Archive for the ‘materials’ Category
I am in the midst of the flurry of activity that comes with mixing end-of-term madness with shows and applications. One thing this madness yielded however, was a new video documentation of Identity Tapestry, including the last 4 iterations. And I’ve gotten it down to one minute and 34 seconds.
More about Identity Tapestry here: http://marymarch.com/Identity_Tapestry.html
It seemed like whatever could go wrong did, but now that it’s going it’s looking just as I hoped, even better in some ways. The textures are fantastic. Sadly the LEDs have not arrived (one month late!) so while the piece itself will make it into the at the Diego Gallery Sunday (Interwoven Connections- Contemporary Fibers) it is unlikely that it will have the lighting element aspect of it operating yet. For this show it will hang free the way Binary Girl does, creating a shadow. Soon, though It will have a glow through the fiber optic parts of the warp, giving a glow to all the white in the image.
I am really looking forward to that show. The reception will be Tuesday 5-7 with an artist talk at 5:30.
It’s funny, when I’m actually close enough to weave I can’t really see the image, but in a photo it’s incredibly clear.
There is no sign of the many yards of silk ribbon I hand-dyed for the weft or the last skein of white cotton for the warp. Today was one of those days that all the little things go wrong… until I finally got the materials sorted out and started work. That makes everything better. Warping is so meditative.
The first layer of warp (the up and down bit you weave the weft/across bit through) is mostly in place now. New yarn arriving Wednesday to finish that. The optical fiber comes next, then some near-invisible mono-filament for structure. Then some loo/warp setup-stuff, THEN I can start weaving. I don’t think I can really hook up the LEDs to the optical fibers to get them to glow until the whole thing is woven.
I was testing the optical fibers again the other night. They are meant to only pass light from one end to the other without you seeing it out the sides. By abrading the surface you get a side-glow. If I abrade any single fiber evenly the whole way the light won’t make it- it will go dark in the middle, so what I’m going to go for is an almost rainfall-like effect- individual fibers abraded differently. The tricky thing here will be that I will have to apply all the abrasion before actually seeing any of it lit or woven, so I will only see a slightly more opaque bit to tell me where the light will be.
I have mountains of concept behind this work, but as usual I’m reluctant to talk publicly about it while the work is in-progress. I want to hear people’s experience of the work before telling them what I think is important or what my intentions are. A lot of it in this piece is about the meanings within the materials and their history, and the methods employed to produce the piece- drawing from a painting, digitization, cropping, weaving. The image itself is around the 6th version of same. Days and days of work and artistic decision-making have gone into a deceptively simple derivative image.
In other news tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the other artists in the show I organized for the Diego Gallery at SFAI (selected by an outside jury). Interwoven Connections- contemporary fiber (April 28th-May 4th). So far so good. Four awesome women (Dara Rosenwasser, Jacqueline Buttice, Heather Jones and myself) working at the intersection of fiber, photography, chemistry and technology.
Graduate Open Studios at SFAI is just around the corner. Come see what me and everyone else is working on.
April 20, 12:00–5:00 pm
Map (you want to take the entrance on 22nd St, not 3rd St.) It’s on the Second floor and includes all bays with orange doors. I am in studio C7. It’s in bay C (one of the nearer bays on the left, studio is in the back right corner).
If you come visit you may well find yourself incorporated into an artwork. I usually use Open Studios events for their steady stream of people who can feed into my work, so I am often alternating between hosting my studio and actually working. Also, I can’t stand being in my workspace looking at anything unfinished without working on something!
Even before joining the MFA program, just as an artist paying attention to the art world I felt certain kinds of pressures on my work. In art school the current canon is all the more palpable. My generation of artists (if they are to be considered proper Contemporary Artists) have the pressure to figure out their conceptual framework and justify their concept, use of materials, etc. before they even touch any material. It’s stifling. Sometimes the process informs the work through the material or the unconscious. This pressure to think through everything and justify everything stifles certain essential parts of the artistic process.
The project I took with me to Norway and Sweden this trip was an effort to shake some of this off. It was an impulse project. I started not knowing what I would do more than a few steps ahead and deliberately not trying to figure that out too hard.
It’s still unfolding, and it is a relief to have something unscripted, though deadlines are putting more pressure on me to resolve it quickly now that I’m back. Maybe that’s all it is for, maybe it turns into something I’m really happy with- we shall see. It looks like it will be the first project that involves sound for me.
Travel generally helps to shake out the rigid bit’s of one’s thinking a bit. I didn’t get in as much drawing as I would like, but I did get in a lot of walking and looking and just the movement of travel- planes, trains, buses… even reindeer. My brain feels flexible and open again where it had felt a bit squeezed a couple weeks ago.
On another note, I did see auroras on my aurora-hunting journey. A series of pale green and lavender ones, and one huge serpent of a thing arcing across the entire sky- pulsing and blazing. It was incredible. Riding back down from the sky station to the lights of the nature center below in the silence while pale auroras bloomed overhead was somehow even more precious. Silence that huge is a beautiful thing.
I am so pleased with how the prints came out! I have been dying to try the fancy fabric printer at SFAI since I first saw it on the tour. So exciting. For this new project I’ve printed on Belgian linen and organza (both pre-treated for printing). It nearly looked like the fabric wouldn’t arrive in time to print, but though it came down to the wire it all worked out. Amazingly the tests I did weren’t even needed- it came out exactly as I hoped it would! There’s a first time for everything- even printing on machines.
I took 5 minutes the other day and made myself a rough little fabric embroidery floss roll that fits in my pack and I’m ready to go!
I love working while in motion, especially detailed things like this. So yes, there will be embroidery, layers of printed fabric… and I’m thinking about other elements too… like sound. The piece will be an installation of many smaller parts gathered around the primary map. One thing I’m enjoying – I don’t know what will happen to the piece on the journey. It will be a surprise, coming out of the travel. We’ll see. Pleased and ready to go to the Arctic Circle!
Here she is as she should be. I went through and stripped the wires at the ends. It’s a little surprise for people who don’t realize at first that she’s made of computer cable.
I really like her hanging like this. Originally I had her confined to a laser-cut acrylic frame-thing, but this is better. In the right light the shadows will be great. I’m also happy with the ragged edges- more organic vs/ digital play there.
If you haven’t seen this before, she’s the first of a new series taken from a previous series of “Binary Drawings”. I sketched old master’s paintings in tiny 2-inch spaces, roughly, scanned them into the computer and worked them through a rather long process until I got a binary image that I was pleased with. I was exploring how humanity still comes through layers of interpretation. This new series takes a selection from those portraits (and new ones) and is woven. As a fiber artist it made so much sense to me to translate them into weaving, but the surprising thing for non-weavers is that the loom was the first binary computer. The old punch cards of old computers are based on the punch cards that created patterns on Jacquard looms. In this case I’m extending the exploration of translating humanity into the digital world as it is now- bite-sized selections of subject matter. I also love the art/craft/tech juxtaposition- methods of communication and expression, utility and beyond utility. There is also the play against what is “woman’s work/art” versus a “man’s work/art”.
In completely other news I am doing what I’ve wanted to do for years and going to see the northern lights. I’m headed for the Arctic Circle, first Norway and then Sweden this Thursday.
At first I had planned on continuing this series while on the road (plane, train, bus…), but the wire wasn’t going to ship in time. In the midst of travel preparations I came across a new idea coming out of two or three long term back-burner ideas. It will come out of the journey and is something I can pack easily into a small bag.
The tech part of it I’m scrambling on though- it involves printing on Belgian linen and possibly organza, which I ordered immediately. Thankfully the manufacture is very nearby and very helpful. I should be able to print it in the SFAI lab on Tuesday morning and have Wednesday to adjust things as needed. I LOVE the printing lab at SFAI! I can’t wait to print on this fabric! I will be stitching through it… more I won’t say… the piece is very lightly in my brain and nailing it down now will kill it. I’m so glad I have real art to work on during the trip!
My next project is a 5′ x 3′ binary weaving with a warp in LED-lit optical fiber/paper-silk and cotton and a black silk ribbon weft.
For my next new piece, it’s a frame loom. And to make this loom with a 16 per inch thread count I need to drill 8 holes every inch for 5 feet and put nails in each hole. Double that (top and bottom). Then double it again, because my warp (the vertical bit you weave through) is made of both natural fibers and optical fiber. To separate the optical fiber and give it space apart from the other fibers to put it together heat-shrink couplings (to attach them to the lights) I need a few inches distance… so another row of nails. It comes to a little over 2600 holes and nails. Why drill? Well, as you can see in the test loom (left), when you don’t drill, the wood splits, and the loom breaks.
The image to the left is the finalized thread-count and materials composition after some tests. I will use the black and white squares to create an image, just like in the previous (smaller!) Binary Drawing turned-weaving.
Right now I’m nearly halfway there with drilling (you can see some corrected mistakes on the left row), but a few more holes to go on this board. I have to space out the drilling to avoid RSI in my hand and arm.
I’m getting a shocked reaction from a lot of people in the program about how much work I put into my art. They are used to conceptual artists using lots of ready-mades (they buy it in a store or find it in an alley). Ready-mades are fine if that’s part of your actual concept, but I have to say it seems lazy if it’s not. If your idea has value, you should make sure the thing is exactly what it should be. If I don’t know how to make something when I have an idea, I learn.
I’ve been working on a new binary weaving (see previous post) on a different level- a 3 foot by 5 foot weaving with optical fiber which will be illuminated. Today I got a mix for the warp (the white vertical bit) that has a high enough thread count (dense enough) and the right elements. That’s the image to the right. The squares are half an inch.
Mixed in with silk-wrapped paper and cotton threads are strands of optical fiber which I will connect to leds. The weft (the black bit) is silk ribbon I’ve dyed and ironed. I knocked out a little test loom to try different thread counts and fibers. In particular I need to test different thicknesses of optical fiber that I’ve abraded to different degrees to see how well the light travels through it when it’s woven. I’ll have to put in mono-filament between what is here on both warp and weft and weave it in differently to preserve the structure. I haven’t started the light tests yet, but I think the paper-silk will pick up the fiber optic light up beautifully.
I also finally finished the final binary drawing I will work from all printed out to scale on my studio wall. I lost count of how many versions I’ve gone through to get it right. She is the most recognized art object in the world, but I’m showing only a portion of her.
I’m very happy with how this piece is going. All the materials are working beautifully with my concept.
I don’t talk about the conceptual side of my work much here, some because I like people to approach the finished work fresh but mostly because I really don’t want to disclose it in-process.
So… now that I’ve figured out the thread count it’s time to do some math…
Ah wait… if anyone was wondering how this totally unrelated painting went, here she is:
Here is the latest work on the new sculpted/stretched painting. The step you didn’t see here was where I worked on the back (blue/purple) layer and stitched up the middle (redish) layer. While I am dedicated to exposing process a little bit of mystery is in order from time to time.
Here you are seeing the freshly gessoed top layer I just attached with a temporary protective layer hiding the rest of the piece.
The gesso is lightly tinted to be similar to the under-skin color of the skin shade I will use (based on my own this time). I will be painting the final layer in oil tomorrow, barring catastrophe and then I will go over the whole piece, bringing the layers together as a whole.
I’m really loving this body of work- loving the sculptural and fiber elements.
They have meanings for me as to body and apart from body but I prefer to let the viewer approach them on their own terms rather than explain each one in detail.
Funny, while this one is not about adversity per se, the Emily Dickinson poem that gripped me as a teenager and stayed with me for years came back to the surface and kept quoting itself over the painting and sewing process:
No Rack can torture me –
My Soul — at Liberty –
Behind this mortal Bone
There knits a bolder One –
You cannot prick with saw –
Nor pierce with Scimitar –
Two Bodies — therefore be –
Bind One — The Other fly –
The Eagle of his Nest
No easier divest –
And gain the Sky
Than mayest Thou –
Except Thyself may be
Thine Enemy –
Captivity is Consciousness –
One thing that is true about this body of work though- it is about inner and outer selves and the tension within the body as a vessel of self in all its contradictions. I love them being both tortured and exposed and beautiful at the same time, prisons of self and platforms for the self…