It's been a month of school-focused commitments, an exhibition to mark the half-way point in my MFA, plus a bit of jail cell magic sprinkled into the mix (no, I didn't commit a crime).
Our fourth group exhibition of the artist collective CKCK opened to a packed house and continues to garner great feedback and support. I couldn't be happier with the look and feel of the Stadtgalerie Bad Soden upon finishing our installation. Once again, despite having four very different practices, our sum is greater than each of us alone.
Our CKCK colleague Chris Kircher has more images from the show on her blog here.
Here's is an excerpt from our statement about the exhibition's theme:
While the larger context of global events is reflected part of their work, the time since their last group exhibition has been particularly challenging for each of these artists, as they have dealt with experiences such as serious illness, loss, dislocation, and trauma.
The work shown here reflects an unflinching choice to look directly at things, clear-eyed and honestly. It is in turning toward the difficult issues that they are illuminated and given space to be acknowledged.
At a time when a string of unrelenting crises challenge us as a society, what matters is how we respond. We are not immune from life's greatest tests, but we can choose how to navigate through and beyond them.
This exhibition is a story of grit, resilience, hope and love. The choice to continue moving forward with courage and compassion, in the face of everything.
My work for this exhibition consists of two sewn-paper series: Object (Im)permanence and Mending | Tending. I began both of these series during the 20-month period of my father's terminal illness and finished several of the pieces after he died in March. Sharing such private themes so publically - both in talking with people individually about the work and during my artist talk - has been part of coming to terms with this loss. The details remain private, but the themes are universal and people responded in kind.
The two-dimensional sewn paper pieces moved from the wall into the room, hinting at where this work might take me next. Likewise, the wall installation of torn and mended paper fragments took on a life of its own, transforming into something map-like, at a scale that reminded me of how moving my body in space to make art feels like home and something I want to do more of.
In the Face of Everything | Jetzt erst recht continues through Sunday, 24 September, with artist talks by Chris Kircher and Katja v. Ruville on that day at 4PM at the Stadtgalerie Bad Soden.
Art+Text 2017 opened this week at 44AD artspace in Bath, co-curated by Sveta Antonova and myself. We had a nice pool of submissions to choose from, ending up with a collection of work by artists from all over the UK, as well as the US, Europe and Australia.
The work spans a range of mediums - video, print, sculpture, installation, performance, painting - and even spills into the surrounding city. It's been so inspiring to see the innovative ways that artists are using text in art!
I'm pleased with the response my own installation is getting, Postcards from the Edge. As an American living in the UK during the 2016 Brexit vote, and then the US Presidential election, I've watched in dismay as events have unfolded on both sides of the Atlantic. For the installation, I created four different postcard designs and printed them as monotypes, with messages to President Trump and Prime Minister May respectively. At the end of the exhibition, I'll collect all completed postcards and mail them to the respective heads of state.
Art+Text 2017 is open through February 26, daily 12 to 6 pm and Sunday 1 to 4 pm. There's a closing reception on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3pm at 44AD artspace, 44 Abbey Street, Bath, BA1 1NN.
Just installed a new commission in the lovely home of a friend here in Germany. She'd seen a similar piece I'd done in our own home last year and asked if I could do something similar for her living room. Of course!
The original for our home was installed directly onto a wall. Lovely to behold, but ultimately ephemeral - when we leave this house it either gets torn down or bequeathed to the next inhabitants.
What I love about Monica's piece is that we were able to transfer the sense of delicacy, movement and glow to her home in a way that's a bit more practical than my original design.
For Monica, I created something to work in a large, high-ceilinged space - yet light enough (and flexible in size and shape) to move or morph for future homes.
The title Golden is Monica's inspiration, her subject line of recent emails:
Sitting here, with a glass of wine, enjoying the view! Thanks for such a beautiful creation. The changing light on the papers last night was stunning!
Big thanks to Monica for the opportunity, and I'm happy to know that my work has found a good home.
Hope blossomed at Huntington Mall in West Virginia last week, and Four Rooms closed this week in Frankfurt. It's been quite a month.
Hope Blossoms is a public art installation at Huntington Mall in Barboursville, WV. The installation includes a 25-foot tall paper cherry tree, paper swan ballerina, and paper pond. This is my second year there, after installing Grace's Garden last holiday season. You can visit Hope in center court through the end of May 2013.
One of my favorite things about this installation is the pond. It's made of cut paper text from Emily Dickinson's poem, Hope is the Thing With Feathers. Over the next six months, the pond will continue to fill with text as visitors toss their written "hopes" on small pieces of blue paper into the pond.
With the holiday season upon us, I'm grateful for the incredible support of family and friends, without whom these projects simply would not have happened: Ian Lowe, Mandy Gordon, Donna & Bill O'Brien, The Engen family (especially Brennah), Mary Cook and Allison Nance of microWave Project, Margi MacDuff (and family), the staff and FAB volunteers of Huntington Mall, Connie Sandusky, Jonathan Cox and Anthony Smith of Marshall University's Sculpture Program, The Huntington Museum of Art, Astrid Haas, Astrid Blasberg, the faculty and staff of Frankfurt-am-Main Applied Sciences University, the Germany-based flower making team led by Emily Ryan and assistants Tania Fiedler, Sophie Frey, Catherine Pilger, Shari Religa, the France-based flower making team of Ginette, Jacques and Hélène Lorblanchet, and Lisa Kokin.
There's more on my plate for January and the New Year...but for now, I'm content to reflect on a very satisfying and productive 2012. Gratitude is on my mind as the year winds down, and the focus for now.
Wishing you hope, peace and joy this holiday season.
Crowds of people, from groups of school kids to the elderly Amway founder himself Mr. DeVos, have been gathering around my paper sculpture at ArtPrize. It's been fun to witness the range of responses. People have been enthusiastic, curious, fascinated, and a few perplexed. My favorite comment so far was from a young girl who said, "I wish I was that swan." My work is done here.
Many thanks to photographer Terry Johnston who shot my piece yesterday. He's got a great eye and is ArtPrize's guy on the street, capturing some great moments out there.
I leave to return to Germany tomorrow with mixed feelings. Part of me wants to stay and play, immersed in the art stew that is Grand Rapids for the next two weeks. I haven't seen nearly all of the entries, but have some early favorites including It's Not My Fault by Andrew Hawkes, Adonna Khare's Elephants, Motivation by Anne Gates, Norwood Viviano's Cities Departures and Deviation, Sojourn by Andrea Kowch, and Flora Metamorphicae.
Voting continues through September 29. This coming Monday, September 24, the five categories juries (2-D, 3-D, Urban Space, Time/Performance and Venue) will each announce a short list of their top 5. That same night, artprize.org will reveal the dynamic list of artist in the public vote top 25, 50 and 100.
If you happen to be in or near Grand Rapids and can vote, please cast a vote my way!
Vote Code 53118
We raised 128% of the funding goal, plus donations made through other channels, for a total of $4205. Thank goodness, since shipping came in above what was budgeted.
The final push got us to the goal and over the top, thanks to:
Paul Emerson, Mary Clark, Leon Lowe (again!), Bill O'Brien, Donna O'Brien (again!), Carole Sebenick, Andrea Howe, Katie Engen, Robyn Polzin, Rennie Beauchamp, Cindy Lowe, Annemarie Mowery & family, Sandy Clinton, Linda Germain, and five other Anonymous contributors.
Because of you, my entry for ArtPrize is safely on its way...I can feed my volunteers...our material costs are covered...and we have plenty of marketing materials to raise visibility for my entry with the crowds about to descend on Grand Rapids.
Rest assured that your thank-you perks for contributing are coming. It will take a little while to pull things together, but I will get them to you! Everyone gets an e-copy of the exhibition catalog, which I'll create after we get good images of the installation and event. Other goodies will need to be made after I return from the US.
In the meantime, I'll post updates here, on Facebook and via Twitter of how it's going in GR. I leave for the US this Friday, my volunteers (Mom, Dad and Mandy Gordon) arrive Saturday, and we begin installation next Monday morning.
With only days to go until I ship my work from Frankfurt to Grand Rapids, things feel on track. Thanks to a flurry of recent activity, we are in the homestretch on two major fronts: funding and my sculpture.
Contributions came in this week from long-time friends and new supporters. Thank you VERY much to: Merike VanZanten, Diane Wirono, Mary Cook, Sandra Barnett-White, Joe Kopanski, and Arlene & Allen Hatton. With only eight days left to meet my fundraising goal, your support gets us 81% of the way there!
Earlier today, I finished the work that will be installed for ArtPrize (a tiny studio celebration ensued, and now I'm back to work). The past few days have been a blur of flower-making to hit my goal of wrapping things up this weekend. There will be finished touches on the other end, but for now, it's ready to go.
I learned on Friday that international art shipping is a lot more involved than I realized. Not only do I need to have custom shipping crates constructed, I must use an airfreight forwarding company because the dimensions of the boxed work are too large for FedEx or UPS to handle the usual way. The good news is that it looks like the combined expenses will be comparable to what is budgeted.
Speaking of budget, if you're considering a contribution, now is the time to do it! To hit my minimum funding goal, I need $550 more by no later than this coming Saturday, September 8. I'm grateful for any amount - so please, support the arts and get a little thank-you gift in return.
A number of contributions have come in through friends of friends, which means that sharing the campaign with your network through Facebook, Twitter and email does work. If you copy and post this link: http://goo.gl/OGJuY, the rest takes care of itself.
Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.
With two weeks until my work ships from Frankfurt to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize, we're making steady progress on several fronts:
First, a BIG THANK YOU to recent funding campaign contributors for taking us over the $2,000 mark! They are: Alison Sigethy, Susan Trivers, Kenneth O'Brien, Mary Ann Rudy, Laura Rozenberg, and Moira McCauley. Your contributions will go to fund onsite marketing materials and travel expenses for one volunteer.
The dancer's vellum tutu is finished. I'm pleasantly surprised by how sturdy the vellum becomes once pleated and stacked. The costume is now resting upright on a pillow for me to work on the top surface, and the tutu remains uncrushed.
I've started laying out the design for the costume, using hundreds of paper flowers for the pattern. This phase tends to progress intuitively and quickly, once a general direction emerges.
Work on a metal stand for the dancer has begun, too. Pennsylvania craftsman Gary Rider is creating a minimalist black metal frame with graceful "legs" to support the costume and head. More later on Gary with photos of his work, as things progress.
It feels great to have family, friends, and new acquaintances involved in this project. The moral and financial support really make a difference. At 57% of the way in, the campaign is 66% funded through IndieGoGo, plus another $225 directly. If you are in a position to contribute to Shades of Gray, please do. Every little bit signals your support, boosting me through the day as I work in the studio.
Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.
Exactly one month from today, ArtPrize 2012 in Grand Rapids officially opens! If everything goes smoothly, we'll be putting the finishing touches on my piece, Shades of Gray, in the Amway Grand's lobby.
The work is coming along nicely now. I am currently screenprinting and hand-folding hundreds of sheets of vellum into tiny fans to build the tutu of my dancer's costume. A professional dancer's tutu is typically made with thirteen layers of tulle, which is my design for the paper version.
Generous contributions to the cause have also continued to roll in. At 37% of the way in, the campaign is 55% funded through IndieGoGo, plus another $225 directly. Thank you so much for your generous donations to Elizabeth Smiley, Emily Ryan, Sas Colby, and Donna O'Brien. Your funds mean that I can now cover expenses related to materials for the metal fabricator who is welding a frame for Shades of Gray, and important marketing materials to create visibility in Grand Rapids during the three-week exhibition.
One thing that I've been asked is what I would do if I won an award at ArtPrize (I'm thinking positively!). An important priority for me is giving back. One of my favorite causes is animal welfare.
Several years ago, we rescued our dog Astro from a no-kill shelter, Friends of Homeless Animals. They keep animals alive, no matter how long placement takes. They also "sweep" high-kill centers (such as Prince George's County, where Astro was), and move the most promising animals to FoHA in Northern Va.
Two other organizations are the Animal Rescue Fund and Second Chance Wildlife Center. Both fill important voids. ARF raises funding for shelters that don't receive government funding, and SCWC rehabilitates injured or sick wildlife before releasing them back to nature.
I have happily received several "I'm back in the woods!" postcards from injured squirrels and birds that I'd taken to SCWC for treatment.
If you are in a position to contribute to Shades of Gray, even just a little, please do. Every dollar and euro help defray project and volunteer costs, while getting the team one step closer to having a shot at an award with funds to give back.
Thank you to those of you who are spreading the word, as well!
Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.
It's been a productive week, and we even hosted a house guest in the mix. My dear French host-sister, Hélène Lorblanchet, was here from Montpellier. We've been "family" since my Junior Year Abroad, a long time ago. Very lucky for me, she seems to love making paper flowers!
Not only did she make enough this week to cover my dancer's costume bodice, but she returned home with materials to continue flower production for my next project, A House With Four Rooms, in November. It means a lot to me that she's involved in these projects, and "Handmade in France" has a lovely ring to it.
My ArtPrize funding campaign launched this week, as well. We're off to a great start! At 17% of the way in, the campaign is 46% funded. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your generous donations to Ian Lowe, Stacey Cohen, Leon Lowe, Kieu Lam, Gretchen Schermerhorn, Jose Dominguez, Louisette Winkel, Jennifer McQuistion, and Anonymous. Your funds mean that I can now cover my overseas shipping.
There is much more to cover, however. Even if I hit my $3,000 funding goal, I am still carrying a lot of the cost myself. If you are in a position to contribute (and want some art in exchange), please do. And if you can help spread the word through your contacts, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, or mailing list, all the better.
Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.
This is what I'm up to, these days. One petal at a time, I am hand-cutting, hand-painting, hand-assembling, hand sewing, and hand-gluing many, many paper flowers for my ArtPrize paper sculpture installation. It is aMAZing how long this all takes.
It's forcing me to slow down. To focus on the next task at hand, instead of racing (mentally and actually) to the million other things that I think I should be doing.
"Horizon Field" by Antony Gormley, Vorarlberg, AustriaWe just returned from a week of alpine activities in the breathtakingly beautiful Vorarlberg region of Austria. The last thing I expected to encounter in this winter wonderland was installation art, but encounter it we did.
Antony Gormley's Horizon Field is a "landscape intervention" comprised of 100 life-sized cast iron human figures, all placed 6,689 feet above sea level in an area of over 93 square miles. The sculptures were scattered throughout the areas we skied, bearing silent witness to the extraordinary snowfall of this particular winter.
Mother Nature seemed to play along. Some sculptures were buried up to their shoulders in snow. Others were surrounded by ski tracks, left by visitors gliding by for a closer look.
Antony Gormley's "Horizon Field," (embellished)Humans played along, as well. I had mixed feelings when I visited this festively decorated sculpture. Fun? Sure. Disrespectful of the work? Perhaps.
Apparently the local authorities think so too, making regular runs to patrol for and remove these human interventions.
For more images, details, and an FAQ with the artist, click here.
Gormley's two-year installation remains in place through April 2012.
For a comprehensive list of things to do in the region, check out Jacky Miller's blog post 100 Best Things to Do in Austria.
Ever wonder what it takes to pull off a large-scale installation? I just found out, thanks to the many people involved in bringing Grace’s Garden to life. On behalf of microWave Project, an organization that matches artists with unique and public opportunities, Grace is now on exhibit in the entrance foyer of Huntington Mall.
I was one of two artists invited to create a fashion-inspired installation in honor of the mall’s re-opening after a massive renovation and upgrade. A Torpedo Factory colleague, Lisa Schumaier, created a seasonal installation of recycled materials, A Recycled Fairytale.
Grace consists of hundreds of hand-made, -sewn, and -folded paper flowers from fine art and tissue papers. A local mall store, The RoseTree Boutique, contributed hundreds of paper shopping bags that were transformed into flowers and origami fans for Grace’s train. Hundreds of paper butterflies comprise her fascinator (hat) that “fly” up through the skylight in the 30-foot ceiling.
The elements for Grace’s gown, fascinator, and train were started months ago in my home studio in Germany. Most everything was pre-cut, flat-packed and shipped to the US.
There, a virtual workshop of helpers hand-assembled flower petals, folded origami fans, and generally worked non-stop up to and through the four-day installation.
We topped the whole thing off with a red carpet gala, featuring a dancing flash mob and celebrity appearances. The best part for me was sitting quietly to the side to watch people’s reactions to Grace.
The best surprises were the grown men stopping to snap her picture (“My wife has to see this!”) and watching little kids react (“Look Mommy, butterflies!”).
We even garnered a little media attention through the local newspaper and television news.
A project like this does not happen in a vacuum. This was truly a family and friends affair. Moms, dads, husbands, sisters, nieces, a brother-in-law, and lifelong friends were up to their elbows in paper for days on end. A very special thanks to my onsite installation team: Donna O’Brien, Mandy Gordon and Elizabeth Smiley. Not only did these three women put in some crazy hours with me, they each played crucial and unique roles throughout the process.
Also onsite helping were Mary Cook, Allison Nance, Melanie Cox, Kelsey MacDuff, Eric Cook, and Kevin Nance.
Behind-the-scenes flower-makers include: Katie Engen, Katelyn Engen, Brennah Engen, Eric Engen, Bill O’Brien, Rita Evans, and Lindsey MacDuff.
The folks at Huntington Mall could not have been more friendly or helpful. They are: Joe Johnston, Property Manager; Margi MacDuff, Marketing Director; the facilities management team of Devin Holland, Alfonzo Samples and Chris Muncy; and RoseTree Manager Kate McMullen.
The mall is owned by the Cafaro Company, with an equally awesome team: Leonard Bretcko, Director of Construction; Phil Boyd and Hank Picozzi of JJO Construction; Esther Buschau, Director of Corporate Marketing; and Mr. and Mrs. Cafaro themselves, who came out to help celebrate their mall's renaissance.
Behind it all was my husband, Ian. His support made all the difference, before and during the installation. When I got his 4 a.m. text on that final night, “You WILL finish!” I knew everything was going to be fine.
The amount of work and generosity of spirit required to pull this off was, well…amazing. I’m humbled by what people were willing to contribute, thrilled to have the opportunity, and brimming with ideas on what I’d like to do next.
Grace’s Garden on exhibit at Huntington Mall, Barboursville, WV now through January 7, 2012.
I leave for West Virginia tomorrow to install my first large-scale paper sculpture installation. I’ve been commissioned by the dynamic duo behind microWave Project to create a fashion-inspired piece for the grand opening of a new shopping mall.
We (and I say “we” because this is taking a team of helpers!) will be creating a gown made of paper flowers for a mannequin sitting on a swing, over a field of paper flowers, with a 15-foot long paper train flying behind her.
The train will be made of deconstructed paper shopping bags (from our sponsor, naturally), folded into Japanese origami fans. She’ll be wearing a hat made of black velvet paper butterflies that fly up from her hat “through” the skylight in the mall’s ceiling.
I'm thrilled to have this opportunity! It's also wonderful to be sharing the spotlight with another installation artist, Lisa Schumaier. Her work is soulful, playful and unexpected. Lisa is creating a separate piece for the event and, from what I've heard, it's going to be amazing.
If you happen to be in the area, details are below. I’ll try to post images here and on Facebook of the work in progress, and certainly of the finished installation.
There's an invitation-only opening gala this Sunday night, but you can still see the installations through early January.
Huntington Mall Gala Opening, Barboursville, WV. December 4, 2011 – January 15, 2012.
The last project I did before moving from the states was an installation for Art Whino's G40, called Grace in Full Bloom. Shortly after deinstalling, Grace got packed up in her very own custom box and tucked into our shipping container for the ride across the ocean.
Since landing here in Germany on July 1, she's remained in her box, up to her shoulders in pink packing peanuts, waiting patiently to come out and take her rightful spot in my studio. A couple of weeks ago - box cutter in hand - as I started unpacking her, I stopped mid-cut. It suddenly occurred to me: that's me in that box.
Okay, not really me. But the part of myself that I consider the most sacred and core to who I am. Clearly, we (Grace and I) haven't been ready to come out of our box and settle into this new house. How could we, with all the chaos of the move and challenge of starting over, not to mention a dog bent on destroying anything he deems mine every time I leave the house?
Until that moment, I hadn't been able to put my finger on why I was keeping Grace under wraps. Nearly all of the unpacking was finished, but she remained safely ensconced. Once I realized this, it became very clear for me what to do: I needed to welcome Grace home. But first, I had to create a suitable environment for her.
Last week, I unleashed a swarm of book paper butterflies on my studio. They fly in from our front door, down behind the stairwell, and down to Grace's feet...
Another batch flies up out of a light fixture, across the wall and into our guest bedroom.
A fellow-G40 artist inspired the light fixture idea - he had metal butterflies made from spray paint cans swarming from a light fixture on the first floor.
The butterflies are die-cut from vintage French book texts. I had two copies of Le Mariage de Figaro Tome II, making serendipidous use of black and white photography in the book.
My friend Jen just reminded me that we stumbled onto an amazing little boutique on Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse in Berlin: LANGHEIN. Inge Langhein designs other-worldly confections for brides and ready-to-wear. Actually, it was the installation of her work in her boutique that took everything to the next level. Her dresses were suspended from an arching iron grid - a nesty dome across the ceiling - each piece floating gracefully like wearable art.
Am kicking myself that I didn't ask her if I could take a photo. This image that I found online doesn't do her work or her shop justice.
Another gem was the exhibition by Terhi Heino, an installation artist from Helsinki. I love when artists elevate ordinary and recycled materials to the sublime. In Terhi's case, she uses fish fins, used tea bags, and mylar to fashion mesmerizing works, both tiny and room-sized.
In doing research for a project later this year, I'm reminded not to abandon my esthetic. The project calls for working in ways that are much bigger and bolder than I'm used to. However, it doesn't mean that I can't stay true to who I am in the process.
The details will remain a bit of a mystery here until the project is more official, but for now, let this fabulous video of Violise Lunn's work in paper couture be a hint and an inspiration. The narration is in French, but even if you don't understand the words, the images speak for themselves.