I am glad that Angela brought up the subject of nature and its influence on our art. This month there has been a great exhibit of nature inspired textile art in my local arts center entitled “Bears, Beasts, Bodies and Boats” by Annie Helmericks-Louder. Languishing a bit under the care of a gallery in flux, this exhibit has gotten little press or attention. I am glad I did not miss it.
Annie Helmericks-Louder is an instructor at Central Missouri State University in the art department. Her professional experience is listed as being in drawing, painting, watercolor, design and fibers. This current local exhibit includes several of her paintings, along with her recreations of these paintings in “fiber”. “Fiber” as in quilts and over-sized capes (which she calls Land’s Capes). Obviously an accomplished painter, her work in textiles adds an additional dimension and texture to her work. Layered fabrics and stitching of all types and sizes is put to very effective painterly use.
Her artist’s statement explains her use of images from nature with the addition of human forms this way:
“My “stories” focus on the singular poignancy of life’s everyday personal experiences. My mother, nature writer and explorer Constance Helmericks, showed me that looking into landscapes-mountains and canyons, rivers and streams-could be my way of life. Working extensively on location continues to be an essential practice; it fills me up.
I have always been a maker of things-finding with my hands the spirit of home and my place in the world. I make art daily-like a musician practicing notes-often making just little things. Technically, I am inspired by a variety of media and materials-poetry, painting, drawing, cloth, weaving and knitting. I slip between methods and choose and combine techniques that best clarify and communicate what it is I want to say. In my studio I circle around ideas and materials-scratching and sorting and moving images and ideas until a work feels finished.
Different from my earlier landscape based works I have recently embarked on several figurative series. My earlier deliberate exclusion of human forms was meant as an artistic statement: “it isn’t all about us.” But in spite of myself, people have crept in-sometimes with just a shadow or a hand or a foot. But now no denying-here they are. Although my personal narratives seem very straightforward to me, I do not think it is relevant to detail specific tales. As my “stories” focus on the poignancy of life’s everyday experiences, it is my hope that they can exist as structures that contain room enough to inject other personal readings.”
Instead of trying to describe her work, I would like to just ask Café readers to go to her website at http://www.helmericks.com/. It is worth the trip!
My favorite piece in the exhibit was “Side by Side: Blue Herons”. Looking at this quilt just makes me want to sink into that overstuffed red chair and have a chat with the birds.
And for me… that is the purpose of art…
to take you out of your daily grind,
to take you out of your usual path,
to give a new perspective,
a different line of thought.
If nothing else, art should provide a speed bump to the daily race to the finish.