Value doesn’t necessarily relate to dollars and cents. My plaster Native Americans were a garbage pick, and yet they give me no end of pleasure. I photograph them through the seasons; try to guess what they are thinking, imagining conspiracies, turns of mood, and the vagaries of friendship. Recently, one tumbled off the deck (probably the result of a hungry squirrel’s movements). It was shocking to see this guy all by himself. They had moved around the yard, but never been separated. Of course, I had to ask: What happened? Was there an argument? An ugly remark? Or has the fallen given over to an unseen grief?
Some garbage picks end up back on the curb. Even though ANY possession can be thrown out, we ought to feel a particular ease putting something we found in the garbage BACK into the garbage. Alas, such is not always the case. To cultivate this ease, I have developed a clutter-clearing mantra especially for found items: (to be said in the voice of a graveside pastor) — “Here you go, thing, curb to curb”.
Always, the unconscious is present, making this or that comment in our days, usually quite a bit ahead of our awareness. That’s part of the mystery, the fun, and the intrigue of making art.
But this picture made me wonder if there weren’t ways to build in a practice of less-conscious captures?
I mean something more than accepting that scrap of fabric that fell from somewhere and landed on a quilt, begging for inclusion. And I mean more than embracing a wicked mistake and owning it as part of a now-changed design.
I mean consciously building in a more random catalog. Anybody have any ideas about how to do this? Does anyone do this already (that they know of)? I’d love to hear.
The umbrella picture struck me because I shot it after composing a series of careful studies of the unfurling, magnificent hosta that line our sidewalk. I composed the way I usually do and had some thread of text forming in my head (something about the glory of spring and the changing tides of opinion — in this case regarding hosta — a pedestrian plant that I used to dislike, but now appreciate for its reliability and willingness to endure all kinds of stress — from rabbit-dining to cold shocks, mashing, and even clips by the lawn mower). As an afterthought, I snapped this dappled light and wet umbrella on my way in the door.
I liked this picture so much more than any of the careful shots, that I had to wonder what else I am missing by pointing my lens in predictable directions. The rake with its signs of recent bed-clearing, the umbrella still wet with a spring rain, and most of all, the dappled light… these elements collectively said “SPRING” better than my careful compositions. What ELSE am I missing by pointing my lens in ‘pretty’ directions? By deciding in advance what constitutes an image of something, in this case — spring?
And speaking of spring, here are some more shots of my neighborhood and front yard.
a snobby conflict about flamingos years ago led many in Newton to adorn their yards with them
our front yard – these pansies have suffered in the recent cold
one of my favorite nearby gardens
another beautiful garden on Oxford Road
On the route where these pictures were taken I found a lovely hole-ridden grey piece of something – I don’t want to gross anyone out, but it is probably a piece of Kleenex.
"Collective Soul: Study in Lime Green" by Jane Walsh
Over the next couple of days, I’ll be posting some pictures from the QC show that was up over the weekend. This first picture is of a fairly large quilt — 4.5′ tall perhaps?. It is a whole cloth piece with surface treatment created by Kumo shibori and some painting. The colors were yummy.
"Fragments" by Judy Becker
An entire wall was devoted to “Fragments” by Judy Becker. At least five of these well-crafted quilts sold. Each piece is (I’m guessing) 10″ square. They were hung vertically in color-related groups. Each piece (I think) incorporated a found rusted object, centered below —
Becker, close up
One of the things I love about Judy’s work (besides her beautiful color-sense and well-pieced compositions) is the unique and lovely way she binds the quilt to the wooden frame.
Becker side view
One of my quilts was in “The Black Box” — thankfully NOT in the Mezzanine Classroom, which I have a theory about, but will keep to myself for now — but was so badly lit that I couldn’t really take a decent picture of it.
Close up of "Adam and Eve IV"
It was not a hugely successful quilt, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, but I was being scrupulous about not showing a quilt that had been previously exhibited, and having shown 14 quilts in that very venue the month before, I didn’t think I could pick my favorite of that bunch. However, I noticed some other entries in the QC show that had taken prizes in other exhibits, so clearly were not making their debut.
The face is Shrinky Dink, the body, unspun wool, covering a bark-less stick. A garbage-picked scarf wraps around his neck, and a found rusty nail is tied to the torso. The wool is nailed to the stick with small brads. Most of the nails represent, well, nails, but the rusty one represents the spear that impaled Christ’s body.
The cross is a found piece from a little red wagon and arms are either day lily or hosta stalks saved from last year’s garden.
The hands are Shrinky Dink as well. I have embellished the face with beads and waxed linen. The crown of thorns are florist toothpicks on wire.
The face comes from a book of African portraits that I have (and currently can’t find, in order to cite). This man was in an ecstatic trance.
The most satisfying part about making this figure was the sense of completion — the face and body had hung around the studio for at least a year before the other components found their way to the piece. There is nothing like a marker in time (like a holiday, and specifically, Good Friday) to provide a little motivation.