I can’t even express the thunderous monster of gratitude that I am walking around with… and ALL the ways I want to return it!
Let me tell the story… After being contacted by the MO Fiber Artist’s to serve as juror over their exhibit Speaking of Fibers, I was just stunned for a few days. There’s just something about when the Universe says “YES! You ARE on the right path… and here’s another signpost…” Which is exactly what that gig was. And more than just the job of choosing from the AMAZING artwork of the members to fill the Maryville University gallery (in St Louis MO), I was invited to exhibit my own piece: the Womandrake. I had a GREAT time as juror, and the Womandrake had her SECOND coming out (she’ll be deployed throughout 2012 as I continue to work the Sinister Stitch pieces for the Sinister Circus Exhibit, and the Documentary in Chronicles).
Anyway…After choosing the gorgeous artwork for Speaking of Fibers, I hunkered down to get the Womandrake to half finished for her stint. Job Done! I loaded her into the Little Red Wagon: and drove VERRRY carefully straight to the St Louis Maryville U campus where I had some repairs — see, the handmade paper leaves had disintegrated during the drive (eeeeek) but I had a whole day to fix her up…
That was the first leg of the trip…
The second kicked off with an AMAZING opportunity:I was invited to give remarks at the Opening Reception for Speaking of Fibers. See, after I made my choices for the show, I forwarded all of my comments to the coordinator (the INcomparable Barb Zappulla pictured below with me & Womandrake) and she forwarded each of those comments to both the “accepted” participants, and the “not this time” ones.
Suffice it to say, the WHOLE thing was a SCANDAL!!!!!!!!! Spoiler Alert: I had gone so far above and beyond what people expected that it instantly went viral and everyone began discussing it — I’ll include my remarks to the reception below so you can experience the full speech I gave;o}
As if the Opening and the Womandrake’s warm reception weren’t enough: I was invited to teach a 2day workshop at the St Louis Artist’s Guild. Nestled in an old brick mansion, it looks like something out of a fairy tale…
I actually squealed when I found out we were holding class in the upper floor space: the women in the attic conjuring a Fiber Artist’s Grimoire!!!
I prepared for months and brought my A Game — I packed those 2 days with lots of info and show and tell. I was met with such warmth, such gratitude… and given the company I was in (artists, painters, weavers, crafters….) it was truly humbling to serve those talented women. I’ll post some of their awesome work soon!
It’s been a full week, but the friendships I made are still warming my heart, and the opportunities that came my way makes me want to Stand and Deliver more than ever before. That’s another funny way the Universe has of encouraging you to Go The Distance. To Get It Done. To Serve Without Reserve. And I am so grateful… and energized… and ready to smash the next year OUT of the park!
We’re finally at the brink of what’s been brewing for almost a decade in my studio, my imagination, and my dreams… When I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and tearful trying to meet deadlines last month, I asked: How do I DO this?…. And a dear member of my team replied: Well. Ride her til she bucks you. Sometimes it’s the simplest thing that snaps us back to our vision and our strengths. With the unfailing support and sanity patrol of my family, it is, indeed, the BEST! Thank you all for joining me on this ride… we’re only at the beginning and it’s going to be DELICIOUS!!
I’ll begin posting updates in the coming weeks about what’s coming and how YOU can join in. I’m counting on my entire tribe of artists, crafters, hobbyists, dabblers, and even the curious to check out the Sessions so stay tuned! Dont forget to visit the right sidebar, enter your email to subscribe, and then you won’t miss a thing! Also find me on Facebook and twitter (links in upper left sidebar) I look forward to finding you!
For those who were so kind to ask, I’ve transcribed my lecture on Oct 7, As promised: Remarks for Speaking of Fibers Opening Reception, October 7, 2011.
When Barb and Carol approached me to Judge the Speaking of Fibers Exhibit, I was immediately intrigued. I teach Text as Art at the KC Art Institute and am very passionate about bringing visual and written arts closer together. In order to best do that, I decided right away that the Artist Statement should be a key component of each submission, so I asked that each artist submit photos and a statement on our theme.
Some of you may know that I just spoke to the students over at the Design School about Artist/Concept Statements, and they were rather surprised to learn about how important it is to be able to speak and write in an articulate way about your work. As I spoke to them, I reflected on my experience with Speaking of Fibers — so many of us artists, crafters, hobbyists, work in solitude, often in stolen moments, but passionately because we want to share something of ourselves. As such, we each want to be SEEN. A great Artist Statement is the perfect opportunity to connect with the viewer, to draw them in closer to your creativity, your choices, and your work. In order to honor and respect the work that had been submitted for Speaking of Fibers, I made my plan carefully. First, I read the Artist Statements. I made notes and reflected on what the art work might look like. Then, I looked at the art work photos; again making notes and imagining which statement might apply. (which I have to say: arriving here and running from piece to piece in person for the first time was like Christmas!) Finally I joined both sets of notes and looked at the whole package together. I made my choices and forwarded the WHOLE PILE to Barb! She was rather, surprised, and asked if she could forward the remarks to each artist — both the winners and the ones I didn’t include in the show. I felt that was perfect — it was the best way for each submission to understand what my thoughts were, and for me to be “seen” as well. In that the circle was complete. I thought…
What I had done caused QUITE a stir! Apparently it is NOT standard to receive comments from a juror (which I found dreadful!) and the participants began email/Facebooking me like crazy with thanks. I can’t say what a boost it was to get the feedback — again testifying to the value of our Speaking to each other.
Some of you know while I was making my decisions and sitting with this work, I was fighting a battle with kidney cancer (which I won!). More times than I can count, the art on these walls was with me in the quiet night hours when it gave me something to focus on…. Again, I remind all of you that we, as creatives, are often alone, and it’s our shared communication that brings the deepest meaning to what we do!
Tonight, I wanted to share a few comments about the 6 Award Winners — you’ll notice the Artist Statements are hung with the work for you to read.
First Award of Merit: Autumn, by Shirley Nachtrieb.Though it is not loud or boisterous with color, I was struck by the subtle complexity and the controlled exercise of the palette. It really spoke volumes in the combination of salvaged fabrics and jewels. It also drew me in to look closer by combining textures and stitchery… and by having the scarves hanging to organically play off of the bodice colors. Overall, masterful and alive!
In the Contemporary Use of Fibers award, Luann Rimel took me on a creative journey with both her Artist Statement and her rich embroidery over photos. The palette was so clean but textural — and I love the play between past and present, permanence and fleeting time as she described in her statement. Very well done.
For Best Representation of Theme: Janita Loder for Reading is Fun. Her statement gave us a personal look at her inspiration, her use of text boldly invites us in to the piece, and the technique is just masterful. Not being a weaver, I’m just amazed at the skill!
Best in Show went to Janet Wade for Vespers. What a work! Her Statement spoke honestly to her motivations, her use of symbols, and her materials and techniques! She truly met the challenge of the submission with FLYing colors (and those COOL dragonflys!)
Technical Mastery is Out on a Limb by Peggy Wyman. She told the story of sourcing her materials, communing with nature, and explained her techniques. Just the precision and skill in constructing her objects blew me away.
Surface Design Award goes to Dianne Callahan for Rubys Red Socks. A sweet story and so well done… but this is almost the award that never was! Remember folks, as a juror, I’m looking at the work on a computer. Your job after the planning & design, the art and crafting, and the careful submitting is to not crap out at the finish line!!!!! You’ve GOT to send the best photos you can. I didn’t see ANY of the gorgeous applique, the dimensional stitching, or the surface design in the Ruby photos. It wasn’t til I got here that it popped. Consider a few tips: 1- you get the best photos outside on a clear day. 2- if you cant do that, try scanning. A scanner will pick up AMAZING detail if you’re patient. 3-for dimensional work, lay the piece on a table and photograph it from on your knees, looking ACROSS the table to SHOW me the 3D. 4-choose close ups wisely. They have to represent something special.
I’d like to thank the artists, MOFA, and Maryvill U for being so wonderful during this long journey — I’d certainly go back and do it all again!!!