Before we left for Iceland, I was invited to participate in this fascinating little project happening at The Henry Art Gallery. Tova Elise Cubert has started up a non-profit called Favorite Art Projects with a “mission to instigate conversations about art and commerce in unconventional ways.” This season’s iteration of Favorite is as a pop-up shop at the Henry Art Gallery that opened November 16th and running until February, in homage to Jeffry Mitchell’s show there ‘Like a Valentine’.
Tova invited a group of artists who, I would say, are all investigating craft, comfort and home in some tangential way, which means they are all investigating the body. Doesn’t it? Jeffry has always been a guru to me of how to make work that slips and slides between boundaries, pleasure seeking, about the body. There is no difference in the electricity of an installation of his and a pickle jar or wall screen. His work is always a teacher for me.
So I went away on my travels, a little perplexed about how to investigate my current ideas in the context of commerce. I have never been very good at translating my ideas into a smaller scale….I think because I have tried to make those small things ‘sellable’. Which I am happy for things to sell, of course, But putting ‘sellable’ in my mind always seems to put a wrench in things. I rarely sell my work, it rarely seems to apply to commerce, and I rarely seem to even think about that exchange (this can be both really good and very bad or both or neither, I guess…..common reaction from some artists). But then I began to think about specific people, incredibly creative strong weirdo women artists I admire, and imagined them wearing things I made, and it suddenly seemed very easy what to make. ‘Sellable’ in my mind had somehow been a cue to hold back, yet my imaginary clients demanded no holding back, and I made what they and I both wanted! (check out a few things here)
I also wanted to use the techniques and textures and colors I was using to take with me to Iceland, as well as what filled my eyes and touched my skin while there. For my bodily experience there was a pull between the essential comfort of the body to stay warm and the sometimes stark land the body existed upon. I wanted to turn landscape into dense softness and warmth. I had been using a super dense hand-weaving technique to make superthick blankets that I then sewed into big costumes for Hazel, Paul and I to wear.
So I continued with the thick weaving and have made thick heavy ‘stone’ and ‘sulfur’ blankets for the shop, made of more than a hundred different hand selected and cut fabrics, reclaimed wool and cashmere sweaters. I have always loved to sleep under a huge stack of blankets, like gravity is thicker in the air. And these blankets do this! I also did a series of neck pieces of pillows of puffy moss to surround the neck and the bright energy propelled by molten lava to represent the intense energy of the body.
I also feel influenced and greatly admired the practice of many Icelandic artists to blend and hybridize art and design. In some way this has always been a source inspiration for me from Jeffry Mitchell’s work, that lack of boundaries between art, craft, handicraft and design. I made this work to celebrate what I love about his work and give the opportunity for my installations to take place on the small scale of the body. I hope you’ll stop by the Henry and see all the other beautiful things by artists such as Izzie Klingels, Nicholas Nyland, Joey Veltkamp, Eric Eley and Seth Damm.
I’ll also be hosting a Community Crochet event at the shop at the Henry (15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle) on Sunday December 16th from 12:30-3:30. (Facebook event here). All skill levels welcome, all materials provided! And will be delivering another round of wearable pieces and blankets in time for the crochet event! Come join us!