Friday, December 7, 2012

Embroidery tests for projects

This piece, of bright white polyester on unbleached muslin is a test for the Ghost dress.

 Odd though it may seem, baby pictures on camouflage fleece is a legitimate test for a future project that deals with the concepts of safety and armor.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Further embroidery lessons

I love lace.  I collect old crocheted lace, most of it stained and damaged from love...the way I like it best...holding close the stories of their making and their use.  the hands of many people handled the delicate fabric.

No way as moving as old lace, it still intrigues me that the embroidery machine can stich lace patterns...some of which can stand alone.  Way too cool.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Embroidery lessons

Machine embroidery is pretty slick.  The machine I purchased, and am paying for over 48 months, is a Baby Lock Elegante 2.  It has many built in stitched, designs and mild editing capability, which I am learning to use.  This flower was lesson #1 using the embroidery unit after several weeks of learning the capabilities of the machine without the embroidery attachment.  Pretty durn cool.

I came home from my lesson and began to experiment, using all kinda of thread, combining built in patterns.  I made this giant, narcissistic "S".  Really, too cool.  I learned multiple lessons about using the machine.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A new quest has begun...

The studio is as chaotic as it usually is these days.  I am framing, wrapping, storing, moving among contractors as the re-modeling comes near to a close. Transition is still the the word of the day.

Amid it all, I applied for a grant, but did not win it.  So be it.  I carry on.  My goal remains.  It is to make another oversized dress (ultimately more than one) from unbleached muslin, with a small bodice, overly long noodle-sleeves.  The bodice and sleeves will be heavily embroidered with lace images. The skirt(s) of the dress(es) will tell the story.

Fashioning narrative: engendered stories

It all began with old, worn white dresses.

The dresses hover like ghosts, ethereal, whispering in the registers just beyond hearing; flitting about in that peripheral place just beyond the corner of your eye.

I am interested in the narratives revealed by clothing: the power of clothing to tell a story, to support a myth or to define a role. My goal is to tell new stories making manifest internalized meanings implicit in fashion and to reassess traditional understandings of gender roles.

I have collected nightgowns, baptismal dresses, children’s clothing from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and I have sewn giant muslin dresses. They function as carriers of stories, individually and in groups. They are stiffened, suspended and animated to music, glued, painted and pinned onto canvas, and some are filled with light and sound They seem na├»ve, misguided, innocent, nostalgic, tragic, living in a dream world.

Each represents a costume donned by an individual enmeshed in a culture that attempted to define them or confine them to stable definitions of gender and class. Women’s history is tied up with fashion, their stories often hidden. Here, they are made visible.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beached! a poem

I am excited!

About a month ago I entered 3 poems in a contest sponsored by Lansing City Pulse newspaper and Scene Metrospace Gallery in East Lansing, MI.  One of my poems was selected for an honorable mention!  So excited!  I've never sent a poem out anywhere before! While I cannot be there for the reading, the juror,Stephanie Glazier will read it at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St.,E. Lansing, MI  on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.

The poem Beached was written a few years ago when I spent a week investigating different forms of writing at the Loft Literary Center, here in Minneapolis. Like most of my writing, it is developed from visual and sensual images.  Like most of my work as a visual artist, my writing is very process oriented.  I rarely enter the creative arena knowing exactly what I will produce.  I might have some vague ideas, some faint recurring themes...but until the words (or the charcoal) begin to flow onto the paper, I cannot glimpse my destination.

This poem began as a memory of the wind in the wheat on Prince Edward Island.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ophelia rises like a phoenix

The frames were a long time coming...back ordered.  But the 8 ply museum matts were cut and shipped in a flash.  All ten are matted, glazed and framed. They are awaiting their wire hardware and picture lights now.  Whew!

They look so different framed.  The colors are richer; the focus seems sharper.  Go figure. Soon they will be safely stored, awaiting their time in  the sun.  The installation and performance is probably going to be summer or fall 2013.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It may or may not be part of a series, but this mixed media pastel with hand stitching is the first, I think, of several that speak to  the systematic silencing of women over time.

The image arose in some doodles one night and scared the crap out of me.  It occurred again.  It was so authentic and so scary that I knew I had to pursue it.  The DIY cruciform stitching is intentionally crude.  As I was drawing this face, the symmetric cruciform of the body appeared.  I decided to emphasize it with the stitches done in waxed bookbinding linen thread.  The crudeness of the thread and the elongated limbs of the cross seemed to echo hundreds of years of silencing women of faith...seems to reflect the crude, hamfisted denial of the power and the wholeness of women.

And, I found the frame for $18 at an occasional sale today!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

So,  some time ago, I tore apart a pair of men's wingtip shoes.  It was a fascinating many parts!  I did rubbings of the uppers and put them away in a drawer.  I think I am about to tackle them.  I am sure there will be some stitching.

Fashion, power, signification.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ophelia backgrounds done!

Today, the final backgrounds came together. They will be burnished down soon. Small amounts of drawing remain... A leg here, a shadow there and the pesky problem of the faces. They need to remain black, but still recognizable as faces.

The frames are slightly back ordered.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Progress report on Ophelia

I found pinkish pillows at a moving sale today  that seemed to belong to Ophelia...once I dye them a bit.

Today I was extremely tired and achey, but went to the studio anyways.  I perked up there....especially since I was able to get the air conditioner reset to cool!  Had to take the ladder over to reach the unit.

I worked on the backgrounds of these three pieces, layering hair images under the flowers to mute the colors a bit.

The layers are not yet committed....I use PMA, positionable mounting adhesive, which really does remain largely repositionable until you burnish it down.  The surfaces are not yet burnished.

With a certain degree of terror, I ordered 10 frames for my ladies.

Help me re-name this installation

Help me re-title this piece.  I think Portraits of Longing is pretty cheesy.

Here are some options I came up with today:
Parlor Games
Distant Memory
Pre-feminist Parlor
Identity Deferred
The Gaze

Here is a word cloud I made about the piece.  What do you think it's title should be?

Here is the statement I wrote for the show at Van Brabson Gallery


Portraits of vulnerability, uncommonly captured in wistful cotton.  They are Madonnas, lost girls, older men and women stuck in their youth, young women old beyond years. Their sexuality is hemmed in by fine Victorian handwork , but within their boudoirs, they are free

We often think of portraits as true and memory as relatively inviolate .  We own our own image and memories and see them as accurate.  But it seems to me that when we are depicted by another, possibilities other than accurate fact are possible.

As I age, the stories of my childhood blur and are sentimentally remembered as someone else’s life.  I remember my Mother’s story as if it were my own. I remember my story as hers, though she died long before I began to forget the string of the narrative. Even my Father’s stories morph across gender and become mine. It seems that the stories of families can never totally expire.

As the older generation of my family dies, I am increasingly drawn to the detritus of others. I find shreds of story in the closets and trunks of attics , basements and op-shops. Some items hold the stories of their former owners: the archetypes of a life shrouded in mystery.

This brings me back to portraits. What happens when the creator of the portrait embeds the image in someone else’s story?

In this installation the detritus is false, a re-creation of over the top Victorian handwork. By sewing, gluing, dying, painting and placing these items with one another, I hope to open up a shared human story of longing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Portraits of Longing recently exhibited

Portraits of Longing
Portraits of Longing was recently exhibited at Van Brabson Gallery  and I finally photographed the chair installation... in the new temporary studio.

The effect of framing

Terra Firma 1
Small, diminutive works of art become real once they are framed.  It is important not to be skimpy with space.  These little embroidered pieces could have been pinned to a wall...but they look like they don't matter when shown that way. Framed with lots of space around them, they can sing.

The sereis is named Terra Firma.  THe are mixed media drawings with embroidery on linen.
Terra Firma 2

Terra Firma 3

Terra Firma 4

Terra Firma 5

Thursday, July 12, 2012

While getting ready for more renovation...

I have unearthed many partially finished bodies of work that need re-consideration and work.  Here is the HAIRSUIT series, re- worked, remounted and, perhaps a few of them are done.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Still busy, still working small

 I am still working pretty regularly in the studio and I am still working small.  This is the Terra series.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I've been busy

 Despite many interruptions, visits, family matters, a great trip to NYC and injury requiring physical therapy, I have been busily at work in the studio.

Since I cannot climb ladders right now, I am working very small...nothing larger than 18 x 20.

 I am very fond of the Horse Woman.  She seems to have wonderful, sinuous power.