Matthew Cox is an astonishingly versatile artist whose current repertoire includes oil painting, drawings created through stamping on paper and embroidery on x-ray film. The latter was highlighted in an article in the Sept/Oct 2004 Fiberarts magazine, The Fiber of our Being.
A show at the Aron Packer gallery gives a glimpse into Cox's diversity. His show, Painted, Stamped & Stitched, at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery included this press release:
"In his search for alternative drawing materials, Cox utilizes subject specific rubber stamps as his drawing tool. Rubber stamps have become part of his lexicon and his renderings capture the essence of the subject in both words and precise portraiture. Embroidered X-Rays are Cox's latest discovery... literally hand stitching the X-Rays, bringing them to life and resurrecting the subject from the material. Cox's multifarious bodies of work strengthen one another by balancing technical and conceptual concerns with humor and formal beauty."
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Today's New York Times has a wonderful image that appeared, at first glance, to be an intricate fiber piece. Only after clicking on the article did I realize that it was a science article with a photograph of stem cells developing into neurons and glia. The photo originates from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
There are at least two silk painters guilds that I found on the internet - one in the U.S. and one in the U.K. Information about the U.K. Silk Painters Guild first: They appear to be a fairly active lot with a quarterly journal, an online gallery ("The website features more than 200 paintings by over sixty painters from around the world."), a well written and illustrated section of projects, events and classes (mostly in the U.K.) and a well organized links section of international artists and resources.
The site's founder and president Mandy Southan, has an extensive background in textile design: "Mandy Southan worked as a textile designer before setting up her own studio producing hand-printed and painted fabrics. She then taught painting and drawing and silk-painting at Hastings College for over ten years ... She has produced four books for silk painters" Southern offers one o one tutorials in silk painting from her studio in Hastings, England.
The gallery reveals the diversity that is possible in silk painting, featuring "more than 200 paintings by over sixty painters from around the world." Even better, the guild has an open invitation for silk painters to display their work whether they are members or not: "We would like to remind silk painters, wherever you are, that our gallery of work is open to all. You do not have to be a member of the Guild to have work featured in the Gallery. It is there to show the range and diversity of styles and techniques and to be an inspiration to everyone." As a result, the gallery offers a panoramic shot of contemporary silk painting. The work ranges from representational (with a level of incredible detail) to abstract.
In her exhibition statement for the ArtQuilts at the Sedgwick 2002, Cynthia wrote: "Women's publications were filled with a plethora of advice as well as endless lists that instructed the housewife how to do everything better. The favorite topic of these lists centered around keeping a husband happy. Strict adherence to these lists promised total fulfillment and wedded bliss, while sending a clear message that women were held totally responsible for the success of their marriage.
Some of the articles that Cynthia photo-transferred from 1950's-era 'ladies magazines' include gems like "Remember that a man also needs appreciation and flattery. If he gets it from his wife, he's far less likely to look for it elsewhere" and "Interest yourself in the things that interest him so you can enjoy them together." And my personal favorite: "carry your share of the domestic load. It means keeping the home clean and attractive, being a good cook and a thrifty shopper."
Something that we never discussed in Art History, and I am feeling the urge to search through my books and check this hypothesis: that in paintings the dominant eye (rather than the nose) is centered within the painting. Christopher W. Tyler of Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute studied 282 portraits created over five hundred years and reached an interesting conclusion: "The eye centering with an accuracy of ~1 eye width is barely mentioned in art criticism, suggesting that unconscious functions operate in our aesthetic judgements."
Tyler offers several hypothesis for his discovery and even has some statistics to prove his theory. I can't speak to the statistical validity, but his theory of eye placement is a great reference to keep in mind when planning a composition!
Too weird not to be true: Exploding Knitting Needles! "Paula Lalish, a longtime Marrowstone Island resident returning home from Port Angeles on Aug. 1 in her Ford Aerostar, was quietly knitting a sweater alongside her husband, Greg, as he drove. Suddenly, a sound as loud as a gunshot rang out inside the car..... 'The cause of your exploding knitting needle was probably a buildup of static electricity resulting from friction of two diverse materials, i.e., plastic and aluminum, exacerbated by the generation of yet more static by the vehicle (the cause of most travel sickness and the reason why many vehicles have an earth strip connecting the rear of the vehicle with the ground). This explanation comes from a former quality control engineer, toolmaker and steel worker, Sheffield, England." The article comes complete with a photo of the afflicted needle.
Stephanie Hansen is this week's interviewee at the Artists Loft of Soul Food Cafe presents The Self Portrait Challenge. The challenge which appears easy at first glance, but could offer lots of opportunities for artistic growth.
"How about, when you have nothing better to do, you lie on a big sheet of paper and get the girls to trace around you and then do a self portraiture using the body shape. I am doing this with some Grade 6 kids and I am about to get my Year 12's to do it as well. It is a real hoot!
Once you have the shape hang it up for awhile - answer some of these questions and then go for it using all your favorite mediums - language, collage, whatever takes your fancy..."
In her interview, Stephanie talks about her work and the importance of language to the visual arts. "My work is filled with the articulation of unpopular truth. A mirror on which I painted, "I am the most important person in my life. I am more important than my parents or my children," was actually fought over by two women in their forties, each one determined to take it home. But first, each one gasped and declared, 'I can't believe you said that!'"
For more of Stephanie's work, visit her website at: http://worthworks.com/
Any volunteers to coordinate an art quilt challenge around this??
Debbie Lucas creates dreamy impressionist landscapes using layers of wool. She descrbes the process: "Felt has a hidden magic by taking fleece wetting it and rolling it a new and interesting fabric is made often with surprising results.
All my pieces are hand rolled using mainly merino wool. I hand dye the fleece this gives me a rich pallet of colour to work with.
The inspiration for my work comes from the ever changing Cumbrian landscape. My pictures are made by building up layers of fleece which I card well to create a variety of colours and shades. I often cut back through the layers of felt to reveal hidden colours beneath, giving my work a 3 dimensional effect".
The Courtyard Gallery offers more views of Lucas'landscapes; landscapes created directly with fiber - no stitching added.
Today is a double-play in blog entries. I am leaving tomorrow for a week in the mountains - fresh air, hiking and sleeping by a waterfall. This should be paradise!
Hilarious, poignant and wonderfully inventive: The Proverbial Challenge
"The Proverbial Challenge is a collection of quilts that depict proverbs and sayings. Each of the quilts was created by an American quilt artist in response to a challenge issued by Sam Hunter, creator of the Proverbial Challenge series. As you browse though the quilts, please take a moment to read the stories about the quilts and their makers - you will find wonderful tales of laughter, joy, inspiration, struggle, pride and honor behind these beautiful works of art."
Lots of beautiful images, which expand to a very viewable size! Plan to spend some time exploring these images.
What is style?? That is a question that seems to return year after year. We can understand Impressionist style versus the Cubist style. The big swings in style are easy to grasp; stylistic variations that happened years ago seem obvious in hind sight. What is harder to understand are the small variations in style and as well as contemporary stylistic variations.
Matt Madden is a comic artist who investigated differences in contemporary comic style by having himself and several friends execute "Exercises in Style": visual variations on the exact same content. How many ways can you visually express the same 14 words and related actions?? Start with the template, and work your way through some Exercises in Style.
"Exercises in Style was inspired by a work of the same name by the French writer Raymond Queneau. In that book, Queneau spun 99 variations out of a mundane, two-part text about two chance encounters with a mildly irritating character during the course of a day. He started by telling it in every conceivable tense, then by doing it in free verse and as a sonnet, as a telegram, in pig latin, as a series of exclamations, in an indifferent voice... you name it.
The goal of this project is to apply the same principle to comics by creating as many variations as possible on a simple one-page non-story: different points of view, different genres, different formal games, and so on.
One additional variation on the project is that a group of cartoonists have been given a brief script of the one-page piece and asked to create their own version of the comic." All this and more will be released as a book Chamberlain Brothers, a new imprint of Penguin Books, in 2005.
Style: 3. expressive style, style -- (a way of expressing something (in language or art or music etc.) that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period; "all the reporters were expected to adopt the style of the newspaper")
Picture, narrative images, abstract images created entirely of fiber with no stitching - this is both challenging and intriguing. America seems to lag way behind the rest of the world as far as felting goes. Here we seem to mostly make dolls, hats, or booties -and some of these are gorgeous, but there are so many more possibilities! Other parts of the world are going wild with the sculptural, painterly possibilities opened by creating directly with the fibers.
The International Feltmakers Association is a great introduction to a media that is inspiring the rest of the world. They produce Echoes, a journal on felting, and a list of international felt exhibitions. And of course, lots of links to members sites, such as Felt Hungary, which has a Symposium of Traditional and Contemporary Felt Art.
"If you can write letters to Santa Claus c/o the North Pole, you ought to be able to write a letter to Jack Kerouac or Albert Einstein... Postal Seance is the result of Drescher's bizarre and ambitious experiment, in which the afterlife meets the epistolary impulse in the form of elaborately decorated letters to the dead.
By sending out 52 ornately designed cards and letters to deceased luminaries throughout history -- including James Joyce, Dolly the Sheep (in two letters), Chairman Mao, Saul Steinberg, and others -- Drescher puts his faith in the efficacy of the international postal network. In some cases, the letter is returned, bearing evidence of its lengthy journey in the form of international postmarks as it bounced from Singapore to Manchester, Sydney to Kentucky, or Madrid to Moscow, at last surrendering to the ultimate defeat, the "Return to Sender" stamp.
Of those not returned, it is deduced that the letter was successfully delivered. With a foldout map showing the post-life postal system and custom stamps for the reader's own far-reaching missives, Postal Seance is a uniquely imaginative presentation, and perhaps the closest we humans have ever come to contact with the dead."