Monday, April 29, 2013

Beading Extravaganza--Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has a section of African artifacts that I find SO appealing. I am always amazed at the exquisite workmanship of the artisans. During this visit, my main focus was on the beadwork on display. I do a bit of beadwork on my own fiber pieces, so I have a real appreciation for the time-consuming work involved in these pieces. I love to use pieces like these as inspiration for some of the fiber pieces I make. I am really drawn to the bold colors, geometric shapes, and exquisite detail in these pieces. Maybe you will find some inspiration for some new pieces yourself!

This first piece is a woman's shoulder garment from the Dinka people from Sudan. It is made of glass beads, cowrie shells, and metal wire and is very lacy and delicate.

This chief's hat--Pende people, Democratic Republic of Congo--(made of fiber and glass beads) would be worn for important public appearances, rituals, and ceremonies. Among the Kuba and the Pende, finely made hats embellished with valuable materials, like imported glass beads, are important prestige possessions for royal titleholders. I love the bright colors and geometric shapes on this piece.

I was just fascinated with the beaded hats made by the African artisans. Below, you will see hats/crowns made by the Yoruba people from Nigeria. Royal rulers wear distinct crowns for different rituals and public occasions, but the most important and sacred one is the cone-like crown known as the "great crown." While wearing this crown, the ruler is so powerful that his or her face must be veiled to protect other people.

I love the shape of this "crown."
The eyes on this "crown" protrude from the piece.
The way the figures "jump" from the background of this "crown" make it truly unique.

Now, this piece is FABULOUS. The detail in the face and birds is AMAZING. I'd love to examine these pieces more closely to see the base upon which these beaded pieces are built.

The last piece I'll show you today is also from the Yoruba people. It is referred to at the exhibit as a pillow, but it looks more like what we would call a small ottoman. It is made of cloth, glass beads and leather.

I have some more pictures I'd like to share--some beaded pieces and more. I'll be posting those in the next few days. If you'd like to see them, check back.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mola Exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

I have been writing about my recent trip to the IMA. What a wonderful place! There is a Mola Exhibit--Kuna Needle Arts from the San Blas Islands in Panama. The Kuna (or Guna) Indians are the indigenous people who live on small coral islands in the San Blas Archipelago along the Atlantic coast of Panama and Colombia. This is a small exhibit, but it is definitely worth a look. I took some pictures, but keep in mind that the colors are way more brilliant than what shows up in the pictures.

Mola, which originally meant bird plumage, is the Kuna Indian word for clothing, specifically blouse. The word mola has come to mean the elaborate embroidered panels that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman's traditional blouse.

Molas are handmade using reverse appliqué. Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-colored cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting away parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then turned under and sewn down. Often, the stitches are nearly invisible. This is achieved by using a thread color that matches the layer being sewn, using a blind stitch to sew down the turned under edge, and sewing with very tiny stitches. The finest molas have extremely fine stitching and may take three to five weeks (or more) to complete.

If you get a chance, check these out in person. In the meantime, enjoy these photos. (Take a close look at the stitching on these molas. On most computers, you can click on the picture to get a larger version. If you are using an iPad, you can usually expand the picture using the "pinch and release" method.)

The fish are pretty obvious, but I think these big figures look like bats. What do you think?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

More from IQF, Cincinnati, 2013

This is my last post on the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati. Again, I have to say that I thought that the quality of quilts was up from previous years. Here are a few more quilts that caught my attention.

The first picture is of a quilt made by Heather Pregger called Tuning Fork #6. The quilt is machine pieced and machine quilted. She says, "I love the tuning fork motif--I love to enlarge it, reduce it, skew it, interlock it. This is the sixth quilt in the series." I'm really attracted to the colors in this quilt.
Close up below.
In my latest work, I have been using black, white, and red. I guess that is one of the reasons I was attracted to this quilt called Black and White 1 by Eti David. It was in the Hands All Around 2012 exhibit sponsored by Quilter's Newsletter. Eti says, "Our world is full of opposites: cold/warm, long/short, good/bad and so on. In my quilt, the opposites are represented by the colors black and white. But, there is a hint of red--it's the hope of a calmer life and fewer extreme opposites."

I am interested in learning how to do paper lamination, so maybe that is why I was so attracted to the quilt below. I felt like this was a very effective use of that technique. The quilt is called Rost and was made by Claudia Helmer. She says, "In summer 2009, I visited a former ironworks which is now an industrial museum in Hattingen, Germany. I was fascinated by the rusty parts of the building and took a lot of photographs. This piece is a reminiscence on the importance of coal, black gold which brought great prosperity to the Ruhr area in the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, the industry had declined bringing the whole area down with it. The richness and the variety of the former industrial buildings are now treasures for inspiration, memory and art."

Close up.
I have a series of quilts using bias strips, so I had to take a picture of this quilt. I love how the maker has used stripes in this piece. The quilt is called At Sunset-At Sunrise by Gabrielle Paquin. She says, "I particularly like stripes and any striped system. So, I use striped fabrics for creating quilts. For that, I play in creating new striped designs, sometimes in abstract domain, sometimes in stylized figurative domain."
Of course, when I go to Cincinnati the trip just wouldn't be complete without a trip to IKEA! This is what the back of our vehicle looked like when we left Cincinnati.

I am now the proud owner of an Expedite bookshelf. It is still in boxes on the floor of my studio--not sure when I'll have time to get the thing put together.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

IQF--Cincinnati, 2013 (The Berne House Quilt)

In a previous post I mentioned my favorite quilt from the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati. There were lots of fiber pieces I loved; here are a few more.

I love quilts that require a closer look. Every time I looked at The Berne House Quilt I saw something different. I don't generally like house or barn quilts, but this one was spectacular (and it was HUGE). The quilt below was made by the members of the Bernese Quilters for an exhibition in Berne, Switzerland. One hundred fifty-six different blocks were made separately and then put together. One member took it upon herself to replicate the famous clock tower, a well known landmark of the city of Berne, which can be seen in the lower middle of the quilt. The quilt was pieced and quilted by machine.

Here are a couple of close up shots. I love the "quirkiness" of these houses.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

If you have the chance to get up to Indianapolis to see the exhibit, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, by all means go. Ai Wei Wei is considered by some to be the "world's most famous living artist," so it is quite a coup for the Indianapolis Museum of Art to have this exhibit. It is the first "full-scale American retrospective of his work," and Indianapolis is the furthest point west to which the show will travel before heading to Toronto, Miami, and New York.

If you read many fiber art/art blogs, you may have come across Kathy Loomis's blog, Art with a Needle. She mentioned Ai Weiwei's work here. If you check out that blog post, you will see Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds (100 million hand painted porcelain seeds). At the Indianapolis exhibit, He Xie is a similar exhibit. He xie literally means "river crab," but it is also a homophone for the word meaning "harmonious," which is used by in the Chinese Communist Party slogan "the realization of a harmonious society." It is made up of 3,200 porcelain hand painted crabs.

I spoke to one of the guys "guarding" the exhibit and told him about Kathy mentioning the Sunflower Seed exhibit. I found his comment to be pretty funny. He said, "Yeah, they got sunflower seeds; we got crabs!"

The most touching part of the exhibit for me was the "Wenchuan Steel Rebar (Straight)" and the "Names of the Student Earthquake Victims found by the Citizens Investigation" exhibit. The description at the exhibit says, "In Straight, Ai Weiwei used rebar recovered from the rubble of collapsed schoolhouses in Sichuan following the 2008 earthquake. The artist staightened each section of mangled rebar through a laborious process that required the assistance of many. The work serves as a reminder of the repercussions of the earthquake and expresses the artist's concern over society's ability to start afresh "almost as if nothing had happened." The orderly arrangement of rebar evokes a Minimalist artistic aesthetic, but the large divide in the piece is reminiscent of both a ground fissure and of a gulf between values. It is a massive, physical work, designed to remind the viewer of the individuals in danger of being forgotten."

On the wall in the same room as the rebar is a giant spreadsheet of names and ages covering an entire wall of the IMA gallery, along with a looped recording of Ai reading those names. According to Nuvo, April 3-10, 2013, Vol. 24, Issue 03 Issue #1099, IMA Curator of Contemporary Art Sarah Green says, "From an American audience it might be difficult to conceive of how wanting to make a list of those who died would be controversial, but it's all in context of the fact that many schoolhouses crumbled while other building did not, and it is likely that shoddy government construction led to many more deaths than were necessary. And the government wasn't interested in a) accounting for those lives that were lost or b) inquiring into why so many school buildings collapsed. The mere act of gathering these names was very political, and very soon after he published the list was when the government shut his blog down in 2009." Weiwei's take on the names is shown below.
If I remember correctly, there are over 5,000 names of Chinese school children on this list, and it takes over three hours to read all the names.
This is just a very small portion of the exhibit. If you go, be sure to watch the video available within the exhibit. Also, be sure to read each explanation listed by the pieces of art--I think you'll be touched by the power of each piece. The exhibit runs through July 21, 2013. There are some additional activities at the museum in accordance with this exhibit--May 16-18: Screenings of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a 2012 documentary about the artist; June 5, 6 pm, ACLU of Indiana First Wednesday discussion of freedom of expression and art as dissent; June 27, 7 pm, Screening of Ai Weiwei's Fairytale, a 2007 documentary directed by Ai chronicling his project for a European art event, Documenta 12, for which he invited 1,001 Chinese citizens to talk about their lives and dreams for the future.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cincinnati Quilt Show--My Favorite

I had the opportunity to go to the International Quilt Festival held April 11-13, 2013, at Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. I was really impressed with the quality of the quilts at the show this year. 2011 Quilt National quilts, several SAQA exhibits, and various other specialized exhibits were on display. Most of the SAQA exhibits did not allow picture taking, so you will not see pictures of them here.

My favorite quilt at the show was this one called Dreamtime made by Antonia Hering from Hoorn, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands.

The quilt did win First Place for Innovative Appliqué. It is hand appliquéd, hand embroidered, and hand quilted. Antonia says, "This quilt is based on my love for the country of Australia. It is telling a dreamtime Aboriginal story and the legend of the three sisters in the blue mountains. I was amazed by the colors Australia has."

I have to tell you...this quilt is fabulous. I am a lover of hand work, and this quilt did not disappoint. I know you can't tell from the overall picture, but almost all of the "dots" on this quilt are pieces of fabric that have the raw edges turned under and are hand appliquéd to the quilt. I thought, when I first viewed this quilt, the "dots" were part of fabric used for the background...but NO! To illustrate the sheer magnitude of hand work on this quilt, check out the closeup below.

If you zoom in on this kangaroo, check out the little circles on the top of the back. Six of the little circles on the left are beads along with three little circles on the right. The rest of those TINY circles are pieces of fabric with the edges turned under and have been hand appliquéd to the quilt! There is hand quilting surrounding all the circles along with hand quilting within some of the circles. By the way, the quilting is beautiful. Here are a couple of other closeups of the quilt. Enjoy...

I have a few other pictures from the show that I'll be sharing later. Stay tuned.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Art Walking

I got a new pair of Sketcher Go Walk shoes about a week ago. They were really plain; actually, they looked like a blank canvas to me. I just couldn't resist. I got out my black Pentel Gell Roller pen for Fabric and went to work. Here is what I came up with...

I like them lots better now; they have a little personality.