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?

Friday, July 1, 2016


Setting timelines and dues dates from internal cues is today's topic.  It is hard enough to pay attention to the external cues: Grant due dates; school assignments; application dates.  Lots of people have a hard time completing things well and on time.

Even harder is setting your own dues dates. SO here are some dates I am setting for myself...which I am already questioning. Feel free to hold me accountable!

7/8/16 send in Chenven grant application I did this yesterday!

7/15/16 Identify 5 university galleries accepting proposals I sent one yesterday!

8/1/16 send a direct fundraising letter for completion of (Her)Suit.  I think I can do this.

(Her)Suit getting photographed

8/1/16 send gallery/museum proposals(as appropriate) or introduction to my work.

Don't know about this one.  Might not be ready, even though summer is the best time to send. I am not finding the right fit.  So, while not giving up on this one, it is back to the drawing board as far as timing goes. More research is needed.

9/1/16 secure temporary space to hang (Her)Suit and document it.
           look on Craigslist
           ask for referrals on social media forums
           line up photographers, videographers

9/30/16 Be ready to run a crowdfunding campaign on Hatchfund or Indegogo to upgrade studio equipment. I think I can do this.

Eros and Thanatos
10/31/16 Complete Eros and Thanatos 
I have to do this.  I was thinking of balling it up and throwing it out, but I got a solo show for it and other parts of the body of work for March 2017.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A can of wiggling worms

As I neared the sure completion of The Art of Giving,  the big give away of the artists books, I found myself anxiously asking, "Now What?" 

Enter, stage left, a can of wiggling worms: What to do with all the newer, bulkier work!!!

That big "Now What?" is why I enrolled in the Creative Capital course and the Praxis course...trying to figure out the next steps for the works on susanhenselprojects!

Sales, of course, would be lovely.  But a lot of my work seems to stubbornly resist commodification. How do you place an installation?  Certainly, after its initial showing or set of showings, the parts can be dispersed. Ophelia and (Her)Suit can be broken apart.  In fact, they were designed to be dispersed piecemeal. But they need to tell their stories a bit more before that happens.

Much dithering still ensues.  However, I have concluded that a new approach to exhibition and a new approach to financing the artwork must be developed.

While considering my response to the results of The Art of Giving and the results of my course work, I am reading a fairly amazing book:  The Art of Asking: How I stopped Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. I had watched her TED talk a week or so ago and was captivated.

I am contemplating several techniques of fundraising: general ( a support tab on the website), project specific to complete (Her)Suit and a larger scale studio equipment upgrade campaign.

There!  I've said it!

It is so hard to contemplate, much less ask for help!

The message  of the Art of Asking is timely. I am hesitant to ask for donations/help.  The TED talk and the book address this fear.  It is intriguing. It bears thinking about. I am pondering this.