I'm one of three highlighted artist in the "Ask the Artists" section of the June 2016 Creative With Workbox Magazine, Issue 156.
Creative With Workbox is an attractive and informative magazine for creative people everywhere. With an emphasis in fiber, this is the go-to place to check out contemporary textile artists and for instruction in new techniques. Check out their site, read my interview and subscribe!
ANNOUNCEMENT OF 2 SEMINARS IN EMBROIDERED PORTRAITURE
In response to the interest that arose from Debby Stringer's fine article about my work in the March 2016 issue of Today in Mississippi, I'm offering two all-day seminars in embroidered portraiture. The dates are Friday and Saturday June 17 -18, 2016 and Thursday and Friday June 30 - July 1, 2016. The first class has room for one more participant and the second has room for 3 or 4. The cost is $150 for both days and includes supplies.
These classes will be marathon events because there's a lot of ground to cover:
1- intro to drawing from life
2- Intermediate observation and drawing
3- Drawing from photographs
4- Adding color to images drawn on paper
5- Canvas stretching
6- Transfer of images from paper to fabric (canvas)
7- Stitching of portraits
You're free to bring your own food or stop work to travel to a commercial eatery. Arrange to be here at my studio for at least 8 hours each day. You're advised to book one night in a regional hotel. Interested? Drop me a line ASAP in the contact section of this site which will let me know by email. I will respond with exact time and the location of my studio. It's gonna be fun. See you soon!
Interested but can't make these events? Drop me a line on the contact page. We can work out a more convenient date. I'm thinking about sometime in the fall.
From August 29th to October 31st, I participated in a show sponsored by The Surface Design Association, (SDA). I first encountered SDA in several years ago through its magazine, Surface Design, and reconnected with them in 2014. The magazine, with its lush, highly-detailed and gorgeously presented photos of fiber in all its myriad glory, is a visual inspiration itself. The texts that accompany the images are clear and informative about contemporary and historical goings on in the universe that is textile art and artistry. Joining this organization or even just visiting its site is a great way to leave the isolation of the studio and connect with other professional artists and I urge you to check them out. Curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers, this members-only group show was titled, Materialities: Contemporary Textile Arts and was hung at The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg TN, USA.
SDA members offered large and small textile works for exhibition in a broad range of fiber techniques: weaving, embroidery crochet, appliqué, quilting, batik and various forms of layering. These were presented in materials as diverse as porcelain and hair; wall-hung, floor-lain and various forms of installation. This international show was diverse in all ways. The quality of construction and intensity of artistic engagement can be seen in the catalog which can be ordered from SDA. $30 in USA; for international shipping contact the site at http://www.surfacedesign.org
"Materialities catalog features 91 SDA member/artists. 88 pages of images are accompanied by insightful artist statements... and 4 essays addressing context and evolution of contemporary textiles. Selected works showcase the breadth and depth of contemporary fiber arts. They successfully answer the curator's question: What do textiles/fibers & their associated processes offer artists that cannot be achieved in other media?" __ SDA
My entry was "The Impossible Dream is the Gateway to Self-love."
Last Spring was pretty busy. Also, before the Tougaloo gig, my work was in a group show at the Site:Brooklyn gallery, located at 165 Seventh Street, Brooklyn New York 11215. They were hosting a fabulous (I was impressed) portrait show called Face It: The Face in Contemporary Art. If they still have the video up, check it on their site and see for yourself the quality of the work submitted.
I'm told by curator Denise Amses that attendance at the opening was in excess of 200 -- unusual for a small gallery. I was lucky enough to win BEST IN SHOW! with my latest portrait. At that time it was entitled "Unwanted Companions"; now I'm calling it Congregants.
Congregants is about the flow of emotions we experience during any given day. We live with them like companions. And unpleasant emotions such as horror, depression and anxiety -- shown here -- are unwanted. This piece, intended as part of a series, shows those three negative emotions in close company with one another; when you feel one, others like it are not far behind. It's best not to encourage them to remain long with you.
Here out in the sunlight, you can easily see the white on white that symbolizes flow.
This piece was an experimental departure in style for me. While I still strove for accuracy of form, obviously I ventured out in terms of color, wanting color to represent emotion even independent of facial expression.
While waiting for the teaching session at Tougaloo College's Art Colony, the Rev. Dr. Alice M. Graham of the Back Bay Mission organization invited me to come and speak with a group of novice embroiderers in Biloxi. These girls and young women were organized by the local NAACP to stitch a banner for their Juneteenth Celebration. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Juneteenth, aka the Juneteenth Independence Day, is celebrated in many black communities as a yearly commemoration of the abolition of slavery. It began in the state of Texas in 1865. That was a couple of years later than abolition in other states. Its name is a combination of June and 19th, the day on which it is celebrated. Years ago, I was told that many isolated rural people hadn't heard about it initially and only knew that it was made official in June on one of the "teenth" days. So they called it Juneteenth.
For Biloxi 's 2015 Juneteenth, the theme was the history of the desegregation of the beaches of Gulfport and Biloxi which had been reserved exclusively for well-off white residents and visitors to the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. (They're still beautiful and now we can all enjoy them. Y'all, come on down!) The young ladies worked skillfully on the lovely blue banner for weeks. I was invited on the last day to show my art and encourage them to keep stitching in the future. Here we are at the meeting of the East Biloxi Community Collaborative. Director Carmelita Scott, my contact Elizabeth Englebretson and the girls offered me a warm welcome.
The big surprise there was seeing Julie Kuklinski (2nd row, far right), founder of Biloxi's Women in Construction program. Julie and I go back to 2009, my second month in Mississippi. WinC, as it's called, was designed to train low-income women for careers in the construction trades. (When I arrived, I had NO local income and needed all the training I could get to help with extensive renovation of my house. WinC, with its stipend for trainees, helped on both counts. And I'm game to try anything at least twice. :)
Ms Donna and Ms Sue got some of the gang on board to help me with my house too. I am truly blessed. Abbie looks shy here but she and Instructor Zandell really put some muscle into it. By the way Biloxi is not really close to my house so they had to ride a long way to help. That's love!
Well... by looking at the dates here, you can see that I'm not REALLY a blogger. :)
So much has been going on and, frankly speaking, I was just living it. But I'm catching up.
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May 21st was one of the highlights of last year. Shortly after I moved here, I was in the library reading a magazine about local doings on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In it was an article about one of Gulfport's premier citizens, "Rip" Daniels, a Renaissance Man and bon vivant, if there ever was one. Descendent of a family which long resided in the area (after the Civil War?), he knows all the city's history and was a player in much of it including the desegregation of the beaches during the civil rights area. He's an all-around businessman, housing contractor/builder and owner/main voice of local radio station WJZD. The article was gushing about Rip's boutique hotel, The Almanette (1514 18th Avenue, overlooking the beach in Gulfport). I was so impressed, I clipped the article for my scrap book.
That would have been the end of it had not new friends, John and Carole McKellar, introduced me to Rip last spring. Impressed with my art, he invited me to see the hotel (gorgeous) and eat in its restaurant (best food I've had since I relocated). Since I told him I'd been hiding out in the house working like a demon on my embroidery and therefore had no social life, he and his wife Dixie hosted a luncheon for me at their home to introduce me to local artists and art lovers. I said the Almanette had the best food but I have to take that back; Dixie's might have topped it. We all had a great time. Thanks, Rip!
This summer I'll be offering instruction in the creation of portraits using my tapestry methods. While it would help to have some familiarity with visual arts, the class to be held at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, MS will be open to artists young and old. I will make plain all the steps from concept to final execution as well as offer tips to make your images more realistic while using embroidery. Day-long classes will provide many opportunities for many questions from you and the answers from me will improve your techniques in other media. So come on out and join me. It's not as difficult as it looks once you know how.
Tougaloo College is an historically black liberal arts institution founded in 1869 by New York-based Christian missionaries for the education of freed slaves. The buildings of the old campus are on the National Register of Historic Places. It also holds the prestigious Tougaloo Art Collection which includes works by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Beardon , Elizabeth Catlett, David Driskell and Hale Woodruff. Two of my own pieces will be on display there along with works by the other instructors. It promises to be an exciting exhibition.
Tougaloo College was the site of several strategy meetings during the civil rights era. Their Civil Rights Library and Archives contain original memorabilia of Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as works of writers, poets and blues greats such as B. B. King.
Every sumer, Tougaloo hosts the Tougaloo Art Colony and, as I mentioned above, I will be one of 6 teaching artists July 12 - 17, 2015. The other 5 are Rebe'a Ballin, InKyoung Choi Chun, Delita Martin, Lovie Olivia and Charlotte Riley Webb. We will be joined by art-scholar/speak Tiffany E. Barber. Come work with us, improve your skills and have a good time.
Many people look at my embroidered tapestries and have difficulty imagining how such realism is achieved. However, I feel that if people of any age or ability genuinely want to learn, I don't mind teaching.
October 10th and 11, Diane Williams hosted a seminar in Ridgeland, MS, where the participants learned my process from A to Z. Three of them were experienced needleworkers and one an experienced painter so I felt free to cover a lot of ground. We started with a show-and-tell session (see photos below). Later we drew from life and reference photographs and learned how to correct our drawings until we achieved an accurate likeness. We assembled canvas stretchers and transferred the images from one surface to another. Threads were chosen and the stitching began.
Aside from being the consummate host, Diane Williams creates fiber art every chance she gets and sells it widely. She's also a professional storyteller. In reality, she should more accurately be described as a therapist, a minister or a shaman who uses craft, art and, most importantly, speech as tools to repair her own psyche and the collective soul of the community. I feel extremely lucky to have met her. Like CCH Pounder, she is constantly on the lookout for ways to support artists. Here's DeSha with Diane during the drawing segment of the seminar.
I've been living the artist's life rather than recording it, so let me back up in order to catch you up.
On September 21st, CCH Pounder, award-winning actor and warm, loving human being, dropped by the studio. Currently starring in "N.C.I.S. - New Orleans", she was able to dash over during a weekend break in filming.
CC, who owns two of my pieces, was the driving force behind the Los Angeles gallery, Pounder-Kone Artspace. She's been collecting art and nurturing artists for a long time. In fact, it was partly due to her advice that I moved my studio to Mississippi. She felt that a one-woman show of my art should have at least 10 pieces. Most of my pieces take in the neighborhood of a year to complete and building up a collection requires real focus. Mississippi seemed like a place where I could live cheaply and work without distraction.
Well... one out of two ain't bad. Actually, it turned out to be a good move. I can keep in touch with art goings-on via the internet, there are beautiful trees and blue skies visible from every window (beats a brick wall with a close-up of the neighbors' windows) and there's more support for the arts than I expected. In fact, once artists get hip to the warm southern life-style, it might get crowded here! Now CC says that, since then, she's come across a show that highlighted a single work of art. But it's a done-deal now.
Lately, I've been on YouTube listening to audiobooks while I stitch because all the audios I own have been heard more than twice and I can't seem to get to the library. Who knew YouTube had audiobooks?
They have lots of books that are in the public domain (some extremely quaint but some quite useful.) The other day I listened to the life and teachings of J. Krishnamurti and before that all kinds of lectures on diet. There's a wide range there that's worth a listen. Since I stitch sitting down, I was glad to learn about weight-loss without exercise (deep breathing... and the explanation made sense). I'll let you know how it goes.
It's raining today and too overcast for stitching. This past week I began a new embroidery. I try to stitch the beginnings of my tapestries when the sun shines indoors brightly. Sometimes, I'm really picky and won't stitch too early in the day when long shadows are cast or too late when the sunshine has a rosy tint or there's just not enough of it. Artificial light just won't do; not even a fluorescent on the left and an incandescent on the right. They're just not as full-bodied. A vitamin A pill is not a carrot.
I'm careful in this way because much of choosing the right colors and values of threads depends on what color the thread will be placed next to. Yellow looks more dynamic when it's next to purple than when it's next to beige. If there aren't many (or any) threads already placed, it's hard to determine if the thread is light enough, bold enough or washed-out and subtle enough. As a result, I usually start by guessing badly and have to pick the first threads out when progress makes mistakes plain. At Cooper Union, I took a class called "Psychology of Perception" that provided invaluable lessons on the effects of colors placed next to one another. There, colors were all compared in rectangular formats with no representational elements. If you read about the work of Josef Albers (Bauhaus), you can find out the mechanics of it. But nothing takes the place of experience and experimentation. Sort of like love; you can imagine how it should be but even the Buddha had to work hard and long to achieve an understanding.
Anyhow, it's raining; a beautiful, noisy rain that forms puddles on bright green grass and Mississippi red earth. Aside from Rascal (the cat) and Puppy (the you can guess who) and even though I have relatives and neighbors living on the same block, there's not a soul in sight right now. And it occurred to me how useful rainy solitude can be. I love to work; there's nothing like having something concrete to show for the passage of time but since there's not enough light, I've decided to use this time to rest, if only to be more efficient and creative later. Yep. There's a future art piece in here somewhere. Maybe it'll be colored a warm gray.