work table : Albuquerque Foreclosure Quilt

Albuquerque was calling me. I kept seeing the name pop up in recent foreclosure articles. Foreclosures are up 151% there in the third quarter among other things. I came across this quick sketch I did last week. You know those sketches? When you make them you see so much more in the drawing than you see a week later?

You look back and wonder what you were thinking. This is often how I draw my initial ideas. I guess I'm a minimalist and anxious to just start making.

I like to piece things together the old fashioned way, with tape. I could do it on the computer but then I'd need a large format printer. I don't have the patience. And yes, that's my cat's tail sneaking in above.

Here was the initial idea, highlighting the large street grids you see as you fly over New Mexico and Arizona. I never understood why they laid the streets out like this. They're SO ugly and force everyone to get into a car to go anywhere. And then I realize I'm taking on way too much so I scale things back a bit, using just a portion of the overall area above.

Now it's coming together. The shaded areas are civic activities: schools, parks, right of ways. Seeing a high school sited in the middle of a foreclosed neighborhood makes me ponder what it must feel like to be a teenager these days. What do they have to look forward to? Not much it seems.

I start to dig around in my messy piles of remnants to look for fabric to use. Something dusty and drab is needed for this quilt. I find all my beiges and pile them into this bowl my mom started to make years ago. She never finished and it's nice to see the marks she made. I remember her as I work. I think she would have liked this one.

And I start piecing. Interesting, I just visualized the layout but hadn't counted up how many 12" x 12" panels there would be. What do you know? Twelve. My brain naturally likes order. I take a little break to finish off a side project.

I like to do a little traditional sewing on the side as it helps keep my sewing machine skills up to par. Now back to handsewing.

Eleven more panels to go and then I will add the other layers to the quilt. I'm really liking this one so far.


Crafting a lifestyle : Mark and Sally Bailey

I kept coming across Mark and Sally Bailey's new book Handmade Home: Living with Art and Craft. Once I was able to crack open the cover, it was clearly a must buy.

Photo by Debbie Treloar
The book is full of rich photographs and descriptions of artist's homes. Not just any artists' homes but artists that clearly live the wabi sabi aesthetic to its' fullest. It showcases those rare homes that clearly show a creative genius in action.

Photo by Debbie Treloar
But then I became curious about Mark and Sally Bailey, as their beautiful home was included in the book.

Photo by Debbie Treloar
I learned this is their third lifestlye book. They also have a store, a gallery and are in the process of building a compound called Whitecross Farm to showcase artist's works in a domestic setting. I SO wish I lived in England right now so I could see it all in person.

Do you think they really thresh wheat in that barn? There's even a stunning tearoom nestled in the grounds.

Photo by Debbie Treloar
In their own words:

We were inspired to start our gallery/home after a long anticipated visit to Kettles Yard in Cambridge. We loved the late Jim Ede's simple way of living with art and his insistence that Kettles Yard should be a place that is . . . "not an art gallery or museum, nor . . . simply a collection of works of art reflecting my taste or the taste of a given period. It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stone, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability."

Clearly this is no fine art gallery, this is a lifestyle experience. And the work they feature is stunning. Here are Ray Key's polished vessels.

Photo by Debbie Treloar
Anna Hagopian's delicate paper jewelry is showcased in such a beautiful way I'd want the whole lot including the shoes!

I need to learn more about Jim Ede, the Bailey's inspiration. Hmmm, perhaps Crafting a Lifestyle might turn into a series. We'll see what turns up that I can pass along. In the meantime, find the book here. And check out their shop and gallery online or if you're lucky, in person. And take some pictures for me!


work table : Landgrabbing series

Okay, I hate doing this, sharing the early, early stages of a new series. When you are unsure of the direction to take and not sure if any of it will work out. But, this IS my work table this week so I'll just be honest: it's SLOW going here. But, I'm just doing it, going with the flow and slowly making progress. Now you understand why I posted earlier about Agnes Martin! I spent a fair amount of time cleaning my desk this week while trying to think.

I am still making more foreclosure pieces but I feel the need to start a new series. I learned last year about landgrabbing. Countries that are buying up land throughout the world to farm their own crops for shipment back to their own countries. This is happening ALL over the world right now, right under our noses. The countries that are selling off their own land are happy, because they're making lots of money. The local landowners are not so happy about having their land taken away by thier government.

My daughter wrote 'cool' on the flags she liked.
The US is guilty in both ways. We're buying land elsewhere and we're also selling out as well. Many countries are doing this. It's not good and it's not sustainable.

Hence, a new series around this issue: Landgrabbing. At the moment, I'm taking the national flags of the countries being sold off, rendering them without color. The map of the country is cut into them revealing the flags of the landgrabbing countries. We'll see if it pans out.

Landgrabbing study: Pakistan and the UAE, 2011. Kathryn Clark
These will be quite large I think, five to six feet across. I can make many of these, which is sad. The facts are there and need to be addressed. www.farmlandgrab.org has been an amazing resource to articles being published all over the world on this issue. It's shocking. More to come soon.


Artist : Agnes Martin

Okay, I know most of you are well aware of Agnes Martin's work by now. If not, you're in for a treat. Well, if you're willing to be open.

On a Clear Day, 1964 by Anges Martin. Image courtesy of Peter Blum Gallery

Her work and philosophy seems to appeal to very few for some reason. She is on my top five list of artists who really inspire me. Her dedication to her craft was intense and persistent.

Untitled, 1962 by Anges Martin. Image courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth
When I feel I'm in a slump, I pick up my book of her writings and open it randomly for some inspiration and for a good, practical slap in the face. What you walk away with is the encouragement to just go out there and make your work.

Untitled, 1960 by Anges Martin. Image courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth
Don't worry what others think, just make what you have to, what's calling to be made. You will find your voice this way. It's so easily said, so hard to realize, and so true. Thanks, Agnes.

Detail of one of Anges Martin's paintings. Image courtesy of Spencer Alley
I do recommend the book Agnes Martin : Writings but as I write this I'm in shock by how hard it is to find this book and how expensive it is when you find it. Okay, I'll take better care of my copy now! But while you wait to track it down, here's some instant gratification. An in-depth interview with her about her own work.

See more of her paintings at Zwirner & Wirth Gallery and some of her drawings at Peter Blum Gallery.


Artist : SooJin Kang

SooJin Kang's work defies categorization. Is it conceptual art, industrial design, fashion design or perhaps all of them rolled into one nice package? I first discovered her work over on DesignSponge's "what's in your toolbox?" feature. I was hooked when I saw the photo of strips of leather splayed out on a white cloth.

SooJin Kang's work table. Photo by Ania Wawrzkowicz

 And then I went over to her website where I discovered the most amazing chair deconstruction. Functional? Maybe. Beautiful? Yes!

Knitted Stool, 2011 by SooJin Kang. Photo by Ania Wawrzkowicz
From what I can see about her various series and the photos of her workspace, we certainly have in common the sense of order and place for things.

SooJin Kang's tools and wool. Photo by Ania Wawrzkowicz

 I just like how she 'tests the waters' for new ideas and isn't afraid to make something that hovers somewhere between function and pure art, likely pissing off purists within those camps. Yes!

Knitted Chair, 2009 by SooJin Kang. Photo by Ania Wawrzkowicz
Her work was included in the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea this year. I SO wished I would have entered that show, however unlikely it would have been that my work would have been accepted. There was a really talented group of artists included.

Dressed Furniture, 2010 by SooJin Kang. Photo by Ania Wawrzkowicz

SooJin's website is here. Be sure to check out other featured DesignSponge "toolboxes" for more inspiration.


Artist : Akko Goldenbeld

I'll let the video do most of the explaining. The title is "Sound of the City" and involves a city map and a piano.

Akko is graduating this year from Design Academy Endoven in The Netherlands. Well done! I'm looking forward to seeing more. I can imagine how different cities can 'sound' from each other. You can learn a little bit about his project here.


Artist : El Anatsui

I wish I could remember how I came across El Anatsui's work last week to thank whoever shared it in blogland. I've been chomping at the bit to share his work with you this week.
Gli (Wall), 2010
Photo: Nash Baker © nashbaker.com
El Anatsui, from Ghana, now resides in Nigeria. The story behind these 'cloths' is incredible. Ten years ago, he discovered a bag full of  thousands of aluminum screw-tops from bottles of whiskey, rum and gin thrown away by a local distillery.

Gli (Wall) (detail), 2010
Photo: Nash Baker © nashbaker.com
The bag sat in his studio for a few months while he continued his work as a wood sculptor until one day he started experimenting with the tops, bending and twisting them. They slowly evolved into a giant 'fabric' that resembled kente cloth, a fabric from Ghana, his native country.

Gli (Wall), 2010
Photo: Nash Baker © nashbaker.com
The material used is loaded with meaning from mass consumerism, re-use and questions why there are so many of these used screw-tops in the first place.

Gli (Wall), 2010
Photo: Nash Baker © nashbaker.com
To create something so beautiful and powerful out of something so mundane and ordinary is no small feat. Here he speaks in his own words about the pieces and you have the chance to see the work as it moves, amazing.

El Anatsui certainly has a gift. His work is in a traveling inagural exhibition with the Museum of African Art in New York City. Until the museum opens in 2012, this exhibit is on tour throughout the US. It recently opened at the University of Texas at Austin and will travel to North Carolina, Denver and Michigan before settling at the MAA. Read more info about the exhibition here.


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