follow it down

I’ve been doing quite a bit of embroidery and I am planning to start making things to sell soon. (“Soon” = probably not for a few months.) I could use the money and I enjoy embroidery quite a lot. It’s very pleasing to sit for hours stitching. If you don’t believe me, behold below the internet-sourced collection of embroidery I have scoured in a few obsessive fits.

Thanks to an article posted to ArtInfo about the Whitney Biennial, I found out about Elaine Reichek‘s work. The writer in me (“writer” + “me” = verbose, self-important, insatiable) really appreciates her use of quotes from friends, family, and literature. I also really like the cultural anthropological feel to her work, that is both intellectually and visually stimulating.

Detail of "Sampler (Scarlet Letter)", 1996. Hand embroidery on linen. Elaine Reichek.

Mr. X Stitch’s blog is a bit overwhelming for me. In a lot of ways. Here’s a bit of a sampler (oh yeah, embroidery pun): The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge. Really, I can’t even pick one image. There are so many talented artists posted to this blog. Embroidery as Art is another great embroidery blog, especially as an approachable and inspiring introduction to embroidery.

Mira directed me toward Kate Kretz and Erin Endicott’s embroidery. I had been thinking about hair embroidery because of how all my life I’ve been very interested in hair, to the extent that I collect hair in jars. (Although, for the record, no pubic hair.) And then I got the link to the hair embroidery of Kretz and it made me all the more excited to try it out sometime.

Oubliette 1 (detail), 2006. Human hair embroidery. Kate Kretz.
Healing Sutra #3. Hand embroidery on antique fabric stained with walnut ink cut to pattern of child's dress. Erin Endicott.

Husband found an article on Huffington Post about Kathy Halper’s work, which has a sense of humor and ugliness about its content that I can appreciate.  She uses images from Facebook that teenagers post of themselves, and it’s paired with text that heightens the kind of grotesque absurdity of the images. They’re not very visceral, though. Mostly outlines. At first this turned me off a bit, but considering the subject, it seems really appropriate. Most of the images include teenagers engaging some kind of sexual, pseudo-sexual, or intensely physical activity, implying a kind of hedonism, and yet there’s nothing truly sensual about what they’re doing. The images and the text are generic, belonging to anyone and no one.

Girl just have to accept. Kathy Halper.

I love the way Joetta Maue creates a kind of sentimentality that feels sincere yet lacks presumption. Admittedly, sometimes it goes a little too far for me, but that’s okay. My favourite pieces of Maue’s use a variety of fabrics, creating an odd sense of texture and space. But who doesn’t like embroidered handwriting? Only robots. Poorly programmed robots. So there’s quite a number of charming pieces on her website.

8 months, 2011. Hand embroidered, appliqued, and painted re-appropriated linen with found cloth. Joetta Maue.

There’s more, but I feel like I should stop now… until tomorrow.

something to do with my hands

I’ve begun learning how to embroider.

Lately I haven’t been feeling well, so I needed something to do while resting. And while not sleeping at night. For the time being, it’s mostly experimentation and practice. I like that I have to sit with a line for a while, yet it feels loose and unassuming. Writing and drawing has been too intimidating lately. It has to mean too much, and I just can’t deal with that right now. Stitching. Stitching feels appropriate.

Find the pickle

I forgot to take pictures yesterday. Since I had to go back today to put my cards into clusters, I took some photos quickly:









I also have a lot of prints available and a few original paintings. While I was there preparing the cards it became obvious that people thought my work (which took up three tables) was done by three different artists. They talked to me about my cards, then moved on and commented to each other about the rest of the work as if it wasn’t mine. I can see why they would think that, but I also see a thread connecting all of the work. Or rather, a tangle of many threads. It’s not surprising. Just interesting to me.

Santa Cat knows when you’re awake

I’ve been spinning for weeks. Literally. It’s exhausting, but finally I fell over. I fell over right into a pile of red ribbons, clippings of pine and rosemary, sparkling silver glass as thin as paper, pomegranate seeds, and ridiculous Santa costumes for dogs.

You know what this means. There’s bound to be a craft-oriented holiday sale. I’ve been preparing for it, that is whenever I’m not busy convincing myself to go hide under every blanket that I own. Long dramatic story. For now, I’m just updating to say there’s a Holiday Art Sale going on at ETSU in the Culp Center, which I am excited about.




More pictures tomorrow. After I’ve slept.

Reception for Inheritance

I’m not sure how one gauges the success of a reception. Is it how many people show up? How many people compliment you? How much art is purchased? How many people suggest another exhibition or commission that probably won’t come to fruition? I don’t know.

A lot of people showed up, a lot of people responded positively to the work, a lot of people loved the food, and one person bought a print. Good, I think. I worked a bit harder to promote the show and to allow other people to promote it for me. A couple people mentioned reading about it in the paper to Robert.

Thanks to my grandparents, mom, mother-in-law, and some friends the food for the reception was everything I hoped it would be — good, seasonal, and substantial vegan food for people who aren’t used to eating vegan food. I’m glad I decided to shoot for having too much food because people ate pretty much all of it. There was very little left for us to take home by the end of the night. We had:

Southern Event Regulation sweet tea
Art Show Regulation boxed wine (probably not vegan)
Husband Regulation Yuengling lager beer
Fruit jam, olive & dill, garlic, and spicy nut spreads
Chipotle, black bean, and garlic hummus
Crackers and fresh bread
Fresh fruit
BBQ pomegranate tempeh
Citrus glazed beets & sweet potato
Asparagus & heirloom tomato garlic salad
Cranberry, apple & squash quinoa
Hot black-eyed peas & kale
Sesame chard salad
Spiced pumpkin cupcakes
Maple cookies (Earth Fare)
No-bake chocolate cookies
Peanut butter rice krispy treats

It was all delicious. And I might have forgotten something or things. We managed to find some compostable plates and silverware, plus recyclable plastic cups so there ended up being one trash bag, one recycling bag, and two compost bags. I’m pretty pleased with hosting an event that was at least semi-responsible.

Instead of a guestbook, I decided to paint a rectangle on the wall and let people fill it with their comments. More like an open forum or a discussion board than a guestbook. People were a bit shy about it, but with some encouragement by the end of the night there were several comments, some of which were especially thought-provoking or validating. (And who doesn’t love feeling validated?) It seems like most people came to me directly to tell me what they think.

We ended up staying in the gallery until 11:30 because people kept coming in, and I was as proud of myself for talking to so many strangers as I was for putting together the whole damn show. Especially on three hours of sleep. More images from the reception are available at my Flickr account. I’ll take some good photos of the work itself soon. Until then, here are a few more images from the reception:

A beauty but a funny girl

Tantrums
Spiked coffee
Yoga
Damiana
Husband hugs
Dark chocolate
Really good dinners
Running
Singing

The tantrums actually ended a while ago once I felt more secure in the progression of the work. At first it was not working out at all, my hands felt awkward and jumpy. Virginal in the ways of graphite and watercolour. Has it really been that long since I tried to draw something in earnest? It’s at least been a couple months. And before that I was busy masturbating a sea of hundreds, thousands tiny little black lines. Fight or flight, a combination of both.


My hands and my eyes remember more now, and I can see the faces much better. Soon I’ll move onto the figures. They will have to be quick and ruthless. In my head, they remind me of figures in the work of Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu, Fay Ku, Peregrine Honig, and my former classmate Kenna Kindig (who needs a website or something).

Installation begins after this weekend, then a week until the opening reception. I knew there were some things I wouldn’t begin until I could move into the gallery, such as the mysterious substance flowing in and out of the figures, so that’s not really a concern. It will work. If it doesn’t I will burn the whole building down. (Not really, Karlota.)

By the way: I still need some pictures of faces. Just an up close portrait with no makeup or glasses. Unless you have a lot of facial hair, in which case I can’t really use you, but thanks anyway. Photos of random people on the internet just don’t work as well.

Deep breaths

I sent an exhibition proposal for December or later, but there was an opening in October, so despite not having the work done yet I decided to take it.

The show will be called Inheritance and it addresses the conflicts and ethics of various animal rights issues, such as factory farming and animal testing by the cosmetics industry. It combines drawing, painting, and installation. The original proposal needed to be simplified a bit for the sake of time and money, but the changes actually seem to work better (at least in my mind) than before. They’re a bit more dynamic. I’m really excited and nervous about it.

The local animal rights group might help me with the food at the reception. Fingers crossed. It’d be really great if the reception could be the combined effort of many individuals, especially on the local level. The reception will be entirely vegan, although I’ve heard that some people only go to art shows for cheese. Hm.

The past week and a half has been almost continually about collecting images: faces, bruises, skin irritation, nude females, mastitis, etc. My cats really like to be in the reference photos. Maybe I should just paint my cats. A whole show dedicated to my future as a cat lady.

(By the way, the two “poses” above are not going to be included. I just thought they were good representations of my cats’ individual style for getting in the way. Because I know how much you care about my darling cats.)

Prayers for the wild at heart

I made two more paintings in the circus series to replace the two that have sold (the monkey and the giraffe), but then one of the new ones plus an older one (the elephant) sold so now I need to make more. Not that I’m complaining.

Self-Explanatory. Mixed media, 2011.

I focused on the tricks that the animals are made to perform because they are just as disgusting to me as the physical abuse so prevalent in circuses that include wild animals. It’s degrading. I’ve never understood the desire to kill, cage, or otherwise possess something you find beautiful. Don’t you love it or find it interesting because of what it is, and can you not see how possession changes it?

Detail from Self-Explanatory.

Sorry about the poorly shot photos. I kept forgetting to do it, and then ended up rushing. Since I’m interested in eventually producing prints, I’ll have to be more deliberate. For these two, as before, I used second hand frames from local thrift stores.

Obedience. Mixed media, 2011.

The amusing thing about all of this is that I tried a bunch of other things in an effort to earn some money, thinking that selling “public friendly” paintings or drawings could not possibly work for me. None of those other endeavors really amounted to much, or gave me the same level of satisfaction as making these paintings. If I can keep it up (EF wants me to have work there every 3-4 months), then this is certainly a viable option.

Detail of Obedience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately. Last week I was reading about Eva Hesse and there was this phrase that really stuck out in my mind — “… haunted by obedience.” So many contemporary acts of rebellion feel forced, phony, or inauthentic. Symbols of it – like tattoos, strange hair styles, and so on – are now meaningless. Where is the real rebellion? Is that possible? Are we all haunted by obedience?