Last day to see my work from Winter Iceland residency at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle

"Jokull Ormer Woman" 33.5” x 25”, archival ink jet photography on archival 100% rag watercolor paper, signed edition of 8, 2013, $1100

“Jokull Ormer Woman”
33.5” x 25”, archival ink jet photography on archival 100% rag watercolor paper, signed edition of 8, 2013

Today , June 29th, from 12-3pm is the last day to see “The Obsessive Unknown Origins of Grotesque Irregularity”, at LxWxH Gallery, which includes an installation of work I did during my second residency in Iceland this past January/February, supported by the 2012 Arts Innovator Award from Artists Trust/The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation.  You can read a little bit more about it over at my Solstenen Project blog, but go see the show if your are in Seattle today.

My NEPO House show images, Dec. 2012, Seattle

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Little jökull, woven fabric and crocheted yarn and fabric, stones, 2012-13

“Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span” show at NEPO House, which  was such a gratifying experience to bring some of the work began in Iceland to closure, to see friends, share my family’s work and share in the hospitality of NEPO House’s Little Treats series.  Paul loved standing on the porch serving Icelandic waffles and glogg and egg nog to everyone who arrived.

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No one asked me about the odd title…maybe my odd titles are just par for the course now.  It’s something from the very beginning of the beginning.  As I was writing the first grant proposal for this project in early 2011, trying to coax something concise from the jumble of ideas, I was reading my son my favorite book from my childhood, The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter.

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And this one scene struck me in the gullet, a powerful monolog spoken by a Herdwick ewe named Belle Lingcropper, about the strength and tenacity of the sheep, as well as the transitory nature of our time here.  She says

” What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.”

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Cave Father, archival ink jet photograph

Both the wisp of legacy and transience, from the mouth of sheep (but of course Miss Potter really).  For  awhile I have been fixated and inspired how Beatrix Potter managed to craft a life for herself as a woman writer of her time, as well a attain a certain independence and ultimately to use her own earned money to become a major conservationist of land, of a way of life, and the Herdwick sheep breed.  She used her patient day’s allotted span well, and I aim to do the same, somehow.

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Anyhow, aside from my admiration for her ability to  make a living as an artist, jumping over hurdles, I’m sure, I have never had to deal with — her ewe’s speech seemed to draw me to a place in my mind, not Britian, but to a fantasy of Iceland where things would play out, questions would be met with answers on the wind and stone, if only for a brief time.

See a full selection of images here

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But that brief time was wedged in the legacy of the maker, the creator, the individual who has crafted their life’s work from the the air, the land, the water and all that comes with it.  My collaborators –my son, my husband — we went on that part of our journey together, a different but interrelated meaning for all of us.  Something lasting for all of us, but the geologic text written on the small island of Iceland loomed in my mind as a different time table than our own brief human span.

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And Potter’s imagining of the mind of her dear Herdwicks seemed to speak of a pride of one’s place in a long span of time, not just what we experience.  I thought the working title would shed itself — and for a while I didn’t think of it all — but once this grouping of work was done, it still seemed to work.

You can also see some of my films from the project here: Films!

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Here’s the entirety of little Belle the ewe’s speech.  I was startled by the tenderness I felt for the Icelandic sheep we would encounter, their soft eyes and the intense soft warmness they seemed to radiate in the harsh rocky landscape.  I always imagined them saying this…

Cool is the air above the craggy summit. Clear is the water of the mountain keld. Green grows the grass in droughty days beneath the brackens! What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.

Wild and free as when the stone-men told our puzzled early numbers; untamed as when the Norsemen named our grassings in their stride. Our little feet had ridged the slopes before the passing Romans. On through the fleeting centuries, when fresh blood came from Iceland, Spain, or Scotland–stubborn, unchanged, UNBEATEN–we have held the stony waste.

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Icelandic blueberry, mushroom, bones wallpaper

My Solstenen films screened at “Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance” : Film night at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater in Seattle

This past fall I did a series of residencies in Iceland over the course of 5 weeks, as part of my on-going Solstenen Project.  I’ve been blogging about it here, and will continue to do so as I return to Iceland in two weeks for another month or work, research and journey.  But I have completed some work from Iceland, films, sculpture and photographs, first a showing at NEPO House in December, and now a presentation of films I began in Iceland.

breathing stone woman_edited-1

I’m so giddy to be showing some of my new Solstenen Project films with some of my favorite Seattle-based artsts/filmmakers during an evening presentation at Seattle’s gorgeous Jewelbox Theater!

“Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance : Film night with,
Gala Bent, Jennifer Zwick, Britta Johnson, Mandy Greer, Scott Kolbo and Vis-a-Vis Society at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater,  January 9th, 2013,    7-10 pm

Something old, something new, something odd, something blue.
In-process, foundlings, archived, favorites and brand new films by an exuberant collection of artists:

Gala Bent
Jennifer Zwick
Britta Johnson
Mandy Greer
Scott Kolbo and
Vis-a-Vis Society.

Films will begin at 7pm and cycle throughout the evening until 10pm.

Drop in when you can. Delicious treats by the Rendezvous kitchen!  FREE

Film still from "My farm and Yours", Mandy Greer 2013
Film still from “My farm and Yours”, Mandy Greer 2013
2322 2nd Ave., Seattle, Washington 98121

‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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Film still from Scott Kolbo
Film still from Scott Kolbo
Film still from "I shall loan you these rags", Mandy Greer 2013
Film still from “I shall loan you these rags”, Mandy Greer 2013
Film still from "Nothing to give", Mandy Greer, 2013
Film still from “Nothing to give”, Mandy Greer, 2013
Film still from "Birch Play", Mandy Greer, 2013
Film still from “Birch Play”, Mandy Greer, 2013

Solstenen project at Seattle’s ‘The Project Room’ is humming along, now till Sept. 2

I am delightfully busy now until September 2nd at The Project Room!  I’ve just updated the events calendar, so please join me if you are in Seattle, or please follow along on the Solstenen project blog!  Back to work for me!

Solstenen events at The Project Room will include weekly community crochet parties, and beginning in August, a variety of guest artist events and activities.  These events will be updated on the calendar on an on-going basis. Get updates through Twitter or Facebook, too!

Also come visit during Open Studio hours

August

  • August 6th, Saturday, Solstenen Guest Artist Event, 11 am -3 pm : Join Mandy in a Learning Demo in “low-tech/low water dyeing” from fabric artist and dyeing genius Cameron Anne Mason
  • August 7th, Sunday, Solstenen Guest Artist Event, 1pm – 3 pm-ish: Join Mandy in a ’round table’ chat (with pie) about “Artists Who Interview” with Joey Veltkamp, Saskia Delores, Tessa Hulls, Sharon Arnold and Amanda Manitach
  • August 9th, Tuesday, Community Crochet Party, 3:30 – 7:30pm
  • August 11th, Thursday, Solstenen Guest Artist Event and Community Crochet, 5 – 8pm; drop in during Blitz Capital Hill Arts Walk for crocheting, and at 6pm join artist Cameron Anne Mason for a talk on the how and why she creates pattern in fabric
  • August 15-20th, Guest Artist Working, Amanda Manitach will be working in the studio with Mandy, using The Project Room’s large lovely walls for drawing, and other things!  Amanda’s hours: M, T, Th. – S; 12 -5 pm
  • August 16th, Tuesday, Community Crochet Party, 3:30 – 7:30pm
  • August 23rd, Tuesday, Community Crochet Party, 3:30 – 7:30pm
  • August 30th, Tuesday, Community Crochet Party, 3:30 – 7:30pm

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

So in Spring 2012, I’ll journey to a 5-week residency 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

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

Bookends:

The beginning and end of this project take place a Seattle’s newest addition to the multidisciplinary interactive art scene, The Project Room. I’ll initiate the Solstenen project with a 7-week open-studio residency from July 14 – September 1, 2011.

I will begin 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 the Fall of 2012, after the residency in Iceland, I’ll return to TPR to present the completed body of work as a site-specific 
exhibition.

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!

‘Solstenen’…my newest project adventure begins July 14th, 2011

This week and next, I’m gearing up for my newest participatory project to begin on July 14th, 2011. It seems like there are a million loose ends, but that seems to just be my way, it will all knit together as it needs to be!
‘Solstenen’ kicks off at Seattle’s newest multi-disciplinary art center, The Project Room, as its inaugural project.  For the first event, I’ll be hosting a Community Crochet Party to coincide with Capital Hill’s art walk, Thursday the 14th from 5 – 8 pm.

Address and Map here

This begins a year long documenting process for me; here’s what I have to say on the project’s blog {stonemandy.wordpress.com}:

Solstenen — a year-long project chronicling the process of learning about and the making of a new body of creative work — begins with a 7-week open-studio residency at the Seattle multidisciplinary art center, The Project Room.

July 14 – September, 2011

I will begin the first stitch of this project at TPR, inviting public participation through hands-on workshops, open studio hours, and other happenings – including interactive activities with guest artists during August 2011.

Inspired by an amalgamation of literary works, and exploring themes of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation — identity metamorphosing into the environmental — I’ll be crocheting together wearable mantels of stones, and ‘hair shirts’ of hundreds of hand-sewn feathers.

Spring 2012, I’ll journey to a 5-week residency in Iceland with my husband, artist Paul Margolis, 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. 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.

Solstenen renders 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 ‘auto-didactic learning, sharing, influence and confluence’. An overlapping strata of concepts layering and growing together like a kombucha mother, I’ll document the alluvial fan of making, researching and connections formed with other makers/thinkers/tinkerers, through in-depth interviews of guest artists both here in Seattle and in Iceland.

The project will book-end with a culminating installation at The Project Room in Fall 2012, as part of TPR’s year-long curatorial question, “Why Do We Make Things.”

What is Solstenen? in-depth…

If this sounds like a project you want to participate in, and want timely updates, you can connect and get updates about the Solstenen project events through Twitter and Facebook, or by joining my mailing list. Connect, join and stop by!

Follow mandygreer on Twitter

Mandy Greer

Connect, Tweet and Facebook with The Project Room, too!

I also am in need of your extra materials in grays and silvers.  If you have anything, I would be oh-so grateful!  Read more about it {here}