Fiber Sculpture

4 x 4: Midwest Invitational

I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed by how long it has taken me to write this post despite how awesome this show has been and how great the people at the Springfield Art Museum are. Now that the show is over (and life has calmed down a bit) I can write about how fun this was.

The 4 x 4: Midwest Invitational is an annual show at Springfield Art Museum that features an artist from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. I am tickled pink to have been included in this show along side the amazing talents of Shawn Bitters, Jason Cytacki, and Dawn Holder. It was amazing how our works played off each other to create this vision of chaos and post apocalyptic regeneration. Maybe it is a sign of our times? Something in the zeitgeist? Because we certainly didn’t consult each other about what we were making.

I split myself between three installations and three wall pieces. All of them used textiles or fiber techniques in some way. I did get a little mix media and unconventional materials in places. Not unsurprisingly it was really hard to photograph some of the fabrics.

I could take you through every piece but writing is not my strong suit. Needless to say if you see something brightly colored and vaguely planty (except for that neon hanging tree, that’s Dawn’s) it’s mine.

 The Stalks

The Stalks

The Stalks began with finding a rug hooking tool at Meals on Wheels and becoming obsessed with rug hooking car upholstery. I just love the shiny flatness with loops of yarn sticking out. From there it was a downward spiral into pouring concrete bases and spray painting dryer hose. Half the fun of the opening was talking about my work with people and having them ask if such and such really was :insert random hardware supply: They do a lot of museum tours with schools and getting to walk inside The Stalks was a real hit with the kids.

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One of my favorite photos. Wouldn’t it be cool if one of them grew up to make weird art because of this show?!

Up Coming:

I have two pieces at The Box Gallery in Kansas City right now until January 24th. The show is Ekphrasis, an amazing experiment that brings visual artists and poets together and has them riff on each other. There will be a book launch party next week so stay tuned to Instagram for details @MadMegh I was paired with writer, speaker and Food Sleuth radio host Melinda Hemmelgarn. She doesn’t mince words about the important issues of our times and she has an interesting verbal translation of my soft sculpture, “Handsy”.

And if I can’t get myself together for a post in December - I will have work at Missouri Valley College the month of January and February with more details to come.

Dimensional Cloth

I'm in a book! Dimension Cloth came out at the end of June and you can now order it on Amazon. How cool is that?

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The book is gorgeous and is a compendium of extremely talented artists taking fabric into the third dimension. I am really honored to be included among people I have been following on Pinterest and Instagram for years. There are also several artists' works I haven't seen before which, I might add, are stunning. All the creativity featured in this book has given me so many more ideas for my work. 

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It's definitely no coincidence that a piece of my work is featured in the table of contents under space. In one way or another, all of my works are about space from carving out space or enclosing it. Moral, the piece here in the table of contents, was the piece I showed at the Missouri State Fair last year. The curator of the Springfield Art Museum saw it, contacted me for a studio visit, and now I'm going to be showing in the 4 x 4 show at the museum later next month. It's beautiful the way things intersect.

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It is just so neat thinking of myself in a book that you could find in a library on a rainy day somewhere far away. This whole process was started a couple of years ago. Part of me wishes that my current work was in the book, but that's learning and growing as an artist. The work you are doing now is the most interesting or innovative.

Upcoming Dates:

I'll be an Artist in Resident at the Missouri State Fair August 9-13th. I'll be installing a huge fabric installation from the ceiling on the second floor of the fine arts building.

Weaving the River will be at InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park from August to September for their big artist symposium on diversity. The opening reception will be August 17th from 5-8pm.

Opening reception for 4x4 at the Springfield Art Museum on August 24th, 5:30-7pm.

Farm Report:

We are in full tilt here. Chinese long beans, cucumbers and tomatoes coming off the vine in bushels. Blackberry jam has been canned and we are just about to can peaches this weekend. I'm thinking of both peach chutney and peach butter to fill the pantry this year.

Fondle Friendly

Fondle Friendly is a grande experiment. An entire body of work that can be touched, picked up and moved around. Touching the art in a gallery setting is so taboo. "Do Not Touch" is preached to us from childhood. But touch is key to how we interact with the world and it can be an important way to experience art. As a fiber artist, the feel of fabric and string is my favorite way to experience my work. It's the interplay in textures that sets textile art apart. I'm extending that pleasure to my audience and encouraging  interaction through arrangement. The components are modeled after vintage medical illustrations because the familiarity of the human body inspires a caress.

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It all started with a flesh colored velvet shirt that I cut up to make nipples. Those nipples turned into a ball of faux fur and vinyl. Something repulsive and intriguing, familiar yet strange.

Fondle Friendly

@Kansas City Artists Coalition

Snap Space

May 11th-June 1st.

Find me at the reception Friday, May 11th at 6pm.

Spooky Action at a Distance

As a quick update I have been in Wyoming since the beginning of January for my show with Maria Rose Wimmer called "Spooky Action at a Distance". The installation at Casper College lasted two full days and spans two galleries and an atrium. I couldn't be more delighted with the work and how it looks in the spaces.

My knees were bruised from kneeling in a glass box installing my interpretation of particles in space. I climbed an eighteen foot ladder for five hours to hang all the strings for the graphing installation. Who knew art would be such great exercise? It's like the installation process adds a performative aspect to the work. There are hyper-lapse videos to edit.

Our reception is on February 23rd at 12pm with the artist lecture at 12:30pm. We'll explain all our inspirations and the fun we had researching quantum entanglement. Albert Einstein, who came up the theory, called it "Spooky Action", hence the title of the show. I am also teaching a soft sculpture workshop at Casper College on February 21st from 2-4pm. The workshop is designed for hand sewers. Fear not those without a sewing machine!

In the mean time, I am the first artist in residence at Art 321, the gallery run by the Casper Artist Guild. The space is gorgeous and there are always interesting classes going on. They are really kind letting me use a table and an outlet for my sewing machine. My parents got a puppy making fiber art and concentration impossible. Spot is an alligator in puppy clothes! You can find me there most days of the week working on some crazy new sculptures and installation pieces for my upcoming shows. More details to come.

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I am also teaching workshops or giving lectures about ikebana. I have a workshop at the Nicolaysen Art Museum today. I am teaching down in Cheyenne at the Cheyenne Botanical Garden on February 18th in their new building. I am thrilled to bring a love of plants and Japanese culture to Wyoming.

Eating: Kiwano Mellon, a spiky orange fruit from sub-Saharan Africa. It is so odd looking and tasty. Do you think I could grow it?

Drinking: Wyoming has stepped up it's beer game since I've left. There are three bars within a block of the studio. I'm trying all the kinds, especially if they are on tap! Beer can be a good afternoon snack right?

Reading: Refridgerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente - It's the stories of the women behind the superheros. It feels like Marvel fan fiction but smartly done. And there are pretty pictures.

Coffee

My work is installed at the Old Drum Coffee House and Bakery. There is an arrangement of my soft sculptures in the front window and all of my pieces from the 30in30 challenge on the wall. The studio looks so clean. Make sure to stop by during Burg Fest this weekend.

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I'm selling bags made from vintage kimonos and a koginzashi wall hanging at the Creative Hand Show and Sale this year. This has always been a great show with some wonderful hand made craft and art items for sale. Mark it on your calendars for your holiday shopping this year!

Reading: The Artist's Guide: How to make a Living Doing What You Love by Jackie Battenfield

Listening to: The Trend Forecast on 99% Invisible. So amazing!

Cooking: tabbouleh and chorizo stuffed acorn squash. So amazing and delicious! 

A Good Challenge

September is in full swing. Bea is back in school and I have survived my first week of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. I really do mean survived. 

 My wall of designs completed.

My wall of designs completed.

Going into the challenge I had a lot of grand ideas about the quality of work that I would be producing. An hour and a half or two hours is a drop in bucket in the world of embroidery. Which is really all the extra time that I might have on a given day. But stitching is just so slow that I'm almost not able to finish well thought out pieces. The works are just going to be ideas for material combinations and forms. However, I'm still sticking to ideas about quantum entanglement, which is manifesting as a bunch of circles. Who doesn't like circles?

Creating on consistently the spot is another challenging factor in this endeavor. There's a lot of pressure to get something out that is at least semi-formed. Granted all the pressure is coming from myself, and I'm working a day in advance to have some wiggle room, but I'm learning to always be thinking of combinations and ideas throughout the day in order to lessen the planning phase. I've also lowered my standards. You can't make a master piece every day. But I'm learning how to mentally put myself in a creative place at the drop of a hat which is important.

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This weekend we got out for a little end of season fire works at Powell Gardens and some plain old medieval fun at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. I love the Ren Fair and swear every year that next year I will come in costume and then it always sneaks up on me again. There's nothing better than all the costumes, both terrible and epic. This year we actually got to see jousting. We also visited all our favorites from last year, like the fairy houses, the merman, the juggling booth, the wooden spinning ride powered by shirtless teenagers, the washing wenches....ah those washing wenches. 

BurgFest is happening on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th in Warrensburg. My work will be installed in the windows of the Old Drum Coffee House; I might even have the progression of my works from the 30 in 30 challenge displayed even though the challenge won't be complete until the end of September. So if you make it to the 'Burg this weekend stop in and see some fiber art.

Reading: The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant - I'm learning so much and will re-pot my lovelies soon. Now what to do with the plants that have mealy bugs and spider mites?

Listening to: The Myths and Legends Podcast. A Chinese Cinderella whose mother is reincarnated as a yellow cow that can puke up parallel straw. What's not to love? 

Cooking: We can't get through this second wave of tomatoes fast enough, so I made sauce.  

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Rain

I am invited to participate in critique night at Plug Projects in Kansas City next week which is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Critique is so important, especially from people in the art world who have the background knowledge and vocabulary to talk about your work in a meaningful way. I've been searching for a solid critiques since college because I feel it's an important part of the growth process as an artist.

I have this idea. This direction that I've been working towards for a while. It is what I'm looking for a critique on at Plug Projects. I would like my fiber sculptures to be arrangements like ikebana arrangements are arrangements. Each flower is it's own distinct object and has it's own beauty but you put many of these flowers together in different ways to form arrangements in a certain space. The idea is to create many small sculptures of different types that you can arrange in a space. I've also been thinking about the performative aspect of the arrangement and the changeability of the arrangement. Wouldn't it be fun to rearrange the sculptures every week or so for the time they are up? Or have the audience arrange them?

There's a lot of room for play. We took these photos this weekend playing with different arrangements of the mini fiber sculptures that I already have.

I'm not really sure what to expect from critique. Praise would be nice but doesn't always help you grow. More ideas to expand on would be excellent. "Go home, this is a waste of your and our time" would be devastating. Apathy is a death sentence. What if my work isn't engaging beyond it's pretty and made of crazy materials? The anticipation is excruciating.

Mural Progress:

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Those mushroom clouds sure are a pain in the butt. We got a ton of help this week, including an active duty member to watch all the kiddos. Thank you! But the sky is slowly coming together and next will be the tricky part of mixing all the colors for vehicles and bombs.

We had a good solid rain for a couple of weeks and I've decided to take on another project for the blog. In case I didn't have enough sections. So let me introduce....dun, dun, dun,.....Playground Mycology or Fungus Among Us.

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A little background on this. There's a playground across the road that is covered with some very old wood chips that grows the most spectacular fungi through the season. I've decided to chronicle these fungi in a quest for inspiration and knowledge. If you know what they are leave me a comment.

Upcoming Stuff:

My work and I will be at Critique night at the Plug Projects in Kansas City on May 26th from 6-8pm. So nervous, so excited!

My next ikebana class will be June 4th from 10-12pm @ Powell Gardens. Register at least two weeks a head.

Farm Report: Cold weather and incessant rain means that most of my indigo seedlings and my cucumbers have white leaves. Too much sun? cold? It's not downy mildew. I really can't grow indigo. The good news is that everything else is flourishing and I don't have to step outside and water things in the morning.

Anyone have ideas on fashionable attire for watering your plants first thing in the morning? My bathrobe is a bit to heavy weight, stained and embarrassing.

Reading: American Housewife by Helen Ellis, I really wish that my experience as an American housewife fit the picture on the cover. The stories really make me laugh and think about how terrible people are. Like all good comedy, terrible people doing terrible things and the chaos that ensues.

Listening to: My daughter sing at her end of year preschool recital. I still can't believe that she's done with her first year of preschool! All the things she's learned this year!

Eating: My lovely talented chef of a husband made smoked salmon chowder. I've been eating it for every meal since. Sooo tasty! We've also been having fun looking through the Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients and reading about ingredients we've only seen on TV.