Cat’s out of the bag, finally!

So in addition to getting new work ready for my new solo exhibition, opening tonight at the Crary Gallery in Warren, PA, I have also been working on a top secret project.

I live near Chautauqua Institution, and each year they commission a local artist to make a unique art object in response to a book which has been awarded the Chautauqua Prize. This year I was chosen to create something in response to the winning book, The Fact of a Body. If you haven’t read it I think it’s a must read.

I don’t want to give away the whole book, but it involves two stories, a murder and a memoir, which overlap and diverge. Along the way the reader has time to consider their own opinions about some very deep difficult issues, among them, the death penalty. For me though the overwhelming theme is the individual humanity and the unique narrative of each person touched by the story(s).
The structure of the narrative in the book immediately suggested a flag book. The overlapping elements of the narrative in the book seemed ideally suited to the interleaved flags of this book structure. As regular readers of the blog know much of my work involves redacting and altering existing texts, and as a core idea of the narrative is the elusiveness of a single truth, I really hoped the author wasn’t going to e distressed by my hacking her fine book apart and constructing yet another version.

When selecting the passages to include I was drawn to those which left a vivid picture in my mind, passages that evoked in me a lasting retinal impression or a strong emotional connection. My selections were personal and perhaps not indicative of the arc of the authors narrative. The use of translucent vellum to create the flags allows for the text to be experienced in layers and for the various elements of the story to literally overlap visually.

I used sewing as a form of mark making, to emphasize elements of the text, primarily names, and the various physical bodies contained in the original work. I also edited out some elements of text using Boro type stitching, the words are still partially visible beneath the sewing. Boro is a tradition Japanese mending technique. The word itself means rags or scraps of cloth. I chose boro because it seemed that all the characters in the work are patching themselves together, layering new versions of themselves over the old, and also, because the make- do and mend aesthetic seemed appropriate to the tenacity of many people in the narrative.

I hope the finished book reflects the fragility of the stories and bodies in the original text, and that the author forgives me for rummaging about in her ideas this way.

It really was a singular honor to be a part of celebrating this amazing book. I’m glad to say that Alexandria was pleased with the book. Here we are together at the awards dinner.

Congratulations Alexandria on the well deserved honor. And if you are still reading, for yourself a favor and read her book!

Okay back to the studio, I need to find my bench, it’s a mess in there, well the whole house really!


home again, home again

I am back! Wow that was a whirlwind – I need to decompress for a bit – but I have many thoughts and images left to share from my trip. For now I am happy just to be back in my studio, and back at work. Next up?  Tomorrow I am giving a brief talk about my trip to Sweden and the work I created for that trip as part of the Women Create salon series, then this weekend we finally begin working on the flag books for the installation – if you live nearby head over to the website to sign up for a spot – this is a FREE class! Then I need to really get cracking to finish up the book for “bound” so it arrives in Leeds in time for its debut! First though – an early night! My poor body is still stuck in between time zones and I am exhausted!!

inspiration and a “secret” tag book

The CCAC is holding a fundraising 6×6 sale, I made several entries but I was so pleased with how this one turned out that I am going to share it, because most of the buyers will not be reading the blog before then! I’ve been on a flag book kick just lately they are so much fun to make. This one features one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems “hope is a thing with feathers”. The tea dying on the spine of the book has these beautiful spots on it (from bubbles I am assuming).

This was so much fun, I want to make another!!

Today my class was doing research in the library – so I was browsing the art magazines between queries and found so much inspiration check out my pinterest board!  (And let’s not even talk about the addictive possibilities of pinterest).

Looking forward to a little studio time tonight, Ashley’s boyfriend is over keeping her company so I feel like it is OK for me to have a little fun.

More pictures, and an interview

So just for LaWendula here are some more pictures of the flag book, and if you go here, there are some instructions for how to make one…

Also the interview with me was published in Chautauqua Word this week, if you’d like to read it you can do so here. Steve did an amazing job of not making me sound like a rambling idiot, which is more difficult than you would think! And I’d also like to thank Don Hill for taking pictures of me I actually like (even more difficult than making me sound coherent!!)

flag tag book

I’ve been wanting to make a flag book for a while now, just to see how it would turn out. When my tags came from Lay Hoon, they seemed like perfect candidates for such a book. I used the other papers in the bag to complete the book and make additional flags, the covers are a little crooked, I always have problems with any form that starts as an accordion fold, if anyone out there has a clever tip or trick, I’d love to hear it! That’s Molly my daughter’s cat whose little demon eyes you can see in the picture!!