Thursday, April 30, 2015

Text/textile/tapestry

The words text and textile have the same origin.



Tapestry is created from the most simple structure of textile - plain weave. Weaving tapestry is by nature a slow and contemplative process.

Because it takes so long, and the materials are precious, most of the time a tapestry is well planned out by the artist before any weaving takes place. Traditionally, a tapestry has been guided by a close cartoon to a painting. In many cases the weaver and the artist (creator of the image) were different people. In contemporary practice, it is now more common for the artist and weaver to be one and the same. And it is also more likely than it used to be for the image to be born rather than planned.

I am very pleased to present a series of tapestries documenting the last 18 months of my life, as I experienced many concurrent transitions. The use of tapestry suits me as the slowness allows for unexpected images to come forth. My intent was to let my fingers and the wool do all the talking.
That worked well for me - allowing me to process visually things I didn't even know were on my mind. My one rule - don't think too much.

Now that I have completed that exercise, I am considering moving toward larger, more intentional tapestries. That thought alone causes me to block up a little bit! For inspiration I have been looking at the work of Erin M. Riley, whose works can be seen at americantapestryalliance.org.
 Erin's work is also a series, and is often referred to as tapestry selfies. I love the juxtaposition of old and new technology and slow art vs instant gratification. I also find her work to be both brave and challenging.

My voice is different from Erin's. I feel I am still finding it. The improvisational series has helped me to find it and refine it. The next challenge will be to warp again - quickly, and not lose momentum.

Please join me if you can at Grove Gallery in downtown East Lansing for a reception on Sunday May 3. But if you can't make it - the show will be there until June 20.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feblahary.

It can be a little harder to stay motivated in February. It is in fact one of my favorite months - containing several birthdays to celebrate, Valentines Day and at least one long weekend.

There is so much to look forward to - I find it hard to push ahead with the tasks at hand. I am currently working on my solo show at Grove Gallery.

The show will be called Journal Entries. It will consist of a tapestry series documenting a year plus one half of transition.
The opening reception will be on Sunday May 3, and there will be a talk back session on Wednesday May 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. You can come ask me questions about my process, technique or the series. 

At the same time I am working on an order for The Little  Gallery on Mackinaw Island.  I am making as many large shawls and coil baskets as I can. This pushes me to work, every day, on schedule. I find that this helps feed my creativity. It certainly stimulates production. 



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fiber in East Lansing

Yes Sir, There are three Fiber Shows in East Lansing, and all three are a must-see.

Scene Metro Space is hosting "Beyond Material". This traveling exhibit is a conceptual look at the history of fiber art and textiles in terms of art and craft. In other words, the pieces use traditional techniques, in a new and sometimes twisted way to comment of the field of fiber arts. Kind of loopy!

I really enjoyed my first visit to this show. As a fiber artist, it was like seeing old pals - sewing, weaving, knotting and embroidery are all there - and taken to an artful level. I will return another day to take it in and enjoy.

Grove Gallery  - Thread songs by Sharan Egan and Candy Farmer, a wonderful treat for a very snowy day. The opening reception is TODAY. I know it is Super Bowl Sunday.  I know we are in the middle of an overblown blizzard. Go early. You will be so happy to be surrounded by vibrant color, expert construction and thought enhancing art work. It will make your day. If you go today you can talk to the artists about their techniques and their inspirations. And you can enjoy a tasty treat, and a bit of beverage.

Then, you should head next door  Woven Art to see Jessy Gregg's wall quilts. Jessy's wall quilts are very large, and multidimensional. And very beautiful. Jessy takes a different approach to the concept of layering.


Since you are already out - head up to Old Town to Barb Hranilovich's "Red Dress" show at Katalyst Gallery. I haven't seen this exhibit yet - but hope to today. This has been Barb's focus for the last few months - and is based on the concept of a Woman's interaction with her red dress - a statement on how we see and how we present ourselves to the world.

Take my advice. Go see art today. You will be so glad you braved the snow and the snack seekers on their last minute trip to the grocery store. Your soul will be fed, and your balance restored, making you ready for that half time show, and all the commercials.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Creative Coiling

I like to think the ability to wrap flexible materials around less flexible materials - such as long grasses around young tree branches- presented an early turning point in the civilization of human kind. The ability to make baskets led to the ability to carry food. The ability to carry food to those other people could have been the beginning of early community. All you anthropologists out there are welcome to jump in.

The act of wrapping waxed linen around a stable core is deeply satisfying, and I believe it harks back to deeply embedded memory.
I am teaching two coiling workshops at Grove Gallery. The first one is January 14, and will introduce techniques on beginning a round coil basket. The second workshop is January 21. This one will take a look at more advanced techniques, including added color and texture. You are not required to take the first class in order to take the second - but you might get more out of the second class if you have some experience with beginning a coil.

Materials are included in the price. If you are interested you can sign up at
www.grovegalleryandstudios.com Look under the tab "workshops"

If you have any questions about this workshop please e-mail me: nmcray@mac.com


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Art is Pointless

art is pointless
as pointless as a daisy in a field of green
backed up by a clear blue sky

as pointless as a freshly washed kitchen floor

Suffering from a prolonged bought of "what's the use", this message woke me in the middle of the night, and was there again to greet me in the morning.

pointlessness plus our inexplicable need for art and beauty is the source of power.
Creation beyond reason.


Monday, November 3, 2014

The Squirrels are right! Time to stock up.

For the last several months most of my art practice has been focused on experimentation and development of classes. I have learned a lot, and I have taught a lot, and it has been good. 
It is now "that time of year". You know - Fall, with all its new energy. And stockpiling. Savoring every last bit of sunshine and color. We know. We know what is coming. Months of cold and gray. Wisely we break up the long dark months with celebrations. Festivals of light and food and glittery gifts. 

In the spirit of all this I have been stockpiling too. Warm and cozy scarves, and tiny waxed linen coiled baskets. 
 This bounty of goodies will be at Grove Gallery starting this week for our annual Holiday Art show. We host a couple dozen fabulous guest artists, in addition to our regular membership. Some artists, like myself, focus on making fun and affordable gift worthy items.
Please come! Pick up a coiled "Evil Eye" to protect your loved ones - or a handwoven wool (but not scratchy!) scarf to warm a neck. The preview opening is Friday, November 7, but the show is on until the end of December.

Grove Gallery and Studios
325A Grove St
East Lansing, MI 48823

Grovegallerycoop.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wedgies!

I am out of my studio this week. I am up at the lake, preparing to remove one house from our property so that we can build another one. This exercise is occupying much of my time, energy and brain.

However, I still get time each day to do a bit of art work.
This tiny  bit of wedge weave is inspired by meeting Connie Lippert at the MLH workshops a couple of weeks ago. Let me tell you - this is addictive. I photographed this outside, because it reminds me of irises.  However, I think this would also make a good wedge weave composition:
This was taken at the end of my dock, and might give you a clue about why I have decided to live here. 

I am going to reluctantly admit that Summer is winding down. There are five more days that I  consider to be SUMMER. I have lots of teaching fun lined up for this Fall - which in my mind starts in September, right after Labor Day. 

If you are interested in knowing my teaching schedule, please click on the link above. Next up is "Shibori loves Indigo" with Shanna Robinson at NCMC.  On Saturday, September 13 we will weave some fabric with a resist pattern woven right in. Sunday morning will be all about pulling those resists, and dunking it into the indigo pot. Thrilling! I might have to have something ready for that pot.  If you would like to come learn and play with Shanna and I call North Central Corporate and Continuing Education at 231-348-6705 to register.”
The cost to participate is $90. I ask that you arrive with your loom warped with undyed natural fibers. 

Then, right after that is the great Fiber to Fabric Weekend at Interlochen.  Grab a friend and join us for this early Fall Fiber retreat in northern Michigan.  

Just before the Interlochen weekend I will be installing "The Great Felt Lakes" at Grapids Irrigation for Art Prize.  If you come to art prize this year, please try to visit my installation, and leave me a note so that I will know you were there! 

A change of season usually instills in me a new energy - and I am glad for that, because, this Fall,  I think I am gonna need it!