From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘materials’ Category

Collecting Stories

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An interesting venture indeed.  So I’m determined to not just ask friends (easy), but it was clear early on that this was a much more difficult kind of participation than I’ve ever asked from people before.

I’ve been going around the city on my normal rounds- the yarn store, the playground with my daughter, the cafes, the hardware store, art supply store, etc. and collecting stories about “an SF moment” from people in and around those places for the sound piece City Pulse (San Francisco) going up in the LAB.  Thepiece involves collecting little San Francisco Moment stories from people in the city. I then take their pulse and

I left the story collection towards the end because I was more worried about the technical and sculptural aspects of the piece and I thought the participatory part would be easier.  No.

tools tools fabricThe microphone looked like a taser to some people- very threatening.  The pulse meter seems to be equally threatening- medical devices are just scary.  This is a huge barrier if handled badly.  I almost wan to crochet them little wooly jumpers to make them more approachable.  Something about fabric instantly tools fabricdisarms and comforts cold technical devices.  I started carrying both these and my extra batteries in a little transparent cloth bag and that actually seemed to help (transparent process, softer, easier to get to quickly, etc.).

In “Write Me for Art” it’s so approachable, so soft.  I generally give them to people after they’ve seen me embroidering for a few minutes.  Then I can explain the project to someone clearly interested already.  This one is so much less visual at this stage that it’s harder to get people to engage.  Getting participation becomes and art form in itself.

It’s funny, so far the stories seem to circle around the Haight, the Castro, and random naked men (even when I’m taking the stories in other places).  There is something about the Castro and the Haight that say SF more than anywhere else.

I’m excited about getting the piece all together and seeing it up and running.  This is so different from other work I’ve done in terms of materials, but very close to the heart of my work generally.

…and for tonight, more embroidering a landscape of San Francisco!

And for tonight… more

Written by Mary Corey March

November 30, 2013 at 8:23 am

Write me for Art, floating…

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french letters Life in the studio goes well!  I had hit a bit of a slump, but getting these actually in the air the other day to see what they felt like was a great step.  Once I work out some technical kinks (heavier paper, attachment methods, different adhesive to hold together the envelopes…) it will just be a matter of doing it.  The embroidery continues and I will continue collecting responses for “Write me for Art” until the the new year.

All is going well for this project and I have decided that it will be my MFA thesis show piece at the Vernasage show this coming May.

Speaking of shows, I will be in a sound art show at the Lab during the first week of December, opening is on Thursday the 5th.  I haven’t shown you this piece in progress yet, but perhaps you’ll get a peek soon.

 

Written by Mary Corey March

November 23, 2013 at 5:12 am

machine text

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machine testsRound three of the machine tests for “Write me for Art” has finally yielded some results I’m happy with!  More, I did some sample parts for covering/framing the machine embroidery to give it the commercial, generic, electronic device (+ voyeur?)  feel I’m after.  This half of the piece I’m now very pleased with and I feel like I can keep going from here knowing what I want to do.

Yesterday I was still really wrestling with how I wanted to install the hand-embroidered work.  I met with another fantastic lady and got some great feedback.  It’s funny how it’s rarely a case of someone offering a suggestion that I then take- never that I can remember.  It’s more that when certain people can’t connect with a piece or aren’t seeing what I want to pull off it tells me where I need to connect, lean, etc.  Sometimes it’s just explaining the piece to a new person and the way you need to explain it to them (as that person rather than some other person) helps concentrate what you’re really after and guides you to a better method.

In this case I knew I wanted people to be surrounded in the space by the handwritten ones.  I wanted them to have a presence like a crowd of people.  I wanted you to walk through them and encounter them, look them in the eye, look again, not see the writing until you found a new angle.  I’d been wrestling with how that would happen.  Now I think I found a way to do that.  The exact detail of how I physically attach the written part to the forms I want is still in the air, but I’m nearly there.  With fiber, every method has history and symbolism.  Just doing the most practical physical method may not be the way (though it could be).  I have to think of the connotations of different methods and their visual impacts.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 17, 2013 at 3:56 am

social fabric

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photo(7)Write Me for Art continues… I tested out a new fabric for the machine text today.  Or tried to.  Funny how sewing machines can cause sudden fits of swearing.  Embroidery machines are another level of complex, and therefore a lot more obnoxious (especially when many different people work on them and do who knows what to them each day).  That said, I think the fabric is a perfect fit for the project.  Second round of text-size adjustments.  I still don’t have single correctly printed statement yet, but I think I’ve found the right size, embroidery method and fabric.  Whew!

Mail for the project trickling in most days.  I love it.  There is something so wonderful about getting actual, physical mail.   I have postcode-stamps from New York, San Francisco, Vermont, Portland Maine, Iowa, Chicago, and France.  So far just French and English, but I’m hoping some of my Spanish ones come back (I did  some instructions in Spanish and handed out a fair few.  I think I should make a Chinese one for passing out here because That would cover the three most spoken languages in SF. So many statements!

One thing that has surprised me is the similar feelings that people chose to share- even with less than fifty so far there are some distinct trends.  The hand embroidery goes slower now that the semester has started but I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.

In other news it seems like I have an exciting commission piece coming up in the summer- a new Particapatory Installation that will take place over the course of years.  So exciting!  It’s wonderful when you are so on the same page with someone that you don’t even have to ask the question “am I willing to sacrifice my artistic integrity here?”  Something I tend to say No to as a rule.  I’m flexible and good at fitting ideas into harmony with mine, but outright against I won’t do.  This project is exciting enough to be a little distracting, but knowing it will be there waiting for me in the Spring is a wonderful feeling.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

Machine tests

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machine test2Here is the second test for the machine-embroidered text in the “Write Me for Art” piece.  If you’re just joining me here, I’ve been passing out envelopes to people all over with personal questions inside.  They answer one question in their own handwriting and send it to me anonymously.

I then hand-embroider the response in their handwriting.  I will also be doing the same words all in machine handwriting.  I’m still working out different ways to program the embroidery, the font and ways/sizes to do it, the fabric, etc.

This is the second proper test on the machine.  It failed midway, but it showed me enough to go on with.  The poly satin used on the wrong side has the artificial and shiny qualities I wanted, but it’s pretty damn squirrely under the machine which can make the writing and fabric irregular.  We’ll see.  There may be something that both works better with the machine and has the visual qualities I’m after.

I’m also have tempted to leave the machine’s little working lines in there, and am considering hiring someone to do these once I have the process down.  Just as the ones I am personally hand-embroidering using the actual handwriting are full of attention and touch I want these to be on the other side of the scale, so removing myself entirely from the actual making once I have the process set might fit into the piece.

Written by Mary Corey March

September 30, 2013 at 5:14 am

winding

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winding process

Progress on Identity Tapestry #8 (a participatory art installation).

It’s not just dyeing hundreds of individual colors (right pile).  It’s carefully tying every one to a stone and inconspicuously securing it with fabric glue (what is laid out on one chair and draped over the other).  It is taking all those attached stones and spending hours (hopefully with friends) winding them around each stone.

The next part involves threading them through the basket-form and securing them.

Yes, this is a labor-intensive piece, but it’s worth it.

I fly off on the 13th to install Iteration #8 of Identity Tapestry at Southern Vermont College.  The first permanent installation of the series.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 26, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Colors

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redsMore dyeing today for Identity Tapestry.

I love working with dyes- in some ways it feels like oil painting- layers of color changing each other, relating each color to the others.  Over-dyeing (dyeing one color on top of another) gives you so much depth and variation in each color.  Love it.

Now I have to balance everything out, fill in the spectrum.  For this one I’m going a little heavy on the greens and blues (I always do a bit because we see more shades of green than any other color and because blues are the most common favorite color.  In this case I feel like it will fit the setting of Vermont.  I also want to be sure not to neglect browns for this one in particular.

After this I spend IMG_3035a lot of time attaching the yarn to the rocks and then (with some help) winding the yarn around each rock.  Time consuming, but important to the piece.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

Let it go

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let it goThe latest two in the “Write me for Art” project.  It’s coming along in stolen moments, but it is coming.

The writing is from responses to questions I asked sent in to me by hand or mail in each person’s own writing.  If you want to participate, follow the link.

The other half of this project is computer-mediated.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

kitty in process

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kittyToday’s dyeing for the next Identity Tapestry.  50-some blues and greens so far today.

Because kitties LOVE to “help”.

For the cat-allergic: I shooed her away pretty quickly and she only sat on the two skeins, but I just had to get the picture.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 17, 2013 at 2:15 am

Iteration #8- skeins

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IMG_2995This is what the first stage of dyeing for the participatory installation Identity Tapestry looks like.  Yesterday I spent the entire day taking store-bought skeins of yarn (like the ones on the bottom) and winding them into new skeins of the correct length (varied, but related to the size of the piece).  So if the one I bought was 150 yards, it might become 7-10 little skeins.

I did 144 yesterday.  I have 100-160ish to go.  I have to space out these things by a day or two so that RSI (Repeated Stress Injury) doesn’t take my hands and shoulders.  Yarn geeks- yes I use a Swift- 2 if I can, but still…

Today:  Sculpting the basket-form.

Because I’m dying over many existing colors the result is a great variety and depth of colors in the yarn.  Since I want each skein to be recognizably different, this helps (as do the different thickness and textures of the yarn).

I usually dye in two waves so that I can look at the complete spectrum and fill in the holes in the second round.

This Iteration of Identity Tapestry will be a permanent installation at Southern Vermont College, opening for participation on September 15th.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 16, 2013 at 12:07 am