Last year, my Army Wife apron, Home Fires was part of Support and Defend, an exhibit at the VETS gallery in Rhode Island devoted to art by military service members and their families. That show went well and much of the artwork went to a follow-on exhibit There and Back Again. I am excited to announce that thanks to the tireless efforts of curator Paul Murray, the show has been expanded as Journeys Onward and will be on view at Hygienic Art Gallery in New London, CT from April 29 through May 27th, 2017. My apron will be joined by The Other Woman, shown above, Suck It Up, Absence II, and Unravelling (all of which can be found under The Army Wife within the Galleries tab above). It’s an honor to represent the spousal side of the military family, and I’m especially thrilled that these artworks get the opportunity to go out into the world again and speak for me — hopefully sparking conversations.
It’s been a tumultuous week on the political front and my desire to stay informed and engaged is in direct conflict with my need to accomplish anything. I’ve been jumping from outrage to outrage, trying to peel the layers back and determine what is actually normal and/or true (but not necessarily my cup of tea), and what is just plain nuts. It’s exhausting.
I want to express my confusion, rage, frustration, and my votes and letters to representatives in government seem rather meaningless. And this week, I’m feeling like my art is rather meaningless too. There is so much beautiful, impactful, art on social media, and I see it reaching and connecting to so many people, that I figure anything I do is lame. I commented as much on a friend’s post, but then decided to delete it because it was self-centered and whiny, and not appropriate for someone else’s post. So, I’m saying it here.
Maybe I’ve already said enough. ‘Murica, my US flag made of tessellating gun shapes speaks to the intertwined relationship between America’s self image and guns. Death Shroud for Democracy is my commentary on the tearing apart and dismantling of American democracy. In my opinion, we’ve been functioning as an Oligarchy for quite a while, and the new administration appears intent in meeting it’s campaign promises to metaphorically burn the place down. Most recently, I finished #notnormal, which tries to draw attention to the normalization of Donald Trump’s antics. I had assumed that these pieces were the beginning of something. That I could keep going. But this week, I’m not feeling it. I’m not up to the task. Everything I consider has been done before, and done better by others.
Another friend reminded me that my black and white scrap quilt is pretty awesome. That was a perfect smack upside the head. Yes, it is awesome. And maybe it’s perfectly OK to retreat into a year of scrappy medallion quilts and samples for work which are all about the process of making, or the pretty colors and patterns, and perhaps a perfect escape from the tedious reality of parsing news from fiction and real outrage from outrage merely for the sake of drama or distraction.
I actually made this quilt several years ago (see it’s post HERE), but I was never very happy with it. After several rejections and a year of contemplation, I decided that what it needed was to be covered with words that represent what I believe to be the things which are tearing away at our democracy. And so I got to embroidering.
I auditioned several ways to create the letters. At first I thought I wanted them to be negative space left when I covered the rest of the quilt in seed stitches. After testing a few letters, I didn’t like the legibility (or lack thereof). I wanted something more subtle than appliqué on top of the existing shroud. I considered filling in the letters, but ultimately decided that a simple outline with variegated floss was both legible and subtle enough for my purposes. The words themselves were edited down from an extensive initial list of members of caucuses, senators and Representatives, names of PACs, etc. Specific names tied the shroud to specific moments in time or movements within the US government, so the final list is words that refer to these entities but are still general enough to be relevant as long as possible.
I finished this in time to submit it, and a handful of other quilts, to the upcoming “Patchwork Pundits Take on Politics” exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado. Unfortunately this one did not get accepted, but at least I am much happier with it this time around. (By the way, War Sucks did get in the show.)
It’s that time of year again, when SAQA members start donating 12×12 work for the annual benefit auction. It is great fun to see the variety of work from fellow members. Some years i donate artwork, some years I just donate money. This year I’m donating artwork as part of my quest to get my work out from under my bed and into the open where it can be enjoyed. My donation this year is Americana V, part of my series created from an older quilt that wasn’t working and is now transformed into smaller, more attractive, and easier to incorporate into one’s decor, pieces.
Along with Home Fires going to Rhode Island, I am honored to also have had my newest artwork, Home is Where The Army Sends Us accepted into the ground breaking exhibition at The George Washington University Museum/The Textile Museum, Stories of Migration.
Housed in the new George Washington University museum, The Textile Museum is hosting a juried exhibition in collaboration with SAQA, Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora. Works will include 3-D pieces, large installations, and video.
This textile sculpture is a mobile village reflecting a military family’s canny ability, or heartfelt desire, to bring their communities with them when they relocate. The houses are created from old Army uniforms, an Army issue blanket, and bits and pieces of previous quilted projects in order to convey the lives lived in them. They also have crocheted roots, searching for purchase, but ultimately being dragged along wherever the mobile piece goes. I sent stickers along with the piece to be placed on the floor to encourage visitors to randomly move the village. Military moves are often last minute, and not always of the family’s choice, and are always on the horizon, so I wanted my artwork to reflect that instability. I can’t wait to hear from visitors if this aspect of the sculpture is realized.
Before I sent it off I tried to create a quick video of the village in various settings. I’d like there to be more locations and smoother transitions, but that will be a task when the piece comes back. For now, here’s a fun, quick, video we’ll call a rough sketch.
Stories of Migration
April 16th – September 4th, 2016
The Textile Museum
701 21st Street, NW
I’ve had a lot of rejections lately, and when compared to the job satisfaction I have working at the quilt shop, I’ve lately been pretty un-motivated to create any art or to look for places to show what I have. But then I get an opportunity, and I realize I can’t throw in the towel.
The Army Wife: Home Fires (my very favorite of my apron series) has been chosen to be part of Support and Defend at The Art League of Rhode Island.
The exhibit is all about providing a way for U.S. Armed Forces veteran artists, currently serving or separated, and their immediate families, to share their military or veteran experiences through their own art, and to express its meaning to them in their own words. Every member of the U.S. Armed Forces takes an oath that includes the phrase “support and defend.” For veterans and their family members, the experiences that follow that oath are specific to each individual and may be hard to grasp for those outside the Armed Forces community. Many of those experiences are complex and enduring–perhaps lifelong. This exhibition of 2D and 3D artworks, accompanied by the artists’ written words, will reflect the military experiences of veterans or their family members and create an opportunity and forum for artists to share a personal expression of that experience. Many veterans and their families want to tell their stories, but those conversations can be difficult to start. Often, art can be the starting place.
I submitted three aprons and Home Fires was chosen. If you are in Rhode Island in April or May, please take the time to see this important exhibit.
Support and Defend: Art Relevant to the Veteran Experience
The VETS Gallery, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence, RI 02906
Sponsored by Art League of Rhode Island
April 1 – May 29, 2016 Open Thursday and Friday afternoons
Opening reception April 14, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
I’m here. I hope.
My computer died, and at the same time I had compatibility problems with my website program/template and our server on which it all resides. Ugh. I probably shoo,d have just hired a professional to sort it all out, but the budget could only support having my husband work on it in his free time. Needless to say, it’s been too long, and it’s still not completely sorted out. So this is kind of a test post to see how much is accessible.
For the past few months, I have been working on a new piece for my Army Wife series, with the hope that it might also be appropriate for an upcoming SAQA exhibit at the National Textile Museum. Good news, my piece was accepted! Here’s a little peek. I hope to create a companion video for it which I’ll post soon with more photos of the piece.
I also have pieces from my Feisty Femmes, Rooted, and Americana pieces at the Craft-Tastic show and sale at Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. Craft-Tastic is a great place to purchase one of a kind artful gifts. I’d love to sell at least a few pieces in order to pay for mailing them there and the leftovers back home again.
I hope to post again soon with more art, some adventures exploring our new home-town, knitting, and home improvement!
Friday was the last day of my co-exhibit at the Arts Council of Moore County in North Carolina. I packed up all my artwork and brought it home to get packed again, with all our household goods and moved to our new home in Portland, Oregon. It was wonderful show, and so much more than I could have dreamed up myself. I am thankful for the vision and dedicated work of director Chris Dunn and friend Nanette Zeller. The exhibit was a real community effort. Below is a short video by local videographers Brady and Laura Beck which shows the artwork and the festivities from the opening weekend of the show. Enjoy!
PS: the blog will be on hiatus while we move. Hopefully more regularly postings will resume mid-August (brace for house before and afters!).