When I started this blog, I planned to intermix old and new, but my new work has been hogging all the attention, both in the blog and in my life. So while I'm still busy, here's some of my very old art.
While none of my art will ever be described as minimalist, these pieces are over-embellished extravaganzas. Wretched excess. Too much? never! Keep sewing. I apologize for the poor photos, but I don't have time to re-shoot these.
Altar 80"high x 53"wide.
This piece is huge! I was reading a book about home altars, like these...
..and decided to make an altar to the artists who inspire me.
Starting from the left:
1. Elizabeth Barber, author of Women's Work. In the full photo, you can see her face on the mummy figure to the far left. One of the biggest influences on my art, opening up the whole history of women and textiles.
2. Faith Ringgold, who tells stories through her quilted art. I heard her speak once, talking about how she asked her mother to help her sew borders for some of her pieces. Her mom made patchwork borders, which is not what the artist had in mind, but came to love. She helped me see that QUILT really can equal ART
3 Louise Nevelson, the sculptor of found-objects collages. She collected scraps of wood and was using boxes as pedestals, when she was inspired to make sculptures IN the boxes.
4. My sister Claire, who has always encouraged me.
hmmm...blew the numbers, didn't I?
6. Susan Shie had a piece, many years ago, in a small show in Cleveland. The show was boring, but not Shie's piece! How that bright, breathing piece of life ever got judged in with those staid old disappointments, I don't know, but she opened my eyes to what cloth could DO!
7. Frida Kahlo's art explodes with the color and intensity of her Mexican heritage. She inspired me to look into my own visual heritage, but honestly, Polish art has NOTHING. However...if you expand your ancestral parameters to Slavic, eastern European, well then you have all sorts of fabulous textile heritage.
8. a peasant dress, representing my Eastern European ancestors
9. Harriet Powers was born a slave, and died in 1910. Only two of her quilts have survived: Bible Quilt 1886 and Pictorial Quilt 1898. I am heartened to know that her art, her stitches, survive, against all odds.
10. The feminist artist Miriam Schapiro. A confession here: I included Miriam more as a symbol of all the women artists who have come before me than for her direct impact on my art.
11 Joyce Scott addresses issues of slavery and racism, and she does it with beads! Beads are a common African art material, so her pieces fit my need for concept/material interaction.
12 Judy Chicago. I got to see her Dinner Party piece years ago, and it really hit me. I read all about each of the settings and the history of each one, and the controversy over her unpaid volunteers.
Although it looks like the altar is sticking out, it's really just a flat wall-hung piece. The altar is covered in lace and crochet and hung with rosaries. An apron reaches out from the center, in front of a tablecloth (which I beaded to death). And yes, those are wooden mixing spoons alternating with ladies gloves along the top edge. This piece has an odd history. The first time it was exhibited, it was bought by someone knew well. Years later, she was downsizing, and the piece was now too large for her new home. Could she possibly trade it in? We worked it out, and Altar is now back home.
Devotion 62" high x 57"wide.
I've been told that some of my art is creepy. This one sure is. Most old embroideries only have a few flowers in the corners, or on the edges. The majority of the space is empty. But if you take enough of these old embroideries, and cut them and dye them and then sew only the embroidered sections together...you can really go extravagantly over the top. Devotion is just way-y-y too much.
To be embraced by this garment/figure would be to drown in an overdose of stitches. All that pink and flowery with a deep dark red interior.
New Orleans 21" h x 31"w Made this one after a trip to that eclectic city, before Katrina. Just playing with the flavor of the place. Having a strong orangey background under all that black crochet seemed to give it the Halloweeny-carnival feel I wanted.
Years ago, I saw a Chinese carving that had a wonderful, crazed, insane-looking face. I really should have bought that piece, or at least taken a picture, because that face has shown up in quite a few of my stranger works. Like this one.
Crochet and a skeleton, the Virgin Mary and a rubber chicken (and a wooden one) buttons, beads, keyholes....what? no kitchen sink?
A Small Red Quilt 26"h x 23"w This may be my most over-done piece ever. It's thick with embellishments, wild with RED, and the zippers and cords running in circles around and around. OK, this one HAS to have new detail shots. Here:
There's a shibori dye technique where you wrap beads in cloth, then dye the cloth, which gives you certain patterns. But if you wrap the beads and just leave them in the cloth, you get 3-D grape-clusters to add to your art.
Very tough to photograph. The deep reds keep looking pink or orange. The first picture of the whole quilt has the truest colors. Oh, and just for fun, here's what's sewn onto the back:
Old bra straps and sections, a cold white rebuttal to the teeming front.
As I look back on this work, most of it from around 2005, I wonder: why didn't I go further? A Small Red Quilt probably IS my most overdone piece...but now I see that I could have gone much, much further. I want to make a new one, a no-holds-barred, all stops out piece that just screams off the wall. Damn! So much art to do, so little life left.