Monday, August 14, 2006

What's Left: The Art of Legacy

I participated in a group art show/house party over the weekend. Finished three out of the four pieces I'd been planning. (The one that still isn't done is that durn circular shawl. It's coming along well, though.) This was my first time exhibiting glass sculptures and grrr it is so much more stressful than textile works. I built an acrylic case for the more delicate of the glass sculptures. Meant to build one for the larger sculpture too, but I stupidly measured the wood base instead of the actually dimensions of the piece. Is it ironic that my anti-oil piece was protected by plastic? At any rate, I was pleased by how each of the pieces turned out. They changed a bit from their conception to the execution and I definitely have things to change when I work with those forms again. I do feel the pieces have given me ideas for further exploration.

Here's my artist statement for the show:
We live in a consumer society, so as a society, we use all available
resources without regard for what we are leaving behind for the next
generation. The pro-carbon dioxide ads say "some call it pollution, we
call it life" in a gentle female voice, saying that seeking to
regulate carbon dioxide output is an attack on our way of life while
showing a mom putting her kids in the minivan. Will the kids thank mom
in fifty years when they realize her legacy?

My pieces work with traditional mediums with a long history. Made by
hand rather than a mechanized process, the fiber sculpture started out
as raw alpaca fleece, spun, then knit on a home knitting machine
(speedier than handknitting but still a human process, my arms the
only motor). The glass sculptures were lampworked on a torch, and the
silkworms did their thing as they have been long bred to do in their
communal history with humans. I worked with the human body and form
because that is one thing we are leaving to the coming generations.
Whether we leave them anything more will depend on if our societal
behavior changes.

Glass, silkworms, redwood
The silkworms cooperated, building their cocoons on the framework after a bit of encouragement. One even built a cocoon in an eyeball. The adults are due to emerge in about a week, though I'm a little worried since I slept in later than I expected on Sunday and they were still in the car...hopefully it didn't get too hot. There's no way of checking on them at this point, so I guess it's wait and see. Meanwhile, I have a bowl full of cocoons and already a decent amount of loose silk from their preliminary spinning.

"Oh I lay down in earth"
Glass, ebony
It's kind of a shame I teach beginning beadmaking, because the round beads we start out with in the class are my least favorite bead shape. I do take pride in making my marbles perfectly round and am slightly ashamed when one doesn't spin cleanly, but I have less interest in making round beads. Sculptural beads are so much fun, but I wanted the holes to play a part in the bead other than mere function, hence my skewered people. I think these have improved since my first ones...a little more anatomically correct and all. And I was excited that I was able to build the piece close to how I'd envisioned it, though the fragility was nervewracking.

Handspun alpaca, Romney wool, human hair, hand-dyed silk, glass
This is some rough alpaca that was initially a huge disappointment. In my initial alpaca acquiring phase, I blindly bought a bunch off of ebay. Several lots were amazing, spurring me to buy more, but this lot took forever to arrive and was a lot rougher than I'd anticipated. Luckily, it was cheap and the timing was right; the initial "grrr this is too rough" turned into "well what can I do with it" and "sculpture!" So I spun up a bunch raw (and ooh boy was it dirty), knitted up yardage on the knitting machine (great investment), washed the finish cloth, discovered it didn't felt very easily (uh oh). Looked at Miranda's cloth doll pattern then drew something almost entirely different (well, I figured knitted cloth stretches more than woven so no need for knee joints or elbows. kept the shoulder and hip joints, but no button joins here. redrew the whole thing so it was proportionately correct for an adult female. yay for stretch knitting, no need for bust darts, back and front torso were the same). Sewed up the pieces in a day, tortured myself turning the fingers, but luckily little tears in the fingers aren't nearly as noticeable in knit fabric as they are in woven fabric.) Gave her a wire skeleton, wrapped in paper for a little extra bulk, then stuffed with more raw alpaca and washed Romney. In retrospect, I should have washed or at least shaken out the alpaca stuffing, because my little girl leaves dirt wherever she sits. Oh well. At this point, I started thinking the alpaca wasn't as rough as it initially felt. Maybe I spun all the rough stuff. Or maybe I had been working with the rougher stuff for long enough (I was so good at keeping myself from the temptation of my cria fleece) that it started to feel softer. At any rate, I was feeling really guilty about stuffing a doll with all this good fleece. It was good for needle felting though. Needle felted her a figure and a face. Lampworked some eyeballs. I meant for the irises to be brown, caramel overlayed with black walnut, but the caramel didn't cooperate so they came out pretty spooky but cool. (I'm definitely going to be exploring more lampworked eyeballs of various species and iris colors.) Sewed on the eyeballs, added silk lips, felted some scrap knit pieces into ears, then the fun part, needle felting on my hair. Yup, my friend Kara cut my hair on Monday so I could use it in this piece. It had been down to my butt. Now it's about shoulder length. Still not short by most people's standards, but since my hair had been so long for so long...feels so weird.

Now that the show is over, I can continue the never ending projects of my circular shawl and Bishop's armwarmers. First, though, I'm spinning up a bunch of the black cria fleece and then some of the grey alpaca fleece from Lambtown for a little surprise project that hopefully can be finished in a few days.

1 comment:

anne said...

everything you made is so cool! i love the glass head—especailly the base. i like the glass, wood and silk cocoons together.
and the doll is so weirdly fascinating.