Monday, September 22, 2014

LAFTA in lace

My local fiber art group, Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists, has a member show every year.  Usually it's juried, but this year we broke precedent in two ways -- not only was there no juror, but we had a theme: lace.  I confess that when I heard about the theme I was dubious.  I was afraid that it would call forth a bunch of art so sweet that it would make your teeth hurt, a cross between Valentines and cotton candy.

But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that only a couple of the pieces were sentimental or cute and most had an exhilarating edge.  The red walls probably helped; on white many of the pieces would have faded into the wall, and on pink you would have had insulin shock.

Here are some of the works that I particularly liked:

Trish Korte, Paper Lace #1 (detail)

Sorry for the reflection; always hard to photograph encaustic.  This one features paper doilies in pleasant un-sweet colors.

Deborah Levine, Valentine Dreams

This assemblage is 3-D, mounted on a piece of old wood and displayed on a metal easel.  Debby told me she started with stiffened fabric glued into an old candy box, but it was too boring, so she started to rip it out.  Instead, the box ripped, which gave exactly the feeling she wanted.  It's not easy to make a tough piece out of lace, but this one succeeds and I like it.

Kevin Rose Schultz, Reconfiguration

Stiffened lace made into a life-sized torso; again, beautiful without being sweet.  Kevin won a major award for the best textile art at the Kentucky State Fair last month for a very similar piece; it will be interesting to see whether she takes this series farther and what she can do to avoid repeating herself.

Here are two works with the same basic description: sepia-toned photos of ladies from the past, printed on fabric and surrounded by lace and stitching on vintage textiles.  But they have very different characters.

Susan Grant, Edith

This portrait is formally finished and framed, the lace intact (if a bit yellowed by time) and symmetrical.

Joanne Weis, Mothers Great and Grand, detail below

By contrast, this piece is a bit raw, with torn edges and rust stains, casually mounted with some tails of lace, densely hand stitched in a much more improvisational style.  While it's clearly an homage to the grandmothers pictured, it's evocative and less sentimental than Susan's, with a drop of darkness.  If we gave awards at our shows I'd probably wish that this one got best in show.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Melinda Snyder exhibit

Melinda Muhn Snyder, a fiber artist and friend, has a show at the Patio Gallery in Louisville KY, mostly of quilts, plus fabric collage.  Although she rarely enters juried shows and thus hasn't been widely seen outside the Louisville area, her work is good enough for any venue I've ever known and I wish she would bite the bullet and get it out there for the wider world.

The quilts are freehand cut, almost exclusively with strips, with exquisite straight-line quilting, and given a delicious twist by her use of hand-dyed cottons and silks side-by-side.  The silk gives a sparkle and lushness that lifts the cottons to a new level and makes me wonder why I don't do the same thing.

Melinda Snyder, Sunset

Melinda Snyder, Blue Cross (detail below)

Melinda's day job is an elementary school art teacher and she often incorporates printed fabric that the kids have made into her quilts.

Melinda Snyder,  Mark Making 4 (With Purple), detail below of student-made fabric

Melinda Snyder, Green Spheres

Many critics dismiss freehand-cut strip piecing as derivative and boring, too much like Nancy Crow, but they are wrong.  That's kind of like dismissing portrait painting because it's too much like Gainsborough.  Melinda is just one of a host of piecers who continue to give fresh looks to their quilts through inspired use of simple geometry.

The show runs through October 7 and is worth a detour if you're anywhere near Louisville (it's only a half-mile off I-64).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland votes no

Since we visited Scotland in May, I've been following the independence referendum more closely than most Americans.  This morning the results are in: they'll stay with Great Britain.

Here's the piper who greeted us as we returned to our ship in the Orkney Islands.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last-minute opportunity!

When the weather finally starts to hint that summer is ending and fall is coming, don't you get a big surge of energy and excitement?  When you're a kid, or when you have kids around, much of that surge goes into the new school year, but for the rest of us, perhaps a new adventure is just the thing.

If you're seeking such an adventure, may I suggest that you can still sign up for a week at the Crow Barn to learn about fine-line piecing from me.  It's going to be a small class with lots of hands-on teacher time, and there's still room for you and your BFF.  The dates: October 13-17.

The Crow Barn is simply the finest facility on the planet for a quilt workshop, with big worktables, a full eight feet of floor-to-ceiling design walls, and your meals and snacks prepared for you right there.  My class will be downstairs so we'll have the added benefit of being able to have our coffee and tea right there at the worktables, a big boon for caffeinistas like  me.

I've taught this workshop as a one-day (in Japan -- read about it HERE) and as a two-day (in Florida -- read about it HERE and HERE) and in both cases participants have said they wished for more time to explore the different methods of construction and to attempt larger and more complex compositions.  So I'm excited about having five days to work with this fascinating technique.

Many art and quilt/art teachers have you start with a vision and then help you figure out how to execute it.  I come at my own work -- and at my teaching -- from the opposite direction; I'm a process girl.

I love to start cutting and sewing and putting bits and pieces onto the wall and then wait for the fabric to start telling me what it wants to be.  I find that to be a much lower-stress way to operate, and with the right "process recipe" to guide your cutting and sewing, it's really hard to make something awful.  Indeed, you'll be able to make compositions of surprising complexity and sophistication with surprisingly simple construction techniques.

So if you need a fall adventure and have wanted to take your quilt/art to a new level, this might be just the ticket. Ohio in October is great, and the Crow Barn is a pretty good place in which to experience it.

Click HERE to read more about the workshop.  And if you sign up I promise you a good time and a lot of learning.