Recap of last week…..Community Crochet on July 19th…

I am stunned that I have now been in residence at The Project Room for two full weeks, it has both been a flurry of activity on many levels and also sped by with me still trying to find a rhythm in all the roles I am trying to negotiate.  I began a bit last week taking daily notes and quick snap-shots of what I was working on…I’m not sure if I will continue that but I will try (I still need to edit and examine…and log that stuff in here.)

Sewing Albatross feathers every day...with hundreds to go...

Sewing Albatross feathers every day...with hundreds to go...

There now seems to be a steady stream of visitors, people checking to see just what TPR is, and also a number of people curious about the sandwich board with ‘learn to crochet’.  I get a thrill of pleasure telling people it’s free, and also convincing those few who are apprehensive that they can learn it!  The Seattle Times mention brought in several people with the article snipped out of the paper (I love that practice, even with smart phones and whatever…clipping the paper still has a pull).

With just two weeks and three Community Crochet events past, the sense that people are returning again and again to join in is heartening.  The flurry of activity will continue, I’ll try to do too much, but in September back in the quiet (sometimes) of my own studio, I am imagining the giant tangle of silver and gray I’ll have to bend to my will, made by friends old and new.

Dancer/aerialist Elizabeth Rose of ticktock dance dropped in with her cute date!

Katherine brought her knitting needles….

Tessa Hulls: guest artist working…

Writer/Artist/Adventurer Tessa Hulls will be painting in The Project Room for the next few days preparing for an upcoming show of her highly detailed gouache paintings inspired, in part, by her travels.  If you have stopped in to TRP the last week, you might have seen her hard at work.  Her show opens on August 5th at Evo’s Timesinfinity Gallery, at 122 Northwest 36th Street, Seattle from 6-9pm, so she will be working extra hard, because she is also preparing to head off to Antarctica to work in a research station kitchen.  The ‘Adventurer’ title is no joke.

Tessa will also be a part of a round-table discussion I will be hosting very soon here at TPR about “Artists That Interview”, on August 8th at 4:30pm 7th at 1pm, along with Sharon Arnold, Saskia Delores, Joey Veltkamp and Amanda Manitach.  Since I’m incorporating the interview format into my Solstenen project learning process, I want to pick these brains, and just hear about what brought them to incorporating interviewing into their art practice.  Though I don’t have a broad understanding of this, it seems to me just one more example of creative people filling a void in the Seattle art/creative world that needed filling.  We’ll find out more…

I met Tessa when she approached me about an interview for Redefine Magazine surrounding my recent show at Roq La Rue Gallery, ‘Honey and Lightening’.  When she came to my studio, I was really almost taken aback at how much she had researched my work, and her attention to detail, and willingness to draw out some difficult things to articulate.  Her article brings to the surface small details that are significant to me, but quite subtle and usually overlooked.  It was a marked difference from some of the off-the cuff writing I have seen about myself in the press over the years in Seattle.  I know that is a particular approach, to not research the artist, but the inaccuracies have been bizarre to read!  So I want to know why and how she does this, and maintains her connection to her own work and a connection to a wandering life as a compulsive traveler.  Each of the other artist/interviewers on the panel have a very different approach to the process of digging deeper into an artist’s work and process, so I am looking forward to stretching my own abilities as I begin to use this tool to learn about why others make what they do.

Anyhow, come visit Tessa as she works here during the open studio hours at TPR; M, W, Th, Fr. 10:30 am – 2:30 pm.  Tessa usually is in around 11am…

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Remember, another Tuesday is here, please join me…

My goodness, a full week in The Project Room, trying to settle into many roles in the Solstenen project, and I obviously must like the juggling, I seek it out in thing after thing!  It has been a week full of the admin side of being an almost self-supporting maker, writing grants and following up email needs, and this and that and that and this.  I also got to write and think about the work of the Defornament artists, and have bursts of excited chit chat about all that we seem to share in our practices as artists, and I look forward to a more in-depth written exchange between us all for my little interview project.  It was a busy week, and I haven’t yet sorted through the flurry of documenting images of the last crochet party, and it’s already another one!  Please join me this Tuesday the 26th, 3:30-7:30pm, as I try to unwind into the role of maker and teacher, with your help!

please come learn to crochet

please come learn to crochet

Tonight, it’s satellite ‘Defornament’ and LxHxW party, 6-9pm!

Please stop by The Project Room tonight from 6-9pm (you can get in around the CH Block Party!).  Join us for a talk about ‘why/how they make things’ by the ‘Defornament’ artists – Amanda Manitach, Derrick Jefferies, Ellen Garvens –  and a launch party for LxWxH, as well as a show-n-tell by Derrick Jefferies of his fascinating process.  All the artists have installed new work, and in some incredibly gorgeous parings!

Setting up...

Setting up...

Derrick Jefferies and Ellen Garvens pairing

Derrick Jefferies and Ellen Garvens pairing

Thanks for coming to the opening Solstenen Community Crochet Party on July 14th!

Community Crochet 7/14/11

Community Crochet 7/14/11

The Project Room and the Solstenen project opened last Thursday July 14th with a crush of warm feelings from supporters and people excited about the new energetic art space on Capital Hill.  I saw many people I’ve met through my crochet parties from the past few years, many artist friends and art supporters, and some people just curious about the lively activity going on inside!

Tessa, Anne, Julia

Tessa, Anne, Julia

Thank you to everyone who stopped by, and for some really generous donations of new materials to work with (some very special handmade garments/linens I’m looking forward to dyeing and deconstructing and reconstructing!)

Jenifer Ward, Paul Pauper

Jenifer Ward, Paul Pauper

One thing I hadn’t realized until people started coming in and I was setting them in motion crocheting;  usually at crochet parties I am a lot farther along in a project and I have an agenda/need (“need more thick ropes, need round parts, need ruffles”).  This crochet party was essentially the very first stitch of this new work, literally.  I was shrugging my shoulders, ‘the concepts are developing, so please just enjoy crocheting’, was about all I could say.  Take pleasure in the materials, think of it as doodling or drawing, just play.  Usually this messing around for me is done alone, in private.  The first shrug of my shoulders, I felt a bit vulnerable, ‘shouldn’t I know?!’.  No.  It all starts this way, all generative work, not knowing.  Especially with this work, I want to fend off the external and internal impetuous to ‘know’ everything, especially with the environmental installation component of the project to take place in Iceland.  I want to respond intuitively to a place I find; yes, with thread and ropes of time spent where I came from, like the baggage we literally and figuratively drag everywhere.  But still to push and push to stay in the moment of the environment.

Jennifer, Aurora

Jennifer, Aurora

So thank you everyone for just diving in; it seemed people were excited to just be with the process and be with each other.

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And Thank you Project Room family Van Nostrands and Smiths. This is what it looks like to give birth to a baby and open an experimental art center in the course of 30 days!

Jess opening doors

Jess opening doors

There is a subtext to many of my discussions about this project of mine, about blending daily life, family and a passion for ideas and making.  I really feel quite privileged to get to watch Jess Van Nostrand kick ass at this delicate dance we do to carve out a place where we can do what we need to do feed our work.

Erin, Troy, Jen

Erin, Troy, Jen

Much gratitude!  And please join me again on Tuesday July 19th, 3:30-7:30pm, as we do it all again!

First Guest Artists! “Defornament” Artists and LxWxH, this Friday, 6pm

This Friday, July 22nd, 6pm-9pm, artists talk and hands-on show and tell, and launch party for this month’s edition on LxWxH.

Part of the platform for my interactive residency at The Project Room is to share the works of others who have inspired me, taught me things about where my new work needs to go, and to record, through interviews, the multi-layering of influences we all thrive on as makers.  I’m pleased to announce my first guest artists into the Solstenen project gallimaufry! Amanda Manitach, Derrick Jefferies, Ellen Garvens and Sharon Arnold.

Derrick Jefferies

Derrick Jefferies

The entirety of my mission for the Solstenen project is to spread open how art comes from nothing into somethingness, particularly focused on my process right at hand of creating new work.  Nothing to something always has a spark, a kick, a jolt.  The work I am heading towards now began as a metaphoric stone in my pocket, a story; this, mixed with a whole slew of previous barely-formed ideas that trailed behind other work of mine like smoke.  But the one moment that kicked me into pulling all those tiny threads toward one goal was getting an invite from artist Amanda Manitach to participate in a show she was forming with Derrick Jefferies and Ellen Garvens called ‘Defornament’.  Immediately I knew I wanted in, even just based on the title.  The assiduous attention and playfulness of how language lodges sensation in the body seemed to have Amanda’s hand in it (though I don’t know who came up with the title); the combine of Deform and Ornament is both an awkward mouthful, seemingly unrefined, yet elegant in how decisively it describes all of our work.

Ellen Garvens

Ellen Garvens

There are these many threads of connection between all of our practices and works, though on the surface it might not appear so, and it was precisely that surface dissonance that attracted me like a magnet to this group ( and so thankful to not have my work examined solely by its material content: fabric ).  Instead we were connected by threads of double illusions of what is natural and unnatural, the fragmented body, the quiet mundane as the site of the transformative, maddeningly obsessive labor, a tension between memorial and the absolute transient nature of everything.  These people make me think.

Amanda Manitach

Amanda Manitach

This made-up word Defornament (a fabricated actuality, even in the title) seemed to describe to me what I have been doing to bodies for a few years, creating wearable sculptures so large and so heavy, that the central action of the performers wearing them was of struggle.  Not just decorating those virtuoso performers, but forcing them into a relationship of physical reckoning with what usually is only meant for ornament (the costume).  Sometimes, watching these works performed, I had the uneasy feeling I was asking others to do my work for me.

Mandy Greer and Zoe Scofield

Mandy Greer and Zoe Scofield

The labor, the struggle of the body against external forces we take on to make out identity; it was about my body.  With Defornament in mind, suddenly my labor was laid out in front of me.  Unfortunately, very quickly we realized because of a previous commitment I couldn’t be in the show.  But the path in my view was still there, and has become the Solstenen project — mantles of stone and Albatross monstrously large dresses.

Mandy Greer and Haruko Nishimura

Mandy Greer and Haruko Nishimura

I was totally wrecked I couldn’t be in the show, but now the synchronicity of ‘Defornament’ running through July 30 and my residency at The Project Room just beginning this month, I’m giddy about having these people come in and share what they’ve accomplished, just as I’m beginning my work.

Amanda Manitach

Amanda Manitach

And finally the cherry on top is artist/writer/instigator/ organizer Sharon Arnold’s project LxWxH just happens to, this month, feature Amanda and Derrick along with some stunningly gorgeous words by writer D.W.  Burnam.  So were throwing a launch party for this month’s art box.

Sharon will be on hand with previous additions of LxWxH as well, Derrick will be doing a hands-on show and tell of how he grows his crystals and selling some pink lemonade rock candy and maddeningly realistic candy jewelry.  Derrick, Amanda and Ellen will be showing images about the process behind their works, in-line with the Project Room question of 2011/2012 of “Why Do We Make Things”, as well hanging some additional works from their Defornament work.

Come join us for the conversation and comradery!  It will inform a later written profile about these artists for the Solstenen series of artist interviews, and I need your voice!

Derrick Jefferies

Derrick Jefferies

More about ‘Defornament’ from the Soil website, running through July30th, 2011:

 “Defornament presents three artists whose work address corporeality, ornamentation, and transformation of commonplace into the extra-ordinary. Objects and images shift into visual uncertainty and liminality through cloaking, cropping, layering and piling, the familiar becoming unrecognizable.

Derrick Jefferies’ new photographic and sculptural works are inspired by luxe forms found in the mineral world, appropriating readily found materials to create semi-precious knock-offs.

Amanda Manitach’s new installation of drawings emphasize rhythmic blotting and an interruption of rocaille excess.

Ellen Garvens’ photographic treatments use isolation and an absence of the total figure to meditate on the sensuousness of the ordinary.

Derfornament explores the space between material reality and illusion, repulsion and attraction, clarity and obscurity.”

 And from Sharon Arnold about LxWxH:

 LxWxH features original work by two Seattle artists and a short essay by a local writer. By collaborating with Seattle artists and writers, LxWxH provides an avenue to bring people together and collect art in an affordable and approachable way.

Mission: to create a bridge between the artists, writers, and you in an approachable, accessible, sustainable manner supporting your local community and allowing you to begin collecting original pieces of work by local talent.

LxWxH

LxWxH

The Project Room AND ‘Solstenen’ begin this Thursday July 14th!

Coming upon this Thursday I feel a bit like I’m standing at the top of the hill ready to push the big boulder over the edge and gleefully watch it go, but I’m not alone. Curator Jess Van Nostrand also begins her new adventure, The Project Room and is giving me one giant supportive push in the process. We’re both jumping off into our new projects, flush in support from enthusiastic, talented and generously smart people who have our backs. Thank you, Jess, for having mine! Support at the onset of a big project is so validating, and takes a bit off the edge of the intensity of so much preparation.

Please join me in supporting this new multi-disciplinary venture of Jess’s, drop by The Project Room on this Thursday, July 14th from 5-8pm, during Capital Hill’s Art Walk. Check out the new space, say hello, and spend a bit of time crocheting with me. This Community Crochet Party will be the first of many this summer at The Project Room.

Address/Map

As always with the crochet parties, people with no known artistic ability are encouraged to attend, I will tease it out of you! Crocheting is unfathomably easy to teach and… to learn. And you will have fun. If you already rock the hook, come share what you know.

I’ll have hooks and fiber, but I am totally grateful for any donated gray or silver yarns, threads, old clothes…anything.

At SAM Remix, Summer 2010

At SAM Remix, Summer 2010

Also on hand, will be drinks and treats. Potluck some finger foods, if you are feeling communal! Linger awhile or just bring some good energy for a moment to welcome this new creative center to Seattle!

What is Solstenen? with breadth and width…

What is Solstenen?

Solstenen is a year-long project chronicling the process of learning about, and the making of, a new body of creative work. It will render visible the meandering exploratory process involved in creating fully-realized artworks that is often unseen, but a fertile ground that must be turned.  For my artistic practice, that fertile ground is ‘learning, sharing, influence and confluence’.  An overlapping strata of concepts layering and growing together like a kombucha mother, I need this to make my work and to direct my life.    As an avid autodidact I am always seeking new paths for my work to take me on, more through lived experiences than theory, propelled forward by sparks of serendipitous connections and chance meetings that send me in an alluvial fan of directions rather than a rigid single line.

The word ‘Solstenen’ (sun stone) is the fabled Viking Compass from the Hrafns sagas, believed to be a mineral that was used as a navigational compass; probably the mineral cordierite (iolite), by polarizing skylight, it was used to locate the hidden sun, and might be one component of the masterful Viking navigation.  It seemed only fitting to take on this word to name this journey-based project, one where I know my direction but don’t know the conceptual terrain I will cover to get there.  While the traditional compass, interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field is fascinating enough, a compass that relies on a stone and the incredible observational powers of a sailor just thrills me!

The Journey:

I have been carrying with me for a while, like a stone in my pocket I sometimes touch, my reaction to an A.S. Byatt short story “A Stone Woman”, that I read in 2005.  It’s a story of a woman numbed with grief and apathy, then finding herself more alive as her physical body becomes a part of the natural landscape.  It’s so much more than that.  But at the time, still a very new mother, I identified with the numbness and a heavy rigidity in my body. It’s something I’ll need to unpack over the course of exploring/building this work…why I identified so precisely with this metamorphosis our quiet hero Ines was going through. I have also always felt magnetically pulled to stories and fables of people pulled into the mysteries of nature, never to return (the call of the White Stag in SBMWP).

Small but Mighty Wandering Pearl, 2006

Small but Mighty Wandering Pearl, 2006

Far from knowing exactly why and how I’ll be doing things, thinking about things and making things, I am here at the vulnerable beginning of not knowing, but pointed in a direction.  There will be many starts and stops, concepts and ideas discarded or cultivated till they flourish.  That’s what I’m here to explore in this process project.

The Text:

Byatt’s fairy tale-like story tells of a middle-aged woman who, grieving the death of her mother, finds herself having emergency surgery from a life-threatening mysterious stomach ailment.  Numbed by grief and physical pain, seeing her small world in shades of grey and dust, she is intrigued to discover the hardness at her healing incision is actually veins of red stone spreading around her body, and sprouts of green minerals at her armpits.   Resigned to death by petrifaction, as the multi-colored, brilliant and evolving minerals overtake her flesh, she meets and reveals her metamorphosis to an Icelandic stone carver.  He takes her on a pilgrimage to Iceland —  a geologically capricious land where stones are alive and with legends of humans becoming stone trolls – to find a place of belonging, dissolving into the vibrant life-force of an ever-changing landscape of magma, weather and time.

In my mind, my strong reaction to Byatt’s story has always been entangled with my feelings about the symbol of the Albatross seabird as a weighty penance for violence against nature from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, and also the central act of labor in the Greek myth of Sisyphus, eternally rolling the stone back up the hill (the last week of finishing an installation brings me there). 

So with an amalgamation of literary influences, I plan to explore themes of weight, physical burden and labor as external symbols of internal self-transformation, the act of creating and becoming of a broader identity beyond the personal, metamorphosing into the environmental.  I’ll also engage in a closer reading of all of these works, and the works they take me to – I haven’t read Ancient Mariner since high school but the image seems to haunt my work (especially during the awkward agony of sewing the skin around my giant Pelican), and though I love the Greek myth, I ditched Camus’ Sisyphus in college in favor of reading Walker Percy in the sunshine.  It’s time to revisit.

Pelican Goddess from 'Dare alla Luce', 2008

Pelican Goddess from ‘Dare alla Luce’, 2008

The Making:

Along with me on this journey is my husband, artist Paul Margolis, who will travel with me to Iceland (along with our son) in 2012.  But before that, I will begin by making us clothes. I will be making mantles of stones for Paul and me to wear, created by crocheting nets of fabric and by spinning Icelandic wool around stones collected from my environment, and minerals based on the encyclopedic taxonomy of minerals described by Byatt from Ines’ transformation, weaving these stones together into a massive garment to be worn and woven into my hair and his beard.  This will accompany a kind of ‘hair-shirt’ Albatross gown made from thousands of handmade feathers of countless variety of found and dyed gray fabrics; a gown large enough that it could, say, even accommodate a large boulder in the sleeve.

The Golden Cage, 2011

The Golden Cage, 2011

Reflection and refraction of natural imagery, revealing hidden patterns, is a critical theme in my work, and will continue with the making of mirrored wearable sculptural elements that will be worn with the stone and feathered clothes to created kaleidoscopic reflections in performative photographic and video work.   This desire to continue probing refraction and reflection comes out of my 2011 installation The Honey Moon Chamber, where a massive jewelry box of mirrors around a golden erupting chandelier seemed to reveal an endless hidden world I wanted to blend into (and seemed to already…there were so many of me already behind the glass).

Honey Moon Chamber, 2011

Honey Moon Chamber, 2011

A Physical journey as well:

Reading the Byatt story compels me to travel to Iceland, to see if I can know what part of her description is idealized, or even if that’s possible.  I also long, long, long to work quietly and steadily in one place in a landscape, until I notice the subtle daily changes, like I did creating my environmental installation Mater Matrix Mother and Medium in 2009.

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium, 2009

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium, 2009

So in Summer/Fall 2012, we’ll be journeying to a series of rural residencies during 5-weeks  in Iceland with my husband, Paul, where we’ll use the massive garments to immerse ourselves in the radically dramatic landscape, explore our themes, creating works of eco-installation, performance, photography and video. And to just be, to see what happens, discard what doesn’t work and allow discovery.

Laboring together in the landscape– performing Sisyphean extreme exertion – we’ll un-pack notions about our life’s work together; the metaphor of the heavy body pulled to earth is one avenue to examine the progression of creating a life, then losing it as the body ages.  As collaborators on building a life together, the natural and desired end is that we would experience together the inevitable passage of our bodies back to earth.

Me in the Tree, the Tree in Me, 2001, Paul Margolis

Me in the Tree, the Tree in Me, 2001, Paul Margolis

We will all three, as a family of artists,  be working on developing performance-based videos, photography and environmental interventions/installations, together and intuitively.  This project is about putting myself as an artist in a radically different place than my comfort zones, using my own body and our private family culture as medium, blending our roles as artists, parents and partners.  I’ll also, along with Paul, work together to develop our abilities at creating experimental movement scores and how to capture them on video, and develop new media work. Neither of us are dancers or really performers, but locating our bodies at the center of this work, we are attempting to confront, repair and heal rifts in our lives that have both made our artistic life together possible and also strained it to near-breaking.

‘Beholden’, 2010
a collaboration with my son as he wears a blanket made from both of our hair collected during his life, including his baby-locks

Our work will also be to learn about Icelandic mythology, clay and pottery, Icelandic wool and fiber arts, and how this history of traditional arts funnels into Icelandic contemporary art practices.  My work as a multi-media artist has always been informed by deep haptic pull towards traditional crafts arts, particularly fibers and traditional costume.  With the Icelandic sheep that grows a fiber like nowhere else on Earth, and a culture that respects the hand-arts of women to the point where they put it on their money, I have to explore this.  I’ll be engaging with contemporary and traditional makers in Iceland as part of a series of interviews I’ll be doing for this blog, which will begin first at home with artists I admire and want to learn from.

Zuster, Sweostor, Systir, 2010

Zuster, Sweostor, Systir, 2010

Bookends:

The beginning and end of this project takes place a Seattle’s, The Project Room. I initiated the Solstenen project with a 7-week open-studio residency from July 14 – September 1, 2011.

I began the first stitch of this project at TPR, inviting community participation through hands-on workshops – namely the crochet parties that have been part of my process for the last few years, open studio hours, and other happenings – including interactive activities with guest artists during August 2011.

In late 2012, after the residency in Iceland, I’ll return to TPR to present the worked created, and the process at TPR

As part of The Project Room Question, Why Do We Make Things?, this two-part program bookends this question as its first and final presentation.

The Guest Artists and You:

The Project Room will be asking Why Do We Make Things? in a variety of ways over the course of 2011/2012.  For my part, I feel asking this question by myself for 7 weeks– just in the space sewing/researching/crocheting — really makes no sense; I need the “we”.  In August, look out for a variety of activities involving artists whose brains I want to pick, get advice from and explore things that are new to me.  And come learn from me; the most simplest thing in the world is a crocheted chain, but like most simple things, it can fractal out and in beyond imagining. I’ll show you!