I'm not someone who likes to involve others in my work, but Julie seems to know exactly when she is needed. When I left the room to get some books to weigh down those bulbous branches of the orange leaf, Miss Julie had already taken care of it.
This is the work, after my assistant deemed it ready to sew, of course. It is aptly named "RAMSHACKLE (Revised)" because it is "Ramshackle", revised. It measures about 58"W x 75" H, so it got narrower than the original and longer. I amputated the left side following the "Quilts: Another Dimension" exhibit and have been repositioning the bits and pieces since then. I thought perhaps I'd never be satisfied. Oddly enough, I found a strange little sketch I'd done for it while at a lecture in the very museum it will be hung in during August. Coincidence?
Friday, June 26, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Posting two days in a row? You must all wonder what's up? Luckily, the stars and planets have aligned and I had a week off (back to work tomorrow), I'm in a good mood and I actually have something to write about. Hence...two posts, two days. This is a stretched canvas that measures 4ft W x 6ft H. The painting was made to cut up into the circular elements that went into my latest work called "CORSETED LANDSCAPE". As I always seem to note, I have a tendency to fall in love with the paintings as they are developing, unless I stop myself midway and reinforce "it's for the fabric construction, Sonji...this is not a painting!" BTW, that haze you see on the surface is a wash of gold metallic paint. It doesn't translate well.
Even in relaying this information to you, my fine readers, I feel that emotional surge tugging in my chest and a vice grip in my head..."I am a painting, Sonji. Proceed in a traditional fashion. You won't regret it. Go back from whence your little artistic brain came." But, I know in the end, I would be less than satisfied if I just kept painting away. The dimension and manipulation of the fabric is how I can make my images come to life. The physicality matters. I might need to get that talking thing in my head taken care of though. Hmmm."BROKEN LANDSCAPE", "BLUE LANDSCAPE" and "CORSETED LANDSCAPE" are all part of that visual comment I am making on the destruction and control human beings force upon nature. A corset binds a figure in order to enforce a particular set of beauty/sexual/social standards. It is physically harmful, if not emotionally and psychologically harmful as well. But one can recover from these assaults, just like the environment does when chemicals, burning and cutting attack it, desiring control and conformation to "make it better". The beauty of nature, is that nothing can really make it conform. It will react and always overwhelm the human hand that slaps it. The imposition of our desires is virtually meaningless, in the long run. I'm so deep (and slightly depressing...how did that happen?)...good thing these are making their physical debut at a museum. Just the thought put into them alone is worth wine and cheese and wall space.
And trust me, it was a sincere and vicious struggle to get all this under the machine arm. The brunt of the fabric is very plastic to the touch because I used artist acrylics instead of the watery craft acrylics. I'm not complaining (well, technically I am complaining), because as with all these works the painted surface is uber important and that tough hand is necessary. Hey, don't you think that some intrepid choreographer would become quite the success if they simply watched those of us who create large fabric works push and pull ourselves and our work? I always laugh audibly if I have to start using my left leg in order to balance part of a piece or to brace it on a chair and move the chair around with my foot. It is an odd dance. I know many of you do it as well. These detail shots show the incising, strip piecing (pieced prior to painting in 3 sections, which were then sewn together) and layering that create the visual "corset" reference. Both sides are painted. The non-viewed side is a copper/brown/gray surface. I refer to it as "non-viewed" because my original intention was to have it function as a two-sided work, but for whatever reason, it didn't go that way. I think I developed a primary obsession with the gray side. When Trish Williams came to visit, she thought it could still go that direction, but the way that I continued to construct it leads me to prefer the wall relief version and instead devote my energy to creating an obsessively coiled hand embroidered surface. The thought of it finished delights me. The thought of doing it ...not so much.
"CORSETED LANDSCAPE" measures about 54"W x 73"H and has a depth of around 6 to 8 inches off the wall, depending on how the wind is blowing. Just imagine a wave of coiled black embroidery across the lower third of the corset. Beautiful. Now, imagine doing it. Uh...still beautiful? Now, I actually went over and tried to jab that frickin' needle through that canvas (awl and pliers in hand) and I have to admit that I'm not exactly married to the idea of the embroidery. Maybe on the next one. Hmmm. Commitment issues.
Monday, June 08, 2009
There was "Blue Landscape" , so one would think this would be called "Red Landscape"...but no. Its proper name is "Broken Landscape". It measures about 88" H x 64"W. I had to recover my design wall in order to get a picture of it because it just kept getting bigger than all my designated areas. It has the surface area of me with my arms outstretched top to bottom and side to side. Maybe it is me. I am a broken landscape. Hmmm.My goal is to emphasize the importance of the painted surface in this newer work. Also, the theme of landscape and natural and manipulated circumstances are of incredible interest to me. The idea of humans believing that nature can actually be controlled and all the efforts taken to do so. Hmmm.
The same structural theme applies to "Blue Landscape", the piece I completed before this one. Methodology: I paint a large canvas and view it as solely a painting, only about itself, in the constructs of my intention. Then, around halfway through, I start manipulating the surface knowing that I am going to cut it up and build an environment that is based on a particular theme, like formalized and tamed landscape or the invasiveness and destruction humans perceive as nature running its own course.
The detail shots demonstrate how the overwhelming color is red, but it travels the spectrum of cool blue/red to warm/orange red...subtle and limited, but also vast in possibilities. I have always been a big fan of limiting color use, but pushing what you are using to the max. Painting 201, eons ago, with Tom Uttech.
An important aside, check out the latest work of Trish Williams, who has discovered that she really does love the hand of the painted surface. She is challenging herself to make "sculpted" surfaces and they are looking uber-delish. I am hoping that if all works out, I will get to see these face-to-face when she travels to Appleton, WI for a presentation next week.