Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Out and About

Tuvan Throat Singers Performing at Chandler

Five weeks after the opening of my show at Chandler (one week left to see it), I find I am checking off some things on my to-do list (fun things like doing my part of the taxes), and getting out in the world again (as much as icy roads permit). So last week Mark and I joined an almost full house to hear The Tuvan Throat Singers perform at Chandler. Sitting up in the balcony, we had front row seats of the stage, and squirming masses of school children seated below. I had never heard of Tuva, but their singing relates to sounds I have heard from Tibetan monks in Nepal and India. They make a sound that resonates through the space and literally shakes you to the core.

Addison Gallery, top left
American History Museum, rest of images

Last Thursday we actually took a road trip, to the Andover/Lowell area of Massachusetts. The Addison Gallery of the Phillips Academy is showing Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, on view through February 27th. And the American Textile History Museum is showing the American Tapestry Biennial 8, which is up through May 1. The last time Mark and I visited that museum it was located in Andover, so that is many years ago. It has gone through changes, but still has some wonderful examples of 19th century textile history on display. The sample book and indigo chunks, and the way the carding machine was painted and distressed were my favorites.

Hicks is one of the grandmothers of the fiber art movement (Zeisler, Tawney and Hicks) and I have known their works since the late '60s. I wouldn't say I am directly in any of their lineages, but anyone doing textile-related work today owes them a debt. Though Hicks' installations in the show seem a bit tired, I kept thinking that young installation artists today, if they knew her work, would be so excited by it. She really was exploring material studies before anyone was using that term. Taking the simplest element, the thread, she makes massive work dealing with compression and release, the individual and community, ground to heaven. The bulk of the exhibition are small studies which she has done since the late fifties. An image of her thesis show at Yale, showing paintings and woven work really exemplifies her spirit of adventure; her understanding that an artist has no boundaries if the exploration is authentic.

Of course I loved the fact that I knew many of the artists showing in the Tapestry Biennial. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but there is a good catalog that is available through the American Tapestry Alliance, and Janet Austin has pasted good images of the show on her facebook page. I always enjoy Jennifer Sargent's work, and her piece in the show was really wonderful. The open work and delicate yarns give her work a distinct presence. I have seen glossy reproductions of Michael Rohde's work that always are attractive--but they don't give a sense of the scale of his work, or the beautiful soft shading of colors that make up the whole, giving every part of the work its own nuance of character. I recently met Suzanne Pretty, who came with her husband to my talk at Chandler two weeks ago, and was pleased to see her prize winning tapestry at the entrance of the show. It is quite an honor to win first prize among so many excellent weavings.

Beth Couglan, from Chicago, visiting my exhibition

Another week, another visitor. I have just loved the stream of friends who have made it to Randolph to see my new series, Continuum. Beth is a world traveller and could have her own version of Nomad. She is also a wonderful weaver, so it was wonderful to see her enjoyment of my work. We also made an outing to King Arthur Flour to check out their new line of gluten-free products. It was a crowded morning and everyone was friendly, offering each other advice, clearly a group of foodies. I bought some white bowls to make individual pot pies--and we have been eating turkey pot pie all week.

Warp Painted with Earthues Natural Dye Extracts

I let my warp, painted with Earthues natural dye extracts, air dry for about two weeks and then steamed it. Here is the warp pre-steamed. I will show it to you again in a few weeks--after I let it air dry again and wash it. Eventually it will get on my TC-1 loom. As I check off some neglected projects I can see myself getting closer to the loom again, and the excitement is mounting.

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