Sunday, June 25, 2017

oft steelworks undercapitalize

“Ars est celare artem — Art lies in concealing art.” 

Not a Rat, Squirrels still welcome here.
I do have to announce that today is National Rat Catcher's Day, and since I am finally thrilled to be RATLESS, I am celebrating with some cheese and peanut butter!  Cheers to Rodney, who was evicted and went willingly, not at all pleased with my hostessing.  I think he has been escorted back across the border.

This is a continuation of yesterday's post where I was responding to Anonymous' comment from the post before that.  Never known for the benefits of brevity, I ran out of room and inspiration answering so today I am finishing up with an answer to her most pithy part of her comment: asking about MY ART!!!  Oh geesh, that makes me have to think...  Anyway, there's the reason for today's post:
It would be nice if you talked more about your art, yes your art. What you are trying to envision, accomplish, produce, aspire to rather that the recounting of trips to the vet, how many hours were spent in your studio, and the minutia of your life.
First of all, I've been an artist all my life.  From the time I was a small kid I would seek out materials to make things from.  There were post-war homes going up all around us so I'd get bags full of clay out of the excavations.  I'd pick fat blades of grass to weave.  I'd grab the scraps from my mom's sewing and make doll clothes.  I'd play with my food, I'd decorate the inside of my drawers into doll houses.  This is of course between going through reams of paper and boxes of crayons.  I was a born 'maker' as they now call us, and loved to try everything I could get my hands on.

I went to art school, and the regret of my life is I didn't go to RISD.  I got in but when I visited I was so intimidated that I didn't think I could handle it.  (Insert several chapters of Introvert Self Esteem problems here!) Instead I majored in art at a junior college, then transferred to the art department at Syracuse  where I got a degree in Design.  I thought that was perhaps more usable to get a job than Weaving.  Turns out you don't need either to work at the phone company where I was incarcerated for years as I took classes and workshops whenever I could fit them in.  I finally decided I needed to teach so got into a combined certificate to teach program along with a Masters in Art Ed.  I got a job immediately teaching high school art and really loved it.  But I owe a great big thanks to the phone company letting me work part time while I finished my degree.

The really nice thing about teaching art is getting to see yourself growing up all over again!  There were kids in class I recognized as *me* so they got encouragement and praise and suggestions (on tracing paper!) and help choosing a college, things I never got.  There were kids I followed for years after they graduated, and it was so fun to read about their successes and attend their exhibits!

Meanwhile I had a couple of kids and made stuff for them, and came to quilting through a Newcomers class. It fit my needs perfectly-  I needed something that I could work on in short snatches of time, was nontoxic, and I already had the materials since I wasn't working and was stretching the dollars.  

I sold my loom and moved on.  I met some quilting women who told me about the contemporary work being done by a couple of women in a guild nearby-  they turned out to be Nancy Halpern, Rhoda Cohen, and Ruth McDowell.  When I first saw their work it was like lightening bolts went off-  I was already an artist, I was already a sewer (sewist?) and there they were doing their own work, not copies of old stuff. Love at first sight.  I joined their guild and found many more artists putting on the most amazing shows based on the old traditions of quilting.  Remember it was the late 70's so the big debate was whether it was OK to piece by machine (no.) or use fabrics other than reproductions (also no.), but these women didn't follow the rules and away I went.  My first quilt was a portrait of my son- done before computer pixilations, in 1982 or so.  I graphed up his kindergarten picture the old fashioned way-  sorry about this hideous snapshot, but this is the first piece I made that wasn't somebody else's design.  I know it doesn't rock many boats these days but back then it was a major step out of the box.

So, from then on I made it a point to always do what I had been told I couldn't do.  And I found that there was really only a limit placed on us by people I wasn't trying to impress anyway.  Using a machine became more and more popular.  Using big quilting stitches was OK, even later we could actually quilt on 
the machine too.  What rebels we were!  

I started teaching all around the country but what I was teaching was a basic seventh grade art class, not quilting.  I wanted to empower people who thought they weren't creative to just ignore the voices from someone long past, and forge on to present their own ideas.  They are too creative.  And so what if you 'can't draw a straight line'-  use a ruler- get over it.  And I would teach them some basic drawing tricks that they could be successful at immediately.  Same with color, same with value, and on and on.  I loved it.  I made people cry with their success!  But I wasn't getting much work of my own done.

So I pretty much retired my itinerant teaching gig which took so much time with things I didn't like- preparation, traveling, eating white food, staying with strangers, unpacking, and being away from home and focussed on my own work.  Back to the subject now:

envision, accomplish, produce, aspire to 

What do I envision-  I want to make a few more important quilts.  So far I've been in all the big shows, but I'd love to be in a second round of those and have started sending out entries again.  I haven't entered much in awhile, but I love attending openings-  hope there are a few more in my future!  

I think one of the reasons I haven't talked much about what the hell I am actually doing and instead talk about folding fabric is that I was genuinely taken up with destroying all the quilts I had on hand.  After one of our moves that involved a year of storage in two different places, I realized that I was missing quite a few quilts, fortunately all old ones, apparently 2 big plastic bins of them.  After all the time that had gone by, the moving companies were deaf to my pleas, 'Uhhh, lady, you're kidding, right?'
I realized I didn't really miss them and maybe could get rid of a whole lot more. That's what led to cutting them all into 24" squares and threading them onto a Sono tube.  So the cutting began.  About halfway into this project, which I really hadn't thought through, the possibility of the Crit Group retrospective came up and I had to explain that I didn't have anything to give them.  Except-  WHY NOT...  ALL my quilts!  So I saved back a few and went to work in time to finish for the show.  I wasn't at the opening but it apparently was worth the shipping 6 big boxes of quilt remnants to get the reactions.

The POINT, and there is one, is that all this work from 4 decades was not worth anything to me other than the emotional memory of making them.  And since the only thing I care about at all is MAKING them, why would cutting up these things not be appropriate?  After all, I was MAKING something else with stuff I had already made.  Full circle making.  I had a ball cutting and threading them. 

Autobiography 1975-2000 (in progress)

PROCESS, NOT PRODUCT.  The only thing I care about.

Next time, maybe tomorrow?, I'll talk about the current quilt I'm working on,

But for now, one more ARTY PARTY:
Cat Armor
You know Fluffy wants to wear armor., don't you?  Well she does.

A Japanese company called Samurai Age just created something the world desperately needed – samurai armor for cats and dogs. Pets are already like loyal samurais that go by our side and protect us (not sure about cats, tbh), so surely they deserve armor that would ignite their warrior spirits. Samurai Age offers standardized armor sized for cats and small dogs, but they also make custom designs that accommodate your little four-legged samurai’s individual needs. It looks like the company will also sell pet fashion sets made after armor worn by the legendary Japanese samurais. For instance, the red armor on a Shibu Inu in one of the pics above is actually modeled after the armor worn by Sengoku hero Sanada Yukimura – how cool is that?

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