Helmericks-Louder’s Nature Inspired Art by Linda Frost

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.

Blue Herons" by Annie Helmericks-Louder
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.

"Side by Side" detail by Helmericks-Louder
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.
True?
Mother's House" by Helmericks-Louder

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7 Responses to “Helmericks-Louder’s Nature Inspired Art by Linda Frost”


  1. 1 Annie Helmericks-Louder September 1, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Dear Fellow Artists at the Ragged Cloth Cafe,
    A friend found your discussion of my work on your site and sent me the link. Not familiar with the blog, I was surprised and pleased to be noticed by your writers–especially when I read the depths and range of inquiry in your other topics/writings. I am rather recently becoming aware of the larger fibers community as I have mostly exhibited in more standard venues but I am also discovering how much I have missed discussing and exchanging ideas with others passionate about this medium. Your comments were very interesting and welcomed.

    Although like so many, I think I may know what I am ‘doing’, I often find that meanings reveal themselves even to me only after many works have been made. For example: I’ve been working on my Casting Off series for a couple of years. I felt almost compelled to make these obvious self portraits. Still, I only recently realized something as obvious as the nose on my face–that they are about my own discovery of self as an individual. A woman all grown up–emerging from motherhood. A new empty nester feeling loss, I am also feeling emancipation and find myself looking around and saying “wow”!

    I work in series because even the most simple idea once begun, contains so many layers. I often think of making art as a kind of interactive conversation–I experience and then respond. Like any real ‘conversation’, each response (work) invites another experience–another response. Some of these are quick, but most appear to be–HA-HA–life-long. Fancy that!

    And so Ragged Cloth Cafe, thanks for including me in your exploration. It has been a such a treat and honor to hear your thoughts!

    Annie

  2. 2 Olga September 1, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Thank you so much for this introduction. I love the work: the exhuberance with which the artist presents us with her feeling for human life in the midst of the rest of nature. Such a confident voice which arrests with the beauty of the works, but which also evokes thought about our way of life – and appreciation of that way of life, the way we sit in it, such a voice is unfortunately rather rare. And so this introduction is welcome indeed.

    I agree with your thoughts on what art should provide us with, and this is a delightful speed bump!

  3. 3 Sheila August 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I was as interested in the construction of her website as I was in her work! I don’t think I’ve seen a setup like that where you can click on the individual works from a sidebar menu on the main page and never leave the main page. I found that very appealing.

    As to her work, yes, a new artist for me as well. Very interesting the different perspectives she uses in the casting off series. Beside Myself particularly appealed to me. The through-the-looking-glass thing, who’s that person in there, should I let her out or will she let me in? Lots to think about there. And she obviously has a wry sense of humor!

  4. 4 Lora M August 28, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Thanks for this post, I very much enjoyed being introduced to the work Ms. Helmericks-Louder. Since humans are the natural creations who make, own and collect so much “stuff”, it is interesting, amusing, and thought-provoking to see one woman’s take on how that fits into our relationship to the rest of nature.

  5. 5 eileen d August 28, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Fascinating work on many levels. Makes you want to look at each one for a long time. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. 6 Clairan August 28, 2008 at 4:03 am

    And perhaps she’s also saying that we are part of nature even when we think we aren’t. I loved Only the things You Can Carry.

    Thanks, Linda, for introducing us@

  7. 7 kate August 28, 2008 at 3:51 am

    Great discovery, Linda! I’m glad you didn’t miss the show.
    Miss Helmericks-Louder’s work is beautiful and unexpected. Clearly she has excellent fine art skills, but she does not rely on skill alone to capture the audience’s attention.
    I love the way she injects mundane objects into her outdoor scenes (a stool, knitting needles, an easy chair). It keeps the viewer from being entirely engrossed into the nature scene; keeping one “foot” in the living room at all times. At first it was unnerving; I didn’t know what to make of the bull on the dining room table! But I like the way she reminds us that we are essentially removed from nature even when we are admiring it.


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