A couple weeks ago I took a trip to NYC to visit family, friends and see a bunch of shows in NYC--much of the work by friends and fellow BU alumni.
After my 7:30am bus arrived on the west side, I rode my bike over to CUE Art Foundation to see Natessa Amin's show Hyphen. Natessa, a fellow BU alum displayed a colorful and complex show of paintings, sculptures and drawings. I love the balance she achieves between large, bold areas of color and small, intricately painted details. Read more about her work here.
After eating lunch with my college friend Kelly, I went to see these inflatable Paul Chan sculptures at Greene Naftali. My favorite sculptures were the ones that were holding hands. I liked the way the individual pieces became one and shifted as a group. The moving air created fleeting moments where the sculptures danced, pushed and embraced.
Next, I rode my bike to Chelsea to see Jessica Campbell's narrative rug paintings at Field Projects and Mike Cloud's painted shapes at Thomas Urban Gallery. Just a few weeks before my visit I saw Mike Cloud speak at BU, so I was excited to see his work in person.
My next stop was Jenna Gribbon's show When I Looked at You the Light Changed at Fredericks & Freiser. Although many of the show's highlights featured women wrestling naked in surreal environments (a kitchen, the docks, or in the middle of a road), I preferred several of her smaller, more intimate paintings of individual women wandering, performing mundane tasks or simply aglow in warm summer light.
Next I went to Yossi Milo to see Doron Landberg's show. I met Doran at Anderson Ranch this summer and was fortunate to hear him talk about his work and influences. Seeing his paintings in person was even more special. Many of his canvases are massive and immerse you in his colorful world of family and friendship. I even happened to stop by the gallery when he was there and several of the figures in Daniel Reading were there. It was a surreal experience to see the real people move around the gallery as I soaked up these beautifully fluid and tender painting moments.
I first learned about Sarah Sze's work in a Contemporary Art class I took for art educators with Lois Hetland in 2014. I immediately fell in love with her meticulous, hyper-focused process and her resulting sculptures. I have seen her work at the ICA in Boston and the Rose Museum in Waltham, so almost skipped going to her most recent NY show. I'M SO GLAD I DIDN'T. Her show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery covered the walls, and sometimes floors of ceilings of the two floor gallery. Filled with photographs, videos, paintings, sculptures, and installation, I felt as if I was both in her brain during the creation of each piece and outside of her process looking at fully realized works of art. The shift in time and place I experienced while looking at various pieces was amazing--like time travel. I was so impressed with her virtuosity with multiple ways of working and wish I could have stayed longer to soak it all in.
My next stop was the Hercules Art/Studio Program, where I got to visit Leeanne Maxey (a fellow BU alum) and see a show of her most recent egg tempera paintings. Visit her website to see more of her work.
My last stop of the day was at a tiny space called Kristen Lorello Gallery. So tiny, in fact that I almost couldn't find it. Once inside, I was surrounded by eight oil stick drawings by Ping Zheng. I loved the composition, color, mark-making and quality of light and air in each piece.
After a full day of gallery hopping, I rode my bike across the Manhattan Bridge to visit my high school friend Caitlin. She is currently a second year grad student at Pratt, and I met up with a few of her classmates in Brooklyn before clunking out around 10pm.
In the morning, Caitlin and I walked to her studio. Caitlin and I took painting together in high school, and she has been an inspiration to me ever since. Although she applied to school as a painter, her work has become more sculptural lately. She is currently working on a series of sculptural installations for her MFA thesis show. I hope to make it back to NY to see the final form of this work in the spring!
I left Brooklyn around 11am and rode my bike back to Manhattan to see two more shows (luckily these galleries were open on Sunday!) before meeting up with my parents. The first show was Twice Over, work by recent MFA grad (and BU alum!) Rebecca Ness. Rebecca's painting were so full of life, texture and detail that her show of paintings felt more like a show of 50 paintings. I'm so glad I got to see this show before it came down!
After seeing Rebecca's work, I walked around the corner to see one more show--John McAllister's silence sounding sumptuous at James Fuentes Gallery. I loved the bright, somewhat sour, somewhat sweet landscape portals that hung in the gallery. See more of his show here.
At last I biked across town to meet up with my parents near the Whitney Museum for lunch. It was great to see them. I left the city feeling mentally and emotionally full.
In February, I traveled to Central America. After visiting my friend Meredith in Belize for five days, we traveled to Guatemala together. We began our journey by taking a boat from Punta Gorda, Belize to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. After arriving on shore and checking in at the immigration office, we walked to the bus stop.
Our bus ride to Guatemala City took about seven hours. My favorite parts of the bus ride were watching Oceans Twelve without subtitles and trying to figure out what was happening and watching the sun set out the bus window. We arrived in Guatemala City around 7pm, then took an Uber to Antigua, Guatemala.
After about twelve hours of traveling, we met up with Mere's husband, Andy. Mere and I hadn't had dinner yet, so we decided to walk to Samsara, a vegetarian restaurant a few blocks away. When we first arrived, it seems like they had closed for the night, but luckily they let us order take out. We both got the Tempeh Tacos: sautéed vegetables and tempeh on black corn tortillas, topped with slices of avocado and lime.These were the best tacos I've ever had. Hands down. I'm not sure if it was because we had been traveling for so long or because of the homemade black bean tortillas, but I have been dreaming of these tacos ever since I tasted them.
Mere and Andy woke up the next morning and took a bus to Lake Atitlán, where Mere would be competing in an ultra marathon. I stayed in Antigua to explore the art, food and culture that the former capital of Guatemala had to offer.
Before leaving for the trip, I signed up for a weaving workshop with a local artisan who lived in a nearby village. I knew that I wanted to try and create a weaving based off of some of my recent paintings, but didn't really know what would be possible to accomplish in a two-day workshop. So, on my first full day in Antigua, I went to Nim Po't, a handcraft and textiles market, to do some research. I wandered around the artisan market for an hour or two, studying the different weavings and jewelry for sale.
After going to Nim Po't, I walked to the bus station to take a chicken bus to Pastores to visit the Teysha workshop there. Luckily Belize also has chicken buses, so I had had some practice with how the informal bus system works. I wandered around the parking lot until I heard someone say, "Pastores, Pastores!" I walked up to the driver to confirm that the bus I was about to get on was going to Pastores, the area just outside of Antigua where boots are made by hand.
I first learned about Guatemalan textiles from the company Teshya. I visited their stand when I went to Newport Folk Fest in 2015 and bought a pair of their sandals. Seeing their shoes sparked my interest in Guatemalan textiles, so when I decided to travel to Antigua I knew I wanted to visit their workshop.
I got off the chicken bus and walked up and down the main street, peeking inside different boot shops until I finally accepted the fact that I wasn't going to find the shop on my own and walked into a leather shop to ask for directions. I eventually found the workshop, tucked away on a side street up a small hill, off the main road. The people who were working that day were extremely friendly and through a conversation of mixed Spanish and English they understood that I had traveled there to take a tour of the small shop. It was so cool to see the behind-the-scenes process of making the shoes and all of the different huipils that are repurposed to create the contemporary shoe designs. I was so excited about all of the beautiful fabric scraps in the workshop that I decided to design a custom pair of boots for my birthday. I picked out the type of boot I wanted and all of the materials and the artisans helped me measure the fabric. They will take a little while to make and ship and I am so excited to see them finished!
When I got back from visiting the Teshya workshop, I spend the rest of my afternoon wandering around the stalls of the Artisen's Market. I took a few more pictures of textiles that I liked--patterns that often incorporated vibrant reds, pinks and blues--and then walked back towards the center of town to eat dinner.
After spending a couple hours resting, I walked to Frida's, a nearby bar that Andy, Mere and I had considered going to on our first night in Antigua, before we decided to go to sleep early instead. The British/American duo A Different Thread had been hanging out outside the bar the night before and told us that they would be performing the following night, so I decided to go. The band met while busking in Ireland and play "British-Americana" folk music.
I woke up early the next morning and took a chicken bus to Santa Catarina Barahona. I got off at the last stop, at the center of town right in front of the village church. Dona Lidia, my teacher for the weekend, and her oldest daughter, who was headed into town, met me at the bus stop. Dona Lidia showed me the way to her house... up a steep hill, off a side street and through her husband's workshop to her lush house surrounded by green foliage.
When I arrived, I saw a few skeins of thread had been set out on a ledge. Dona Lidia taught me how to spin the skeins into balls of thread for weaving, using a small wooden spinning wheel. We each made a few balls of the colors I wanted to use and then set to work creating the weaving's warp (the vertical strings on a weaving).
I knew that it might be a little difficult for us to communicate because I only know a little bit of Spanish and she only knows a little bit of English. I wanted her to know that I am also an artist and that I wanted to use my paintings as inspiration for my weaving. I showed her some pictures of my artwork and some pictures of the textiles I had seen the day before. She seemed to understand what I wanted to do and showed me how to begin wrapping the threads around the wooden prongs and how to count the number of threads and switch colors.
I decided to base the design of my weaving on one of the sample weavings that she had brought out for me to look at, but quickly started to improvise. From the pictures I showed her and my excitement at all of the different thread colors, Dona Lidia realized how much I love color and encouraged me to change thread colors as often as I wanted to, instead of feeling like I had to stick to the traditional pattern. I took notes as I wrapped the threads around the wooden spokes, counting the number of threads of each color before switching to different color.
After several hours, we had created the warp, transferred it to the loom and began weaving the first 20 rows of the weaving. Around lunch time, I packed up my things and Dona Lidia walked me to the bus stop. On the way home, I noticed the fabric woven into the braid of the woman sitting in front of me. It reminded me how my dad use to braid my hair as a little girl when he worked from home.
On the second day of my one-on-one workshop, Dona Lidia and I got right to work, using thinner threads to create the weft of the weaving. At the bottom of the weaving, I created three bands of color similar to the traditional design I was basing my weaving off of, but decided to use a different color for each stripe. Then, Dona Lidia taught me how to use an "aha" (pick stick) to count threads and create colorful "puntas." We worked from a loose sketch I created in my sketchbook, but mostly I improvised which colors I wanted to use next and where I wanted to weave them.
In the middle of the weaving, I decided to create a zig-zag pattern (based on a design I had seen on one of the huipils at Nim Po't). Dona Lidia showed me how to count the threads to create the design and I began creating the zig-zag pattern. Unfortunately, we began running out of time, so Dona Lidia asked if I wanted help and offered to weave most of the zig-zag pattern to speed up the process. Nearing lunch time, she asked me if I wanted to come back the next day to finish the weaving, but I told her I couldn't because I was leaving to go back to the U.S. the next day!
She could tell how much I wanted to finish my weaving before I left, so she offered to let me come with her to the city work. We walked down the hill and rode a tuktuk to a small bus that took us to the city, and then walked several blocks to a courtyard, just a few minutes away from the hostel where I was staying!
Dona Lidia told me that she rents space in the courtyard to make and sell her weavings and that she has been doing this for several years. Her daughter and sister were also there when we arrived. Dona Lidia helped me set up the loom in the courtyard and I continued to work.
Once I finished weaving, she asked what I wanted to do with the ends of the threads. I showed her that I wanted to braid the ends, as a reminder of the beautiful textiles I had seen braided into the hair of the woman on the bus the day before.
Dona Lidia was so generous with her time and I learned so much from her in just two short days! If you are ever in Guatemala and want to learn to weave, I definitely recommend booking a lesson with her though Art Workshops in Guatemala.
As my travels came to an end, I decided to walk the streets of the city once more and try finding street food. I had found this blog post of vegetarian dishes to try in Antigua and was intrigued by the noodle tostadas mentioned at the food market. For about a dollar, they were worth trying!
I work up early on my last morning in Guatemala to catch a 7:30am bus to Guatemala City and I planned to visit the textile museum before I left. The hostel helped me book a car service that dropped me off at another hostel close to the museum.
I got to Guatemala city around 9:30am and walked about 10 minutes to the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena. When I got to the museum, there were a few school groups that were also visiting that day. I watched a video that explained the history of Guatemalan weaving--first in Spanish (with the student group) and then in English. I got the gist of the video when i watched it the first time, but was grateful to be able to also watch it in English and get the full meaning of the information.
The museum presented a detailed explanation of different parts of the weaving process, how the dyes and threads are made, and what some of the different designs represent.
I am so grateful for my time in Guatemala and the opportunities I had to learn more about the weaving process. I had a wonderful trip and am already trying to figure out a when I can return!
When I visited Philly in August, I learned about the work of Jane Irish at Locks Gallery. I immediately fell in love with her work--her subject matter, exaggerated color, and alla prima brush strokes--all of it resonated with me. Then, I was eating lunch later and saw a PAFA brochure with her work on the cover. I read that she was offering a continuing education course in November and I knew I had to sign up.
I arrived in Philly on Friday evening, after a one hour delay in Boston. We flew through some heavy turbulence and I was surprised we hadn't been delayed longer. When we touched down, I immediately look a Lyft to Blick to pick up a few last-minute supplies before the store closed. I brought most of my supplies with me, but didn't buy oil paint because I didn't think I would be able to bring it on my carry on. I bought a small palette of oil paint and a small jar of mineral spirits at Blick and then headed to meet my friend (and host for the weekend), Laura, at her apartment. View the full list of suggested course materials here.
I got to Laura's apartment, dropped off my things, and then we went to get dinner. Laura took me to La Calaca Feliz. We ordered an plate of the cauliflower tacos and a side of guacamole. The tacos were so delicious that we decided to order a second plate of them! I know Laura from the Boston Critique Group and Gallery263, so it was great to have dinner and catch up with her.
On Saturday, I woke up early. PAFA is about a half-hour walk from where I was staying. I packed up my supplies and walked to the studio, stopping at Whole Foods on the way to buy an acai smoothie bowl from their smoothie bar. It was a beautiful magenta color and tasted delicious--the perfect breakfast for a day of painting.
On the first day of the workshop, we met in PAFA's newer building. There were twelve people in the workshop, and we all went around and introduced ourselves. Then Jane introduced herself and showed us images of her work and travels, including her experience working with vets in New Jersey and traveling abroad to paint in Vietnam, Europe and New Orleans.
Then Jane passed out the syllabus, describing the course as a "process-oriented course dedicated to a sense of touch in painting." After the introductions, we started painting. The room was set up with various reference images taped around the room, a still life of fabric and ceramic objects and a "kinetic" still-life of scarfs and ribbon with a fan in the middle that blew them around.
Each of us set up in front of one of the images or still-lives and began painting. The focus as we painted was on the touch of our mark. After 30 minutes of painting, we switched to a new station.
When I started painting, I decided to work on smaller canvases to "warm up" and because I knew I had to roll all of my paintings up at the end of the workshop in order to bring them back with me. The first paintings I made were with oil paint on canvas pad.
Jane brought a roll of Tyvec with her for us to try painting on. Before class, she primed it with 2-3 layers of Golden gesso. I loved workin on the smooth surface.
I alternated between working on bigger and working smaller. I made several smaller studies that were immediate reactions to things I was looking at, like the stripped sweater and nail polish of one of my classmates.
Jane also set up a tub where we could experiment with dripping, spraying and layering shellac ink.
In the evening, I joined my friend Laura at Tyler for a studio visit. It was great to see how her work has evolved over the past few years and to talk about life, art, and other things for a few hours.
On the second day of the workshop, we met in PAFA's cast hall, in one of the rooms of the older part of the school. It was like stepping back in time. There were several rooms of cast figures to draw from.
We began by painting two models, posed in front of a cast of Laocoon and His Sons. After an hour and a half of painting (with breaks for the models), the models got up and began to dance slowly around the room of sculptures. It was an challenge to paint them while they moved!
In the afternoon we worked in the larger cast hall. Jane did a demonstration of how she typically starts a painting and then we had a few hours to paint the space.
The workshop ended at 5pm, and I booked it to the Institute of Contemporary Art at Pennsylvania University to see Ree Morton's show.
In the evening, I had a chance to visit my friends Allison and Matthew to celebrate Allison's birthday.
On Monday, I slept in a bit and then went to visit Eastern State Penitentiary. It was amazing to walk though the old building and learn about the history of the prison and it's impacts on our current prison system. I was surprised to learn that the prison had a series of artworks installed in some of the cells.
Before I left Philly, I had lunch at one of my favorite Philly restaurants, Mama’s Vegetarian, with my friend Tyler.
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