Category Archives: Inspiration

Artistic Endeavors – Excellence in Fibers 2017

As a quilter I sometimes forget that the world of fiber encompasses much more than a three layer fabric sandwich. Fiber Art Network, a subscription organization for “artists, collectors, enthusiasts, and leaders in the fiber art and textiles community,” presented a juried exhibition called Excellence in Fibers 2017 that’s full of unexpected and intriguing ways to create fiber art. I don’t claim to understand it all, but I like seeing a variety of approaches.

Here are a few selections that caught my eye. I deliberately didn’t select pieces I could identify as quilts, though many are in the exhibition.

Betty Busby, Wing

Emily Jan, Apologue

Mariko Kusomoto, Garden Mosaic

Ruth Marchese, Space in Time

Annette Heully, Interconnected

The Fiber Art Network website also offers some videos and galleries of previous Excellence in Fibers shows.

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Artistic Endeavors – Art Forms of Nature

When I came across Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur plates published in 1904 I felt such an affinity for all the curves.

According to Wikipedia, Haeckel

was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and Protista.

Besides all that, he dabbled in philosophy, penning a work called “The Riddle of the Universe.” Only in that time period could such disciplines have co-existed in one person. But wait, there’s more. He was also an artist, producing 100 detailed sketches of animals and sea creatures that were translated from sketch to print by lithographer Adolf Giltsch and published in Kunstformen der Natur. The images influenced several artists associated with the Art Nouveau movement.

Haeckel is yet another distinguished person I’ve never heard of before, but he has been memorialized in place names. “In the United States, Mount Haeckel, a 13,418 ft (4,090 m) summit in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, overlooking the Evolution Basin, is named in his honour, as is another Mount Haeckel, a 2,941 m (9,649 ft) summit in New Zealand; and the asteroid 12323 Haeckel.” (Wikipedia)

Here are a few of his drawings that are a bit spikier. To me they resemble drawings of science fiction universes done by someone on hallucinogens.

 

 

 

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Artistic Endeavors – Capturing Light

There’s an inherent contradiction between the permanence of a painting and the fleeting quality of light. Yet painters have been obsessed with capturing light for centuries. Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral are a prime example.

I thought of these paintings when I viewed this time lapse video of  light through the stained glass windows in the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. Composer Danyal Dhondy recently wrote a score for the originally silent video.

Colin Winterbottom, who made the video, said,

I am primarily a black and white architectural still photographer, but while documenting post-earthquake repairs at Washington National Cathedral I was impressed by the drama of the vibrant colors the windows “painted” on stone and scaffold. With just weeks before a related exhibition was to open I began mounting cameras to scaffold to take advantage of rare vantage points.

Here’s the featured rose window. Enjoy.

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Artistic Endeavors – Interpretive Maps

Lately I’ve been exploring maps as artistic interpretations of a place or idea because a group I belong to has a map quilt challenge this year. My thinking, which was running along prosaic geographic paths, was transformed by Diane Savona’s map creations. She says,”[Maps] can also teach history. They can be used to hold stories and feelings about a place.”

One of Savona’s earliest map works was Hometown Perceptions.

“A young man told me that he is afraid to go into neighboring Paterson, which has a mostly African-American population. I’m a middle-aged woman, and feel no such danger. This map explores our subconscious feelings and prejudices, the perceptions we develop about our homes and our neighbors. Most of the materials were obtained at local garage sales.”

Static 1 was Savona’s response to a trip to India.

“In ancient castles in India, royal women could only view the outside world through carved stone grills called jali. While traveling through India in an enormous white bus, I felt that I was also getting a very limited view of this amazing country. Returning home, I printed a pattern using images of tour bus windows. This cloth was set over wool, cut into and sewn to create a textile jali over images of India, printed on cloth.”

In Hurricane New Orleans Savona used locks and keys, the symbols of a secure dwelling.

“Based on a map of the Chalmette section of New Orleans. There are actual keys embedded under the cloth. Other sections have discharged images of keys and locks.”

Finally, Savona’s response to the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

“During a month in Hiroshima, I spent many days ‘beachcombing’ the river edges at low tide. I found ceramic shards, electronic bits…and glass fused by the blast 70 years ago. ( I checked with the museum: it is permissible to take these items). This map shows a section of the city nearest to the blast epicenter, with the rivers forming long black verticals, crossed by connecting white bridges.”

I hope you look at Savona’s other work as well. I’ve just started reading her blog, where she talks about her processes. Talk about thinking outside the box.

For more creative, often non-fabric, maps check out cARTography.

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The Denim (And Other Old Stuff) Challenge

One of the good (and bad) aspects of art quilt groups is their love of challenges. It’s good to have a starting point for a piece, but I find it can distract me from more long term work. If I have a choice between analyzing and fixing what went wrong on an existing piece and plunging into a new piece, guess which I pick.

At first I wasn’t going to join a recent challenge to use denim and/or old shirts in a piece. I had already used my husband’s shirts (with his permission) to make Shirtsleeves, and I didn’t have any all cotton old jeans.

Then, my husband asked if I could use a pair of his old jeans and a shirt. It was kismet, so I began my challenge piece under the influence of Rayna Gillman’s latest book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.

I saw that I didn’t have enough denim, but did have damask tablecloths and napkins I had dyed shades of blue.  More kismet. I decided on 6 inch squares as my background, and fused lightweight interfacing to the damask before I cut it. If you don’t stabilize it, the damask will stretch out of shape.

I loved how the denim look changed depending on which side I put up.

Next, I began to slash the squares diagonally and sew strips onto the larger piece. At this point I decided to finish each square with the smaller piece I had cut off. I liked how it made the center small diamonds see-through.

Rayna’s version fills the centers with color, but I thought more color might be too distracting for mine as the background was already different colors. I think my version looks quite different, which shows how versatile some loose guidelines can be for improv work.

The top is done, named (Damask and Denim,) and just needs quilting inspiration.

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Artistic Endeavors – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I’m thrilled that so many renowned art museums are making their collections available online. I’m even more thrilled when a digital collection allows me to search for public domain images, so I can find images to use in my art.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) gave me many ways to search its collection – by public domain images (over 20,000,) by most popular, by time period, by object type, by on view, plus an advanced search that allowed me to zero in by many facets, such as exhibition history. Some of the search headings seem a bit quirky, like cherry blossoms. Here I found a contender for the longest title.

Act IV: Envoys from the Shogun Approach Lady Kaoyo and Group at Enya’s Castle, Bringing Sentence of Death to Enya, Lady Kaoyo Is Surrounded by Cherry Blossoms Gathered to Cheer Enya during His Incarceration Japan, circa 1835-1839

As further icing on the cake (no such thing as too much) LACMA has hundreds of textiles in its collection that are in the public domain. Admittedly, many are textile fragments, but from what I saw, these pieces aren’t on public view. The only way you can see them is digitally. A brief pause for a message from my soapbox – many museums don’t display their textile collections. You can see them only online.

The following works in the public domain caught my eye as I browsed.

 Chamba Rumal with Scenes of Gopis Adoring Krishna
India, Himachal Pradesh, probably Kangra, late 18th to early 19th century Textiles; embroidery
Silk embroidery on cotton
30 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.
I think the gopis look like they belong in “The Simpsons.”
Quilt for Four Poster Bed, ‘Variable Star’
United States, New England, 1725-1750, Textiles; quilts
Pieced and quilted wool, 104 1/2 x 102 1/2 in.
I love the blocks where the maker ran out of fabric and made do. At over 100 inches each way this quilt must have made a bold statement on a bed.
Quilt, ‘Log Cabin’ Pattern, ‘Pineapple’ variation
United States, Pennsylvania, 1870-1880 Textiles; quilts
Pieced wool and cotton, 88 x 88 in
 I love the diagonal red stripes that show up occasionally in this one.
Here’s one public domain image I thought would make a striking quilt.
Shoeshine Stand, Southeastern United States
Walker Evans (United States, 1903-1975), United States, circa 1936
Photographs, Gelatin silver print

  As I hope you’ve seen, this site has lots of entertainment value if you like images of art.

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Around Here Week 52

I’m looking ahead to 2018 and want to share my choice for the new year’s motto. I see it as the only way forward.

Not your usual epitaph, but Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland isn’t your usual cemetery.

This ends a year of Around Here. I’ll still take photos in 2018 and may share some with you, but less systematically.

Happy New Year.

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