Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Cheese Box of...

 Since this summer, and the Women's Art Institute at St. Kate's,  I have been working with shell/vulva/pod forms in all sorts of media: 
   embroidery by hand and by machine

In fact, this is the form I have committed to exploring for a year. It will be interesting to see where it takes me.

This particular piece,  A CHEESEBOX OF VULVAS,  will be showing in Detroit, MI December 4- January 23, 2016  at Whitdel Arts in the show titled CROTCH: Contested Territory.  How could I NOT apply to this call?

The units are about 7" tall, muslin and sometimes calico prints, high loft batting sandwiched between the layers, embroidered on my Babylock machine with designs that I drew, cut-up and reassembled, scanned, re-drew and then digitized into these designs.  There are 50 units in this iteration.  I find it funny to see them peeking out of this old cheese box!  They are like a garden.  I can also see them proliferate and hang about a space, dangling in mid-air, jittering around as the brezzes pass through.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Repetition and Pattern, Fredericksburg Gallery, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Three of my artworks were selected for the show Repetition and Pattern, at Fredericksburg Gallery, in the Fredericksburg Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a partner with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, guest curated by Amie Oliver.

The show opened Halloween, but the opening celebration is Friday, Nov 6, 6-8:30pm. Wish I could be there. If you go, do let me know.

Some Pebbles and Statistics are premiering in Fredericksburg.  Inventory Methods was shown in the windows of Susan Hensel Gallery earlier this year.
Some Pebbles


Inventory Methods

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In Stitches

                                            IN STITCHES
Terra Firma # 2

Patterns of India:Pearls of India

I am pleased as punch to announce that I will be showing some little seen work in a solo show at Lake Nokomis Presbterian Church, 1620 East 46th St., Minneapolis, MN. While we are not planning an opening event, you can contact me or the church to set a time to see the exhibit beginning November 5, 2015.  The end date is unclear, but it may be up until roughly Christmas. The church phone # is 612-721-4463 or you can email me at susanhensel@yahoo.com.

IN STITCHES is an exhibit of two bodies of work:
Terra Firma  and Patterns of India

Terra Firma reminds me of home.  I grew up in the Finger Lakes area of New York State, tramping up and down hills and through deep gorges cut by glaciers, revealing waterfalls, rock strata and fossils, an overwhelmingly physical representation of time.

Terra Firma is a series of mixed media artwork built from drawings on Fabriano paper, done in waxy colored pencils, ink and gouache that have been torn, re-ordered and reconstructed into sedimentary layers, tossed and folded by continental drift.  They are machine stitched and mounted on black linen and Folio printmaking paper.

Patterns of India is a response to a show I curated on the diaspora from the Indian subcontinent to the United States.  I read oral histories, met local Indian artists, heard their stories, ate wonderful food and became increasingly curious about the colors of the subcontinent.  I collected images of Indian miniatures, photos of the blue cities, dye pots and stacks of colorful fabrics as inspiration.

Patterns of India is built from drawings done in oil pastel, pencil, acrylic paint, ink.  The drawings were torn, reassembled and held together with stitches, lovely stitches and beads.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Busy artist, lazy blogger and the Women's Art Institute

I have been busy in the studio and busily posting on Facebook.  But for those of you who do not follow me on Facebook:  here is some of what has been happening since I last posted on this blog or sent a newsletter.

Eros & Thanatos, an installation with performance.  18'w x 10' h

In June I attended the Women's Art Institute at St. Catherine University, in St. Paul.  It is a 4 week intensive for serious women artists at all ages and stages of development.  It involves lots of reading, lots of discussion, some writing, many amazing lectures, studio visits with practicing artists, one-on-one critique with 2 professors; work with a visiting artist and the expectation to complete a major body of work. to call it instense is mild.  It is crazy intense.  And I loved it.  I was awake, with excitement, most days before 6 am so I could get to campus and work.  Most days I continued work at home in the evening, falling into bed already asleep by 10 or 10:30.

I started the institute thinking I would be working with computerized embroidery, digitizing vulvar forms in intense, kitschy pinks and somehow arriving at some kind of celebration of female power.  Well, that did not happen.  The idea is not yet ripe...although I do still persist in my investigations.
One of the investigations led to a roll of wall paper, which became an editionable work of art, roughly 30" w x 12' long .
The Body Disappears

The Body Disappears (detail)
But, what really happenned, is the installation with performance Eros and Thanatos, pictured at the top of the blog.  I began thinking about ageing, as I always do, personal history, thinking about the ghosts we carry with us.  I began drawing with white conte crayon on paper coated with chalkboard paint.  Compared to the stitching and the printed designs associated with the stitching, the artwork was so alive!
studio shot, Eros & Thanatos, in process.
The artwork is comprised of 40 sheets of mostly Stonehenge paper, coated with back or green chalkboard paint.  The drawings are vulvar/sea creatures/ garden forms/ bones, drawn and reased, leaving chalk ghosts.  The performance has a sound file of sonar, whalesong and heart beats. Silently, I drew and erased, drew and erased until the room grew quiet and the audience was breathing in rhythm with me.

Immediately after this experience, I drove up to the northshore for 2 weeks of sleeping, reading and drawing.  2 BLESSED weeks.  It was so hard to come home this year,  But, while there, I produced some lovely little paintings, ELEMENTS, based on the shell/vulvar forms again.
Conchlife 1

Conchlife 2

Since I returned home, I have been cleaning and organizing the studio; upgrading lighting and meeting with contractors to install some drywall so I have another smooth surface to work on.  The last remaining super rough plaster wall has to be covered.  I have been stitching, making progress in digitizing.

And, today, I began some large work again.  It's not really done yet.  4 large sheets of bristol, 22 x30, gesso, charcoal and pastel.  I think it will be a tryptich.

Eros & Thanatos, white
There is yet more happening, mostly in my head...thinking about how to show these things, avoiding frames, avoiding excessive ownership, re-thinking the value that the artwork offers...much to think about.

Meanwhile, my artwork is being exhibited from coast to coast.  A print from I Dwell in Impossibility is returning from California soon.  You can see the catalog of the show at this link.

Work is being hung in Extreme Fibers at the Muskegon Museum of Art  http://www.muskegonartmuseum.org/event/opening-reception-gallery-walktalk/

And soon, I will open my Reinvented Past series at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Good News all around

I never in a million years thought I would make the cut on  this one:  2 of my Deconstructing Power series were invited to be part of the show EXTREME FIBERS, at the Muskegon Museum of Art, next fall.

Another 2 of them were invited to be part of a Women's Caucus for Art show outside of St. Louis, Reimaging Femmage, at the Foundry Art Centre really, really soon!  Have to ship them next week.  I've been trying for several years to get into a WCA show.  

I Dwell in Impossibility  was accepted for the online component of another WCA show:  Voices: Women Unite.  
When I have the link, I'll share it.  I think that show goes up in April.

And then, Garden Book: Backyard  got accepted to the Women's Art Resources of Minnesota juried show at the Phipps Center for the Arts,in Hudson WI. 

And then, Marcus helped me load  the car with the Ophelia pictures and accoutrements today.  I perform it at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, MN on Friday.  

Whew!  Quite a week!

And I sent out three or four more proposals.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Transformation: The Works of Susan Hensel & Janna Rhae Johnson

Opening reception for this show is Saturday, January 24 from 6-8pm.
Jan 24- Feb 22, 2015

This show showcases two different approaches to creating art from the detritus of human existence. Susan Hensel explores the nature of memory, nostalgia and longing for narrative that may never have truly existed. She finds shreds of story in attics, closets, basements and thrift shops. By sewing, gluing, dying, painting and placing these items with one another, she transforms these items into assemblages that illuminate shared human stories of longing. Janna Rhae Johnson creates sculptural jewelry that reveals the exquisiteness of a material rarely considered as such — steel.  Working with steel belted tires scavenged from roadways and discarded window screen, she transforms these materials into body adornment that challenges the very definition of jewelry, requiring a precarious interaction between object and body.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Installation day at Hopkins Center for the Arts

Transformation: The Works of Susan Hensel & Janna Rhae Johnson

Opening reception for this show is Saturday, January 24 from 6-8pm.

Today was installation day...always an exciting day.  I am showing the series REINVENTED PAST in this two person show at  Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Installation begins!
Dale measuring
Figuring out locations

Janna Rhae Johnson

Hopkins Center for the Arts

1111 Mainstreet
Hopkins, MN 55343
Gallery free and open to the public
Monday-Friday: 8am–8pm
Saturday: 10am–8pm
Sunday: 12–5pm