Tuesday, April 17, 2018

To every thing there is a season...


And my season of traveling to teach workshops is about over.

As of right now, looks like I'll bow out of the teaching circuit by the end of 2019.  I've had several very nice invitations for next year but have declined those that weren't already on my schedule as of the first of this year.

There are many reasons that I'm deciding this.  One reason is that I need to spend more time at home and with my own work at this point in my life.  Another is that there are many fine tapestry teachers out there who make some or most of their living with teaching and I want to support those folks whenever I can. 

I've been grateful to have now been a teacher for fifty years.  I began in the summer of 1968 with a children's class that I taught between my junior and senior years at the University of Georgia where I was an art education major.   My full-time career as an art teacher started in the fall of 1969 after graduation.  I was in public school (middle & high school) for three years before beginning to work at the Fine Arts Department North Georgia College (now the University of North Georgia).  And I remained at North Georgia as full-time until 2000 and then as part-time weaving instructor until 2009.  I began the weaving program at UNG when I first began working there in 1972 and I'm happy to say that it's still alive and well.

When I left my full-time responsibilities I began to teach short classes and workshops frequently throughout the year.  I'd been doing some summer workshops since the 1980s but the ability to schedule during any time of the year was nice.  I've now been teaching for guilds, fiber conferences or craft schools since 2000. 

It's been tremendously rewarding to spend time with people of all ages and interests in workshops.  Every time has been a learning experience for me as I've developed new teaching materials, seen amazing solutions to tapestry design ideas, and been challenged with lots of "what ifs?"  I haven't always know the answers but I've appreciated the questions and tried to help as best I could.

I won't stop teaching about design and tapestry... just change the way I'm doing it.  I hope to be able to occasionally offer master classes based in my studio here in Dahlonega for one or two people at a time.  Or perhaps something with a larger group in collaboration with the university's art department may develop in the future.

So... until the end of 2019 I'm looking forward to these upcoming classes:
John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina, May 27-June 2, 2018
Arrowmont School of Crafts, Gatllinburg, Tennessee, July 29-August 4, 2018

Aya Fiber Studio, Stuart, Florida, March 4-8, 2019
John C. Campbell Folk School*, April 29-May 4, 2019

Links to these are in the side margin of the blog.  Maybe I'll see you there!  And if not, maybe you'll think about coming to Dahlonega in the future when I have classes going here.  I'll be sure to announce whatever may be coming up in my blog.

*The first weaving workshop I taught was at John C. Campbell Folk School in the early 1980s.  It was a basic weaving class using the looms that had been at the school for many years and held in the building that now houses the History Center at JCFS.  I feel it will be quite fitting and appropriate to end my teaching years once more at the Folk School in 2019, book ending many decades of instruction in a beautiful spot that holds a very special place in my heart.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Lillian Smith Center--another beautiful visit comes to an end


I've spent the past week in residence at the Lillian Smith Center.  I've been working on a writing project for several months, mostly in fits and starts.  I needed to concentrate on editing and getting away for a few days has given me time to do that.


Here's where I've spent much of each day:


But I've also done this:


And some of this:


I've taken time to walk the loop road around the Center and also get on one of the hiking trails briefly.  Spring is finally coming to the north Georgia mountains--even though it's been chilly enough to wear my coat and gloves every time I've been out this week.

Walking in early springtime brings so many wonderful surprises.  I got to see fiddleheads poking up through the leaf litter--that was quite exciting!  I missed them last year while I was at Penland, just wasn't out in the woods at the right time.



Other tiny things are to be noticed, too:





There was this little fellow:


Some day to be like this:


It's been gray and damp for several days this week but the sky is blue today with puffy, white clouds whipping all around in the breeze.


Now it's time to go home and get back to the work of tapestry weaving.  I hope to be back here soon!

Had to end with a photo of the red door... if you've read past posts from LES Center, you'll have seen the red door before!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Exhibit Thoughts


In the past two weeks I've had the opportunity to see two tapestry exhibits, both stellar in their own way.  I've also learned the results of three juried shows into which I'd entered tapestries.  And I've met with the gallery coordinator about an upcoming exhibition of several of my pieces in the Atlanta area.

I have several things I want to write about concerning each of these things... so here goes.

On February 27 I saw the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit that's currently on display at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center, near Asheville, North Carolina.  Fifty tapestries by twenty seven TWS members hang in the Main Gallery at the FAC and are there until April 29.   The exhibit is well worth making a trip to Asheville to see. 




Tapestry Weavers South is a group to which I belong and one that's dear to my heart.  I'm one of the founding member of the organization that was born when about eighteen people from the southeast came together to establish TWS in 1996.  We've been going strong ever since and almost every year have mounted an exhibit of our members--always, to this point, an unjuried exhibit usually held somewhere in the southeastern U.S.  In 2012-2013 we teamed up with another regional group, Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound, for a joint exhibit called NW x SE that was shown in locations in both the northwest and the southeast.

The second tapestry exhibit I was fortunate to see before the end is a solo show of works by Molly Elkind.  It's currently on display at the Southeast Fiber Art Alliance Center in Chamblee, Georiga.  The title of the show is Iconic and features tapestries Molly has created in the past five years.


Many of the pieces are inspired by a sixth-century icon of the Virgin Mary, photos of Molly's mother and also self-portrait.  This is a quote from her artist statement:
"Much of contemporary art is about issues of identity, and this series is aobut identity for me, too.  My given name is Mary.  But in a larger sense I'm concerned with how impossibly high standards of goodness, purity, beauty, and obedience attributed to Mary have influenced notions of ideal womanhood and ideal motherhood.  In my tapestries I have tried to discover ways of reading Mary that acknowledges qualities of depth, imagination, and courage."
Molly is talking to a couple of visitors.
Another group of of works she calls "Illuminated Manuscript Series" and she describes the motivation for those this way:
"...inspired by my interest in medieval illuminated manuscripts.  Many of these were ... prayer books of devotions to Mary.  The graphic qualities of the manuscript pages--the dense and colorful patterns, the mix of text, images and decoration in the center, surrounded by either wide empty margins or even more dense patterning and decoration--all this inspired my series of contemporary illuminated manuscripts in tapestry form."
Seeing Molly Elkind's exhibit and reading her statement reinforces my belief that once one finds a "What"--the "Why" and "How" will follow.  The "What" was Molly wanting to explore and express about the iconic images that drew her attention.  The images of Mary combined with her own image and her mother's ... very thought provoking for the viewer and I'm sure has given Molly many hours of contemplation while developing the theme, the "Why" of it all.  The "How" she's developed along the way as she's woven more and more tapestries, taken workshops, developed new skills and techniques with the medium.  I am truly in awe of what she's accomplished in the last five years.  Molly has written about the concepts for her work at her blog--well worth reading.  Congratulations to you, Molly Elkind, for creating these passionate and beautiful tapestry pieces. 

Now... about the exhibits I've entered and been accepted into (or not).  At the last minute, I decided to enter Fantastic Fibers 2018 to be held at the Yeiser Art Center, Paducha, Kentucky.  I've entered other versions of this exhibit in the past, never successfully.  And I expected the same result this time around.  But, no... this time a piece was accepted! That was wonderful--but on the other hand, the piece I entered is 60" x 60" and framed in a float frame.  Shipping it via UPS or FedEX, the two carriers they require for receiving works, won't be possible.  Solution?  Rent a van and drive the tapestry almost 400 miles to Kentucky.  Then at the end of the exhibit, repeat the process in reverse.  Ah well.  One of the many costs of exhibiting works.

Within a day or so of learning and being excited about the Fantastic Fibers acceptance, I got word that the pieces I'd entered for the Handweavers Guild of America Small Expressions exhibit were declined.  Ah well, again.  BUT, the good news is that I'll now be able to send one of the tapestries to the American Tapestry Alliance small format UNjuried exhibit that will held in Reno, Nevada this summer.  So lose some, win some.

The third juried exhibit I'd entered is also sponsored by HGA, to be held in Reno during Convergence this summer..  The Playa is the title of the exhibit of textile works of all kinds.  Ironically, the piece I'd entered in that show I'd just sold and delivered to Molly Elkind!  Molly is allowing me to exhibit the work--thank you, Molly--I do appreciate that.

Molly, holding my tapestry she'd just purchased...you can see two more of her works beside her.
Lastly, I want to mention briefly that I'm getting ready for an exhibit of several tapestries to be held in an arts center in the Atlanta area from May 28-July 28.  I'll write more about that later.  I'm currently preparing a demo loom for use in the gallery.  I'll have a tapestry partly woven for the exhibit and will return to the center to weave at least once during a Family Day.  Here's the beginning of that piece:


So... I titled this post "Exhibit Thoughts" but seems it's turned into mostly an "Exhibit News" commentary, I guess.  I'll end with these thoughts about exhibiting--it's a curious, daunting, challenging, troublesome, exhilarating, expensive, rewarding process.  Why do I do it?  To see my work in a context other than my own studio and home, for one reason.  And to share with others a little of the way I see the world.

Now,  off to the studio to actually do some weaving that can be exhibited! 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

WWoO (Wonderful Weavers of Orlando)!


I just returned from a very nice trip to Florida where I taught a workshop for the Weavers of Orlando.  The workshop was called "Weaving the Days of your Life" and focused on the practice of weaving a tapestry diary.

The WoO members meet at Westminster Towers in Winter Park for workshops, using the top floor art/craft space called the Roof Room.  It's a nice, large space with fabulous views in two directions--here's Orlando in the distance:


And here's a view toward more of Winter Park; Rollins College buildings are those in the left side of the photo:


The workshop began on Saturday, the 17th but I left home on the 15th to drive part of the way.  I arrived in the afternoon of the 16th, unloaded with the help of the workshop organizer and moved things to Roof.  Westminster Towers is part of a retirement community and the facilities are spacious, bright and quite impressive.  I stayed in one of the guest rooms courtesy of my hosts, Edie and Bob, who are residents there.  It was so convenient to be able to park my car after I unloaded it, then not have to get back into it until days later.  Both Edie and Bob are weavers and have been instrumental in Weavers of Orlando being able to use the facilities for meetings and workshops.

There were 15 people in the class and we met for a hour or so on Saturday morning before the monthly meeting of the larger guild group.  It was held on the first floor in a conference room, complete with two large screens on which my slides were shown when I made a presentation following their business meeting.

Lots of weaving, discussions and ideas flowed through the weekend.  There were many types of frame looms in the class, from commercially available ones to home-made.  A Wolf Pup floor loom was also in use.  It was great fun and I hope many (maybe most?) of those participants will continue to weave the days of their life for many years in the future!  Here are a few photos taken during the three days:














On the way home I was able to visit a couple of friends in Deltona.  It's always nice to see a tapestry I've woven living with someone--and this was the case!  My friend's partner had surprised her with it a few years ago, going into cahoots with her daughters and another friend to buy it together.  I gave her the watercolor on which the tapestry was based, also.  Thanks, Fran and Val, for the hospitality!



I spent the next two days getting home, stopping overnight in central Georgia on my way back.  Driving for about five or six hours at a time is about my limit now.  I love doing workshops but it always takes a bit of reentry time when I get back.  Unload the car, reorganize things I've taken to the workshop, do laundry, tie up loose ends from the workshop (if any--and there was this time--like a major mistake in one of my handouts that I needed to correct and have reprinted, then mail to everyone).  And, sometimes have adventures along the way!  This time those included a trip to the Cornell Fine Art Museum at Rollins College to take in an Impressionist show and to the Deland Museum of Art to see a fantastic exhibit of M.C. Escher's work.  Other less fun adventures were having my credit card declined at two service stations (all OK but because I was out of state, red flags were up) and seeing the "check engine" light on my dash come on.  A trip to a car dealership in Dublin, Georgia resolved that issue--and gave me time to do a bit of waiting room sketching, too!




I'm settling in at my studio to weave in a few days.  A new tapestry is on the horizon, to begin soon!  In the meantime, I'll continue to weave the days of my life on my tapestry diary warp.  Day by day by day by day....