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
November 4-20, 2020
25 Lowell St., Cambridge, MA 02138
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 5, 6:30-7:30 on ZOOM
For nearly 20 years, the Cambridge Art Association has hosted a fall exhibit, open to artists from the New England states, centered around a color--RED or BLUE, depending on the year. Both the success of the exhibit series, and the challenge to participating artists lies in channeling the varied meanings of a color like RED. It is the color of action, violence, heat. It is the color of luck, happiness, passion.
Image: A Case of You, 2018, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches
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.
Sedrick Huckaby in front of A Love Supreme
I learned about the work of Sedrick Huckaby when I was an undergrad in painting. Serdrick also went to BU for undergrad. At the time, I was painting a lot of self portraits and was intrigued by his use of thick, imposto paint to create portraits.
My mom happened to be visiting town while he was having two solo shows--one at a gallery on Newbury Street and one at the Danforth Museum of Art. We went to see them together while they were still up. His paintings at the gallery on Newbury were small and intimate portraits of himself and family members. The paintings at the Danforth, on the other hand, took up an entire room. Each of the four canvases depicted a still life of quilts, each one fitting the four walls of the room. I was blown away. The pieces were immersive and intimate, yet grand and powerful.
Sedrick Huckaby, A Love Supreme – Spring, 2001-2009, oil on canvas, 92” x 240”
Sedrick Huckaby, A Love Supreme – Summer, 2001-2009, oil on canvas, 92” x 240”
Sedrick Huckaby, A Love Supreme – Fall, 2001-2009, oil on canvas, 92” x 240”
Sedrick Huckaby, A Love Supreme – Winter, 2001-2009, oil on canvas, 92” x 240”
Sedrick's paint is thick and lush. His paintings are meditations, feats of strength, acts of love.
I was reading a catalogue of his work a couple years ago, and this passage stood out to me:
"A painting is a quiet dialogue in which volumes of information are slowly and silently revealed, yet its entire essence can be experienced within a moment's glance. I believe my paintings are done in a language more closely in tune with my soul then the language of my tongue. For me, the act of painting is not just a means to a product; it is also a meditative process of communication."
-Sedrick Huckaby, 2004
To view more of his work, visit his website: https://huckabystudios.com/about/sedrick.
Collective mural in the “Field Notes” exhibition made by Kate Holcomb Hale, Soyoung L. Kim and Stephen Hamilton. Photo by Celina Colby
I am so humbled to be a part of the show Field Notes: Teachers, Lovers and the Consciousness in Between and am thrilled with all of the press it's been reicveing. The show is up for one more week. Go see it before it comes down!
Powerful drawing show debuts at BCA’s Mills Gallery
Artists draw from teachers, lovers, and the past for annual BCA show
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November 4-20, 2020
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