Artist : Sergej Jensen revisited

I shared Danish artist, Sergej Jensen's work with you back in 2011. Coincidentally, last week, Joey Piziali, yet again mentioned I check out his new work at Anton Kern Gallery in New York. Oh my.

Untitled, 2011. 102" x 82" by Sergej Jensen. Image courtesy Anton Kern Gallery
Sergej continues his investigation into canvas. Literally, I mean the canvas. It's so funny how it takes just a gesture to remind you that a stretched canvas is really a work of fiber art. New directions are still to be had in painting.

Untitled, 2011. 114 3/16" x 94 1/2" by Sergej Jensen. Image courtesy Anton Kern Gallery
Jensen's new work includes some paint but displayed in an unusual way that once again reinforces the fact that you are looking at textiles, not just a painting. He found he liked the backside of the painting because of the way the paint seeped through randomly, without his control. He celebrates the surprise result by stretching the canvas backwards onto the frame.

Bat Girl Uschi, 2011. 47 1/4" x 59 1/16" by Sergej Jensen. Image courtesy Anton Kern Gallery
He has some more painterly pieces as well and a bit of wit. I wish I knew the story behind this one. My daughter is going through a Garfield addiction, she loves this one. I'd also love to know why the dimensions given are soooo exact, down to the 16th.

Untitled, 2011. 65" x 859 1/16" by Sergej Jensen. Image courtesy Anton Kern Gallery
And there's a little video of his latest show at Anton Kern, actually a lengthy one, eight minutes long, but worth watching. This is a chance to see the scale of these pieces, they are quite large, and some of the details up close (I wish he would have paused for more than a second on some of the details). It's the closest thing to being at the opening. I wish I were there.

And after doing a little digging, I found there's a monograph available now. Uh oh, looks like I need to squeeze two more inches on my studio library shelves. That's going to be a challenge. See more of his work at Anton Kern Gallery here.


work table and a big thank you

I closed up the studio for the rest of 2012 on Friday. It feels weird to walk away from my studio for a week at a time, especially this week. I have a million projects flowing at the same time and I know that starting in January, things are going to be quite hectic. Here are a few shots of it as I walked through at the end of the week.

Planning new quilts and new pottery in 2013.

This past year has been an amazing one. So many friendships have flourished. My quilts traveled more than I did across the US. I took a giant leap of faith and jumped into a new series and a new medium. And you, readers, have been the most amazing of all. Being supportive, questioning ideas, and telling me your own stories. I love that the most about the internet. I can't believe how many wonderful friends I've made online and in person because of it. So a huge thank you to all of you.

I set up a separate sewing room this year. In the foreground is one of Doug Johnston's
imited edition bowls with a Skinny LaMinx tea towel covering my machine.

And now, next year. Yes, I love thinking ahead of the game. Do you have any big plans for next year? I'm busy this week developing long term plans. Something I do every five years or so. My problem is I have a hard time stepping away from particular series and seeing the broader picture. And then there's that pile of projects to tackle as soon as January hits.

Inspiration for the new pottery came from a list I made in 2010 when working on my Idiom series.

Writing this article for Handful of Salt about eating designer Marije Vogelzang reminded me to think beyond my comfort zone. Be sure to watch the video at the end of the article. It's worth every second. Is there an artist you look to for inspiration?

Sierra Leone floor installation underway.
Please share your goals, both short and long term, and let's help each other to keep them! I do hope you plan to push yourselves next year and really take some risks. That's what making art is all about, yes?


Artist : Tracy Potts

Recently, I received a lovely email from artist Tracy Potts. I immediately recognized her name from following her on Flikr over the years, and always loving her art. It had been awhile since I had been on Flikr so I was blown away by the images of her new work that I'd somehow missed.

Something Told Me It Was Over, 2012.
Mixed media on canvas, 94 cm x 64 cm.
Tracy was so kind to tell me my work and the blog had inspired her. By seeing other people use craft in their work, she gained the confidence to jump in and explore the medium. She clearly nails it, don't you think? Yes ...

I Want to Be Your Everything, 2012.
Mixed media on canvas, 94 cm x 64 cm.

Her work is intensely personal and highly charged. I think it's that rare ability to incorporate craft with painting that works so well here.

74 Brilliant Suggestions, 2012.
Mixed media on canvas, 94 cm x 64 cm.
And also that subtle hint, just a hint, of representational that grounds the highly charged crochet, knitting and sewing that she overlays onto canvas.

The Soft Wall, 2012.
Mixed media on canvas, 94 cm x 64 cm.
Her email couldn't have come at a better time. You know how all of us artists go through those highs and lows in our work. I was at a dull thud that week, feeling a little helpless and wishing I could do more for artists to share their work. Thinking about reaching out more: curating, writing more articles, pushing craft further into the mainstream art world.

I Am Your Exotic Bird, 2012.
Mixed media on canvas, 147 cm x 128 cm.
Well, this work truly would fit into the gallery scene and it does. She is represented by a wonderful gallery in Australia, Anita Traverso Gallery, in Melbourne. Her work inspires me and I hope it does you too.


INTERWOVEN :: make : thread : craft : art

Sometimes something happens on the internet that makes you so happy it exists. My friends Lisa Solomon and Katrina Rodabaugh will offer a textile based online class this spring called INTERWOVEN :: make : thread : craft : art.

I can think of no better teachers than Lisa and Katrina. Lisa has years of experience teaching at university and is one of the most talented stitchers I know, not to mention she has a fantastic book, Knot Thread Stitch, that is a must for anyone's craft library.

Lisa hiding
Katrina is a sewing extraordinaire with years of crafting under her belt (I mean that literally as she makes her own clothing among a million other things she creates).

Katrina in her studio
The class covers four techniques over four weeks: crochet, soft sculpture, embroidery and mini quilting. They've pretty much got you covered on all fiber related art and craft. The class is geared for novices as well as experienced crafters and artists. Each project features step by step tutorials, examples and ideas for further exploration. They will also feature interviews with professional artists who use the technique being studied (guess who's being interviewed for quilting!)

The class runs from February 4th through March 8th. There's a discount if you sign up before December 15th so head over to the INTERWOVEN website for lots more details and a wonderful video. I HIGHLY recommend it!


Work table : Land grab series

It's been too long since I wrote a work table post. I've been dividing my time between a clay studio and my main studio, so lots of things are packed up daily and moved around. I've also spent a lot of time on the computer (which I keep far away from my studio) pouring over satellite images and reading rather dry texts on land development. But I've also been sketching, so here's a peek at my work table this week.

The series is really starting to come together and I finally feel like I have some worthwhile progress to share. I have narrowed down the series to twelve countries where land grabbing is prevalent, each with a completely different story to tell. The choice of medium should be obvious: broken plates, broken food system. You've likely seen the floor installations progressing, with two down and ten more to go. The design evolves as I create them, you must make to learn. I just had an epiphany while working on Sierra Leone today. This is Brazil below.

Brazil, Land Grab Series, 2012. Broken plates 6'x 7'.
But I'm also developing a wall installation. I have no idea yet if these will go together with the floor pieces in one show, we shall see. I have always loved the weirdness of decorative plates on a wall, like this.

I never quite saw the point and always found it amusing. But, here I go, taking this idea and making it work for this series. I'm developing a series of plates that can be used but are displayed in the gallery or home as a wall hanging. The plates are in the shape of actual farmland in the countries I've chosen and are grouped exactly as they exist on land. I will provide GPS coordinates on each piece so the owner can look up the numbers and see the farm from satellite.

Plates in progress of farms in Brazil.
Each country has vastly different terrain and the crops are varied so each series of plates will look quite different. These are soy farms that will likely be handed over for cattle ranching in the near future. The way they will be glazed is an entire post alone, which I'll share with you in January.

Plates in progress of farms in Brazil.
What I love about these pieces is they are similar to the foreclosure quilts. Different subject matter but same translation of maps onto utilitarian objects. And, so far, I seem to be having a similar response from everyone about the series. People relate to the story. It seems to touch everyone, not just art lovers and gallery goers. I just read a great quote from eating designer, Marije Vogelzang, "Every day that you eat, you are deciding what the world looks like." And you do. Look down at the food you eat during your next meal. Do you know where it came from?


Upcoming Show : Selections by Naomi Beckwith at Pro Arts Gallery

This is coming up fast so for those of you in the Bay Area, I hope you can squeeze it into your already crazy holiday calendar! My Riverside Foreclosure Quilt was chosen to be in Selections by Naomi Beckwith at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, CA.

It is such an honor to have my work chosen by Ms. Beckwith, Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. As soon as I know the other artists chosen, I'll update this post with links to their websites.

Riverside Foreclosure Quilt, 2012. 34" x 46"

The exhibition opens this Friday, December 7th with an Artists' Reception from 6-8 pm.  I will be there! The exhibit runs through January 11th. There will be an Artists' Talk on Friday, January 4th at 6:30 which I plan on attending as well. For more information on Pro Arts Gallery and the exhibit, see their website. They should be updating it with more info in the next few days so stay tuned. I hope to see some of you at the opening this Friday!


100 Acts of Sewing by Sonya Philip

I've got a new article up over at Handful of Salt on Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing. She set out to sew 100 dresses in the span of one year. Hop over to read the reason why. It's a good one.

Dresses 75 and 91 by Sonya Philip.
I was able to meet Sonya and see the dresses in person last Friday. We had a lot in common, especially the fundamental inspiration behind our artwork. Her art addresses the crazy consumption trap we've all fallen into, although hers is around clothing and mine is around food. And those dresses were stunning. All of them beautifully crafted with care and feeling.

Dress 80 by Sonya Philip.
The best part about the meeting was talking about what's next, how does one transition to the next series? I walked away inspired in my own work as well as eager to sew more of my own clothes. Check out the article here and see Sonya's dresses here. And don't forget to check out her website showing her other artwork.


Artist : Recheng Tsang

Recheng Tsang's work defies categorization. Are they installations, sculpture, ceramics? You could say they evoke textiles even though they're made of porcelain.
ovalsglazed and unglazed porcelain, aluminum wire and panel, 53" x 93", 2012
by Recheng Tsang. Image by Muffy Kibbey.
Whatever you want to call them, they're beautiful. Hundreds of painstakingly handmade porcelain tiles, delicately assembled to form stunning wall installations.

Ovals (detail)glazed and unglazed porcelain, aluminum wire and panel, 53" x 93", 2012
by Recheng Tsang. Image by Muffy Kibbey.
And then there's the detail. A single hint of color, just quietly slipped in, but making such a bold statement. It completely changes the meaning of the entire piece.

frayed : white, unglazed porcelain and acrylic on plexiglass, 6" x 6" each panel, 2011
by Recheng Tsang.  Image by Muffy Kibbey.

I first learned of ReCheng's work via Handful of Salt, back when I was a reader and not a writer for the site yet. I loved Regina's profile on Recheng. I felt as though I knew her already. She likes Richard Tuttle, she sews and she procrastinates by cleaning her house. Hmmm, boy does that sound familiar. I admire her honesty.

Circles and Variations, glazed porcelain on plexiglass panel, 24" dia, 2012
by Recheng Tsang. 
 Image by Muffy Kibbey.
A few years down the road and I still remembered reading the article but now my friend Myrna Tatar mentioned her name to me every time we met. "You must connect with Recheng. You're both working with ceramics and I know you'd love her work." Myrna was right.

Study for Ovals, glazed and unglazed porcelain on aluminum panel, 10" x 10", 2012
by Recheng Tsang. 
 Image by Muffy Kibbey.
The best bit, Recheng lives just over the Bay Bridge from me. In a couple of weeks, I'll have the chance to visit her studio and meet her in person. I can't tell you how excited I am. Maybe she'll let me snap a few photos I can share with you soon.

circles and variations : white, porcelain and lithium on wall, 15" x 63", 2010
by Recheng Tsang.  Image by Muffy Kibbey.
Until then, see all of Recheng's work on her website and read the Handful of Salt profile here.


Studio Pepe Heykoop at Handful of Salt

I've got another article over at Handful of Salt. It touches on Dutch designer, Pepe Heykoop's creative leather pieces.

Matka Vases by Studio Pepe Heykoop. Image courtesy of Annemarijne Bax
There's something about those Dutch. I would love to know how they are taught because some of the most creative design in the world is coming out of that country. Hmmm, a trip next year perhaps? Head on over to Handful of Salt for the article.


Brazil : Land Grab Series

I'm on a roll again with the Land Grab Series. I have new pottery to add to the installations which gives the pieces a more three dimensional twist. The new camera has arrived and the studio has essentially been emptied to work on these so here they come! This week I  feature Brazil. Soy is the key crop here.

Brazil, 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
Approaching this work feels so much different than my other work. I can't seems to visualize these pieces ahead of time like the Foreclosure series or some of my earlier paintings. There's a lot of doubt going into each piece but after each one is completed (it feels like doing a jigsaw puzzle), I have much more elation about them than I have after finishing other work. Perhaps my heart is more invested in this series or perhaps I still have my doubts dabbling in ceramics.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
Nevertheless, I have no choice in making these. It's my calling at the moment and I'm enjoying it. Now, onto the facts. I'm still pondering how to present the statistics along with the pieces. I even wondered about an interactive website that would drill down to more and more detail about the land investments (likely angering numerous corporations and governments).

Brazil, 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
I can tell you a little bit about Brazil's land situation. There have been at least twenty-three major land deals with foreign investors just over the past two years. 2,936,854 hectares (see note) of land have been leased or sold to overseas companies. Many diverse crops are being grown or raised but soy remains one of the leaders. The issues with soy in Brazil are many. The largest being the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
The land is cheaper in the Amazon. The soil is fertile and the water plentiful for growing. Soy is most often grown here as a monoculture. The result is tremendously large scale farms that become dependent on pesticides and bio-engineering in order to thrive. This affects the rivers as well as the nearby local farmers who find their land and food polluted. Here's a link to a great interview with Dr, Sergio Sauer (National Rapporteur for Human Rights in Land, Territory and Food, Brazil). He goes into detail about the issues affecting soy farming in Brazil.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
There are many countries investing in developing land here. The United States has plenty as does China, France, Germany and even Argentina. There is a lot more research to be poured through and understood but the gist is, there is serious environmental damage happening in Brazil through large scale food production.

Notes: The information on hectare development is from Grain: Land Grab Deals February 2012.


Willing to play?

So the past few months I've been fretting. I haven't had much to show of my own work on this blog. It's because I've been busy ... playing. Developing new ideas can be incredibly challenging and frustrating. For me, it's a time issue. I hate thinking I wasted precious time not doing everything in my power to develop new work. We hunker down. We get serious. Who has time to play? This is where our problems begin. We need to allow ourselves playtime so that we're open to innovative and creative solutions.

Brazil landgrab map in progress this week.
Everyone's technique is different. I loved hearing Robert Ryman talk about what he does between his series ... nothing. He understands his creative process well enough to know that he shouldn't get in the way of it. And for him, that's to ignore it. Another artist who knows how to play is Hela Jongerius. But it looks like her play ends up as her final work.

Non Temporary by Hela Jongerius, 2005.
Over the past eight years, I've been able to really hone in on what makes my creativity work. I love challenges, but I like to approach them slowly. I know I needed to learn a new medium for this next series. I stopped fighting the voice in my head that said 'It will take too long to learn' and just got on with it. And what I made isn't great but it's a start. It's all about quantity at this point and thinking with my hands to understand a new medium. I'll talk more about that below.

My very first six highly irregular and very bland pinch pot tea cups.
The more I make, the better they'll be. At least, I hope so!
I gave myself the time to explore clay. I had no idea where I was going with this. My first ideas for my new series finally popped into my head last week but I'm not implementing them until January. I'm having fun just exploring.

This is where I dared myself to use something other than Randall White glaze.
Yes, that's hard for me!
If you have kids, watch them at play. This weekend we went to a friend's wedding. They rented a photo booth with props for photos for their guest book. Brilliant! The booth was unused for the first half hour until the kids figured out what it was. They weren't shy! The adults knew what it was but it was set up in plain sight of everyone! It was only after they had a few drinks did they start to loosen up and head over. That's my daughter on the left. Oh, and I made her dress last Tuesday. That was my play for that day.

Remember how I mentioned quantity and thinking with your hands? There's a great video on the importance of these points in play by designer Tim Brown. I love how the audience is forced to play, what better way to remember how to do it than to actually practice it. Watch it and feel yourself loosen up.

Give yourself some time each day to play. If you've had any revelations about your artwork while playing, I'd love to hear them!


Sketchbook Project is on tour

The Sketchbook Project is on the road again, this time in a tour called A Landmark and a Mission curated by Christopher Jobson at Colossal. My sketchbook from 2011 will be along for the ride so if you're in or neaPittsburgh, Ann Arbor and Cleveland, be sure to check it out.

And if you're not, view it digitally here right now.


Artist : Motoi Yamamoto

One of the comments made on my last post about installation artist, Jean Shin, was by Kristin L. She had a great question: How do installations move around? Of course, each exhibit varies but Motoi Yamamoto's salt installations have a very unique answer to that question.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto. March-May 2012
Incredible, no? But when you see these in the scale of a museum, they're even more amazing.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
September - December 2012
Yamamoto began this series after the early death of his sister at the age of twenty four to brain cancer. He had worked in other mediums, like glass, but it was at her funeral in Japan that salt began to play a role in his work. Salt is thrown over your shoulder as part of a purification ritual after a Shinto funeral. His first works were made in private as a way to remember his sister.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
As Yamamoto began to work in the medium, he learned so many other important human needs for salt: for humans health, as a food preservative, even as a form of money. I just read yesterday the word salary comes from sal i.e. salt when salt was used as currency during roman times.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.

These installations have also become a sort of labyrinth, a symbol of being born and life itself. How fitting then to have a labyrinth made of salt. Yamamoto says he often has at least one vivid dream of his sister when working on each piece.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
Regarding installation, the museums and galleries are often open during his slow on site process of making each piece. He often works up to twelve hours a day to complete a piece. Here's a video showing the installation in progress.

And at the end? All of the salt is returned to the sea during a public ritual called umini kaeru. It was a janitor at an exhibition in South Carolina that thought it was tragic to simply throw the piece away and suggested a ritual should take place.

See more of Yamamoto's works on his website. His work can be seen right now in the US, at the Laband Gallery at Layola Marymount College in Los Angeles until December 7th. I feel honored to have visited his hometown ten years ago in Kanazawa, Japan. A beautiful town by the sea, I can see how this city could have inspired him.


Artist : Jean Shin

One of the consistent questions people ask when they see my new Land Grab series is "How do you plan to show the work?" I always answer "Just like you see it, on the floor or on the wall." This answer always leads to raised eyebrows. Not in a frame or on a canvas? A lot of artists chose to create installations because it really is the best way to present their idea behind their work.

Alterations, 1999.
And hence, I'd like to make my point that there is a LOT of great, mind blowing art that isn't 'framed' or uses only one medium. I found a great artist to share with you who wrecks those entire notions: Jean Shin. I found her work after reading Lari's blog about this artist, who mentions Jean as a major inspiration in her work. I wasn't sure at first, what those blue 'vases' were in the photo above. Until I saw this.

Alterations, 1999.
Clever and amazing.

Hide Series, 2004.
The above materials are made up of leather and suede shoes and shoelaces. Let me just say, Jean is all over the map with her materials, which is her point. But it all works, it all makes sense for each of its' subjects.

In her own words:

By transforming accumulations of everyday objects into visually alluring conceptual explorations, my work speaks to the optimism inherent in giving new form to life’s leftovers.  In my sculptures and large-scale installations, I seek to recall an object’s past, as well as suggest its greater connection to our collective memories, desires and failures.
- Jean Shin

I tend to have a weakness for artists who use repetition in their work. She has a way of placing the pieces in such a way that they almost breath with the lives of the past owners. I love this piece.

Stepping Stones (Pots and Pans), 2007.
Putting the everyday object in an unexpected location can completely turn around the meaning of a piece. In the case above, from a cooking pot to a musical instrument.

Chemical Balance, 2005-9.
What happens to all those pill bottles we leave behind every year in our overuse of medications. The title tells it all, Chemical Balance.

See more of Jean Shin's work at her website. Jean was featured along with her co-designer, Brian Ripple, in The Boston Globe for their "Retreat" installation at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA.


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