Thursday, April 30, 2009

Epitaph Installation....testing an idea!

(Above: Free motion embroidery on chiffon. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've been collecting epitaphs ever since I started my Grave Rubbing Quilt series, writing down the words left to describe a loved one....not the names of the deceased. I've generally scribbled down the date of a way to convey a sense of time. From the start, I knew I wanted to use these words in a hanging installation.

For this installation, I want the memories to almost float in space, as if written on semi-invisible tombstones. I want to create an atmosphere that suggests both the individual people but our human, universal connection with life and death. This two pieces are my "test" for the work to come.

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Both are free motion embroidered using a water soluble, adhesive material in order to stitch on the sheerest chiffon I could find. I used two colors of chiffon and like them both. I used two shades of gray thread but only like the darker one. I also stitched the darker one as a single line....and it took FOREVER to hand stitch the ends of the machined threads back into each word. On the lighter one, I stitched each word, retraced my stitching back to the start of the word, and then stitched the word again....basically, going over the word three times and then simply snipping off the ends of the threads with the knowledge that it wouldn't unravel. This second approach took less time....but I don't like it nearly as well. Thus, the work will be done using both shades of chiffon and hand stitching the ends of the threads carefully back into each letter. (That's four threads...but it will be worth it!)

In order to see if I was going to end up with the overall desired affect, I hung up the two test pieces in the atrium at Gallery 80808. It's going to work! Of course, the "real work" will include dozens of hanging epitaphs on varying lengths of chiffon....hopefully creating a very, very tall and wide cylindrical column of fragile, ghostly, strips of material on which memories of special loved ones are written. During the day, the installation will appear quite different than during the evening as there are four wonderful skylights above. I am still working on a system from which to hang the grouping...something light, unobtrusive, and able to be taken apart and rebuilt with some degree of ease in order to be transported for future exhibitions. (This will be as much of an undertaking as the stitching!) Below is a photo of the atrium and the skylights....can't you just see my installation here?!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scholarship and other wonderful news!

Sunday was a wonderful day! I went to Rocky Mount, NC to meet Linda Lynch, the incredible woman who posed for the Decision Portrait Series piece On Fighting Ovarian Cancer. We could have spent more than a few days together discussing art, embroidery, and life but managed to cram the most important points into a few precious hours!

While there, we went to the Imperial Art Center and saw "Handcrafted", the national juried fine craft exhibition that includes two of my pieces. I also dropped of one of my Grave Rubbing Quilts, Memory. It was recently accepted into the upcoming national juried all media of only 24 total works to be included! In fact, the acceptance came as a telephone call! (As opposed to a self-addressed, stamped envelope!) This gave me the courage and opportunity to ask if I could also submit a proposal for a solo show! The answer was "Yes!"

Now that I've walked through this large, impressive former tobacco plant with its textural walls of exposed brick, sweeping hardwood floors, perfect professional lighting system, high ceilings, informative signage, and educational areas, I REALLY HOPE THEY WANT ME! Of course, the more outstanding the facility, the more talented artists desiring this opportunity! My fingers and toes are crossed!

(Click on image to enlarge.)
In the meantime, I'm busy stitching. Above is a detail of the kantha styled stitching on Epitaph, another piece in my Grave Rubbing Quilt series. Below is another one of those photos that stubbornly WILL NOT UNLOAD properly! I did, however, include my sandals for a sense of size. The entire outer edge is finished.....lots and lots of meditative running stitches over the layers of recycled material....kantha! This is my "in the evening" front of the television.

I'm also experimenting in my studio with some of my collected motion embroidery using a dissoluble stabilizer on the sheerest chiffon (Photos coming!) and Cold Turkey, the next piece in the Decision Portrait Series (Photos coming!).

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Recently I shared the disappointment of being turned down for a scholarship to Penland. Well, it wasn't the only location to which I applied. I just received a wonderful message! I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Split Rock Arts Summer Program (part of the University of Minnesota...continuing education) to study with Emily Richardson! The class is called The Art Quilt: Exploring Painted Cloth and Composition! (The link is the course description and includes a brief biography for the instructor.) I'm totally excited.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gift of Life: Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Gift of Life, Decision Portrait Series by South Carolina fiber artist Susan Lenz. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand beading and embroidery. Stitched words: She saw her mother's drivers license and said, "If anything ever happens to me, I want to be an organ donor too"; After a terrible car crash, her parents honored her decision; Seven lives...were Saved. 25" x 35", unframed. 31" x 41", framed. Click on image to enlarge.)

Last night was Artista Vista, the annual spring art gallery crawl in Columbia, South Carolina. The weather was picture perfect and the crowds were large. Three pieces from my Decision Portrait Series hung in the main gallery:
Overcoming Childhood Domestic Abuse, Kristine
On Fighting Ovarian Cancer
(I will be meeting Linda in Rocky Mount, NC this Sunday!)
On Making Decisions, Learning Disabled.

Along the large hallway, near the rear door and directly across from the reception table of finger food, hung:
From Preaching to Teaching
(Scroll down to see the beautiful college coed who shared herself for this piece. She's traveling back to Tajikistan for a summer vacation!)
Someone Else's Miracle (Scroll down to see the amazing lady who shared her story and an old photo of herself as a teenager for this piece!)
Overcoming Domestic Abuse
Terms of Marriage
(Scroll down to see three of the four members of this great family....the baby was in her pram! They've also honored me by both purchasing the piece and allowing me to use it for future exhibitions! Thank YOU!)
Dealing with Alzheimer's (which was also pictured in the local, free newspaper!)

Yet, one more piece was available for those wandering through the studio spaces. It seemed quite appropriate that it was in my studio, unframed, and the one piece I could talk about most (after all, I was generally in my studio too....not in the main gallery or the hallway!) Why appropriate? Well, April is NATION DONATE LIFE MONTH! I created this significant portrait completely during the month of April and was honored to share it with people in my studio while spreading the back of your driver's license as an organ donor or go to Donate Life America and SIGN UP!

I am registered....but I wanted to do more. Honestly, the worst thing that could ever happen is exactly what happened to these parents. So, I created yet another blog...just for this portrait. It also serves as a tutorial for making these works....step by step, with several photos taken by my mentor, Stephen Chesley, of me wearing the "extremely fashionable" ventilation mask while transferring the images. The blog is here.

The first transfer for this piece was too dark...except for the photo of Viridiana. I simply had to trim it, stitch it, and will be sending it to the family. (Above, click on image to enlarge.)

My wonderful "models" who are also my patrons in front of their images/new art acquistion! Thank YOU!

She is undeniably PERFECT to counter the fears and stereotypes of "Foreigner"! What a brave young lady!

Talk about brave! She gladly shared her story, brought her new family, and has always worn that sincere smile!

Okay.....that's me! Posting this was sort of an agreement. I really never stop working...and I was "working" while enjoying the Artista Vista festivities. One of the people I planned to approach as a potential model just happened to come to Artista Vista. I carry extra copies of the standard "model's release" and my camera in my purse. She signed and posed for me.....on the condition that she could take my picture for the blog too! Very soon another Decision Portrait Series piece will be started.....Vintage Clothing Vendor with the stitched words: What Shall I Wear Today? 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Thus, we had to discuss outlandish fashion....and I was certainly part of the conversation!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Overcoming Domestic Abuse: Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. 25" x 19", unframed. 31" x 25", framed. Embroidery and assorted needles. Hand stitched main words: Starting Over. Other hand stitched words: To break the cycle of abuse; Women's Shelter; I left for good; No more false promises; Abusers never change; To save my son; Order of Protection; I ran for my life. Click on image to enlarge.)

Before leaving for England, I finished this Decision Portrait Series piece but didn't have the opportunity to post it until now. It is on display at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio for Artista Vista, the annual spring gallery crawl. I'm expecting hundreds of people to come through my space this Thursday evening.'s the story behind this important work.

I lost track of the number of people who asked me, "Are you on Facebook?" With several blogs, a Flickr! account, CYBER FYBER, and a Stitchin' Fingers page, I couldn't see any reason to join an on-line social network! When would I have time? Why would I want to socialize via my computer screen? It all sounded silly, except that everyone who asked me about Facebook also said that it would be a great tool for finding potential Decision Portrait Series models. So, I joined. My page is completely about this series. I honestly didn't think it would work....but it is working! I'm in communication with people I met years ago....some of whom have important, life changing decisions to share through my series. This is one of those portraits!

I met this lovely young lady through arts channels in South Carolina. She's a talented painter, a spiritual person, the mother of a four year old, and someone who had been hiding a horrible secret until a year and a half ago. Recently, we became Facebook friends; she contacted me; this portrait is the result.

(Above: Detail of Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Click on image to enlarge.)

I wish I'd known the truth. Somehow, I feel a little guilty for not knowing. Honestly, I can't imagine an abusive relationship, but I also couldn't imagine how I might react to someone in such a circumstance...until now. Through our correspondence I've learned of the pain and loneliness of leaving an abusive spouse. I've learned that so-called friends avoid the situation altogether. I've had to type replies...offering heart-felt words and cyber hugs. I hope that others seeing this portrait reflect on the difficult decision she had to dangerous. I also hope that those viewing this portrait think about how they'd react to someone who'd recently made such a decision....with avoidance or with support.

(Above: Another detail of Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Click on image to enlarge.)

Support might just be passing on a the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to

Home from a very busy week!

(Above: London, The Eye and the former County Hall....currently home to several businesses and attractions including the Marriott....where we stayed in a suite, swam in the pool, and enjoyed a view of Big Ben and the Parliament complex! Courtesy of my mother's Marriott points! Click on image to enlarge...our room windows are just over the statue on the left end of the semi-circular facade end!)

Late on Monday....just after midnight...we returned from a fabulous week in England! Mathias and Laura-Jane danced beautifully. The weather was wonderful. We saw so much! More images are coming, but this is a very, very busy week! Artista Vista, the annual spring art gallery crawl, is this Thursday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crunch Time and Big Announcements!

(Above: Epitaph, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series, in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)

BLUES CHAPEL is headed to the Visual Arts Center in Denton, TEXAS!
I received the exhibition contract earlier in the week, November 2009 through the first week in January, 2010.

(Generally I try to keep my blog as positive and upbeat as possible. I realize, of course, that by sharing mostly amazing pieces of news like this, it might sound like I only experience the best in the world of art. This isn't the case! Last Saturday the mail brought rejections from the Penland summer program scholarship department and the I-Park residency program. I felt totally dejected while stitching feverishly in my studio. Tears leaked and I doubted my own talent. From the depths of depression, I soared to the outer atmosphere two days later with this news!)

Steve and I are joining my mother for a week in LONDON! We leave early Monday morning and will be seeing Mathias and Laura-Jane dance with Birmingham Royal Ballet while the company is on tour to London's Coliseum!

(Another "disclaimer": I realize that so many trips might suggest that we are living a jet-setting lifestyle and have the money to back it up. This, too, isn't the case! Steve is a master at frequent flyer miles and on-line discount travel options. We love to our television is old with a 21" screen; I haven't bought make-up in years; we shop at a thrift store; we don't have a second car and the first one is economical; eating out is a luxury; we're comfortable but order to travel.!) we come! But, I'm so behind in blogging that I never wrote about the juried Stitched Textile Competition held at the Forge Mill Needle Museum in last trip to England. Well, it's "crunch time" to catch up before the next departure!

The exhibition was called The Spellbinding Textile Competition; the theme was MAGIC. There'd been approximately one hundred of entries. Getting accepted for this national juried show was obviously an honor. Only thirty pieces got in. I could overlook that less than ideal setting and poor lighting because the Forge Mill Needle Museum really doesn't have dedicated space for temporary exhibits but is certainly a destination for those interested in textiles of all sorts. I absolutely loved the historical information about needles and their production and didn't mind the adjustments to fit the juried work around the permanent displays on the first level. The prize fund for this competition was amazingly significant. If memory serves, first place carried 1,500 British pounds! That's a king's ransom for juried shows in the USA.

(Above: Janice Myers' Hat Trick. First Prize. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've said before, themed exhibitions are problematic. Artists either create work especially for the show or try to make existing work suit the show by retitling it or providing some statement for its otherwise weak reason for inclusion. Sometimes, an artist gets lucky and happens to be seriously committed to the theme already, but this isn't the norm. I suspect that most of the artists represented in "Spellbinding" had created their work just for this occasion. With the prize fund available, I might have been tempted to do the same. Overall, I found many of the pieces overly interested in technique....especially trying to incorporate as many new products and approaches as possible. I also am not much impressed with fairies. Basically, few of the works were more than "nice stitches and creative uses for unconventional materials". That's not bad....but it's also not great!

(Above: Janice Myers' Hat Trick, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I am glad that I went to see this show because it made me think....not about the art on display but about my own work. I know that I want to create well crafted pieces with good design elements and technically proficient handwork but also art that generates emotional and intellectual responses. I want my work to be presented professionally and have merit even when removed from the concept of a larger unified theme.

Please don't get me wrong about this show. It was great to see the work. I admired many of the pieces. I just found myself looking at "techniques" and "stitches" (which I really, really like!) I just didn't find most of the work to stand on its own merits as totally successful pieces of art.

(Above: Janice Myers' Hat Trick, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The first place winner was Janice Myers of Cornwall for Hat Trick. I adored the interesting use of plastics.

(Above: Vikki Lafford's Second Place prize winner, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The second place winner was Vikki Lafford's (London) Enchanted Woodland Gown. If I could fit into it, I'd be thrilled to wear it to any posh party. The hand dying/painting and attention to details was amazing. Obviously, Vikki is a very, very talented fashion designer.

(Above: View of Vikki Lafford's Enchanted Woodland Gown. Click on image to enlarge.)

The third place winner was Rachel Doyle of Kingswinford for Magic Box. This was undoubted one of my favorite pieces in the show. It was elegant, well crafted, on target for the theme, and brilliantly conceived. Unfortunately the badly scratched plexi-glass container prevented me from getting a suitable image. Let's just say it was the some remarkable card deck!

Fourth place went to Tracy Curtis of Plymouth for Merlin's Magic. Sorry, no image.

(Above: Doreen Caldwell's Narrative Story. Click on image to enlarge.)

Honorable Mentions went to Judith Lovatt of Wolverhampton for Faires and Doreen Caldwell of Altrincham, Chesire for Narrative Story.

(Above: Kay Haskins' Booties. Click on image to enlarge.)

How do I know all this? Well, I take notes! My notes include Booties by Warrington's Kay Haskins. I loved these....simple, perfect, interesting! Magical Dragon by Spolie Long of Walton on Thames was wonderful...and one of those pieces that automatically fit the theme. Her silk and metal dragon showed years of working in this media and with fittingly "magic" inspired designs. I loved it.

(Above; Sandra Ross' Willow the Witch. Click on image to enlarge.)

I particularly liked Sandra Ross' (Birmingham) Willow the Witch. This mixed media doll was another piece that spoke volumes about magic without "playing to the theme". I admired both pieces of fiber jewelry. Astrid Pendant by Carol Coleman of Keighley, West Yorkshire, successfully combined black vinyl, thread, and stone. The felted collar by Charlotte Handley of York was beaded in a way that sung with youthful energy. It was simply fun and very, very pretty. I also found Di Schonhut's (Hook, Hampshire) Magical Book interesting.

(Above: Charlotte Handly's felted collar, detail. Click on image to enlarge. Below: Di Schonhut's Magical Book. Click on image to enlarge.)

So...I'm almost caught up with blogging before my departure to England....except that I've been working on my Grave Rubbing Quilt Series and haven't written about that recently either!

The first image in this post is a picture of progress. Yes, this grave rubbing is my own name. I've been collecting written epitaphs, stitching grave rubbing quilts, and thinking a lot about my fascination with cemeteries, death, and the markings left by older generations. I've come to the conclusion that all this stems from the fact that I'll be fifty years old in June. So...what would I like to leave behind to speak of my character after I'm gone? What words would I chose for a tombstone? Well....I'm stitching them. In fact, I've decided to cram the entire thing into my over-sized purse and take it to England. I'll stitch on the plane and in the evenings. I'll post another image when I return.

In the meantime, I've been doing research for this series and the installation that I'm creating for next January at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Until last week, I really didn't know much about the process of death....well....the process of dealing with a death. Though I've been to a funeral home, I've never made final arrangements. So, I arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of Shive's Funeral Home here in Columbia. It was absolutely fascinating!

One of the major display areas shows all sorts of interesting and individual coffins and ideas for creating a "memory table" to be viewed alongside the deceased.

(Above: Notice the University of South Carolina items....denoting a loyal fan!)

(Above: No need for an explanation!)

We didn't really spend much time in the room displaying coffins. There are other areas of far greater the embalming room. I had the opportunity to learn about this procedure and also to ask as many detailed questions as I cared to pose! Every answer was more and more interesting.

Above is one of the nice gentleman who guided me through the steps for embalming. Below is the cabinet with the embalming fluids. Who knew that the "art" was in years of experience in mixing coloring for infusion....not really in the application of cosmetics!

Below is part of the display area for marker. I hope to find a few bronze plagues with so much detail for future rubbings!

One of the best parts of the tour was the crematorium. I found the place perfect....simple, bear, quiet, peaceful, and void of unnecessary nostalgia. It is my personal choice. My guide was just the sort of man one would trust for this task....honest, humble, respectful, with great insight and direct answers. I learned so much and found my own answers and peace.

Below is a standard box for ashen remains. The finger points to the lever of an average person's ashes. The amount depends entirely on bone density.

I probably don't have to mention that my guides found me more than a little strange. Few people are excited to go to there place of employment...and I was definitely excited to be there! My oddity was never more apparent than when noticing (with total glee) familiar articles that related to needles

....and specialty fabric....

I am totally in debt to those at Shive's Funeral Home who took me through the steps of a death certificate to the options for burial and cremation. They shared their best and worst memories and left me knowing how much they cared about each and every person (dead or alive) that comes through their doors. They showed me air crates for transporting bodies to other destinations and how digital technology allows them to make DVDs honoring the deceased. They answered all my questions, even the personal ones about their own believes and decisions. They let me know that the best words to say to someone who's loved one has passed is still, "I'm sorry for your loss". Yet, they were quick to point out that it absolutely had to be said with complete sincerity. It was my honor to see death from such wise viewpoints.

When I return from England, I come back to one of the busiest weeks of the year here in Columbia, South Carolina. Each spring there is an annual art gallery crawl called Artista Vista. My studio is located at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios which is an anchor location for this popular weekend. As a group, the artists renting space at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio mount an exhibition. This year we are calling the show "View from the Studios". I'm writing this now because I don't know how I'll ever catch up with blogging then!

This is the brief statement I wrote for my work, the newest Decision Portrait Series pieces, to be shown for Artista Vista:

The view from my studio is unique. Over my walls I can see the entire main gallery, all of the atrium, plus most of the hallway space at Gallery 80808. These are the public exhibition areas and are often filled with people. I can also see the upper edges of many artists' studios. If I were working alone at home, I would not feel impacted by this special location or the people who come to it. I would not have the opportunity to be inspired by creative mentors (the other artists), chance visitors, or experience the reactions the public has to the artwork on display. My studio offers this view and exposure to interesting people. The view has influence my work, especially my Decision Portrait Series.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Decision Portrait Series: On Making Decisions, Learning Disabled

(Above: Decision Portrait Series, On Making Decisions, Learning Disabled. 25" x 35", unframed. 31" x 41", framed. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched and beaded. Stitched words: One day....We'll have to decide housing. Who next can be trusted? (center, bottom); I decide what to wear, how to best do my job, my friends and my fun time (left); I help with Transportation, paperwork, finances, explain things, and medical matters (right). Click on image to enlarge.)

While I stitch quietly in my studio, I think about all sorts of things, including ideas for future pieces in this Decision Portrait Series. Often, I write down potential titles and phrases. Occasionally, I upload these on the Decision Portrait blog. Yesterday I added all sorts of new Good Samaritan, Nudist, Hitch Hiker, CEO, and 20/20 Vision. (Check it might want to pose with your significant decision...whether it's on the "wish list" or not!)

The last time I upload potential portraits was when I was finishing Dealing with Alzheimer's. Between that portrait and the new ideas, I received some comments...suggestions for even more portraits. One of the people responding was Chris Mundy. Through our resulting emails, I learned that Christ is Kate's proud mother....and an important part of Kate's support system. Kate is learning disabled. Looking at the decision making process took on a new perspective and even though this portrait wasn't on my "wish list", I knew it was a perfect way to focus on DECISIONS! It has been a wonderful pleasure working with both Chris and Kate.

Kate makes most of her own daily decisions. Some matters, however, need gentle advice. Chris is there. Some issues require Chris's trusted judgment. They are a great team. They will make the decisions in the future...with respect for one another.

(Above: Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I hope that those viewing this finished piece will think about how decisions are made....sometimes alone, sometimes with the advice of others, sometimes by someone else. I know that I've thought about how I make decisions...sometimes alone, sometimes with my husband Steve, and sometimes Steve makes the decisions for us both. It took Kristine and Kate for me to consider this aspect of the decision making process. I'm honored to have learned from such fantastic new friends.

(Above: Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Decision Portrait Series: On Overcoming Childhood Domestic Abuse, Kristine

(Above: Overcoming Childhood Domestic Abuse, Kristine. 25" x 19", unframed. 31" x 25", framed. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Stitched words: I put my stepfather in prison for sexually abusing me for four years; I was only 14 when I pressed charges; I'll never forget; Now I'm stronger. Click on image to enlarge.)

Collaborating with my subjects for this series is very important and extremely rewarding. There is no possibility that I can fully appreciate the life altering significance of some of the personal decisions made. Yet, through heart-felt correspondence, I have been able to stitch and share stories. Kristine's decision was amazing. Sexually abused for four years by her stepfather, she pressed charges at the tender age of fourteen. He went to prison for just eighteen months. Such injustice! I was appalled. This piece could have easily turned into a statement about sexual abuse and/or the court's hideous notion of an adequate sentence after conviction. Collaborating with Kristine, however, kept the portrait properly focused.

(Above: Detail of portrait. Click on image to enlarge.)

This series is about DECISIONS. Kristine and I wrote and talked by telephone. As a result, the piece focuses on Kristine, her powerful strength of character, and her difficult decision. At one point, Kristine reminded me that her choice was right for her....but might not be the right choice for someone else who had experience sexual abuse. This series isn't about "right" and "wrong" is about making a decision! It is about the person who made an important decision. Hence, Kristine, now 40, holds one of her favorite photos of herself at age 12, figure skating. Kristine pressed charges, went to court, and was forced to tell every detail of abuse to a panel of twelve judges, all men. Even if her mother had supported her decision and been with her during court proceedings and trials, Kristine was required to talk to this panel alone. Her choice turned her already dysfunctional family upside down. It also allowed her to start a road to recovery....a road that she has been successfully walking for twenty-six years.

In one of our email messages, Kristine wrote that she'd been very, very upset (understandably so!) by the mere eighteen months her stepfather spent in prison. She said that she needed to be angry....for her recovery. Later, she realized that his time in prison wasn't nearly as important as 1) her need to put him there...even if for only a day and 2) the fact that he became a "marked man"....a convicted sex offender.

(Above: Kristine's portrait before stitching with assorted Curious Creek Fibers threads.)

Kristine has gone on to marriage and adoption of an older teenage daughter! There are so many wonderful things about Kristine that this blog post could just go on and on. Yet, the thing I'd most like to share is the fact that Kristine, always in love with the full rainbow of colors, is an extremely talented fiber artist whose business, Curious Creek Fibers, is as thriving as the threads are beautiful. She actually sent all these gorgeous hand-painted embroidery yarns for me to use! Four are in her portrait....and I've already used others in the portraits I've started since completing this piece. Thank you, Kristine.

One more important thing: Here's a link to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Decision Portrait Series: On Fighting Ovarian Cancer

(Above: On Fighting Ovarian Cancer, Decision Portrait Series. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. 25" x 19", unframed. 31" x 25" framed. Stitched words: I chose the most aggressive treatment and Ovarian Cancer Stage IIIc Survivor. Hand beading and embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

Creating this portrait has been an adventure for me. I really didn't know much about ovarian cancer other than that it killed Gilda Radner. Linda Lynch has educated me during our collaborative process of selecting the perfect photo and stitched words. The result is a portrait that addresses the "silent killer" with hope and the resolve of Linda's important decisions. She endured lots of pain, the loss of hair, plenty of fear, and mental anguish. She turned her life over to God, prayed, and fought for her recovery every step of the way. The photo was taken at her doctor's office right after she received the word that the two hundred biopsies from the "second look" surgery had all come back NEGATIVE! Her hair was just starting to grow back. That was ten years ago! I hope that people viewing this artwork see the possibility of survival. I hope that it triggers awareness. To that end, here's a link to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. I've linked the page describing early symptoms; it's worth a serious look. Why?'s the link to the statistics; cold hard facts about a cold-hearted killer.

(Above: Detail of On Fighting Ovarian Cancer. Click on image to enlarge.)

Doing something about ovarian cancer is a very good idea. Linda, a talented fiber artist, is currently participating in an important fund raiser called Ties that Bind. Recently I was given an opportunity to participate in "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", a charity art event on May 14 benefiting ovarian cancer research and patient assistance. I'm very much looking forward to this way for me to contribute to this important cause. I'm also looking forward to meeting Linda. Later this month she's coming to North Carolina and I'm driving up to meet her. I'll blog about this too!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wasted Words: War

(Above: Wasted Words: War. Altered/Artist book. Approximately 5" x 9" x 9" as shown. Fiber vessel created by machine cording and zigzag stitching. Contents: Ripped-and-rolled and ripped-and-stitched pages from World Book Yearbooks, 1962-75. Pages selected from articles about the Cold War and conflicts in Vietnam, the Middle East and elsewhere. Click on image to enlarge.)

Since completing Wasted Words: Global Warnings, I've continued to rip, roll, and stitch the long neglected pages and messages found in the World Book Yearbook, 1962-75, that have been collecting dust in my studio. Some of the articles about the evils of communism and"all things Russian" actually seem a little funny now. Yet, most of the words seem to jump off the pages out of sheer fear. Misunderstandings, cultural differences, impossible odds, greed, power, and righteousness seem to be at the heart of every conflict. Years later, people are still violently dying for what is perceived a good cause by one group and a good reason to kill by the other. So many lessons seem not to have been learned. So many wasted words! Okay, I'm a total pacifist.

(Above and below: Details from Wasted Words: War. Click on images to enlarge.)

The two "Wasted Words" pieces have now been entered for consideration to The Center for Book Arts in New York City. I also submitted an older piece, Song of Stones, completed in 2005. Since I didn't have a blog then, I've never posted images of this work. In fact, I didn't even have digital photos until today!

(Above and below: Song of Stones. 2005. Fiber vessel hand beaded with miniature river stones and stiffened on the outside with matte medium. Contents: Three pamphlet styled booklets with original poetry free motioned onto recycled black denim. Click on images to enlarge.)

I've found it very interesting to look at this original vessel/book again. I'd pretty much forgotten about it. Yet, it exists as proof of my continued love affair with stitched words and Thai Stucco paper. The booklets are made of this unique paper that resembles moon craters. Every one of my Decision Portrait Series pieces is mounted on it. I'm buying it in bulk from Legion Paper. I've never really thought about my own "style" but stitching text is definitely part of it! I love words. I love stitching them. I guess I always have....even to the point of using my own poetry, rough as it is!

(Above and below: Song of Stones. Click on images to enlarge.)