Monday, November 14, 2016

IN THE WINDOWS: Patricia Bronstein and Susan Huhn-Bowles

Patricia Bronstein, November 2016
Though a coincidence, these collages are being shown at a time where I hope they will give some joy and humor, and provide some relief to those (including me) who need it.
This country has suffered a devastating setback.  What do we tell ourselves about our country?  Many are struggling about what to tell our children? 
I’ve always liked collage because it allows you to say anything by juxtaposing images.  Look closely at these works.  I think they are sweet and funny.  I hope these make you happier because as Bette Davis in All About Eve, “fasten your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.”  She really says “fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy night.” This is a film from1950.  Either quote, the only car model that had seatbelts at that time was a Nash.  Congress did not mandate them until 1959. 

Learn more about Patricia Bronstein

The Spirit House, Altar and Tree of Faith
Susan Huhn-Bowles

The Spirit House, Altar and Tree of Faith is the representation of my hope for unity and peace.

As humans we are all physical and spiritual beings.  Our religions and beliefs guide and sustain us.  However, they can also divide us and distort our social behavior. We can be born into specific belief systems based on our parent's beliefs and cultures.  We also have the right and obligation to ourselves to search our hearts, listen to our soul's voice and find what the most sustaining beliefs for ourselves.

This also means not being judgmental, demeaning or hateful to those of differing faith.

This is my prayer.

Learn more about Susan Huhn-Bowles 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Such a long time

It has been such a long time since my last blog post!  Hints of activity have been blasted out on Facebook:  so easy, so fast!

Tonight, I will slow down for an admittedly drowsy bit of time and try to catch up on the events and activities in the studio.

A magnificent deal came my way on a new embroidery machine.  In fits and starts, including a trip to the shop, I have begun using it. There is a learning curve, but it is not too steep.  It works like any other embroidery machine...except you have to set up the thread-to-needle assignments. It is a bit fussy.
It allows me to sew up to 10 threads with no spool changes. What a wonder! Mostly I have been doing color studies: stitching identical designs with identical thread choices on different color fabrics to see what happens.

I rearranged the studio to make room for the new machine.  In anticipation of the need for more wall space to work large, I finished drywalling the garage.  I have one really long wall out there...over 14 uninterrupted feet.  Now to get it heated...or designate it the spring-fall studio extension.

I applied for the Guggenheim fellowship earlier this fall.  It is unlike any other application.  You practically write a memoir : about 8 pages of narrative about your career and 3 pages about your proposed project and beyond.  No resume.  No artist statement. And you have to provide 3 references. BUT no pictures...until asked.  I was asked!  So I have been combing through jpgs, trying to find the right sequence, the right story.  It is a big-deal-lot-of-work!  I cannot tell you how many hours this has all taken...and it is not done yet.  You can see my progress on picture selection etc. at

The body of work I did with my son, I DWELL IN IMPOSSIBILITY, will be exhibited at the Phipps Art Gallery in Hudson, WI as a solo show, in  October/ November 2019.

The EROS DRAWINGS are on exhibit in Wyoming, Minnesota for this month.

And the Art of Giving Project continues.  More artists books have gone to collections:  Pratt Institute of Art in NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art; and now Long Island University, NY.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stitched: Themes and Variations

Stitching on Rives BFK.  Digitized in 6D Embroidery software. STabilized with medium weight cutaway stabilizer.  Threads are rayon, polyester or cotton.  There is a thin layer of batting between the stabilizer and the paper.  Hand coloring with watercolor: bold pours; brush swooshes and staining from the back of the stitching with the rayon thread.  The rayon wicked the watercolor to the front, containing it to the stitched area.

This one is my favorite.  Stitched inoff white rayon, stained from the back with watercolor.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eros and Thanatos wall

I have begun a marathon photoshoot.  Here is not quite 1/2 of a wall of Eros and Thanatos.  It is white conte and hard black pastel and a little magic on Stonehenge paper coated with chalk board paint.
  I ahve also been working on a few new monoprints as well.  These are tiny, maybe 5" x7"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Holding it Together : testing the concept

For the past year, I have been feverishly applying for grants for this project. None have come through, yet, more are being written, and several are awaiting results. I can't really start the project until the grant period begins...But, I do need to try out some technical ideas.  These are 2 iterations. All together they took several hours of design work and about 11 hours of stitching.  I have 2 or 3 more ideas to try out.  Right now I am thinking that the text will be on suspended plexiglas.

The hoped for project is: Holding it Together: women's lifesaving stories, an installation of digitally programmed, machine embroidery, making freestanding lace, inspired by the history of Irish lace. Clones Irish lace re-emerged during the potato famine as a way to save families from destitution and starvation. Women designed unique motifs loosely based on Venetian bobbin lace that could be made simply with a crochet hook and common thread. Lace motifs were particular to families, identifying the individual and their relations as clearly as insignia or monograms. The individual motifs were collected and assembled by the "Netter," creating wildly popular luxury goods from the contributions of a broader community, a process that we now would call crowd sourcing. 

I posit that all people, and older women in particular, have unique stories, both dramatic and mundane, which create the foundation for their family's survival. The stories might be as simple as "How Thanksgiving dinner was saved" or as profound as a human life rescued or sacrificed.  In this project, I am taking on the role of both the lace maker and the "Netter", collecting women’s stories, creating motifs that express the content of their stories and piecing them together into an exhibition.

My saved the day story is: In the early years of my widowhood, when my son was still small, a playgroup decided to go sledding.  I did not feel I could participate. It was several years before my surgery and my back was too fragile to haul my toddler up the hill, much less ride the icy bumps with him. I returned home discouraged.  That night I received a phone call from my insurance agent, offering to be a "big brother" to my son and how would we like to go sledding!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer work

Summer seems to be a disjointed time. I get hot and sweaty.  I go on vacation.  I get distracted from my goals...again. But, work happens nonetheless.

While on vacation, I drew sticks, which will become an artists book..
I worked on sumi woodblock prints.

I worked on pastel transfer monoprints, an interesting, wild, unpredictable process.
Today, I completed the transformation of some of these prints into art objects: cut them down to 8", dry-mounted to foamcore, coated with epoxy. I am undecided about the transformation. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

This is what I believe

I am on vacation, reading, sleeping, thinking. I have been reading Arthur Danto, WHAT IS ART.  It is philosophy and surprisingly interesting, readable. It has, perhaps, caused me to wax a bit philosophic. I don't think this falls under his rubric of ontology: he wrote about what it means to be art.  This is more a statement about why I believe art is important.

I believe art is a primal, essential expression of the human experience. It is basic and definitional. Without creative expression, our humanity is in doubt. I believe that art is a cultural/community communicator. It can, and does, express both the anxiety and the solidarity of living in community. Sometimes it has a healing effect;sometimes it is a statement of alarm. Visual art communicates, mostly without conversational language, the needs, fears and aspirations of the artist and the community.

What do you think?