work table : narrowing down the essentials in an art practice

January seems to be the time when most artists sit down to think about goals for the upcoming year. After a month of crazy health issues, which I might add I feel 100% fine during all of it, I've been thinking about the bigger life issues of really living the fullest life one can lead. I decided to really cut to the chase (which happens to be the title of my upcoming solo show at Stripe in Santa Cruz, CA) about what really makes me the happiest in my studio. If I'm going to spend the next few months not feeling great (and I'm still not sure about that yet since we don't know what I have), I at least want to make the most of my time when I'm making art. I always keep my eyes open to new ideas which involves a lot of research (yes, Pinterest counts as work!) and a lot of pondering and questioning. Over the past week, I've narrowed down the essentials of what I want from my art practice to six points.

1) I love sewing. When I'm not sewing, I wish I was sewing. Therefore, whatever I'm making in my art, it needs to involve sewing.

Albuquerque Quilt in progress.

2) I love the process of making quilts. But they have to be quilts that are really art, first and foremost. The quilt is a medium for me, like paint or collage. There's something about the measuring and cutting and organizing that I adore.

Quilt blocks for Albuquerque Foreclosure Quilt before piecing.

3) I want to work on a larger scale. I keep coming back to certain works of art that spellbound me. They are all large. Really large. Mark Bradford, El Anatsui and Dorothy Caldwell all work on a larger scale. There were two things that happened last week that got me thinking about this more seriously. First, this review about my work in the Houston Sprawl exhibit. I loved this review. Then I came across the image below on Pinterest of Dorothy Caldwell's studio. Something about this image has stayed with me.

Dorothy Caldwell's studio. Image from Trout in Plaid.
4) My work must relay a message. I can not put pen to paper or needle to fabric without having some reason behind each stitch or line. And not just any message, I want to deal with the big issues, the powerful world altering issues that affect all of us globally. Ai Wei Wei has got that point down.

Installation view of ‘according to what?’ featuring ‘dropping a han dynasty urn’
1995/2009 and ‘colored vases’ 2007-2010. www.Designboom.com

5) Research. If you know me by now, you know I'm always mentioning some statistic or pouring over some book that no one finds interesting but me. I love sifting through data to find a bigger message to summarize to people.

I'm embarrassed to share this but here's all of my research
on the Foreclosure Quilts. Eep!

6) Aesthetics are important to me. Always have been, always will.

Aboubakar Fofana courtesy of Selvedge Dry Goods.

7) A little wit or deeper meaning needs to be in my work. I love the reaction people have when they suddenly 'get' the foreclosure quilts. I'd really like to work more with humor in my next body of work too. It's time for a little humor in my life!

Feral Pidgeon Eating Crisps by Clare Sams. I love this!

Now that I've really been able to hone down the essentials I've been trying to come up with some new ideas. I actually have a good one too! It's nice to have other things to think about than upcoming tests and doctor's visits. My next test is tomorrow and we will hopefully have some results by mid-next week. It's been over a month I've been living in limbo but thankfully, feeling perfectly healthy. And all the tests so far this year have been normal, which is great. So get creating!


Current show : SPRAWL at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

The wonderful exhibition, SPRAWL, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is coming to a close on January 19th. Three of my Foreclosure Quilts were included in the show. I really wish I could have seen the exhibit in person, it looked amazing from the photographs and has been incredibly well recieved in the press. Hats off to Susie Silbert and Anna Walker for curating the show. I'll be sad to see it come down, actually. I heard from so many people who saw the show how much they loved it. I even made some great new connections through it.

But, if you're like me and can't make it to the actual show, here are some articles about the exhibit. First in Houstonia Magazine, where I was interviewed for all of three minutes but somehow the author managed to write an amazing article that featured the quilts in the story "Sprawl is Beautiful". And a nice review of the show here as well.

Next, you can peruse the show catalogue through ISSUU here. It's a fantastic catalog! Julia Gabriel's piece, below, is one of my favorites. She made a series of backpacks that feature a Houston block. I think they're even for sale! Clever.

Julia Gabriel's "Congress@Bastrop, Houston, Texas." 2013
There were a series of lectures also associated with the show. You can listen to them here. And speaking of Houston, a friend of mine in London, Claire Brewster, will have her work on display at the Art Gallery at HCC Centralin Houston. Click here for more info. Coming soon, pictures of my new work in progress, the Oakland Foreclosure Quilt. Yes, I listened to you, the bay area, my home, could not be ignored!


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