Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 1: The Set-up


It's slowly getting there!!

It is finally here!!  I can't believe it!  It is exciting to finally see all the work Lorraine Glessner (Lori) and I have been building in the same space!  In the past blogs I have focused on how I was preparing for the show, not knowing what Lori had in store.  She and I have had dual exhibitions together and I was confident that our work would compliment each other.  While my work is narrative and Lori's is abstract, both require the viewer to explore the work for their own truth.

This week's blog is going to focus on Lori's amazing, fantabulous encaustic paintings. According to Lori, she uses "satellite-imaging software to study how the grid organizes, divides, connects and interlaces life.  The graphic patterns of community borders, urban grids, suburban development clusters and sinuous superhighways create amazing graphic patterns that inspire" her work.  

Lori continues, "Yet, as sprawl continues to scourge, cut and form the earth’s surface, working with, as well as against its natural tendencies, it leaves a strikingly beautiful as well as horrifying mark."  As a viewer one can easily get lost in these opposing forces, finding beauty in the erosion and a softness in the harshest marks.  


Lori creates a sensuous depth through patterns and layers of encaustic with hair, silk and cotton fabric, beeswax, fire, rust and plant staining.  All these elements "speak to and embody life and life cycles."  Although one can feel as though they are sinking into another world, Lori's patterns and grids help to keep one grounded and prevent the viewer from being engulfed in an organic abstraction.

It is difficult for pictures to adequately convey the lusciousness of Lori's encaustic work.  I have tried to take some close-ups to help, but you have to see them in person to really appreciate the visual and conceptual depth.  You will have the opportunity to do just that starting this Saturday at the opening of Shadow Circus.  I invite you to dive in!  The water's fine! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week Two: Images of What's to Come

All the work is packed into boxes and will begin to make the transition out of the studio and on display. Some will go to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta, GA this week (to see the pieces available at the museum  go to Signature Contemporary Craft).  Other pieces will be shipped in the next week to River Gallery in Chattanooga, TN.  

Until then, here is a sneak peek of what is coming:

Exotic Blooms
Standard Bearer

Line of Sight

Life's Potential


Eye of the Wind


I'll Take the Blows
Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week Three: Thank You to a Mentor

"Maestro's Touch"
"Play with Consequences"

Now it is the waiting period.  I have done all I can creating this new body of work and now it is time to wait to deliver to the museum, wait for the opening, wait for the response. Waiting is driving me crazy!!  While I was building and working in the studio I felt in control. I made the decisions on how to move forward and push my work and develop my skills.  But now I have to release control and let the chips fall where they may, and that is not an easy thing to do for someone that is goal oriented and, well, a bit of a control freak.

But during this time I want to thank someone who made this opportunity possible.  No, this is not an awards speech in which I list everyone who I have worked with through this project, although I am grateful for what everyone has done including my family. (Yes, that was my awards shout out.)  Instead I want to focus on one person who has been instrumental in my growth as an artist.  I am extremely blessed to have the support of Carr McCuiston at the Signature Contemporary Craft Gallery in Atlanta. Carr has been a coach and mentor to me from the beginning of my career and I am so lucky to have the encouragement from someone so respected and knowledgable in contemporary craft.  I know I am not alone in stating that Carr strives to bring out the best in every artist she represents and that is a rare quality.

It is because of Carr's relationship and recommendation to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art that the Shadow Circus exhibition is a reality.  It is a precious opportunity not only because it has challenged my work conceptually and technically, but has also allowed me to develop my narratives beyond the boundaries within which I was working.  Thank you Carr for all you work and support!!

And if you haven't yet been to Signature Contemporary Craft Gallery, it is well worth a trip to see all the outstanding artists she represents.  I am so very honored to be among them.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Week 4: Coming Full Circle

Life's Potential, close-up
 My blog and my collection have come full circle.  The first blog I posted about the new collection was Week 18: The Slow Burn (May 28th) and it was this very piece, now entitled Life's Potential.  In that blog I discussed the conceptual process that went into this piece before and while I was building it.  Now, three months later I am happy to say it is finally finished.  The torsos sit on a antique french bottle dryer on a stand I welded.  Each candle was individually made (no molds were used) and after the pieces were fired, both the candles and torso were treated with encaustic to create a deep wax finish.  All of the globes were painted and also treated with wax.

The torsos are tied to each other with a harness brace (made of clay) I modeled after an antique back brace I have in the studio, indicating they are two halves of a whole. Also, each figure has vintage millinery feathers on her head.  I have used these feathers often in this collection not only to serve the purpose of a headdress, but also to reference the human need we have to possess what we can't have.

Life's Potential

The building/assembly time for Shadow Circus is just about come to a close, which is both exhilarating and frightening.  Everything I have worked on for the past year and a half is before me.  Now it is time to send the pieces off into the world (specifically, to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta, GA and The River Gallery in Chattanooga, TN).  I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish both technically and conceptually and feel so blessed that I am able to share my work with others.

And I just want to give out a huge shout out to the wonderful artist who photographs my work, David Gulisano.  He has endured the onslaught of ceramic figures I have brought into his studio and patiently waited as I painstakingly put together each piece...and then asked for alternate shots.  Thank you Dave! You make my work look great!! (Of course, all of these are from my husband's iPhone and clearly not from Dave's!)

The master himself, Dave!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Week 5: Patron Guideposts: Defining our Lives

In my Week 14 blog I talked about exploring human traits that we all possess and how we deal with them defines who we are and our journey through life.

Interestingly, during the exploration of light and shadow I have found myself focusing on the themes that may characterize our life, such as ambition, secrecy, balance, grace, etc. .... Rather than examine the ideas through the context of a story, I have instead found myself creating individual characters that embody and symbolize these themes, but in a way that identifies the benefits and pitfalls inherent in each.  I see these figures as internal guides that we can reach out to as needed.

Through this exploration culminated in a series entitled "Patron Guideposts."  Similar to the role Patron Saints played in my childhood, these figures symbolize ideas or themes that we face in our daily lives and serve as references for the path we choose to follow. 

For example, "Secrecy" identifies the chains that can possibly intwine us as we practice deception, however the threads on the chain symbolize the secret wishes and desires that we release in ritual ways (blowing out candles, tossing coins in a fountain, etc.) just like little prayers. 


 "Balance" is a big one for me.  I think a full life comes from finding balance between opposing aspects of our lives and a little humor at the seriousness of our own drama never hurts.

"Dreams" are something that shape us from a young age.  Our dreams can be big or small and can be fulfilled or fade into the landscape of our life's journey.  For them we may take the arrows of opposition  but our dreams remain with us.

You can see these Patron Guideposts at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art starting September 28th through December 15th.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 6: Assembly Work

Let the magic begin!

These past weeks I have transitioned from clay building to the assembly part of my building process.  This is the most rewarding and chaotic aspect of my work.  Rewarding, because I finally am able to bring the narrative to life and hopefully in a way that exceeds what I had envisioned.  In fact, sometimes I get so excited to see it come to life that I have to remind myself to slow down and make sure each piece is as polished and seamless as possible.
The assembly process is chaotic because my studio gets torn apart as I look for the right hardward, ephemera, prop or platform necessary for the story of each piece.  While I keep my studio organized as much as possible there are hundreds of drawers, boxes and jars that I have to search through to find the perfect fit.  At the same time I am trying to take full advantage of all of my mixed media techniques from construction and welding to felting, sewing and encaustic.

So my studio becomes a little like a war zone, followed by brief periods of clean-up and more explosions. 

Do you remember this piece I posted in Week 12: Images of What's To Come?  Well, this piece I knew would we on the horse platform, but all the other mixed media was left to decide during the assembly process (although I did have a few ideas in mind).

After the piece was fired, I started to assemble all the different elements to build the narrative.

 I had to construct how the skull and figure were going to be secured to the victorian horse piece and how the horse was going to be secured to the stand.  Since all of this is vintage mixed media nothing is never a quick fix and requires a lot of problem solving to ensure the piece is level and secure.  

I then decided to add create ribbons similar to award ribbons to either side of the horse using ribbon and vintage buttons.  I then noticed that this gallant warhorse also needed a tail.  Luckily I had some beautiful vintage millinery feathers that did the trick. 

 I then waxed the horse to bring out the patina of the wood and the spots of remaining original paint. 

The last flourish was a flag because every voyager needs a banner to symbolize their origins and intent.  The construction of this flag involved a heat gun to synthetic material, rusting, hand stitching and beadwork.  

Now she is ready for her close-up!  Photography next week!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weeks 7 and 8: The Slow Reveal

Yes, I am cheating for more time.  I vowed to write each week about my process leading up to the Marietta/Cobb Museum Show, but I just couldn't get it done last week.  I apologize, but in my defense I have been consumed by all the mixed media work.  I think I might have been lost for a few days under a pile of epoxy, sawdust and varnish.

As I start the assembly process I am challenging myself to take this portion of my work to the next level as well.  My studio looks like a bomb hit it as I pull out different objects and try different techniques.

I will follow up with more images of the assembly process next week.  But, in the meantime, to make up for my lost blog I would like to share some images of the new work coming out of the studio.


"The Appeal"