- PLEASE CHECK OUT MY NEW WEBSITE MANDYGREER.ORG
- WORKSHOPS: Winter and Spring 2016 Workshop registration now open
- SUPPORT: Join in by supporting my residency and installation at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Monastery in Catskill Mountains Forest Preserve in NY.
- PRINT SALE: Limited edition photography prints available now from The Ecstatic Moment
- SHOW: “The Ecstatic Moment” solo exhibition at The Hudson River Museum, June 7-Sept. 14, 2014
- REVIEW: New York Times, “Stitching Together Yarn, Memory and History” By SUSAN HODARA
- REVIEW: Huffington Post Arts &Culture, “Artist Channels Ancient Myths, Fairy Tales…In Fantastical Crochet“
- REVIEW: Hyperallergic, “A Crocheted Phantasmagoria on the Hudson” by Allison Meier
- REVIEW: Hi-Fructose Magazine, “On View: Mandy Greer’s Ecstatic Moment…” by Nastia Voynovskaya
- REVIEW: Enterprise News, “The Ecstatic Moment” by Jackie Lupo
SAT JAN 23rd, 7-9pm
Olympic Sculpture Park
2901 Western Ave, Seattle, Washington 98121
‘Before You Were Born and After You Are Gone’
The first in the series of Art Encounters at the Park – SAM Olympic Sculpture Park Winter Weekends
Event is free and open to the multi-generational public.
RSVPs requested: visitsam.org/winter
Mandy Greer and Alice Gosti join together to dip into their already flowing works-in-progress to offer a forum for play, experimentation and connection -reinforcing communal bonds, that in uncertain times seem tenuous, but like love, must be activated to remain strong.
Immerse yourself in the flux of works being built around you, your hands joining others in the present moment. This evening event is an aggregation of durational performance and multi-media immersive installation, workshop and laboratory, exploration and game; where teaching becomes ritualized movement and making as choreography. Play becomes research that upends the hierarchy of audience and artist, adult and child.
A multi-generational performance company of professional and non-professional performers guide you through a labyrinth of cyclical and gentle prompts, tasks, connections and gift exchanges based on ritual childhood games, craft projects, and childlike urges. Through this, learning and teaching others becomes a way to test our ability to open to others around us, and the physicality of handwork accesses the immediacy of the communal instinct.
Set against an abstracted environment of mountain and sea, that seeming permanence is rendered in the soft contours of raw fibers reclaimed from the domestic sphere. The hard rock and crashing waves become both a metaphor for our inner world, familial tensions and release, and the site of social and political flux and upheaval.
Both artists meet at the desire to examine the physical and psychological weight of the connections we have and need with other living beings. The threads that bind us to each other in responsibility are represented by the weight of the child in society, either abandoned or carried by all.
Through carried weight, this project functions as a reminder that the human community has always been on the move, that burdens have always been shouldered as humans have thrown their fragile bodies to the mercy of the natural world, crossing sea and land passes to seek peace and a way to just live. And how we choose to care or not care for each other is one of the heaviest burdens we bear.
Greer and Gosti both work to make the invisible visible, through both political and poetic metaphor, whether it be the buried inner life or putting front and center the experiences of those pushed to the margins. Join us and immerse yourself in exploring the invisible and mysterious bonds of being human.
**EDIT** The studio sale is over but my work remains up until Friday Dec. 18. Contact me to make a private appointment to shop what remains!
It is time again for my annual Winter Studio Sale, and like last year, I’ve invited a few other fellow makers of beautiful and strange handmade art objects, goods and wearables to join me.
Fiber art, hand-dyed clothing, copper jewelry , raw crystal jewelry, vintage-crafted accessories, art prints and cards
DEC 12 SAT, 11am – 5pm
DEC 13 SUN, 11am – 3pm
The Silver Studio
Mandy Greer’s Columbia City fiber art studio
Enter the studio using the large silver doors on the LEFT Front of the building.
-I’ll have a selection of fiber-based sculptural wall pieces, weavings, wearables, and framed and unframed photographs at studio prices, as well as cards and catalogs. http://mandygreer.org/
-Izzie Klingles will be bringing Izvald: Hand Dyed Indigo repurposed garments, as well as a number of prints and original artworks. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Isvald
-Wyly Astley will be bringing wearable and collectable offerings in wool, sterling, copper, wax and more. Wyly appreciates the juxtaposition of rough and refined which is reflected in both her jewelry and textile designs. http://wylyastley.com/
-Kate Ryan will be bringing Jakku House Sacred Accessories: Jewelry made with vintage chains and raw cleansed and blessed crystals, as well as accessories made from vintage millenary, sculls and other fascinations. https://www.etsy.com/shop/JakkuHouse
-Anna Lord will be bringing soft, zippered bags made from reclaimed and vintage fabrics, with thrifted zippers, just right for carrying cosmetics, toiletries and paintbrushes Anna will also have 57 small works on paper, intricate ink drawings that reflect the tiny world that she produced from weekly drawings done during a two-hour window carved out from her first baby’s first year.
CASH AND CREDIT CARD ONLY, sales handled by individual artists
Wine, tea, treats and HYGGE!
Street Parking available, but please avoid parking in front of the house uphill from my studio. My elder neighbor needs access in case of an emergency. Respect your elders!
At the Red and White Fence
We are innately drawn to the charms of weaving, evocative of so many rich metaphors –bring disparate parts into a whole, interlacing of ideas, the inter-dependency of the communal. It’s a human technology that has been around for 27,000 years –even before agriculture- and still captivates us. In the ancient Greek mind, weaving was linked to singing and storytelling, which makes sense when you sit at a loom, the strings not unlike the strings of a lyre. It is an archetypal coming together of human necessity and creative expression, and represents the cosmos in many cultures, infinitely expanding order out of chaos. For Homer, it represented intellectual activity, and the subversive way women claimed agency and legacy. Weaving goddesses ensnare and trap, measuring out the fiber of being.
Let’s weave together.
The woven wall hangings so popular today are a throw-back to my own youth of the 70’s. But sitting at a loom for a devoted period of time seems to kick up ancient memories. Weaving was my gateway drug to fiber arts, when I was 8 years old and had the chance to weave on large 19th century looms in the attic of an old Girls Scout lodge in Virginia. I felt something mysterious had been revealed to me.
Since then, I’ve longed to have my own loom, but been daunted by the cost and space. Yet people around the world have created weaves on the slightest of looms, and I challenged myself to create a communal experience making this practice easy for anyone.
I’ve broken it down into simple steps that I can teach to any beginner, but will guide students to make a complex and rich work with plain weave, sumac stitch, basket weave, poofs, tufts and angles. We’ll work on easily-built basic looms and you’ll get instruction on how to build your own low-cost, low-tool loom at home. Come join in the warm studio atmosphere, with tea and snacks, and conversation with others in the class as you create. This is a 5-hour class, we’ll take a short lunch break at noon, so bring a sack lunch. I’ll have homemade muffins and hot chocolate. Don’t wait to the last minute to register! Classes are cancelled a week before, if registration isn’t met.
MATERIALS: I have some incredible luxurious and organic materials for you! I have acquired a HUGE lot of samples from a Tibetan rug making company, with 100’s of colors in earth tones and jewel tones, and we’ll reclaim this amazing hand-spun and dyed wool to create our tufts, fringes and weaves. The yarn is not overly processed and still has some lanolin in it, and has a natural character to it. I also have many many skeins of natural colors of wool in Icelandic and unprocessed Merino wools, as well as many colors of roving, natural jute-type fibers and reclaim cotton knit. All tools provided.
DATES/TIMES: CLICK ON DATE TO REGISTER WITH PAYPAL
ON-DEMAND WORKSHOPS: Don’t see a date you can do? Get four friends together and I will schedule a workshop that works for your schedule on most days. Then I’ll promote to fill the class. Have 6 or more friends? Schedule a private party and get a big discount.
COST: $70 per person, ONLY 10 SPACES PER CLASS.
You must pre-register and an Informational Email will be sent to you approximately 7 days before the class. Classes need 5 people minimum to run. So spread the word to friends! In the past, I have run classes under-enrolled, but can longer afford to do that. If you want to have your class run, you need to invite friends along! You will be notified 7 days before class if it is canceled, and a refund will be issued.
Not eligible for the 3-class $90 discount package. If you have purchased a package, you can apply $30 to this class fee.
AGE/ABILITY: Great for beginning weavers! You can do this! It just takes dedication. For adult learners, and children 12 and up who have an interest in weaving, and ability to focus for 5 hours are welcome to attend alone.
WHERE: At The Silver Studio in Columbia City, Seattle (my studio)
WHEN YOU REGISTER:
-Be sure your contact email address with Paypal is correct. That is where I send the “Informational Email” (class confirmation, material list, where to buy them, and the studio address). If you want a different email used, contact me.
– If the class you want fills up, please email me your desired day and I will put you on the waiting list and/or notify when I hold another series of workshops.
– One week before your class, workshop fee is non-refundable, but can be transferred to another person.
Private Parties: Weaving Private Parties are available in my studio only. Up to 10 people for 5 hrs, for $500, plus a material fee of $10 per person. Contact me for availability
GIFT CERTIFICATES: Give studio time as a gift!
I’m raising funds to make possible a project – a research residency and interactive environmental installation — that I have been invited to do at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist Monastery community on an isolated 1400 acres, high in the Catskill Mountains Forest Preserve in NY.
This very unique experience offered to me and my work came about because Dai Bosatsu Zendo community members experienced my work at my solo show at The Hudson River Museum last year in Yonkers, NY, and felt like the land they inhabit has something to offer me as a place to explore and interpret through my work. They have invited me to spend two weeks in August at the Monastery engaging with the natural world and their community through personal artistic research and through creating a fiber-based environmental installation in the land, in collaboration with my partner artist Paul Margolis and our son.
In several of the aged maple, birch and oak trees we’ll be creating a lacy cavern of grays and silvers – inspired by a memory of a tiny dome-shaped cave called Sönghellir we visited while on residency in Iceland with our family–made of shredded old clothes and wool yarn acquired from small, ethical sheep farms both in Washington and the Catskills region of NY.
The installation will also function as an interactive site for repose and handwork activities I’ll guide, providing a welcoming threshold for visitors for DBZ Family Weekend and the wider Catskills Mountain community on DBZ’s Open House on August 21-23.
Your support for this residency will also fund a much larger project, as this installation called ‘Woolgathering’ will become part of a large-form immersive exhibition premiering in 2016, of installations and performances that ask questions about the human need to make ‘home’, not just as shelter from the elements, but more specifically as ‘sanctuary’ or ‘refuge’.
The ‘Woolgathering” project will also be happening at Seattle Art Museum’s Sculpture Park on July 18th as part of their Eco Day activities, so Seattle-area people can also join in the making of the lacy cavern!
Incentives to donate!
I’m offering many perks for those who care to donate: workshops, cards, books, but I am most excited about making you something.
To fund this project I want to engage with you on a very personal intimate level, to create for you a one of a kind artwork rendered in fabric. Unlike other crowdsource funding campaigns, I want to avoid offering cheaply-made trinkets as incentives. It really is counter to what I do, to create such waste.
My larger project –that this residency supports –is about investigating how we make ‘home’, and one aspect that fascinates me is how the bed becomes the access to our dreamworld subconscious. So to support this residency, I offer sewn artworks that are actually quilted pillows that you use as prompts to explore your own dreamworld. We’ll begin with a questionnaire that prompts you to express thoughts and imagery. I use this to interpret and reflect back to you a quilted design created out of fabrics I’ve collected on my travels, old clothes and meaningful textiles. Think of it almost like a tarot reading in fabric, not as divination, but a mirror to reflect your attention when you place your head upon it to sleep. What I’ll make for you is unknown, what you’ll dream is too. But through this shared process, we can approach sleep as a time of discovery.
You are needed and valued!
Without your investment in my work, this continuing project and research time, I won’t be able to make it happen. With even a small donation, and even just spreading the word, you become a benefactor who boosts the development my work further, and allows me to create an artwork in this incredibly unique setting!
Dai Bosatsu Zendo has opened their heart to me, and my small collective of artists. They’ll be providing us with a room in the monastery, then a small meditation cabin. They’ll be sharing their food with us and supporting our explorations of the land. I’m so honored to be asked to do this work, and humbled by the support from those who are inspired by my work.
Being offered this gift of time and space in forest and in community from Dai Bosatsu Zendo is so inspiring. I am open to the unknown of who I’ll connect with through this project, what I’ll learn, who I can communicate with, with the gifts that I have in my hands. It’s what I have to offer the world.
DBZ has also embraced my process of working in a collective with my family members. As a working mother/artist this is still a very rare and valuable opportunity to do an artist residency that embraces the blending of parenthood and art making. My 2016 exhibition will be fed by the accumulation of work I’ve done through a series of residencies with my artist partner Paul Margolis and our son the last 3 years, creating films, photography, environmental interventions and costumes in remote landscapes. We’ll continue this exploration together at DBZ.
Through this process, my work for the past several years has explored the similarity of the siren call of wildness to the potential to lose oneself in motherhood, the tension to retain a separate identity while grappling with the seductive pulse of biology. These sojourns in the wilderness act as points of departure to unravel these complex tensions, the dilemma between the lived experience and cultural projections of family.
**EDIT** Last weekend’s sale was great! But there is still a lot left, so on SAT MAY 9th from 10-2, I’m having a “Grab Bag” sale for the rest. Come stuff a paper grocery bag full for $10 ****
HUGE Fabric, Yarn, Notions and Vintage Clothing Sale. Lots of Odd and Beautiful treasures May 2, SAT, 9 am – 3pm May 3, SUN, 10 am – 3pm 15 Years of accumulated materials from my Fiber and sculpture Studio are getting all cleaned out, and priced to go very cheap. All different kinds of fabrics from linens, cottons, vintage yardage and dismantled clothes, satins, velvets, lycras, everything! yardage and remnants of 1970’s double-knit in fantastic patterns. . Remnant rolls for .50-$2.00 and huge amount of large bags of pieces in sorted colors for .50-$1.00. So great for Kids projects, Quilting, Collage, Scrapbooking, Art, Sewing. Bins and Bins of all kinds of yarn, from boutique to craft, for $1.00 per skein. Glitter. Beads. 1000’s of vintage buttons, feathers, notions, bias tape, doilies, pins, fasteners, zippers grommets, bobbins. hand-made beads, ribbons, leather gloves Vintage quilts and quilt pieces, vintage 1940’s upholstery samples. Vintage wood picture frames, photo paper, theaters lights with barn doors. Mod-Podge, spray starch, and brand new Lendrum spinning wheel elements I never used, and bobbins. Vintage Clothes, too! AND two other friends are purging their huge vintage collections, including stuff from Caravan Age Vintage. A few little vintage ceramic treasures as well! This is where to be if you have a fiber vintage addiction! Bring Cash in small bills ( lots of little items!) No checks, Credit Card option available for purchases over $10 Bring bags! I don’t have that many. Spread the word, and bring some friends to explore the treasure with! Join the event on Facebook and spread the word! I’ll be posting more pictures of the huge stash on the Facebook event, so join to get notifications!
This spring, I’m pleased to announce I’ll be attending the Caldera Artist in Residence program! Stay tuned for more about it, as I prepare to leave for a month in remote Oregon, working next to the Three Sisters Volcanoes. Here are several images of my work that I will be building upon during this residency.
DEC 13, SAT, 12-6pm
DEC 14, SUN, 1-5pm
It’s time again for my Winter Studio Sale at Mandy Greer Studio. Come check out a wide variety of pieces. I’ll have many many styles of fiber and beaded neck-pieces and wrist cuffs from $25 on up to very elaborate statement pieces. I’ll have wall sculpture and garlands, many sizes of framed photographs and very large exhibition proofs of my newest work from my solo show at The Hudson River Museum, all at studio prices. I’ll have a 2 days sale on my prints available in my on-line shop, 11×15 and 8×10 at 40% off, if you order directly at my studio. I’ll have a selection of catalogs and tote-bags. I’ll also have several ‘vintage’ Mandy Greer pieces that will be at super reasonable prices.
And if you remember, my massive vintage fabric and clothing sale last year, I held many favorites back, thinking I would want them. Turns out I would rather fund a new installation for 2016. So I’ll have a basket full of vintage fabrics, vintage buttons, vintage sewing notions, trims, vintage leather gloves and some ladies clothes!
The Studio is at: 5264 39th Ave. S. in Columbia City, Seattle.
The large Silver Doors on the left front of the building. PLEASE do not block my neighbors’ driveways!
TREATS, Wine and Tea!
Each artist accepts cash and credit cards.
I’ve also asked several talented artists to feature some of their work at my sale!
Kate Ryan: will feature handmade crystal and natural gemstone jewelry, and vintage reconstructed veils and headpieces. “A wild child of the Pacific North West, an Aquarian woman born from a long line of Mystics, Healers & Shaman. Turning everyday elements into powerful personal totems. I work with healing stones, found natural resources & recycled objects to create custom jewelry, veils & hair accessories. “
Wyly Astley: will offer a selection of beautiful small items for collecting or giving. Selections include: hand-felted and dyed jewelry, candle holders, note sets, hanging lanterns and electric lamps and small encaustic paintings, as well as walking rocks and divination tools. She will also offer pay-what-you-will short Tarot readings.
Vanessa DeWolf: provocateur, raconteur and Seattle performance-scene mainstay VD will offer gift cards that will provoke ephemeral and meaningful interactions and social engagement. You CAN give performance art as a gift!
Since Symbols of time and direction, and time’s passing seem to me to becoming more and more prominent in my work, I thought I’d tackle a request I’ve gotten for several years, to create a calender with images of my work. I’ve created a personal organizer you can carry with you everywhere. Write things down with your hand and a pencil!
“This January through December 2015 organizer features the other-worldly imagery of mixed media artist Mandy Greer. Write in the phases of the moon, keep track of when to plant and when to do your spells, when to plan gatherings and when to block off time to revel in the woods alone. Plenty of room to write down all your dreams and desires. Images selected to go with the changing seasons, and to inspire you to see more than is there. Think of all that will happen each changing of the moon in 2015!”
“Mandy Greer: The Ecstatic Moment” is currently running at The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers , NY, now until September 14, 2014.
And thrilling news, my first East Coast solo museum show was recently featured in a profile in the New York Times. “Stitching Together Yarn, Memory and History” By SUSAN HODARA
As well a review in the Westchester County paper “Enterprise News” by Jackie Lupo
And a review on Hyperallergic! “A Crocheted Phantasmagoria on the Hudson” by Allison Meier and also
a review on Huffington Post Arts &Culture, “Artist Channels Ancient Myths, Fairy Tales…In Fantastical Crochet“
The Ecstatic Moment is a multi-part immersive installation of fiber-based sculpture and costumes, photography, film and performance that encompasses the entire bottom floor of the museum. It meanders through six different realms of colored walls and wallpaper, as well as sweeping up into their 24-foot high atrium.
Beginning with my on-going community-based project Mater Matrix Mother and Medium — begun in 2009 — surrounding the two-story staircase, installed for the Hudson River Museum as a huge weighty Waterfall that you walk through and behind to enter the world below, referencing the massive sweeping beauty of the Hudson River just outside. Once you descend, you are confronted with your own image in a majestic floor-to-ceiling Eastlake Style mirror, engulfed by rough and beaded crocheted fiber tendrils of brown branching arms from my Root Room installation.
Next, an intricate Victorian ebonized case, filled with minerals I selected from the museum’s oddities when it used to be a natural history museum, along with stones I collected in Iceland and my travels across the country. Surrounding this are pieces from my Zuster, Sweoster Systir photography series, a headdress made from yarn spun from my hair and my son’s , and a glittery beaded emerald chandelier from my work “Dare alla Luce”.
A photograph of my son embedded in the earth, his face ringed in turkey tail lichen collected from a Pacific Northwest forest and a blanket made from our matching hair, sits behind a large and delicate Victorian glass dome of many multicolored birds, from the Glenview Mansion on the grounds of HRM. This is your introduction to the Earth and Forest realm, and the first experience of how the rest of the installation blends my history as an artist, natural history and historical objects of the museum’s collection of Victoriana and period decorative arts.
Along with work I’ve made from 2009-2014 –including elements specifically for The Hudson River Museum installation – I was given access to attic and basement storerooms full of personal objects and collections from Hudson River Valley inhabitants from the past. As someone who finds inspiration from dusty ruins and hidden secrets in fairy tales, this was like getting to briefly walk onto the set of Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête, and take what I wanted!
After this verdant realm comes The Golden Sphere, a small window into dark shadows and of a glittering gold netherworld. Illuminated by the intricately beaded ‘Honey Moon’, photographs of my husband as earthen man, pulling gold from the dirt, rich photographs on cotton rag hang suspended in 19th century gilt frames separated from their original paintings. Here too is a repeated theme of selecting mirrors from the HRM collection, this one a mahogany stared inlaid Moroccan style, creating infinite view points into hidden realms, as it reflects back layers of Victorian bird and wax flowers under glass among my own paper flowers.
My strategy for working these vintage collections into the installation was mostly intuitive, looking for things that I simply desired, as any obsessive collector might. It often led me to pieces that were damaged or odd in their beauty. Pieces that might draw out connections and memories in my work, always remembering that these were artifacts that decorated and defined space in intimate personal lives now gone. My work too is laced with my own life and experiences, my old clothes, my hair, my husband’s, my son’s; old baby clothes shredded and dyed, trinkets and baubles from my grandmother, mixed with junk drawer keys and stones and seashells from travels.
Notions of Travel moves through the next several realms, my own and the Victorian sense of exploration and the Cabinet of Curiosities of that time. The Flesh/Lava realm, Ice/Water realm and Vermillion Room all contain work I’ve made inspired by residencies in Iceland, France and Italy.
The center piece of the atrium gallery is my installation “Every Moment Lost is Lost Forever”, a towering confection that portrays a lacy inverted volcano in peach-flesh tones, a ring of leather carrion birds spewing an ash made up of collections of silvery grey crocheted ribbons, silver-leafed bones, stone and shells among other things. Influence by my time spent working in the volcanic landscape if Iceland, but also layered with other ideas of nature, destruction and regeneration.
How this installation came to be:
Two years ago, I was invited to visit The Hudson River Museum, and spend time in the Victorian River mansion Glenview, on the Museum’s grounds, to find inspiration. I walked through room after room of dense patterns of wallpaper, intricate carved wooden staircases and wall cabinets filled with books, shells, curios and marble statues from around the world, birds and music boxes, delicate china dishes and the heavy sense of Victorian desire to tame the chaos of nature. Nearly every surfaces was decorated with imagery of stylized and contain nature.
This has always been an influence in my work, the desire to create an entire intimate world, using these styles of the domestic interior, but with the sense that nature’s entropy is reclaiming and devouring it all, by shredding up and knotting together the flotsam of my own life with the past, both materially and in concept.
I found myself resting in the pink/peach sitting room of Glenview, listening to a large hand-made music box, late November sun setting on the River and filling the room with golden light and dust motes. I wondered about the ghosts of the daily private life that was lived in the spaces, when this once was a family home, and all that had changed.
Outside the window, two large smokestacks loom of a Glenwood Power Plant built on the river, now too a ruin of what it once was, but a reminder of the creep of progress that had overtaken the pastoral fantasy of original inhabitants of Glenview, ending its period as a family home. But like the intertwined nature of Eros and Thanatos, creation and destruction, stasis and renewal…the mansion now houses a vibrant life as the community’s center for art, history and science. Gone is the private, but the home now nurtures more families than it ever did. One energy that over-takes and destroys often recreates, and in turn is devoured again.
I took this cyclical idea, the flesh pink of the room, the imagined billowing coal smoke, the birds under glass, the shelves lined in collections of coral and ebony, and it became the volcano of desire, of what fuels us consumes us and begins us again. The installation traveled to Italy and Paris, accumulating its own collection of silver-leafed stones and bits of wood to add to the collection from Iceland and drift wood and shells from the Pacific Ocean.
The ocean, the river, the stream, the glacier, the iceberg lace themselves through the entire experience of the overall installation. Actual rivers and shores populate my films that are in every realm, adding their ambient sounds like a circulatory system throughout the installation. The Ice/Water realm, flanked by MMMM Waterfall, shows images and costumes from a month-long January residency in Iceland, turning glacial ice into intricate patterns mixed with a woven and crocheted cape I made to wear and respond to the incredible Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon.
Then to the farthest realm in the galleries is the Celestial Realm, with charcoal walls and dramatic lighting on the glittering stars of the Seven Sisters from Dare alla Luce, reflected in another immense Eastlake-style mirror inlaid with mahogany and ebony. The center of this realm is filled with a massive intricate black Pelican Goddess enmeshed in 16 feet of black beaded crocheted tangles and paper chrysanthemums ,with yards of white beaded ‘milk’ flowing onto a 12 foot spiral referencing both an over-sized braided rag rug and a galaxy.
The figure of the Pelican is one I began when my son was a nursing baby, inspired by Tintoretto’s The Origin of the Milky Way from 1580, which depicts Hercules being put to the breast of Juno. When she pushes the baby away – her husband’s illegitimate child – her breast milk sprays across the sky, becoming the Milky Way. I choose to create the night sky as a Pelican Goddess because of a legend about the mother pelican piercing her own breast in times of famine to feed her young with her own flesh.
This symbology was popular in Medieval European art as a representation of Christ. As a woman actually feeding a child with her body, I wanted to reclaim the symbol as a female deity to represent my own bodily experience, to record both my mundane everyday experience of early motherhood but written in the awe inspiring text of celestial phenomena and ancient mythos.
For The Hudson River Museum installation, the tail of the Pelican engulfs a white marble sculpture of a woman, Euridice from 1870, breasts bared, twisting in a spiral with her hand pulled towards the pelican with black satin ribbons. This is my favorite pairing of my work with a HRM collection piece, the interrelated qualities of material, mythology and imagery with works around the room is electric. Around her are other marble columns from the collection covered in carved flowers and holding my collection of lava stones from Iceland, sewn fabric lilies, silver leafed bones. The emotive quality of the statue is intense longing or mourning, I imagine an intensity pulled from the mythology of her story of separation from Orpheus, connecting my work to the craft of another artist, Riccardo Grifoni’s interpretation of ancient stories.
Across from the this white sculpture – whose patina is due to a fire in the 1950’s, which could not be removed from the warn parts of the marble, and consequently deemed the sculpture not quite appropriate for exhibition — hovers the huge orb of the moon, made up of hundreds upon hundreds of beads, trinkets, jewelry, stones and shells. Next to this is a self portrait of myself as “Stone Mother” shot in Snaefellness region of Iceland, equating my own internal landscape as geological.
Diagonal from Euridice’s hard white flesh is a dense lush woven and crocheted white cape worn by my son in both photographs and film, as he portrayed his interpretation of the living quality of the Snæfellsjökull glacier, completing the sense of the duality of the body and landscape as hard and soft, delicate and strong, inanimate and alive, intimate yet macroscopic. The remaining landscape of the room is populated with an intricate Raven — companion of Hecate, the old goddess of the dark and decisions–, and enactments of other familiar archetypes by myself and my husband artist Paul Margolis, shot in various extreme locations on residency in Iceland.
The final realm, The Vermillion Room is dominated by a slowly rotating forged ring of large turkey vultures, shredded wings spread over a mass of crocheted, beaded and blown glass ‘blood’, culminating in the strong geometry of a quilted compass rose spreading across the floor in 4 directions. This structure, dealing with time, direction, blood, destruction, regeneration continues my fascination with the carrion bird, this time a more naturalistic portrayal than the mythical carrion birds in “Every Moment Lost is Lost Forever”.
I’ve encountered turkey vultures on several hikes in my home state of Washington, but none more dramatic than once on an elk carcass along the Naches River. Along with three vultures were two golden eagles and a number of large ravens and a few magpies. Having just lost a friend, I sat and watched the events across the river in solemn quite that slowly turned to appreciation at the work that the birds do in the cycle of life. Often harbingers of death in mythology, the birds actually do no harm, nor do they kill.
They turn death into flight, a notion that filled me with relief and awe as this congress of huge birds flew in entwining circles in front of me, as the carcass was above me on a rock ledge. Further down the river, I collected the sun-stripped bones of a dog and a deer, which a few became a part of the silver expanse of the installation.
Surrounding the vulture compass rose are photographs and video created on my recent residency in Normandy, France, and depict a character I took on called “The Poppy Goddess.” Traveling with my family, the bucolic landscape all around me was in deep contrast to intensity of sadness I felt throughout my son’s studies of World War II. As a youngster, he became enamored with the machinery and the archetypal heroics of soldiers.
Wearing the intricate costume myself, it began to feel like a sort of armor, protecting or numbing myself to my ambivalence with my son’s attraction to the hero stories of war. Because of the multilayered mythology of the poppy flower – both of remembrance and the opium-induced forgetfulness of Demeter, I began to think of the Goddess as just one of an entire order of sisters, who assist (particularly mothers) with mourning the loss of children to war, who might lead one to a path of forgetting, and into dream as the only way to ease pain, and survive.
A companion to my Poppy Goddess costume in the gallery stands a 1900 bronze of Orpheus from the museum’s collection, and traced back to the iconic ruins of Untermyer gardens in Yonkers. Both figures stand as if in conversation with a photograph echoing a lyre form, created from brambles, mistletoe and crocheting arranged on a Norman hedgerow ruin. Naked in opposition to the cloaked goddess, both figures carry their own mythology of traveling to the underworld, immeasurable loss and the desire to outwit death — again a thrilling pairing of my work with a turn of the century artwork, both exploring the recurring presence of mythos in the drama of our everyday life.
Each realm featured a series of my films, most of which you can watch here. “The Ecstatic Moment” exhibition was the premier of two new films, one in the Vermillion room –Hypnos, and the other in Lava/Flesh realm –Every Moment Lost.
In Limited edition: 25 signed and numbered prints Printed on paper sized 11” x 14” or 12″ x 8″. Archival Ink Jet Photograph on archival Arches 100% cotton rag paper, 310 grams.This museum quality paper gives my images true deep color on a matte finish.
The Hudson River Museum produced two great videos about the exhibition. Enjoy!
I’ve just returned from a location scouting expedition in the Snoqualmie Forest for a project I’m so looking forward to with the Frye Art Museum’s presentation of Susan Robb’s Wild Times Project, coming up on the cusp of summer, as it heads towards fall. I’ll be facilitating an experimental sculpture and movement workshop that combines many things I love, many things that define me as an artist, and sharing this with a de facto performance company of people who come together to go on this journey with me (sign up!). The description provided by the Frye is rather small, and I’m getting so many inquiries about the project, so I want to go into more depth and background about just what it is we’ll be doing.
First off, the timeline details!
This will be an immersive workshop from September 3-7th, 2014. Wednesday 3rd-Thursday 4th, we will be working together at the Frye Museum Studio from 10am – 4pm, in Seattle. Then Friday-Sunday, the 5th-7th, we’ll head to the wilderness of Snoqualmie Pass, and camp together, work together and share food together on the banks of Denny Creek. We’ll use the natural environment as studio and backdrop and collaborator. Among other things, our activities will include a day hike to Franklin Falls to use as a performance site. And then our final day, we will hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, performing “Trail Magic” – acts of simple generosity for Thru Hikers. We’ll end our time together about 6pm on Sunday the 7th, but participants are welcome stay the night, departing our campsite on Monday morning.
So What’s this all about? What Will We Do and Why?
This project will be in conjunction with The Frye Museum’s presentation of Susan Robb’s ‘Wild Times’ project on the Pacific Crest Trail, which if you haven’t been following along on her blog, do that now! My contribution to a variety of programming for her project with the museum, grew out of a conversation this past winter with Susan, who was taking a workshop at my studio and everyone was very excitedly asking all sorts of questions about her impending adventure. Clearly the desire to seek wildness, both internally, in our daily lives and to literally disappear into a space unknown hit a nerve with everyone, including me.
My work has often been about the anxiety and desire of the human animal, teetering on the boundary between the chaos of the natural world and our constructed follies of civilization. I’ve examined our tenuous and ambivalent relationship to nature through our myths and fables, our creation of gods and goddesses to harness, tame and understand the brooding magic that calls to us from the dark boughs of the forest (or the desert or the mountains or the moors). The earliest expressions of art, movement, voice were grounded in ritual that both attempted to repel the chaos and strengthen communal bonds to insure survival, and to revere the majesty of the life-force of everything wild, and usually these shamanistic activities were joined in by the community at large, ordinary people slipped in and out of identities of the natural divine. We fear it, we long for it; this is the subtext for so many human activities, and certainly a continual thrum in the pulse of the spirit of why I am a maker.
So, like the pensive seeker who follows the White Stag into the wood — to either be healed and emerge, or be lost forever — since 2010, part of my process of making has been to take myself and family into remotes parts of the world, where we make things together and respond to what we find there, where the small community I am bound to by blood and love becomes my subject in performance, film and photography. I have always been aware that my aim was to get us lost, so that we could find each other. In extreme or raw circumstances, we find what is most essential to bring us together.
This Trail project will be a way to share this somewhat private process with a larger group, to make you who join me, our interactions with each other as makers and with the wild, the subject matter of a new film and photography series I am working on, as well as a laboratory for developing movement ideas and motifs for a larger installation/performance series I am just beginning to develop for the future. I’ve wanted to knit together this process I have taken on with my family, as well as my sometimes-role as teacher, and also as a facilitator of communal space that has taken shape in my social practice works. I’ve seen it countless times in these spaces I’ve hosted; people making together with their hands breaks down social barriers, begins community.
Making things, making community:
For this project, we’ll be making a wearable ‘headdress’ out of collected natural materials, hand-dyed vermillion silk ribbons and vermillion dyed wool. Each participant will gather natural materials from their daily life, moving through their own natural/urban thresholds finding unseen bounty in forgotten places. I’m collecting piles and piles of waist-high grasses and ivy vines from an overgrown lot in my neighborhood, not seeing it as trash but raw materials. I’ m also collecting sage and lavender from my garden, thistle pods from an abandoned round-about, and rowan berries from a neighbor’s yard (with permission, of course).
I’m asking participants to move slower through their surroundings, move with a Dérive state of mind, shift off your predictable paths and be gleaners, find the raw materials that are free and plentiful around you. We’ll bring in things to share from our lives, and share over tea and handwork. I’ll be teaching crocheting chains and the more complex crochet ‘mandala’ forms prominent in my work. We’ll stitch, sew, twist, knot and tie to make structures to alter our bodies, our movements, our human identities. I’ll also be making vermillion silk tunics for everyone, to wear with our headdresses in the woods (easy to stuff in our packs and take out to look amazing!)
The headdresses will become tools, not necessarily the end goal or product, but the vehicle to get to the goal: developing a responsiveness to one’s own body in relation to the natural site and to the other participants through slow process. As I have observed time and again in my community-based projects and workshops, making with our hands slows the darting mind down, loosening up the social interface, creating a space where people who do not know each other can slowly and intuitively learn about each other, even with times of comfortable, thoughtful silence. I’ve also seen a sense of camaraderie develop through making, where people often slide into archetypes depending on who else is there: as example ‘elder’, ‘seeker’, ‘survivor’, ‘witness’, ‘wounded’, ‘teacher’, ‘child’. I will guide participants through movement, writing and vocalizing, to cultivate this example of how community germinates and ritual persists. We’ll use who each of us are to create our movement scores.
These are the ‘tools’ I use when developing my own performative and site embedded work. For instance, we’ll follow many of the same steps I took with my collaborators in crafting the “Saltus Chori Aevum” performance, which is an apprenticeship model. I’ve lined up several really incredible guest Seattle-based performance artists who will share with us their techniques for digging deep, including the incredible Jessica Jobaris, the choreographer of “Saltus Chori Aevum”, and luminescent multidisciplinary performance artist Kate Ryan, founder of the Jakku House Communal space project, among many other things! We are so lucky to work with these incredible culture-makers. With their guidance, we’ll be creating individual scores and motifs, using writing, movement, and vocalizing, but working with the umbrella of concepts and structures I’ll bring to the table to combine these elements into group performance.
Then in the woods, we’ll play with our scores by exploring the forest, the banks of the creek and culminate with a day at the base of Franklin Falls, where we can wade in ankle deep and sing and shout to the roar of waterfall. The Falls are a curious place, a meandering hike deeper into the forest, climbing around a rocky cliff to a private cove, but also just above the falls is a black swath of Interstate 90, as if right there the two forces of wild and civilization battle it out. But then they harmonize. The roar of the river and falls blend with the roar of the trucks, and it all sounds like water! It’s a perfect place to realize this project.
One more idea we’ll explore that fascinates me ; abandoning the idea of audience, for a time. Like Sacred Harp singers, who sing for themselves, the spirit and the group facing towards each other. We’ll be each other’s mirror. I have often found something absurd and freeing when I am both filming and being the one filmed for a piece, switching between roles where they just start to blur. Nature will accept our song.
Getting Lost to Find Something. In many ways, I see Susan’s journey and the journey of all thru-hikers reflecting this idea. Maybe it is entirely different. I’m so grateful for her efforts to share this journey and instigate ‘wildness’ in others. Though they all walk the same path, each journey is their own deeply personal exploration of the self in communion with the extreme, but also a shifting and almost esoteric community that moves along the spine of the continent. They become the Hero to each of their own stories, and an internal language develops. We cannot know what they know or be a part of that community, but I have the desire to take on the role of another archetype, that of the Helper.
We’ll use the Hero’s Journey story structure as a jumping off point, as well as ideas of caretaking, pilgrimage, sanctuary/shelter, and the practical purpose of ritual. We’ll spend time together making smudge bundles for fire ceremonies, explore knot magic, the importance of the ritual of sharing food, and an afternoon making flowered standards in Alpine meadows. Lastly we’ll honor the actual journeys of the PCT thru-hikers by carrying delicious treats, water and small bundles of generosity up to the trail – Trail Magic- moving beyond thoughts and ideas towards simple and profound acts.
Some nitty-gritty details: You don’t have to be a performer or sculptor to join in, just be a willing adventurer, curious and creative! I am most happy as an artist when on shaky ground trying something new, and learning to use it as new vocabulary. This will be exploratory for all of us! Join in! Sign up here with the Frye Art Museum!
You do need to have some experience with camping and some experience with day hiking. If you have never done either, this might not be the project for you. We will be going on several day hikes; you need to be capable of going round trip 5 miles easily, carrying a pack of what you need for the day, including your headdress. When we hike the PCT 4 miles, we’ll also be carrying up the ‘Trail Magic”. I have hiked all the trails we will be going on, they are relatively easy but with some up-hill and down hill, and they are very well marked and well cared for being so close to the Pass. I am not a wilderness guide, so we will all be responsible for our own needs. Once you register, we’ll supply a list of what you will need for camping as well as the class. But please don’t hesitate to send me messages with any questions! The folks at the Frye’s Public Programs can answer registration questions, including how to get credit for this class from SPU.
With the camping, we will be at the group site of Denny Creek Campground, which has water, a pit toilet at our site, a regular bathroom a few minutes walk away, fire-pit and two grills, and even an electrical outlet. It is drive-up! (no back-packing tents!) No showers, but I found a quick dip in the cold river a few minutes walk away to be quite refreshing! With this workshop potentially having up to 12 people, participants will need to be okay with sharing space, potentially sharing a tent with one other person, and carpooling. The site will not accommodate 12 cars. We’ll also need to car-pool to the PCT trail head, 3 miles from the campsite. All those details we will figure out as a group, but should not come as a surprise as you register. Also all camping equipment, hiking equipment and food is supplied by you, but we will talk as a group about sharing things like cook-stoves and all that stuff, so if you need to share, we’ll make it happen through self-organizing with the other participants. It will be a wonderful time!