à la ligne, string and thread on denim, stained with fabric dye and bleach, 10 x 8 inches
This semester I tried some new ways of working. The piece above was created for an assignment I had early in the semester. Our assignment was to create a painting inspired by a piece of art that we don't like. I first fell in love with painting when I saw impressionist paintings in high school, but have always disliked Renior. His chalky pastel palette is off-putting and his forms often lack definition. They're so etherial, like they're made of someone's hot breath.
But the assignment intrigued me. I started looking at his paintings online and came across the painting Le pêcheur à la ligne. I was drawn to the phthelo green + beige color palette and marks he used, so decided to try and reproduce those elements of the piece, minus the subject matter.
The first thing I did was turn the reproduction of the painting upside down as a way to isolate the colors and marks. Working from "back to front," I poured fabric dye on a canvas of stitched jeans that I had made earlier. Then I added some bleach to the dye. I worked back and forth until I created a "stain" to work on top of. Then I began adding lime green stitches to the denim using my sewing machine and drawing with a royal blue marker to describe some of the forms I observed, like the flittering leaves of the vegetation. Then, for several hours, I continued layering machine stitches, hand embroidery, and loose threads to the surface until the image felt resolved.
I really enjoyed the assignment. It was a practice in empathy. I learned to appreciate the technique of someone's work who I usually have a negative reaction to. It was a little like being locked in a room with an enemy and being forced to find common ground.
Left: A Piece of Me, A Piece of You, acrylic, spray paint, oil pastels, string and thread on sewn canvas and repurposed clothing, 18 x 22 inches Right: Love Quote, repurposed clothing and mesh on sewn canvas, stained with fabric dye, and oil on pre-primed canvas, 22 x 18 inches
I continued experimenting with mark-making throughout the semester. Above are two different examples of experiments in mark-making that I tried. On the left, I layered a lot of different colored sewing machine stitches on top of paint, spray-paint, and oil pastel until the colors began to blend together. This caused the canvas to warp and buckle. I had seen this technique several years ago in a video of Rebecca Ringquist explaining her process and knew that I wanted to try it at some point.
On the left, I created individual marks with the machine, dispersing them across the canvas. To me, they start to resemble letters or characters from an alphabet.
Detail of A Piece of Me, A Piece of You
I recently experimented with natural dye. I have been wanting to try this for a while and recently found some time to do it. The process was relatively simple and I LOVE the results!
The first step was to collect all of the skins. I collected the skins from at least a dozen onions over a couple of months. I stored them in an empty yogurt container (and later realized I could have kept them in the fridge, rather than on the counter).
Once I had enough, I put all of the skins in a large pot of water and set it to boil. (I boiled some of the water in an electric kettle to make this process go a bit faster. Once the water boiled, I turned the heat on low and let the skins sit for a couple of hours.
Next I strained the dye into a glass bowl and layered some canvas into the bowl. I put a glass jar of water on top of the canvas to press it down and set the bowl outside (so that the smell didn't stink up our apartment). I left the canvas to soak in the dye for a few ours, then removed it and let it air dry on top of a few plastic bags.
After the canvas dried, I brought it to my studio.
I decided to use some of the first batch of dyed fabric for one of my drawing assignments: to make a drawing response to a poem. I chose Mary Oliver's Song for Autumn. I love that I can feel her presence when I read her poetry. Like I am right there with her, traipsing through the marsh or walking by the sea.
In response to her poem, I created several drawings of trees at night. I wanted the experience of observing to come through and to experiment with my sensory experience of looking.
I transfered one of my drawings onto the canvas and then stitched the lines by hand.
I've been having a wonderful time at my residency at Gallery263! Recently, Moriah, one of the interns at the gallery interviewed me about the work I am making at the gallery this summer for their "Meet the Residents" series. Read the interview here and check my instagram for more process pictures! We also have two upcoming events:
Public Critique #2: Tuesday, August 13, 7-9pm
Opening Reception: Friday, August 23, 7-9pm
I am excited to announce that I will be an artist in residence at Gallery263 this summer! The residency runs from July 8-August 24, with two public critiques and a culminating group show. Dates TBD.
For the past seven summers, I have had the opportunity to work with high school students during BU's Visual Arts Summer Institute. Each summer, I haul my art supplies to the 5th floor of 855 Commonwealth Avenue and set up a second home. The studio space I have used the past two summer faces east and has incredible views of downtown Boston.
When I was a student at BU, I remember being surprised at the amazing sunsets that I could watch from Comm. Ave. Living in a city can be disorienting and it's easy to feel disconnected from nature. I loved taking time each day to stop and enjoy the view.
The routine of going into the studio every day and seeing my work with fresh eyes is an exciting part of my process. I love being able to spread out my supplies and give myself time and space to find new connections between my ideas and materials.
Over the summer, worked on a few new bodies of work including Paper Quilts and Cycles. I am back in my apartment now and have been making some new Paper Quilts, working with friends to create new college pieces, and brainstorming some ideas for new projects. Stay tuned...
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