Friday, February 17, 2017

being Grateful for what we have

The last few days here at the residency have been hard. I am not going to get into the details of all the things that should be different here, because it is just not worth my time and energy to try to fix what can't be fixed. The unfairness of the situation has gotten me down and I find it difficult to be at a residency where you have to wait to do your work until you get home because things feel so crammed and there is no privacy... Instead, I am going to try to focus on the good things about being here...

My roommates are wonderful people and I feel fortunate that we could all talk last night the way we did. Christine has gone home for a couple of days which will make working in the Mill space feel much lighter and open. There is laundry in our apartment. Lily is going to teach me about silkscreening this afternoon. I am going to give Lily the fabric we made last night as a present and she, with her fantastic fashion sense, is going to rock that scarf wearing it in this cold weather.

I went to a fantastic yoga class this morning. I decided to go back to my rituals and routines from home, even if it is just for the morning... A morning yoga class at 9:30. This place was not in walking distance like the other place, but it was only a short drive. Housed in another old mill that used to manufacture fabrics, there is a lovely studio with huge windows that look out towards the tress covered in layers of snow. The teacher was great and I loved how she said to "Breath in softness and breath out fullness." It was a hatha class, so they moved slow and gentle, but still got some good stuff in there. It was much like Heather's class at VSC. I felt great after each of them. She did a lot of opening the front line and working with the midback and shoulders upon my request and others. I feel much lighter now. However, it was not only the class and the beautiful space, it was also the people. Many of them regulars to that studio and that class at that time. After class people were smiling and friendly and it felt very different form the other place I have been to twice that is right in town. The community felt more like what I am used to at home. You can just feel the difference and it was very nice. A woman, I think her name was Grisella talked to me on the way out, she told me which classes she liked best and why and that yoga changed her life. She said she began going to yoga when she was 40 and it changed everything. I certainly understood what she meant. Not going to yoga as regularly as I do at home was starting to build. I feel less grounded, more emotional, and things build up more, feeling like problems when I haven't been to yoga. I could feel my emotions rising up while in savasana, but did not want to just let it out the way I might have at home in a studio I am used to with a teacher that knows me. Talking to Grisella in the parking lot I was beginning to feel emotional again. I cried driving home. Yoga does change your entire outlook on life, yoga does change everything. I need to go there more often. Maybe it will help make all the things that feel hard just a little bit easier.

I am grateful for yoga. I am grateful for my husband who has checked in already today and I miss him. He helps me the best way he can when I feel like this. Everything can not be positive and happy all the time, but I will do my best to remain open and generous and to be grateful for all that I have.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Nana on her wedding day

Valentine's Day, February 14, 2000 was Nana's funeral. I refused to look into the open casket wanting to hold onto my memories of her in her living room, cozy in her chair, knitting and watching TV. We grew up in a duplex with her living on one side of the house and while we lived on the other. The cellar stairs worked as our passage way over to her side, especially when mom said no the ice cream at the end of a meal. Nana always came through with some maple walnut.

The blanket Nana knit for me as a wedding present

I especially missed her on July 25, 2015 when I got married. She knit a white blanket for me and told me that I could have it when I got married. Since it took me quite some time to get married, not long after she passed, my mom offered me that blanket. I told her to hold onto it until I got married as Nana intended. She would joke with me that that day may never come while the blanket remained in the basement closet. That July, I took the blanket. It was one way to have Nana with us.

On our wedding day

Seventeen years later on Valentine's Day I find myself weaving pieces of her wedding gown together  with part of my own wedding gown into a new fabric. This has been my main project while here at the Mass MoCA artist residency. As I prepared the big loom for weaving, her dress was looming in the background...

It took me a few days to prepare the large floor loom here at the Maker's Mill and another day before I was ready to cut the dress. I started by removing the sleeves. After the first couple of cuts it got easier...

Nana's dress and my dress

Pieces ready for weaving

A detail of the woven fabric

Nana had always been supportive of my art making. She let me use her extra room upstairs as my studio. It was a place to play music, make things and store the work I had been doing in college. Although she was never fond of the figure studies. She would turn all the paintings and drawing of nude models around each time she went in the room. She was the person who supplied me with my first studio to work in. All these years later, she is still supporting me. Love you Nana.

In memory of Catherine Champy, born on September 20, 1911 and died on February 10, 2000.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Vermont Studio Center (The Second Half)

Now that all the November residents have had some time to celebrate Thanksgiving (hope it went well for everyone...) and readjust to being back at home, I'd like to reflect on the second half and completion of the residency.

For me the second half of the residency began after having some time away from the Studio Center while my husband came to visit. I can back refreshed and ready to work. I returned to campus that Sunday just in time for my meeting with Ernesto Pujol. It was a nice meeting, but one of the things that resonates with me now is when he told me ... you are skilled enough, you have the intellect, and you are social enough, now do it.... Another thing we had spoken about was that the political is social practice. I have been walking along a safe edge for quite some time when it comes to this. Something has been holding me back. "Sometimes we need to listen to how this feels and sometimes we need to get over it and just do it, only you will know..." I getting closer to taking the leap.

The morning after the election, it was a sad one... devastating... The idea of possibly embracing the political in my work, for good reason, is what got me out of be that morning. I have written about the Collective Scream in a blog post before this and would encourage you to read that post if you want more information about the Scream project that happened on November 9th. Here is a photo of the piece in the gallery where it was made.

No one thought this was going to happen
No one thought this was going to happen
some people say he is not so bad
No one thought
No one thought this was going to happen
Something will be done

No one thought this was going to happen
No one thought this was going to happen
some people say he is not so bad
No one thought
No one thought this was going to happen
Something will be done

Friday I needed to do my laundry and since embedding the stories told while creating fabric has been an interest of mine, I decided to bring my loom to the laundry mat with me...

The last couple times I had been at the laundry mat we had encountered people with interesting stories to share. For example, the man we will refer to as Rusty Johnson recited poetry for us from have have been a poem about a friend of his from prison killing his wife and not remembering any of it, but it was pretty good. He also wanted to sing to us, "What the world need now is love sweet love..." Another time, I met a woman who told me all about her landlord and how she was not taking care of the things she should. This went on for quite some time, and I listened and encouraged her to find another apartment.

However, now that I had the loom in the laundry mat, the stories were not so dramatic... I met a mom and her daughter who were very nice and the daughter chose all the pink flannel piece she could find to add into the fabric I was making. There were some college students there, who just looked at me funny and went off to the other side of the room. The owner was there and she told me about how her family used to make rag rugs. I wove that day for the duration of a wash and dry cycle using flannel strips that I got from my friends down the road at the Vermont Flannel Company.

Being on the same laundry cycle, the mother and daughter returned to the laundry mat. The little girl was much less shy this time and enjoyed running her hands up and down the newly woven textured cloth.


Here's the finished piece from the experience described above...

The next day my friend Dayna came to visit. I was happy to share the work I had been doing with someone who has known my work for a longer duration of time. I was also pleased when Dayna participated in the Orange Hat Project.


The next meeting I had was with the still life painter, Susan Walp. She sensed that I was less engaged in some of the more painterly work that I had started and more connected to my work with social practice and the blanket inspired piece that I had been working on. I told her how that piece was very important to me right now as I am going through this transitional time. She said that it felt celebratory, it feels like music and it has movement and rhythm. This was fitting and interesting especially how some of the inspiration for this work came out of seeing Stanley Whitney's work at the Harlem Museum last year around this time...

 A painting by Stanley Whitney. I just love these!

We spoke about possible ways of attaching the 16 pieces that I had created together and that maybe leaving them unattached would be best...

a view of my studio

My next meeting was with Tom Butter ( By then I had completed all the squares and was trying out options for attaching them. I had also completed the Orange Hat Project (which I also wrote a blog prior to this one about if you want more information about the project). I had told him that when I took teaching out of the mix, then that would  open up some space for social practice. He agreed and said that it was working.

The Orange Hat Project

 I shared the pieces that I was painting at home in comparison to the work I have been doing here. He said said that the paintings from home looked muddled and unsure. I fully agree with him! He looked at the work I have been doing here over the last month and said, "Your work is evidence that this place works." I could not agree more.

After playing around with different ways of possibly attaching these pieces, I decided to leave them unattached. It seems to work so much better and I have given the piece the title Dispersion.

That final morning,  I had one last stop to make on my way out of VT.... With my car bursting at the seams, expertly packed with stuff, I needed to stop at the Vermont Flannel Company and share with my new friends, Mallory and Robert, some of the work their fabrics inspired me to make, especially the scarf that I had made the afternoon before...

 Mallory really liked the piece and brought me upstairs to meet the sewers. It was cool to be up there and able to see how the clothing and blankets downstairs in the store are made. The ladies also responded positively to may woven fabric. Then they showed me all the tiny little scraps they were going to throw away and instead, they gave them to me! Perfect. I had been cutting the pieces down anyway. Now it was just a matter of fitting the bags in the car! Mallory had been so helpful and liked the scarf so much, that I gave it to her, a perfect exchange...

There were two pieces that needed to stay in VT... and two from the same warp... the scarf with Mallory and the ridiculously colorful weaving I had made with the students at Johnson Elementary School. Something tells me that I will be back and that this is just the beginning of what can be done collaboratively between these two places....

The Vermont Flannel Company

Robert and Mallory

Made by the students at Johnson Elementary School on November 17th, 2016.

I drove home feeling filled up with all the good stuff, my car was packed, but so was I...

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Orange Hat Project

A detail of the community weaving

Inspired by the tour I took when I first arrived here almost a month ago, we were warned that it was hunting season and that we should wear bright orange while walking through the woods for our own safety.... the Orange Hat Project began....and now it is complete.

Thank you to all the residents here at the Vermont Studio Center that took the time to participate in this exchange. I love how the project have evolved from orange hats to scarfs, mittens, shirts, pants, etc... 33 people participated in this project and created the community weaving pictured below.

Thank you. This project would not have been a success without all of you... Stay safe everyone!

1. Cathy

2. Daphne
3. Anne
4. Sebastian
5. Virgina
6. Melissa
7. Dara
8. Lesley

9. Sabrina
10. Fran
11. Claudette
12. Madelyne
13. Heather
14. Laura
15. Arnie
16. Kristyn
17. George
18. Keke
19. Kara
20. Andrey
21. Krista
22. Dayna
23. Heather
24. Mike
25. Marie
26. Beth
27. Paola
28. Beijing Charlie
29. Megan
30. Soren
31. Katherine
32. Ken
33. Christi