I spent all morning packing things here in our condo, so I'm taking a break for myself for a while. As I noted in my last post, I had finished the machine work for my Threads of Resistance entry. I am happy to say that I got it all finished over the weekend and yesterday I submitted it to the jury. It's always a nerve-wracking thing to put your work out there for judging. It's like applying to college. There are so many factors that influence whether your piece is accepted--it isn't just how well done the piece is. So I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I won't hold my breath.
Here's my entry:
I titled it Word Power. I keep struggling with the axiom "Actions Speak Louder than Words" these days. I see so many instances of words thrown out there causing chaos and often real harm. I worry that words are being used too carelessly without consideration of their very real impact; that words do not deserve the same consideration as actions. But my heart cries out that saying something is an action in and of itself.
Those thoughts were on my mind when I stitched in the following (after taking the photograph).
Words are important and my aspiration is for my words to bring people together, not tear them apart.
This is the view from my desk as I sit down to write this.
What a mess! Though it is not really as chaotic as it looks, getting all this packed up and ready to go to Virginia is a daunting task. We finished cleaning out our house in Maine on Monday so the rest of this week is for studio cleaning and packing. Next week it's our condo.
We've got takers already for almost all the furniture we are not taking so that's a huge relief. Still have 6 portable display walls available. (Seen in the top right corner of the picture above.) They are each 4 feet wide and about 6.5 feet tall - in very good condition. We did not buy the feet for them, so they need to be connected together at an angle to stand alone. We have the hardware for that. Email Ann@FriendsFabricArt.com if you want them or know someone who might. We are asking $25 per panel. Original cost was $130 each.
Yesterday I took time to work on my Threads of Resistance piece - adding the edge binding and constructing the sleeve for the back. I needed the sewing machine for that, so I had to get it done now so I could pack up my machine. That's done so I'll proceed to the rest of this stuff today.
Putting one foot in front of the other...Ann
Coloring and drawing seems to be the manageable way to squeeze some creativity into my life at the moment. My "Threads of Resistance" piece has been untouched for a while. Since it isn't a toddler friendly art project, I haven't figured out an easy way to make the project easy to pull out and work on and then easily put it away out of toddler reach. It's too big and has the hanger pointy bits.
Mom and I have been cleaning out the Western Avenue Art Studio so I am sorting through lots of art supplies to decide what to do with them and where to put them. It's fun to think of projects to do with the art supplies, but it's a daunting and time consuming task.
This health care coloring sheet is about insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Their have been proposals to replace the current arrangement created by the Affordable Care Act with High Risk Pools. High Risk Pools are very expensive. State run high risk pools that are already operating have all experienced significant financial losses. See the Kaiser Family Foundation's report: "High Risk Pools for the Uninsurable Individuals" by Karen Pollitz.
In the coloring sheet I'm attempting to show how finances get balanced or not to people getting the health insurance coverage based on the different models of insurance. The people are supposed to be holding something like gold bullion bars.
Below is Tyler's and my attempt at coloring the drawing. Colored pencils or markers would definitely have been easier than crayons. The people are too tiny. Tyler enjoyed coloring it so much that he colored the original drawing, this copy of it, and my planning sketches.
I just discovered that this post I wrote last week never actually got posted. Here it is now:
Getting ready for this big move has been taking up a huge percentage of my time lately. Last week it was the beginning of the clean-out process for our house in Maine. We had to chip away a couple of inches of ice to get access to the crawl space underneath, but we got the water turned on again and the house heated up. The movers will come this Wednesday to remove the things we're taking with us. Then we hope to get everything cleaned up for it to hit the market at the end of the week. We've got our fingers crossed that by then the weather will have warmed up enough for people to start thinking how nice it would be to have a house on the lake this summer.
Though most of my time has been spent on move-related things, I am still managing to carve out a little time for my art. I've been concentrating on my submission for the Threads of Resistance show--stitching on it while watching TV at the end of the day.
I've noticed again with this one, that each piece really takes on a life of it's own. I don't always know where it will go when I start. I think I explained before that this work started with four panels of words recycled from a piece I did in response to Trump's call for a border wall. The four panels represented:
When I did the Trump wall piece, it was really the negativity of that idea that loomed for me and came through in the piece. But I am an eternal optimist, always tending to a positive outlook, and it is coming though again in this work.
Saturday night we hosted a farewell dinner party for three other couples that we have known for almost ten years. We were all among the original condo owners at the Boott Mill and we've gotten together for dinner numerous times since those early days. As always it was great to get together to catch up on the latest happenings in everyone's busy lives. It is kind of amazing how weeks can sometimes go by without seeing each other, even though one couple lives right next door.
My next-door-neighbor was eager to share with everyone that she'd recently attended a conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse. She had been selected to represent our district by Senator Eileen Donoghue. She then proceeded to tell us that the second day was held in a beautifully redecorated conference room with display cases containing artwork--including one of my Free Lace Scarves. She was so surprised.
My scarf is there on the middle shelf on the left-hand side. It is great to see it there in such good company and so nicely displayed. The other great news was that that day my friend Joan was wearing one of the two jackets I have made for her. Not only did she tell people that her jacket was made by the same artist as the scarf, she had her picture taken with Senator Donoghue right by the case and she shared it with me.
Isn't that a great picture. Thank you Joan and Senator Donoghue.
As a someone with a day job in health care data analysis, I've been closely following what's been going on with plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare. You may have heard the phrase the heath care system is "broken." The ACA was basically a series of band aids. If you've taken a health economics course, you'd learn that many health economists (including my dad, Dr. A. James Lee) would argue that traditional market forces do not work in health care. Why? One reason is the health care providers control both the supply and demand. There are many others. "The Incidental Economist" notes a few, if you want further reading: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/health-insurance-market-failures-and-what-can-be-done-about-them/
So where am I going with this...bringing it back to art (sort of), I'd been playing with the idea of doing coloring sheets to go along with the adult coloring book craze instead of just coloring in coloring books with Tyler. Here's my coloring sheet for "Health Care System Craziness" for all you health care policy wonks out there who are anxious to break out the crayons, markers, and colored pencils:
In pondering all of this, what I've come to is that since a single payer system is politically not feasible in the United States at this point in time, what we could do is at least try to simplify the system. Can we please set one set of standards that everyone follows for health care data format, cost and utilization reporting, and quality measure reporting at a minimum? I suppose it's too politically unfeasible to ask that insurer and provider contracting also be standardized since it's proprietary and confidential. Seeing all the variations that impact a physician through a physician group or accountable care organization is headache inducing. It's a wonder there are any primary care physicians left. Many would like the government to step back from intervening, but what if the government could act as the coordinator and impose some universal standards for all insurers public and private instead of just for Medicare and Medicaid?
Off my health care soapbox for now. More art next time. My toddler son, Tyler was sick last weekend and then he shared his bug with me probably by insisting that I eat one of his raisins. So not much art has been happening lately... In retrospect I realized of course that I should have refused the raisin and endured having him upset with me for not eating it.
I think I'm finally starting to get somewhere with my "Threads of Resistance" artwork though. I actually committed to a background fabric.
Today is my first day back in the studio after a house-hunting trip to Virginia. I am happy to report that we found almost exactly what we were looking for in a house - including a fabulous studio space for me.
My mind is spinning about how I will organize it and make it my own. It give me new motivation for the clean-up/pack-up process, daunting as that is.
I titled this post "Keeping an Open Mind" because this house was not even on our list of homes we wanted to see when we went down there. My husband had done a great deal of on-line searching and based on that this house was way down on our list. But we learned that pictures can only convey so much. It turned out that the house we'd all-but-decided-on from the pictures, was actually a dump--in need of much more work than we were up for. But to our surprise, we just fell in love with this one.
That theme of an Open Mind applies to so much for me these days. I keep thinking of that related to my piece for Threads of Resistance and in my personal life. When my husband first mentioned that we should move away from Lowell to a place with a lower cost of living, every fiber in me screamed NO. I've really grown to love Lowell over the years that we've lived here and couldn't imagine leaving. Slowly, slowly though I came to realize that reducing expenses at this stage in our lives made sense. Once I allowed myself to entertain the idea of moving, I realized that new doors and opportunities would open up if I let them.
Happily, with just a little work, I was able to identify a new art connection as well as a new house this weekend. It all happened because I asked for directions. We stopped in a traditional art gallery in downtown Williamsburg to look around and get a sense of the art scene. I got chatting with the owner, and asked her how to find another gallery that I'd seen listed. I thought it was just up the street - the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center. It turned out that the gallery had moved and was temporarily closed. But as luck would have it, the President of the Board of the WCAC was working the desk of the gallery we were in. To make a long story short, she and I really hit it off and it seems like a good fit for me. I just have to decide how quickly I want to get involved and begin showing my work there. (Did you hear my big sigh of relief!!)
So at this point, even though it is still overwhelming to think about all that needs to be done to get from here to there, it is reassuring to know that we've put some stakes in the ground down there. I am glad to know exactly where we will live. And I am pleased to know that I will go there with some art connections already in place. Meanwhile, I'll keep packing and cleaning...
Mom and I appear to be on the same wavelength today thinking about writing blog posts. I've had a mostly Toddler time kind of day since we had a snow day at work. Apparently 'S's are harder to say that other letters. 'nowy Day is how Tyler says "Snowy Day" which is one of his current favorite books. It's been a fun and relaxing day during today's 'nowy day. We've read, colored, danced, painted, built Lego towers, and played trains. I even baked a cheddar and apple bread from a recipe in my new baking book by Paul Hollywood who I enjoy watching on "The British Baking Show." It was fun having to weigh ingredients since the book isn't revised for an American audience. The bread has lots of cheese in it which sort of melts into the bread. Yum. (or 'umm in toddler speak)
Adventures in Painting with A Toddler
Key things to remember are Preparation, Patience and Paying Attention. Do NOT attempt painting with a toddler, if you will be heartbroken, if something in the painting area gets stained with paint.
Other things to keep in mind:
Tired now. So much for planning to work on my other art project…
Staying inside where it's warm and dry while a blizzard roars outside. Hoping the forecast for nice weather tomorrow holds so that we can make our house-hunting trip as planned. We've already had one flight cancelled on us. I hope this one will go.
Sonja, your comments on the layout for my Threads of Resistance artwork were helpful. Here's what I ended up with for the final layout.
I tweaked option 2 a little and now I like it even better. Presenting this as a cacophony of words is probably most appropriate both in terms of my feelings and what is going on today. I felt confident enough of this layout that I found a backing fabric and flannel for backing and machine-stitched everything together. I have just stitched around the outsides of the panels for now.
I am thinking that I will add hand-stitched words scattered about to stabilize the layers and make sure things don't sag. It will also help me deal with the thoughts and feelings that continue bubbling up. Every day something new seems to keep pop up that I need to process somehow.
PS - I used one of my African-motif batiks as the backing fabric for this. It seemed apropos to use an imported fabric for this...
As to your piece - the question about putting a sheer over the tree-motif gave me a crazy idea. You might try that one sheer from our stash that I showed you:
My thought is that it would help to convey the idea of tangled layers. The question is whether it would obscure the background too much. You'd have to try it to see. The other one with the intertwined circles might obscure the background less, but wouldn't convey quite the same idea. I could bring them the next time I see you if you like.
For now, it's time for tea and another chapter of my book...
When Mom/Ann told me about Threads of Resistance, I was reminded of a quote I read when I was writing a paper on the Supreme Court Roe versus Wade trial for my Health Management Masters course, Law and Ethics. The quote was from an earlier case in the Southern District of New York suit referred to as Abramowizc versus Lefkowitz. The disturbing imagery that this quote invokes for me has stuck with me:
"Women of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your coat hangers."
Coat hangers were and could be again a traditional tool for self abortion.
Quote was from page 110 of the book "Roe v. Wade" by Hull and Hoffer. I didn't write down who said it or if the writers even knew. Apparently there is another version about the quote referring to women losing their vaccumes...
In response to the Threads of Resistance call for art I started to create a piece of art inspired by this quote. I created this sort of star shape with coat hangers and now I'm deciding on a background. I was going to make the coat hanger part end up like a spiders web to capture the sense of being trapped that I'd imagine someone wanting an abortion might feel. Raising a child is such a huge undertaking that I can't imagine anyone going into it that doesn't want to. Another quote from writing the paper stuck with me as well. This one was about having a child and was from Sarah Weddington who argued in the Supreme Court case:
"It disrupts her body, it disrupts her education, it disrupts her employment, and it disrupts her entire family life."
Having a two year old, Tyler, I can relate to this quote. The disruption may be a mix of positive, negative, or neutral depending on the day. An emergency C-section is definitely a body and mind disruption that I would not wish on any woman. I'd never been that scared before for me or for another (Tyler in this case). You remember how fragile and short life can be. I also felt trapped like I want this art piece to convey. I had to have the C-section. I did not have any options really. I can marvel that health care procedures have advanced so much that women seldom die these days from childbirth. It is very odd to know you could owe your life and health and your child's life and health to modern methods and the skill of physicians and nurses. It can mess with your head and your body is never quite the same.
This piece is a new departure for me because I seldom used to create art with any serious meaning. I've been feeling too quiet lately though and it sort of makes me feel trapped again. People who argue against abortion see it completely different than I do. I see a situation in which the child could be born into a life without love and to me that is not a life worth having. (Watch the documentary "This Emotional Life.") It's hard enough keeping calm when you love your child deeply and they are having a tantrum at a mall restaurant. You just want to have a nice quiet dinner and not look like the crazy person who can't seem to make her kid happy. I am thrilled to have a son that most of the time makes me smile and creates cool stuff like this Lego tower.
I would like to do some art beyond Lego towers and coloring in coloring books. I didn't ever expect it to take a serious bent, but even my serious bent will have a bit of whimsy and beauty to it I hope.
I can't quite decide which composition below is best. It's hard to see the hangers at the moment. I think once I weave threads through and around the hangers, the background will become more muted. I'm wondering if I should overlay a sheer over the trees though. The one of the left definitely conveys "trapped" more to me. Any suggestions?
For your pieces, I like Option 2 on the right best. I really like the composition with the white words popping out in the bottom area. I think it would be cool if you echoed that at the top with black words hidden in the back behind the white layer. It reminds me of the Tower of Babel story. Option 1 would definitely need a lot more work to get the composition to be as interesting as Option 2.