible, you can enjoy the Institute’s blog as well.

As this blog post notes, the Institute recognizes that our digital experience has changed since the 2012 redesign.

“…we’ve released thousands of images in the public domain on the new website in an open-access format (52,438 to be exact, and growing regularly). Made available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, these images can be downloaded for free on the artwork pages.”

The level of detail available for the resources is greater, and a recommendations engine has been added.

The Executive Creative Director of Experience Design has more to say about the redesign’s wonders, but let’s get to the goodies. Just under the search box are several topics that make for intriguing browsing. There’s essentials, which are the museum’s greatest hits like American Gothic; mythology, armor, woodblock print, modernism, furniture, and many others. Sadly, textiles and fabric aren’t given their own billing.

A check under animals reveals several different kinds of art – paintings, sculpture, stained glass, furniture, etc. Sometimes the animal is central to the piece and sometimes more peripheral, like this drawing of a young lady with a parrot.

Then, there’s this magnificent feathered tunic from Peru, circa AD1500.

To continue with the eclectic entries under the animal theme, ancient Greeks could drink from a donkey’s head that apparently couldn’t be set down without spilling.



I have no idea what to make of this enigmatic watercolor by Rene Magritte called Homesickness. Does the figure have dark wings? Is that a tame lion?

It’s interesting to slice a museum’s deep collection across a subject rather than a format. I found it led to unexpected discoveries.

A word of warning, despite all the press about the redesign, I didn’t find the site especially easy to use. It’s great if you want to link an object to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.; but to see the details of individual objects it seems you need to disable popup blockers.

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Artistic Endeavors – Free to Use and Reuse

Bless the Library of Congress for making so much good stuff available. To quote from its website,

This page features items from the Library’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The Library believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use. Each set of content is based on a theme and is first featured on the Library’s home page.

These sets are just a small sample of the Library’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The digital collections comprise millions of items including books, newspapers, manuscripts, prints and photos, maps, musical scores, films, sound recordings and more. Whenever possible, each collection has its own rights statement which should be consulted for guidance on use. Learn more about copyright and the Library’s collections.

I can’t add to that description, but will share some of the delights that appealed to me as I browsed the collections.

Japanese woodblock prints

Doesn’t it look like they’re wearing quilts?

Posters

Looks like inspiration for a modern quilt.


I never thought of costumes as Pennsylvania’s prime attraction.

People

Montana cowboys – the original Marlboro man?

Billie Holiday
Geo. Miles with an impressive ‘stache.
J. E. Hanger. I’d love to know why he wanted to show his prosthesis.

Covers and Miscellaneous

What a great font.

Love the art nouveau styling.

I think that lady better be careful of her foot. The axe wielder looks none too competent.

Word of warning, you can spend many hours poking around the Library’s offerings. And what’s shown on the Free to Use and Reuse Sets is a small fraction of what’s available. The digital collections contain thousands of items, some more esoteric than others.

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