Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bruce Metcalf pokes the bear ( the art/craft debate)

I am pretty tired of the old "Art vs Craft" debate. After lots of churning it around in my brain, and listening to how others work the issue out, I came to a  definition that works for me.
Art is the idea, craft is how it is made.  There, done. Years have gone by without giving the question another thought.

Then along came an article in the June/July 2014 issue of American Craft by Bruce Metcalf. He opens his article with this statement : "Craftsmenship often doesn't matter in the contemporary art world. It should"

Major flashbacks to my grad school days when I was chasing after an MFA. Beauty and craft were rather discouraged, even in my field of fiber. I was often told my work should be more raw. More visceral. The focus was on concept - which is OK, but as Metcalf points out; "The art world has scrupulously avoided stressing the necessity of clear ideas. Critics give artists a pass. Bad ideas are everywhere." I would go so far as to say that unclear ideas were encouraged. A concept too easily discerned was seen as not interesting enough.

While I find his four points of what makes good art thought provoking, I am working in exact opposition to that on my current series of tapestries.
His last of the 4 points; " The last component is exercising control over composition". Nope, I am not doing that. Not right now.

I will keep this article to read again, and probably again. It makes me think about art/craft a little bit differently. I see value in the way I am working now, because it is what I need to do. Art making is ultimately about the maker. The deal I made at the beginning of this commitment was that I cared about the making as an exercise, and I would relinquish control over the outcome.

Here is the latest progress.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A good day for Krokbragd

I mailed a rug off to my daughter Kristin for her birthday last week. Yesterday she called to say how much she loves it.
I made it for her because she said she wanted one. That ploy usually works pretty well on me - try it sometime! She wanted one because she saw the one I made for her sister and her boyfriend, (who happens to be of scandinavian descent), and I felt their new apartment needed some colorful rugs. I am told the cats love to play slip and slide on the rug.

While trying to research this weave structure, I didn't find much. I am sure there is loads of information out there. I just didn't find it. My best information was a paragraph in Peter Collingwood's Rug Book.  So, I proposed an article to Handwoven Magazine based on using Krokbradg for it's potential for designing on the fly.  I am thrilled to say, that article has hit the stands.
You can find a copy here:Interweave Store

I was really happy to figure out how to execute Krokbragd on the rigid heddle loom - using 2  5 dent heddles, you can make a very sturdy rug, by repeating the 3 basic shots, and playing with color combinations.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love, Support, Hammering and Hanging

These are just a few of the benefits I have enjoyed as a member of the Grove Gallery and Studios.

Recently I have been taking a look back at work I did many years ago - as part of the process of finding and feeding the artist in me.  Around this time, a small room became available - temporarily - at Grove Gallery. This seemed to be an opportunity to show some of my older work, in a new way.

Hence - an installation mashup of "The Great Felt Lakes" and Sutra/Suture.

The Great Felt Lakes, made of white industrial felt, is a fairly accurate, hand cut profile of the great lakes. It has always been shown on the floor, along with an invitation to write a memory of times spent at a spot on a Michigan Beach, or port, or a boat, and pin this memory to the location on the big felt map. These lakes have traveled extensively around the country, and I have hundreds of written memories.

Sutra/Suture is the stencil of the 15' piece of felt that the lakes were from.  A warp was hand sewn back in - very laborious stitching (hence suture). Plastic produce bags were collected from local Grocery stores, sliced into strips and woven into the warped lakes. It is meant to be a meditation on the impact our daily lifestyle has on the health of our larger environment. The word Sutra here means " a thread or line that holds things together".

Because of the size of the room, this is the most intimate showing of these pieces yet to happen. The lakes literally clim the walls. Sutra/Suture hangs like a curtain.

My best hope for this showing is that it will draw in many people who want to celebrate their own experience of our great State and our Great Lakes with a memory to share. It is up now at Grove Gallery, but for an undetermined amount of time.

325A Grove Street
East Lansing, MI 48823

I recommend calling before visiting. The gallery will be open longer hours this weekend for the East Lansing Art Festival