Carrying the story of his ancestors to the canvas, by Kristin McNamara Freeman

In 1991 I went to a gallery show in Red Lodge, Montana, and there I “met” an artist whose work called out to me from the walls of the Merida Gallery. Each piece held me  with the strong images presented and the language of Native people illustrated in the techniques of a fine contemporary artist. Kevin Red Star called out to me through the images presented at that show. Each year through 1996 I returned to see his work at this gallery and in 1997 I visited the Red Star Gallery in Roberts, Montana, for a benefit show and sale for the Boys and Girls Clubs. In 1994 and 95 I was able to see his work at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, a marvelous venue for the exhibition of his paintings. My budget allowed only for me to own some signed posters of his work.

A step back in time to Kevin’s birth in 1943 and his early life in Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation is where we can learn how Kevin’s creative adeptness was nurtured by his family and teachers. His mother designed and created in applique pieces of regalia for tribal dancers and blankets for people in the tribe. His father, a musician,  would bring Kevin prints of the work of Charlie Russell and he would make copies of those watercolors and learned about creating images of the spaces where a person dwells, for that is what C.M. Russell sketched and painted. There is a wonderful series of videos called from the spirit with Kevin telling his story at www.kevinredstar.com/vodeos, a series well worth taking the time to view. There are some good pieces of information on succeeding in making and selling art; his daily commitment to showing up, creating and getting lost in his work is a large portion of why he has been so successful. His respect for the ownership of a symbol or design he might want to include in a work is expressed in one of his recordings, an interview from The Backroads of Montana on PBS; although he is a Crow, he would never use an image unless the family who has this image on their regalia or other family possessions gave their permission to him for the use.

Inspiration for Kevin’s work comes from looking around the land where he lives and works, taking walks for inspiration and seeing what shapes and forms in the landscape speak to him.He never grows tired of taking in the energy of the land of his people, nor looking closely at the horses, buffalo and the Crow people as he includes them in the work he creates.

In his video “painting the journey” found at the above link, Keven describes his process in creating a large piece for installation at a public building. He describes how he uses the tipi poles and the poles in the travois (used for carrying large loads behind horses) to direct the eyes of the viewer from the historical Native images to the newly constructed building in the painting. Buffalo were important images and yet they were too dominant in the design until he painted them as the clouds in white. Lesson after lesson about design decisions is given by Kevin in this recorded piece.

Kevin’s education at Institute for American Indian Art in Sante Fe, New Mexico, was a life changing opportunity for him. Here he learned not simply technique but how an artist works and presents themselves to the world. From there he went to the Art Institute in San Francisco for more study and growth as an artist. Kevin continued to be a part of the community of working artists as he shared critique session with other artists, presented work in galleries and shows and settled in Sante Fe for several years and still maintains homes in both Montana and New Mexico.

There is a fine article in the “Santa Fe New Mexican”. August 17, 2014, written by Daniel Gibson, author of the newly released book on Kevin Red Star. There is a wonderful photo with the article that captures the heart centered joy that he expresses as he talks to you. You may read the article at http://www.santafenewmexican.com/magazines/indian_market_2014/kevin-red-starr-pushing-into-unknown-territory/article_9aec8c64-23c4

The “Big Sky Journal” has another article penned by the author of the book on Kevin Red Star, Daniel Gibson. Here is a photo of the cover of the magazine

Big Sky Journal Arts 2014  Painting featured in Big Sky Journal article

Big Medicine

Keven’s work is represented at the Smithsonian, The Denver Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the Whitney Museum of Western Art, eSpace in Paris and other galleries and museums in Europe and the US.

Kevin will be speaking at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart Germany on October 6th, 2014. He will present the story of his childhood on the Crow Indian Reservation and his 50 years of making art. He will then be at the Book Faire in Frankfurt, Germany October 8-9.

In March 19-21, 2015 he will once again be at the benefit auction and sale for the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. In Paris, France he will have an exhibition entitles, “Shields, Drums and Masks” at Gallery Orenda, 54 rue de Ver Neuil.

Kevin Red Star

this photo of Kevin has appeared in magazines and newspapers and truly represents the gentle, sensitive and available nature of the man I have met and spoken with on several occasions.

one example of Kevin’s use of the traditional tipi of the Crow as a design element in his paintings. You can visit his Facebook page and see many more of his paintings, and also visit his website to read more of his story and see the work he currently has for sale. kevinredstar.com

Kevin Red Star is a contemporary painter, a member of the Crow Tribe and a man with a fine, gentle and caring demeanor. His skill as an artist reaches out to people from all walks of life and in his work it is my belief that folks are able to see his story and that of the Crow Nation.

Tucked away in a small Montana town……by Kristin McNamara Freeman

Embroidery by Marjory Hiltner 10265302_10152314257021676_8431305616118869630_oThis spring when I received a newsletter from the Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Montana, a surprise discovery of an artist working in fabric appeared on the pages. As I went looking for more information about the woman who created the work of fiber art pictured above, it became clear to me that somehow in the small population state of Montana a fiber artist, like me, seems to imagine that we know of all the working textile artists in the state. It was my pleasure to discover that Maggy Rozycki Hiltner lives in the small town of Red Lodge which is south of Interstate 90 and is often reached as the terminus of a drive over the Beartooth Hiway that begins at Cooke City near the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park; a place I could visit on a day trip.

In this small rural and somewhat isolated town Maggy creates her fiber pieces using images cut from pieces of vintage embroidery or images she has embroidered by  using patterns from the 20’s, 30′, 40’s and 50’s. These embroidery patterns were often found on the pages of women’s magazines such as”Women’s Home Companion”, “Needlecraft”, “Peterson’s” or “Ladies Home Journal” to name a few of the resources you can still find on Etsy or Ebay today. Back in my younger years a trip to the local “five and dime” store would be the resource for books of design transfers which could be ironed on to fabric or there was always a supply of stamped kitchen towels and pillow cases that could be purchased. The thread most often used was a six strand cotton embroidery floss. Sometimes today you can find a collection of embroidered and/or appliqued household pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. If the stitching needs some repairing the same cotton floss used 50 years ago is still sold and can be used to make some repairs, if desired. It is these used, older pieces of embroidery that Maggie finds and uses to create her artwork today.

In a wonderful interview on the blog:

http://www.mrxstitch.com/future-heirlooms/.  the  interviewer gives a wonderful description of how the artist’s work impacted the author.

“I do not remember when I first came across the work of today’s artist Maggy Rozycki Hiltner but I do know that I immediately enjoyed it. She uses nostalgic figures and imagery to make some playful but poignant remarks about childhood, gender, expectations, friendships, sex, and love. Her technique is a unique blend of collage with found materials, hand embroidery, machine stitch, and applique. Her humor is clever and at times biting. Her work is fabulous.” The article also includes many photos of her artwork.
 
Maggie graduated from Syracuse University in 1997, was Studio Assistant in fibers and textile design at Arrowmont School  of Arts and Crafts in 1998. and has had her work shown across the country since then in solo, group and invitational shows. She has an extensive list of publications where her work has been included in photos and text. A busy, talented woman creating textile art in her studio in this small rural town of Red Lodge, Montana.
 
A visit to her web site.. .www.maggyrhiltner.com/index.html  will have you reading and exploring the heart and art of this artist. Here, from her website in a small vignette from one of her pieces. She currently, through September 1st, has work showing at the Dairy Barn in Athens, OH, and will have work in the following shows (from her website):

Quilt Visions Biennial 2014
October 3, 2014 to January 4, 2015
Visions Arts Museum
San Diego, CA
visit the Visions Arts Museum website
see work to be included in the exhibition

Solo Exhibition
April 24 to August 16, 2015
Dr. Ruth Tam Lim Project Room
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, AZ
visit the Mesa Arts Center website

Focus: Fiber 2014
September 26, 2014 to January 18, 2015
Erie Art Museum
Erie, PA
visit the Erie Art Museum website

A Common Thread: Stitching and Embroidery
March 7 to July 5, 2015
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
San Jose, CA
visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles website

If you will be near one of the shows her work is sure to delight the exploring, playful artist within each of us. For some, it will be the remembering of the  images she uses from our days as a child or young adult, or even those times when we have picked up and been tempted to buy a piece or two of embroidered household linens.

Other artists have included pieces of vintage embroidery in their work, Sue Reno, http://www.suereno.com/ showed pieces of her work incorporating vintage linens in a recent article for Quilting Arts and Deb Lacativa uses vintage linens for the cloth she dyes for sale and in the work she creates http://lacativa.com/ and http://morewgalo.blogspot.com/ . 

What pure delight to discover an unknown to me textile artist living in a small Montana town. An artist whose work reaches from coast to coast here in the USA and brings a new vision to those who see her work.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a ride on a Carousel by Kristin McNamara Freeman

After a long winter with much snow and record breaking freezing temperatures, a walk on the trail by the Clark Fork River took me to Caras Park. Here I found a work of art that continues artfully to bring delight to folks of all ages. This “Carousel for Missoula” has a wonderful and amazing story of how it was imagined, created and continues to operate with the support of a non-profit volunteer organization year round.

A man by the name of Chuck Kaparich, grandson of a Croatian immigrant to Butte, Montana in the early days of the 20th century, who worked in the mines and raised his family in that city, had a photo taken of he and his wife and seven children in front of a carousel in Butte and sent it to his relatives back in Croatia to show that he had made a success of his life. His grandson was visiting the carousel in Spokane, Washington in 1989 and when he saw the carousel there, the memory of that family portrait touched him deeply and he began to cry. As he read the story of that carousel and learned that every horse was hand carved by a Danish immigrant, Charles I.D. Looff, as a wedding present for his daughter early in the 1900’s, his own story with the carousel began to be written.

Chuck began in earnest a search for anything and everything he could learn about carousels and reliving his childhood memories of the carousel in Butte he was determined to learn how to carve and to make a carousel. This carousel he would make for his grandfather and it would be in Missoula, Montana.  For his birthday in 1990 his wife got him a set of carving tools. His journey with the tools and the carving of the wood, collecting images to use so that each horse would tell a story, began with a dedication to carve each day before going to work.

As Chuck carved the horses he could see them spinning around on a carousel in Caras Park, in downtown Missoula next to the Clark Fork River. He decided that if his dream was to become reality he needed to get that piece of land he saw in his dream secured for a carousel. He loaded one of his horses in his truck and went to see the Mayor. After a long conversation the mayor finally agreed to this dream plan. Next it was to convince the city council of the dream with four carved horses and each step of the way believers in the dream gathered around him. A foundation was formed and a team of volunteers worked on the project until the dream was reality and the carousel opened in 1995. The involvement went to the community of people and organizations who adopted ponies that were being created, each one telling a story and using colors and symbols that reflected who they were.

The ACFM, a Carousel for Missoula, organization has a website at http://www.carouselformissoula.com where you can see individual horses and learn about how this organization now 19 years later still operates the carousel and the “Dragon Hollow” playground without government funding. Here is a photo of the books I first read as the journey to learning about carousels began for me.

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In my search for information about carousels, historical locations and creators, I discovered that still today carousels from the 1800’s and early 1900’s are to be found around the world, still operating and delighting folks of all ages. A visit to Wikipedia will give you links to so many places that have information about the carvers, many of them regarded around the globe for their talent in holding the tools just so in their hands to slowly remove pieces from a block of wood until it took on the life of the animal in the maker’s vision, most often horses. The “heyday” of carousel creation was just at the turn of the twentieth century.

The book “The Carousel Keepers” is a fascinating recorded history of the carousels and the places where they “live” in  New Jersey. This oral history project was completed under a grant from the Historical Society of New Jersey and the book published in 1998. The book, “Thrill Rides – Carousels” is a children’s non-fiction work and has some great stories, information and photos. “Pony Tales: A Carousel for Missoula” is a most wonderful children’s book with stories by twenty-four writers and illustrators from Montana.

The carousel was so familiar to folks that when the Broadway musical “Carousel” was written by by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the public knew that the story was going to be set at a carnival. This stage production is a perennial favorite that is often performed by small theatre companies across the USA every year, and was created also as a most successful movie.

Carousels in the Coney Island Style, the Military Style and the Country Fair Style are still operating in parks and building designed especially for them around the US, in England, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia. Treat yourself to a return to the memory land of childhood summer picnics and outings with a visit to one of these works of art. An historical treasure of the skilled carvers, painters and story theme researchers for over a century. Art is not just to be found on the walls of museums or carved in stone, or cast in bronze…..the carousel provides a look at art in motion, art for everyone, art to ride.

 

How a Lady with Green Hair Tapped into the Creativity of more than 50 years of artists (by Kristin McNamara Freeman)

Thursday mornings in 1970 were spent at a Salon held at the home of Joe and Esther Dendel in Costa Mesa, California. Here a group of 10 to 20 folks would learn how to work in techniques with fiber, clay or wood used by peoples from around the globe. Those processes were then pressed into each person’s imagination and explored with a diverse collection of materials. Poems were written and shared as the artists learned how to follow the lead of their muse. Often Esther would bring in a guest to share their story, their art, their travels and the expansion of our creative toolboxes was the result of this amazing opportunity and community of creatives. One morning it was announced that the following week we had been invited to spend two days of study at the Emerald Bay home of a Salon regular; we would have a tour of her studio where she made paper and constructed two and three dimensional works of art with her paper. After her presentation we would have the afternoon and the following day studying with a woman who had traveled from England and was speaking the following week at the Embroiderer’s Guild in Los Angeles.  I signed up to participate.

The following Thursday  was a magnificent drive along Pacific Coast Highway south to Emerald Bay. The home sat on a cliff over-looking the ocean which provided an astounding visual and audio setting for our learning session.  After tea we sat at small tables for two on the porch; sea breezes and sounds creating a place far removed from the busy world in which we lived. With my requisite little stash of drawing and creating materials at the ready to take notes and learn from this woman who was just introduced; with a crisp British accent, slight, slim stature, sturdy shoes, a tailored suit and very, very green hair, the adventure began. This day was the beginning of perhaps the most exciting artistic journey of my life.

Constance Howard was born in 1910 in Northampton, England. For some great personal history on Constance you might enjoy visiting:

http://www.gold.ac.uk/textile-collection/constance/

Our time of study with Constance included making small, 2 or 3 inches by 4 or 5 inches, cut paper designs; we glued our little pieces and made a series of studies to explore division of space within an assigned format and put them in our journals with our notes before creating the designs and after our critique as she went through each of our notebooks. Then we each took  a page in our journal and divided it into six spaces, each a different dimension. We then chose something in our environment and we were to sketch it into these six spaces, altering the dimensions and staying true to the form; I chose a chair. After all these years her lessons still ring in my head and when I am feeling stuck regarding the format of a piece I will revisit these two processes.

Our second day of study with Constance was devoted to the exploration of stitch; how to take a known or familiar stitch and expand, distort and redefine it to accomplish a texture or line needed in a piece of fiber work. Constance sketched the basic stitch construction and then we each took that and pushed, pulled and played with the stitch to see how far we might go with our new approach to stitch. Constance has written several wonderful books on stitch and design and if you have not looked at them, do give yourself the opportunity to see stitch through new eyes. “Inspiration for Embroidery”, published by Batsford in 1966 is one of my well-worn and much used books; her “Embroidery and Colour” published by Van Nostrand Reinhold in 1976 has also had many hours and miles of use in my studio. A great article from a blog written by Jenny Hart about collecting books by Constance can be found at:   http://sublimestitching.com/.

Several of us decided to drive to Los Angeles to hear her presentation the next week; additionally she suggested that I call Helen Wood Pope in San Francisco and ask if I might stay at her house for a week in the summer to study with Constance. The stay was arranged and my “rent” for the week was to be the chef for one evening meal for the houseguests and to take Helen and Constance to a favorite Japanese restaurant in the city. The adventure of living in a four story Victorian near the Presidio that held the artifacts of a museum and art gallery combined, staying in a lovely little top floor room, sharing meals with the six guests, including Constance, and writing while sitting in a solarium filled with orchids and repeating this for six more years remains one of my cherished memories.

Students each day were scattered throughout the house and gardens as they worked and gathered in the parlor three times each day for lessons and critiques. The very first project was to select one item from the house and with water colors paint a bit of every color seen in the piece and in the proportion it was seen. Then we went through stacks of magazines looking for printed colors to match our paints, made a striped piece staying with the proportions observed in the piece. From this “master piece of colors” we made our study pieces each day. Constance was always challenging us to look beyond the comfortable, the known and expand our vision to include ever so much more of the world around us. We spent one day folding bits of paper to see what shadows we could create and then headed out after lunch to the garment district where I did my first ever dumpster diving. We were looking particularly for striped fabrics and it was only after we had scoured every dumpster that we made a visit to the magical, wonderful fabric store called Britex on Maiden Lane, now on Geary Street off Union Square a marvelous four floors of fabric. We manipulated, folded, turned and stretched out visually those stripes to move our thinking from what was ordinary. Our last day we received a list of suggested study projects to keep us moving forward as designers and creators of art as we went back home.

This annual pilgrimage to study with Constance brought more to my creative expression than my years at the Laguna Beach School of Art; those studies gave solid and important information in color and design but the magic of a Green Haired Lady wrote the line of music and dance into everything I have since created in fiber and surely in my poetry as well. I took the lists of projects home with me and began a small Salon of 12 women who met monthly. We were dedicated to solving the design problem for the month using any media of our choice and to the making of at least three of our solutions in fiber during the course of the year. This group continued to meet for many years even after some of us re-located to other cities. Constance and her lessons touched a wide circle of people creating and, indeed, those folks who saw our work or studied with those of us who were teachers. To see a wonderful collection of photos of Constance the small publication, “Conversations with Constance” A celebration of the life of Constance Howard, MBE by Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney, ISBN 0-9531750-5-7 is a small booklet worth finding..

A visit to the Goldsmith’s Textile Collection and Constance Howard Gallery online site: http://vads.ahds.ac.uk/collections/CHM.html , will bring you some time of visual enjoyment and pleasure, I am certain. If you type samplers into the search box you will find some great pieces to study with salient information adjacent to the photos. It is my belief that Constance was a major mover and shaker in the world of embroidery and textile expression. She lived to be 89 years old and her mark is felt by those who studied with her, read her books, heard her lecture or saw the pieces of fiber art she created, often for large public installations. You will find her obituary at:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/jul/20/guardianobituaries1

My life has been deeply touched by her hand, her voice, her heart and yes, her beautiful green hair.

Images of Constance Hoawrd photos from the article in the Guardian.

The Magician Finds Color in Growing Things, by Kristin McNamara Freeman

Once again I look into my toolbox to see what is in there that might be useful in creating a work of art. There is information from the people of the River Tribes for whom I served for eleven years regarding the methods they use to color the materials they gather for making their traditional baskets. The people of the Hupa, Tolowa, Wiyot, Yurok and Karuk nations all use similar techniques, materials and design.  The baskets are woven using a method often found in texts under the heading of twining; these finely twined baskets serve a wide variety of purposes historically and still today. They are woven for ceremonial regalia like the “basket hats” pictured below. Additionally they were woven for gathering and for cooking acorns; a stone was heated in the fire and put into the basket to cook the acorns.

Tribes whose language was not historically written down often used symbols for particular animals and events in their lives. In order to put symbols in their basket weaving they needed to have more colors than the natural tans, browns, off-white and grey that result from drying the wild crafted materials such as willow shoots gathered at the edges of creeks and rivers, myrtle and hazel shoots, roots from evergreen trees like the pine and spruce which are plentiful in this northwestern corner of California, beargrass and ferns. Most often they used the black fern and woodwordia fern. And here, the magician has for many thousands of years used mainly two preferred dyes in the making Karuk basket designs. They are alder bark and Wolf moss. Alder bark is for the red color. It is gathered by removing small patches from the tree. The bark is broken up into small chunks or pieces than pounded and put in a container with the prepared woodwardia fern. It is covered with water and sits until the color takes. To set the color, they dry the fern in the sun.

Wolf moss (tree lichen) is collected from Pine and Fir trees in the high country. The Wolf moss produces a bright yellow color. Porcupine quills are dyed using Wolf moss. Oregon Grape root and Durango root are used for yellow dye but it is not the preferred material for the yellow in a basket design.

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Further information on baskets can be found at: http://www.ciba.org/index.php which is the California Indian Basketweavers   Association. The Clarke Museum in Eureka, California has extensive basket collections from all of the river tribes: http://www.clarkemuseum.org/ You may also want to look at the websites for each of the tribal nations. Hupa: http://www.hoopa-nsn.gov/, Yurok http://www.yuroktribe.org/ , Wiyot: http://www.wiyot.com/ , Tolowa: http://www.tolowa-nsn.gov/, and Karuk: http://www.karuk.us/

Another magician’s tale of color came to my attention when a friend attended a workshop at the state wool growers meeting; color was obtained using mushrooms. The instructor of the class, Miriam C. Rice, was the author of the first text on the use of mushrooms to color fabric and paper, “Let’s Try Mushrooms for Color”. This text is still available used at steep prices;  Her second publication, “Mushrooms for Color” in 1980 is also still available at prices a bit lower. Both texts were illustrated by Dorothy M. Beebee. In 1984 she collaborated with the Swedish authors, Carla and Erik Sundstrom and published a text in Swedish, “Skapa av Svampfärgat Garn.

The colors obtained from the mushrooms covered nearly the entire spectrum and their beauty had me searching for anything and everything I could find out about how to have success with using mushrooms. There was a class in Mendocino that I was able to attend to witness the magic of color creating with mushrooms. Miriam also developed “Myco-Stix” which are used like a crayon for mark making. Her methods are presented in the third and final book she wrote, “Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments & Myco-Stix” was published by Mushrooms for Color Press in Forestville, Ca, 95436. The ISBN is 9781604-618020.

The IMDI was created by Miriam C. Rice in 1985 to encourage the use of Fungal Pigments; to further research on their extraction and employment; to encourage research and cultivation of dye fungi; to financially assist artists and researchers to participate in the international symposia and exhibitions” – this information is from the web site: http://www.mushroomsforcolor.com/ Miriam passed away in 2010 after leaving a legacy of well documented experiments on the use of mushrooms to obtain pigment for coloring fiber, paper, yarn and threads.

 If exploring the use of mushrooms for dyeing becomes a tool you want to     use after doing a bit of reading on the subject, the Mycological Association  of Sonoma County, in California, will be having a camp for learnersthe summer of 2015.

The last bit of exploring of magical color being added to the cloth and thread used in making beautiful fiber creations comes under the name “Eco-Dyeing”. This involves principally using the pigment in flowers, stems and leaves of plants to color the fibers. Some color transfers use the technique of rubbing to transfer the colors and others employ putting the botanical source on fiber, rolling it up and wrapping it with twine before immersion in a “bath”. And there is the use of plant material dried and crumbled, or cut up in small pieces and added to a pot that is heated with the fiber in the pot to absorb the color. Indigo is one of those plant materials with which many folks are familiar; this is but a tiny piece of the available colors one can obtain using plants.

There are some well-known textile workers using these techniques to create the substrate for their work and here is a bit of information on some of those with whom I have had some interaction over the years.

Jude Hill does not label herself as a person who dyes cloth, keeping pots going for small bits of cloth with plant material; sometimes even wrapping her cloth around tin containers and getting marks on the cloth from those tins. Her processes have greatly influenced many textile workers and stitchers through her on-line blog, classes, videos and sharing of photos with folks around the globe. http://spiritcloth.typepad.com/. She is on Facebook and has many videos on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/spiritcloth

Kimberly Baxter Packwood is a professional mixed-media artist who specializes in surface design using natural dyes, rust, and wax. http://www.kbaxterpackwood.com/ Kimberly has detailed information on using plant materials for dyeing as well as other extracted natural sources of dyestuff and rust. This statement is from her website “Kimberly uses natural materials and processes to demonstrate the progression of the native prairie from its ancient origins to the present through color, texture and form.  Through the use of Natural Dyes, Ocher’s, Earth Pigments, and rust on cloth she is able to explore the tension between the natural and the unnatural (man-made)”.Kimberly has detailed charts on natural dyestuff, what materials they will dye and what colors you would expect to achieve. She is a wealth of information for anyone desiring to use natural dyes to create color and pattern on cloth, threads or paper. Kimberly can be found on Facebook.

Arlee Barr is a Canadian artist living in Calgary, Alberta, who works  primarily with textiles. She produces eco dyed cloth for her work and sometimes folks are fortunate enough to read her web pages and find some of her fantastic cloth to purchase:  http://www.arleebarr.com

Arlee also write a wonderful and entertaining blog, http://www.arleebarr.com/designjournal/.

She writes the following description of herself: “I’m curious, eccentric and just a little opinionated. Surrealist in thought, Fauvist at heart, this is my almost daily art journal, eccentric and eclectic, explorative and absurd.” Her adventures with using cloth that has been eco dyed for her heavily hand embellished stitches to create pieces of amazing texture and delightful color explorations are also to be found on her Facebook page.

One woman who is traveling the globe creating and teaching the techniques of eco-dyeing is India Flint from Australia. Her website: http://www.indiaflint.com/ describes her “maker of marks, forest wanderer & tumbleweed, stargazer & stitcher, botanical alchemist & string twiner, working traveller, dreamer, writer, and the original discoverer of the eucalyptus ecoprint, …dyeing for a living in the deep south”. She has published a new book that is available at http://au.blurb.com/b/4962838-stuff-steep-+-store. Her previous books “Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles”,and “Second Skin” are available on-line both new and used. She currently write a blog http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com.au/ that has information on her travels, teaching schedule and artwork for sale. Here are two photos of her ecoprinted fabric in clothing.

Imagedustcoat and dress, silkymerino scarf   – Model is Sidnee Snell

Imageblooming wasteland, Model Rose Flint

 India is also on Facebook and many more of her photos can be seen there.

Fabienne Dorsman-Rey is the last of the fiber artists using ecodyeing who I will share with you in this piece of writing. She lives in the Netherlands in the region of Utrecht. She does not have a web page nor blog and her Facebook page is not public, you will need to become a friend to see her amazing collection of photos of her work. She is included in an exhibit that will be at the Jacoby Art Center in Alton, Illinois. This is An International Exhibiton Opening August 22, 2014. jacobyartscenter.org . From the webpage are these words from Fabienne “I must confess: it’s an incurable virus. And I love to spread it. There is nothing more exhilarating to me than opening a bundle and letting myself be surprised by the result. It’s a gift to my heart or shall I say, to my inner child. It feeds me. It gives me joy. I’m first a colorist. I’ve tried many years to paint abstract textures like this, but I could not. In this dialogue with Nature, I get sometimes results beyond anything I could have dreamt of painting. By letting go of the illusion of control, more is realized. There is wisdom in that, to be applied to other areas of my life.” She has provided me with the following photos; the first two show a cloth wrapped around a tin and then the beautiful silk scarf that emerges, the other two are of cloth she has printed with the plant materials she has gathered.

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Laid a Bundle of Joy, ready to reveal itself to others at Le Jardin de La Tulipe

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To finally reveal what no one would have guessed looking only at the outside bundle… it turned out to be a wonderful soft shiny silk shawl ready to give on protection and comfort to its future wearer —at Le Jardin de La Tulipe

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Healing colors
Samples to test some leaves and water in Ringwood and the proof that sometimes, even one night is enough for a bundle to shine ;-)…Twill of wool

Imagefrom the inside out 2014

Great Eco Dyeing Resources information can be found at: http://fiberartnow.net/2013/05/10/eco-dyeing-resources-2/

With the explorations in this paper your tool box should be bursting with ideas and encouragement to at least play a bit with the magic of obtaining colors from growing things…from trees, bushes, flowers, grasses and mushrooms. The successful work being accomplished around the globe continues processes employed by people for generations; sometimes new occurrences in the dye process present the possibility that the results are something never before seen by man. May you explore these techniques and see if you might find a color, process or technique that is totally unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Pictures – Photographs by Kristin McNamara Freeman

Something that is in the toolbox of most artists today is a collection of photos taken with a camera or one of the smaller devices commonly carried around these days. When reading Whitney Otto’s newest work of fiction, “Eight Girls Taking Pictures”, ISBN-13: 978-1451682724, there were instances when my thoughts traveled to an exhibit for which I did the data entry in Humboldt County, California in 1999. This exhibit was the result of a small research grant and was called “Shades of Humboldt”. It was a collection of photos brought to the exhibit organizer, copied and cataloged, showing historical times from the photo albums of folks who lived in the area. The family albums from which the photos were gathered served as a place for the family to gather and look at the collected photos. Here the wonder questions arose and families shared stories about the photos, about the people and the places they lived, worked and played. This was one way family history and tradition was passed on generation to generation. Story and image come together as the memory bank. A cloth was woven with the threads of these stories that wrapped around the family and kept them tied to the history of their people.

Then about ten years ago I viewed an exhibit of photos taken by Nellie E. Ladd who is known as the mining camp photographer of the Trinity Alps. After reading with great excitement the book about her photography, “Nellie E. Ladd: Mining Camp Photographer of the Trinity Alps, 1859-1922” ISBN: 978-0-87961-266-5.,  I went to see the area where she lived and took her photos. The last several mile stretch of the “road” to Old Denny was only accessed by foot.; still today this is a rugged, rough and challenging area in the Trinity Alps. My interest in the artistic drive that would push a woman to haul her equipment on a mule to this remote area in order that she could take her pictures has had me exploring photographers from the 1800’s through to this day. Historical records of women in towns along the Rockies often shows their occupation as photographer; clearly something that was an acceptable means of earning support in the rough and hard scrabble mining towns.

In the cities of Europe and America in the late 19th century art galleries held shows for painters yet there was no place in these exhibitions for photographs. A movement began in the late 1900’s of photographers who saw that the images in their camera lens were works of art and they began to seek ways of having those photographs exhibited. It was not until the time of  Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/stgp/hd_stgp.htm that photography began to be exhibited as an art form. Many of his photos were of his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe.

The photography of landscape was raised to a position of art most particularly by Ansel Adams (1902-1984) http://www.anseladams.com/ansel-adams-information/ansel-adams-biography/. He was a dedicated activist for environmental concerns and established himself as well as an artist with his camera.

Traveling to Washington, D.C. in 2005, one stop on my agenda was the American Museum of Women in the Arts. The exhibits were amazing and these is a fine collection of exhibit information on women photographers at the museum and a visit to the new and interactive website of the Museum, http://www.nmwa.org/

will provide a wonderful list of photography exhibits and retrospectives. Some of the exhibit titles are, Picturing Progress: Hungarian Women Photographers 1900–1945, Portraits of Women by Women , 2006 Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century , 1999–2000 Preserving the Past. These is so much to see here and learn about photography as art. Photography as art is now a phrase that is familiar and represents the inclusion of photography in most art museums and exhibits.

Often folks who create art in fiber have expressed the challenges faced when entering work into the art world, not just in venues for fiber art. The parallels between the rise of photography being accepted for art exhibitions and that of fiber art seem clear as I look at the history of photography as art. Each year there are more textile artists writing about their acceptance into exhibits which are art based and inclusive of many media.

Some of the textile artists I follow who use their camera and photography in the making of their textile art, along with their web addresses are:

Sue Reno, www.suereno.com/  Her work includes a series of photos on cloth; the series, “Watt and Shand” includes many photos on cloth as does her “Silk Mill series. Sue has masterfully used photo on cloth as and integral part of her designs. A visit to view her works will show you some creative and imaginative use of the photograph in textile art. Sue has been included in many art exhibitions that were not specifically for artists who work in textiles and she has won many awards with her fine work.

 

Virginia Spiegel, http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/ Virginia uses photographs in her “Boundary Waters” series and also in her “Quetico Journal” series. Virginia explores texture, color and image with her heart for the preservation of the environment clearly expressed in her art. She has exhibited widely and is recognized as an artist who works in fiber.

 

Although the words I have written may sound like those I wrote for Sue’s work, her style and use of the photograph in her work is individual and quite different. What I see in showing you links to the work of both of the fiber artists is that the medium, photography, has found individuation in the work of each artist choosing to incorporate it in their textiles.

 

Hollis Chatelain, http://www.hollisart.com/ Hollis makes amazing, richly thread stitched whole cloth quilts that incorporate many photos she has taken. She Uses the photos as the basis for her designs and pushes the process of interweaving one image into another and another to the point of perfection. Her work is recognizable as one of the masters of the use of photographic image in quilt making.

 

Gloria Hansen, http://www.gloriahansen.com/ Gloria has been exploring and designing with the use of manipulation of the digital photography she takes. She has won awards for her work and has written books on using digital photography in the creation of textile art. “Digital Essentials” and “Gloria Hansen: An Evolution in Stitches, Paint and Pixels”.

Whether a photo provides a color scheme for a work,  inspires a work, or is the source of the design, the camera and resulting photographs are an intrinsic part of the creation of textile art for many artists today.

The International Quilt Festival has recognized the important connection of photography to quilters and has at their festivals an exhibit entitled “The Eye of the Quilter”. Looking at the exhibited photos the viewer can see the inspiration for and design elements often used in the making of quilts. Whether the photographs are printed on cloth, digitally altered and used as design templates or the inspiration for a design, photography is now a usual tool in the container we who work in fiber call our toolbox.

Late summer blooms in the garden are a great place of inspiration to begin to fill that toolbox.

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