I grew up in Buffalo NY, moved to the South in my forty's and finally landed in Wyoming eleven years ago. Every move has influenced my art and choice of art making materials. While living in Georgia, I became interested in a fascinating grass…bamboo. Walking through bamboo groves is like being in a living wind chime with the rustle of leaves and the clanking of culms. Bamboo boosts hundreds of species with different colors and patterning. The rate of growth is astounding. A truly renewal resource used by many cultures for shelter and food. The South’s bounty of amazing plants also became my fiber source for paper making and vines for my paper mache pieces. Another fast growing Southern plant led me to a series about the sweet potato and Southern foodways. I collected old regional cookbooks looking for recipes. I haunted the Dekalb County Farmers market surreptitiously searching for interesting shapes. I even took my sweet potatoes casts to a Jill Connor Brown book talk. Brown is the author of several books including,The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of LoveandThe Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide.She “adored,”my sweet potato paper-casts and agreed to autograph them if she could own one too! I continue to interpret the things that interest me and the places I live through the language of art. Art never ceases to bring me to interesting, places, spaces and faces.
Southern Sojourn will be on display through June and July. Openings on June 11th and July 9th during the Cheyenne Artwalk from 5-8. Other times by appointment or chance.
Buffalo NY has a rich architectural history. The Tri-Main Center, built in 1915 by the famous archiect Albert Kahn, is one of those places. Over 600,000 Ford Model T's were produced there by 1927. Then Hercules Motors became a tenant and produced diesel engines for the Navy and Bell Aircraft. In 1941 Bell received the contract to construct America's first jet engine warplane. It's top secret build took place on the upper floor of the building which became known as the "black project." In 1947 the building became the headquarters of the Trico Products Company, the world's largest maker of windshield wipers. In 1989, Tri-Main Center became Buffalo's first large-scale rehabilitation of a vacant industrial complex.. Tri-Main now boasts over a 100 diverse businesses including the Buffalo Arts Studio. BAS has over 30 artists' studios, exhibition space, a ceramic center and an education space.
Last Thursday, I wheeled my pink suitcase up to the 5th floor, went all the way to the left and stepped into the BAS gallery. After a tour with friend and curator, Shirley Verrico, I was ready to set up. I had brought 4 of the 8 strips from my "Crazy" project, lots of embroidery floss and needles. I was getting ready for our 3-6pm stitch-in. It was relaxing, creative fun peppered with stimulating discussion about the problems facing garment workers and our environment. As an added visual treat, we were surrounded by Shirley Thompson's exhibition, Making Memories: Telling Visual Stories,. Do take this show in if you are in the area. You'll enjoy touring the Tri-Main Center and the journey into Thompson's personal history through her mono-print and collage work.
Thanks again to all the people who gave their time and thoughts to the, "Crazy- A Contemporary Quilt about Fashion's Pressing Problems." at the Buffalo Arts Studio!
" Let's go to the Lockport Nature Trail and get some exercise while we talk.." The sun had largely been absent since I first arrived in Buffalo NY and it looked like it was going to stay that way on the 7th. Undaunted, I grabbed an umbrella and headed out to meet my good friend, Deb Roberts. We met Deb's family when my kids were young and we lived in Medina NY. The Robert's are farmers and Deb's husband's family owns Roberts Farm Market in Medina. By the way did I mention that I love apples? Well I do and the season is in full swing here! My favorite variety is Empire apples. So good! Tart but sweet with a crisp bite....but I digress.
Deb and I spent the next several hours hiking the trail and then grabbing lunch at Reid's Drive-In. Risking the rain and looking for space to spread out, we headed over to one of the outdoor picnic tables. Wiping away the morning's rain, we settled in to eat, talk some more and work together on the "Crazy" project.. Deb get it. She is intelligent, curious and has already sought out sustainability in some of her clothing choices. Our conversation threaded between the topic at hand and how our lives and families had progressed since we last caught up with each other. Deb is a Yoga teacher and felt an infinity with the Indonesian segment. She reached into her past experience with embroidery and added a few daisy chain flowers next to the label information. Before we said our good-byes, she told me about American Giant,a San Francisco based clothing manufacturer whose motto is; MAKE THINGS BETTER, MAKE BETTER THINGS.
Makes sense to me.
Social cause art is what my friend and fellow fiber artist, Do Palma does. Since "Crazy" is my first foray into this world, a meeting with Do to hear about her experiences working with difficult subject matter was needed. The Rail Yard Restaurant was our spot to meet, eat, discuss and of course embroider in public. She offered me insights on what her work has meant to her and how she gets her message across to her audience, all while adding some stitching to the Vietnam segment of project (she didn't like my needles though and suggested a better brand for me)!
It was a delightful meeting with a thoughtful and talented woman. Thank you!
CBS This Morning: Saturday's co-host Michelle Miller had a very interesting interview with author Rob Hart. His latest book, The Warehouse is a sci-fi dystopian cyber thriller about companies that "...treat us like disposable products. We are the food they eat to grow bigger." I'm not usually a sci-fi reader but because I am working on the "Crazy" project I think I will have to give this book a read! What really caught my attention was Michelle Miller reading the book's opening quote. " I pity the man who wants to buy a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produced the cloth will starve in the process" and here is the kicker....its an 1891 quote from our 23rd president Benjamin Harrison ! Unfortunately time has not solved the problem. Workers all over the world are still underpaid plus the environment is now groaning under the weight of textile waste.
The former, "How is it Possible" project is now called, Crazy- A Contemporary Quilt About Pressing Problems in the Fashion Industry. Yes, its longer but I just thought it was way more descriptive and I like the instant connection with my design source, the Crazy Quilts of the late 1800's. Here are some images of the latest embroidery work.
The Teardrop trailer was packed full with Dave's Rawhide jewelry supplies, my How is it Possible project and other essentials like food, clothing and fishing gear. We left Cheyenne for the five hour trip to the Reservation and the 307 Makerspace the first week in August. Dave planned to develop some new designs for his jewelry line that he could cut on the laser. My plan was to work on my project and find folks to collaborate with. A bonus I didn't expect was the long hallway in the building that houses the Makerspace and the University of Wyoming Extension office. It allowed me to photograph all the strips laid out end to end and to get a feeling for what the finished project would look like ( I still need to add the black boarders to create a finished look). Dave took enough pictures of me strolling down the artwork so I could make a GIF image of it ( my first attempt at this ).We both got a lot of good work done in between trips to Lander for ice cream, and a hike out to the beautiful reservoir to watch the sunset while roasting hot dogs over a driftwood fire. Success!
Turkish breakfast, Aya Sofya, The blue Mosque and a family wedding along the Bosphorus River! All this plus a meet up with Turkish artist Damla Yacin to collaborate with me on the, "How is it Possible," project. Damla and I talked about art, the history of quilting, the fashion industry and women in the workforce while we embroidered together at a small table in the cafe of the Istanbul Modern. I picked the Modern to meet because I thought it would be fun to embroider in public there and the current show, The Event of a Thread: Global Narratives in Textiles, wad on exhibition. One of the pieces I really responded to was Sabire Susuz's piece entitled Shopping. Made entirely from clothing labels pinned to a backing, the pieces is compelling from a distance but even more interesting close up." The shark depicted in "Shopping is a representation of the vast and wild appearance of the ocean as well as the consumptive urge of daily life. That urge to buy more, buy fast, and feel superior by possessing... "
Sabire's piece was spot on and totally in the spirit of what I am trying to do! It was fascinating to see what Turkish fiber based artist were up to.
This week I will be working on the project at the 307 Maker Space on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The space will give me an opportunity to lay out all 8 strips and I am excited to see how they all fit together!
Please join me as I welcome Wanda Sanders-Miller to my studio for the May 9th Artwalk. Wanda is a watercolorist who will be demonstrating her techniques from 5-8pm. The weatherman says it will snow but don't let that keep you home! I'll have a hot drink and some warm treats to sample while you enjoy Wanda's work in action.
Watching artists work and seeing their thought process has always been interesting to me. I also think it is important for us to share with the public who we are as artist and where we get our inspiration from . The PUMP series, at my Blue Door Arts studio, is my way of highlighting this process. PUMP will feature a different artist for each of the monthly Cheyenne Artwalks. April 11th will be Cheyenne artist, Tara Pappas;
"There are stories all around us—both those that have been told time and time again, and those that have yet to gain a voice. The focus of my artwork is on the latter." Tara is currently working on giving voice to her first illustrated children's book. She will be sharing the interesting way she is doing this through the Patreon crowd sourcing site and demonstrating how she creates her unique artwork.
Blue Door Arts is located at 1608 Capitol Ave in the Historic Hynds building in the heart of downtown Cheyenne.. The Cheyenne Artwalk takes place every second Thursday of the month from 5-8pm.
Georgia Rowswell is a mixed media artist living and working in Cheyenne WY.