Thursday, March 27, 2014

Studio Place Arts GALA Coming Up!

OK, it's almost time for the annual big party at SPA. This year it's in conjunction with the Black and White exhibit, which will be up from April 15 through May 31.

Be there or be square (see above; Featured art on card, Untitled Triptych by Matthew Monk)

The B.A.S.H. (Big Arty SPA Happening) will be on May 9, from 7-9 PM.  It's a benefit for SPA art programs that includes great art, music, silent auction, and eats. Enjoy art rock band Swale on the main floor (see below!), and blues & folk musician Andy Pitt upstairs.

Wines will be served by the Grand View Winery (cash bar) and there will be (among other things) black & white desserts created by students at the Barre Technical Center Bake Shop.

Tickets: $20 advance/$25 day of event

Speaking Portraits

This piece, called Speaking Portraits: Persons in Historical Photographs Speak About Conflict and Tension, is an outgrowth of my work with 19th Century cabinet cards, which are albumen prints, a process invented in 1850. I found the portraits on these cards to be almost struggling to speak, as though if you put your ear up to the photograph you might hear it talking to you!

Several years ago the late Susan Russell came to my studio with an antique record album. "I think you can do something with this," she said. I thought it was an appealing object, but couldn't think of how I might use it. But when I was working with the cabinet cards, I remembered the album, and thought the photographic images might exactly fit inside the round holes cut out to display the record labels. And it was so! This project was a completely new departure for me that involved mostly work in Photoshop and a lot of writing.

I created a label template that I customized and printed out,  and then I cut around each of the labels and and pasted it over the label of an existing record. So you pull the record out of its sleeve behind the portrait and the label gives you the title of the "issue" and the text of what the person in the portrait was "saying". The text in the red circle on the outside of each label says, THIS RECORDING GIVES VOICE TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE LONG DEAD AND THEIR STRUGGLES TO SPEAK THEIR TRUTH.

After an introduction on the first page, the subsequent facing pages have two people making statements in which their perspectives differ. For example, here are the two entitled Husbands' Thoughts (left) and Wives' Thoughts (right):

Here are two summary/overview pages that show each of the persons and his or her statements:

 I am very pleased with this project, and though I don't think it's a direction I will keep moving in since it's a bit too fussy for my natural way of working, it has been good for me to work a bit more on "fit and finish", as Mark Waskow says.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bhakti Ziek's Piece Installed at Princeton

Bhakti Ziek recently installed her fabulous woven piece, Stardust, at Whitman College, Princeton University. It's a huge piece in six parts that I think suggests stained glass in a cathedral, except that the images are bits of the cosmos, secular symbols, and numbers that celebrate the material properties of the universe and the life of the mind. You can see installation photos here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tool Box in The Nitty-Gritty Show

Last night was the opening reception for The Nitty Gritty, "An exhibit that shows the industrial buildings, quarries, tools and people that have left an indelible imprint on our region" at SPA. Heather Milne, the wonderful sculptor who recently completed the four-piece granite installation called Coffee Break, spoke at 5:45 about her experience proposing and then creating a carving related to the theme of blue-collar work ethic and integrity.

I usually hang out in my studio during receptions, but I decided I'd spend most of the evening mingling in the gallery. There are so many people and so many things going on during receptions that I think it's a very different experience depending on where you are located in the building.

I made some modifications to Tool Box since I last posted an image here on the blog -- added more nails to the top and some more hammers in the box.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Fabulous Daughter

My daughter Berrian lives in New Orleans and jumped into Mardi Gras in a big way this year, becoming  an unofficial "Rookie of the Year" in two different krewes. Yesterday, the actual Fat Tuesday, the Krewe of Shrink Ray rolled as an independent unit, an amazing creation designed to bring select people into the interior of a huge "ray gun", photograph them from all directions with multiple cameras, and then 3D print an action figure. Keep an eye on their site for future updates. Here's what the inside of the float looked like in progress.

This ambitious float, despite its high-tech, mechanical wizzardry, was designed to be powered along the street by people in costume pushing and steering -- and it was 40 degrees and raining!

 The theme was space and the characters who live in it, and Berrian's costume included a hood with led lights and face painting of deep space. It's very cool:

Yes, that's actually face paint, not a mask! She's really good at makeup and face painting -- here's a photo of her creating makeup for Halloween recently, where she appeared as a Roy Lichtenstein painting.

Friday, February 28, 2014

New to Me: Photographs and Paper

OK, I realize it's time for me to try to move in a different direction. As much as I love working with old wood and disks, I don't want to be a One Trick Pony (as my mother used to say). So, I've decided to open my heart to paper, and the first thing that walked in was photographs. I've loved old cartes de visite and cabinet cards, with their images of long dead people. They are albumen photographic prints, mounted on cardboard backs. It's remarkable how many of these beautiful, brown-tinted cards are still around.

I've also collected some photographic prints of other eras, and have been particularly interested in arranging them in numerical sequences, and also looking carefully at the emotional content of the photographs. One, in particular, shows a family grouping with a mother who is obviously enraged, surrounded by her fearful family.

Here's the tabletop where I'm working. As you can see, I'm still using found materials in conjunction with the photographs, and it feels very appropriate to be using old bits and pieces with old images.

Right now I'm just playing with possibilities, and I haven't started affixing the stuff to the photos yet. I need to decide whether to attach them with fine wire, piercing the cardboard, or whether I should use an adhesive. There's something so transgressive about it either way -- which is both exciting and uncomfortable...

Today I ordered floating frames in which I can mount them, so I am committed to seeing this body of work through to some kind of new place.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

True to Type

This is the most recent box, and the pièce de résistance in the series of boxes I've been working on. The type box was given to me by Pat Murphy and it's been sitting around the studio waiting for something wonderful to happen to it.

Here it is, without its glass covering, which I removed so that I could photograph it. Dana Walrath came into the studio and said, "Oh, you're riffing on taxonomy," which is of course exactly what it's about -- how things are the same shape, but different materials -- or different materials but similar shapes (like wire, hair and thread). How should you categorize them? It all depends on what characteristic you focus on!

In the lower row, to the left of the spool of thread, I was finally able to use my gallstones in a piece (something I've been wanting to do since I got them out in 2010). They really do look exactly like any other stone (such as the river stones to their left).

The buttons are separated by the materials of which they are made (l-r): leather, metal, bone, wood, shell, glass, and plastic. There are papers made of different materials (including a 100 rupee note signed by the late Marc Awodey), lots of different fibers. I love this piece!

Next up, I'm trying to open my heart to paper. I have bought some old photographs and cartes de visite, popular during the 19th century and am manipulating them in various ways.