Art and the Natural World (by Angela Moll)

We recently went through a wildfire here in my neighborhood: nature knocking at our door the hard way. We are now back home, the days have been cool and beautiful for the last couple of weeks. It is easy to go back to the usual routines in the studio and home life.
Gap fire from the living room window

Gap fire from the living room window

The experience has left me thinking about the relationship that I as an artist maintain with the natural world. I mean Nature with a big N. The one we hope to find when we visit a natural preserve or when we go for a walk in a quiet beach. The one we observe in moths and caterpillars and the birds who eat them. Even the one we try to guide and control in our gardens.

My work doesn’t make explicit references to Nature. My imagery derives from calligraphy and hand-writing. The materials I use are highly processed or synthetic. The references in my art are to mental processes, subjectivity and human emotions.

And yet, I get up early every morning to tend the garden were the vegetables and fruits served at our table grow. I live surrounded by National Forest lands. Wild lands. Rocks, oaks, birds and lizards keep me company while I work at the studio. It is very quiet our here. But you wouldn’t know any of this from looking at my work. I’ve actually never paid much mind to the relationship between the place were the art making takes place and the art itself. Until seeing those huge black, gray, white, orange and gray again smoke clouds. Just out back, behind the nearest ridge.

Oak by the studio. Secret Diary 10 (detail). Sun Gold Tomatoes.

Oak by the studio. Secret Diary 10 (detail). Sun Gold Tomatoes.

Fire and art are close, aren’t they? How does the garden, the old oaks which survived the Refugio fire, 50 years ago this summer, the jay, the wren, the warbler touch my art. Do they find their way into the work somehow? I don’t really know, I am pondering…

And so I ask you, Ragged Cloth Cafe regular, does nature find its way into your art? How?

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Living with Art (by Angela Moll)

Most of us, Cafe regulars, are artists. We make art, we think about art, we sell art, we may even obsess about art and we definitely enjoy our time discussing art with our friends at the Ragged Cloth Cafe.

Now, I have a question for you, my friend: do you live with art? I mean, physically, do you share your living space with art? Do you make space for art in your living room, your bedroom, your office, your garden?

Do you like to live surrounded by your own work, or the work of others? Originals or reproductions? Folk, contemporary, or old masters? In your medium or in unrelated mediums? Are you building an art collection or do you prefer to focus on the art making and leave the collecting to others?

Angela\'s livingroom

My living room in 2002: folk textiles from around the world, ceramics and on the mantel a serigraph by the Spanish abstract painter Manuel H. Mompo. On the very right of the image a piece of mine: “Calligraphy 7”.

The art I choose to live with is a small part of the art that interests me intellectually or emotionally. I like to surround myself with objects created to serve a practical function, and sometimes I use them, sometimes I only display them. I tend to display the work of others rather than mine, since I get to see enough of my work in my studio. I do enjoy prints, I actually do a lot of printing in my work, so I have a few serigraphs, woodcuts and etchings. Mostly though, it is textiles and ceramics: I just love how I can integrate them in my everyday actions.

What about you? How do you live with art?

Agnes Martin (by Angela Moll)

Agnes Martin: rectangular grids within a square format. Simple, direct, reductive. She does away with composition, focal points, value contrast and strong color.

A modest room on a New Mexican mesa, a ruler in hand, Agnes Martin relentlessly explores the grid. She draws repeating lines over the entire surface, delicate and often barely visible. She treats all areas equally, no emphasis or contrast distract the viewer from the patterns of perfection residing in the human mind.

Friendship (1963)

Agnes Martin. (American, born Canada. 1912-2004). Friendship. 1963. Incised gold leaf and gesso on canvas, 6′ 3″ x 6′ 3″ (190.5 x 190.5 cm). Fractional gift of Celeste and Armand P. Bartos. © 2008 Estate of Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. http://www.moma.org

Continue reading ‘Agnes Martin (by Angela Moll)’

Craft vs. Art, one more time – Angela Moll

Yes, I know that this debate is supposed to be over, that this issue is so yesterday… Except it is not over. Many of my fellow quilt artists, as an example, are running away from the word “quilt” like the plague, and for good reason. A couple of recent articles have inspired me to bring this issue up with you, Ragged Cloth Cafe regulars. Here we are: sitting at our tables, a cup of coffee and our laptops on the table. It is just the place to engage in eternal debates, like the artists of the Parisian avant-garde whiling away their afternoons endlessly discussing those issues that refuse to go away.

The tension between modern craft and fine art had been stirring in the back of my mind for a while, when I chanced upon Paul Greenhalgh’s piece in American Craft (vol 67, n. 5, p. 121). Greenhalgh describes how the treatment that modern art historians granted the different visual arts have determined their economic and social fate in the 20th century. “Painting existed and thrived in the 20th century as part of the discourse of modernity”. However, “the concept of craft (…) is something the modern leaves behind (…). To be ignored in the project of modernity is to be denied space within the cultural hierarchy, and it largely explains the philosophical, cultural, and, alas, economic, state of things.”

Anna von Mertens, MATRIX 207/Suggested North Points

Anna von Mertens, “MATRIX 207/Suggested North Points”, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California, 2003. Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Addor.

Continue reading ‘Craft vs. Art, one more time – Angela Moll’


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