Posted by: emily
on Oct 02, 2012
I’m on a roll -- more like a tear -- more like a flash..... I have been thinking, life- philosophizing. I am an artist. I work hard on my art. I produce. I show. I speak. I teach. I love it!
I resist it, for some silly reason, but I also love relaxing, playing, seeing family, traveling, getting away from my serious, working-side. I need the balance. I react well to the rest and rejuvenating play. There is a lightness about taking a break. Somehow, the “push” is gone. It is good to slow down periodically.
But, at base, I am an EXUBERANT artist. I am happiest focused deeply on my art- making. I relish the involvement with my medium. I vibrate with excitement when working on a piece. I jump in with enthusiasm while problem-solving. I think about technical and concept issues. Ideas percolate about future pieces. I’m touching, molding, shaping, tying, pulling materials. I’m experiencing and concentrating on the process. I love it!
It is a new year. I have thoughts about PATIENCE being the “thing to work on” for the coming year. Maybe it’s not patience, but SLOWNESS. Gear up and then slow down and then keep going. Balance the two states of being before keeping going. I have the gear up mode down. I need to work on, no, relax into, the slow down mode. Food for thought.
Maybe it’s age. Maybe wisdom. Maybe necessity. Every moment counts. It’s all about the NOW. Today. Really. I wonder how other people do it. I’m thinking about this “get- away” or “wait, I’m having fun” concept. (Maybe it will be a basket some day.) I live a life of both concepts. I cannot have one without the other. So, that means that I am multi- faceted, at least, balanced, at best. I’m gonna’ let that be for now. I can learn from my own words.
Posted by: emily
on Mar 28, 2012
An artist's studio is a wonderful thing. I have a large, sunny space in Sausalito. I feel so fortunate and grateful to have it in my life. I has made such a difference, in my attitude and in my actual work ethic, to have a studio outside my house that I go to. For years, I stuck doing my art in between and after other activities in my house. For the last five years, I go to my studio and work seriously and with intention, for that purpose only and for delicious blocks of time. I experience hard work and pleasure there almost daily.
Recently, I looked at my dedication and commitment to my work space. I looked closely at my surroundings that I love so much. Even though I loved being there, I was "making do" with the old venetian blinds that had been there when I got there and were gradually breaking to the point of not working. I kept moving my work around my table to avoid the sun in my eyes through the windows. I learned to ignore the scraped and peeling painted wood floor. I had gotten used to, and looked right past, the eighteen garage/shop lights on the high ceiling. The wonderfulness of having the studio in the first place allowed me to "de-focus" on its inconveniences and deteriorating environment.
So, after my studio mates gracefully suggested some rearrangements in the studio, I found myself in the "as long as we're at it" mode. It was meant to be. It is like remodeling. We were all so committed to being there and were there for a good long future, so we decided to spruce things up. We re-painted the floor a warm, rich green, instead of the gunmetal grey. We installed solar mesh shades, instead of venetian blinds, on all the windows. We changed our shop lights to track lights. We patched and painted walls. We made choices we all liked living with. We were surprised and so pleased at what a difference it made!
And now, we are in heaven. What an amazing face lift. What a change. What an up-date. What an exciting and rewarding experience. WE LOVE IT! , even more…
Posted by: emily
on Feb 24, 2012
My whole life, I have always held myself in "low math esteem". The word MATH makes me shake my head, even shudder. I was the kid all through elementary school who asked "why?" when given math problems or exercises. I never got an adequate answer. I had teachers who said "just do it exactly the way I showed you on the black board. " As soon as I could, I stopped taking math classes, avoiding them whenever possible, substituting any other classes. I had myself convinced that I just plain disliked MATH.
So many years later, here I am contemplating a childhood decision. Basketry is full of MATH! Little did I realize that I use mathematical concepts every day in my studio, in every piece of art, in every shape I form, in all technical issues of putting together elements that I work with, in all the patterns, sequences and joinings that come about. Space, symmetry, structure is ever present in my work. I am always thinking architecturally, mathematically, systematically. In many ways, I am an engineer. And, of course, MATH is my tool! Who would have thought that MATH would be my friend!
And, as if that is not enough, the more I think about it, MATH is hidden in my everyday life. I love to cook. There is MATH again. Even driving, talking on the phone, getting dressed in the morning, watching TV, doing homework with my grandsons... there it is again!
I am hereby declaring peace, forgiveness and especially an apology to MATH! I have regarded it so poorly. I have bad-mouthed it. I have put it down. Now, I have changed my mind.
I guess I AM good at MATH!
Posted by: emily
on Dec 02, 2011
My family and friends have always asked me what my everyday looks like. They inquire what my studio life feels like. They wonder what the life of an artist is about. They ask what does "doing your art" mean. Let me attempt to answer, in some more detail, what my day is like...
Typically, I arrive at my studio door with latte and salad in hand, ready to spend some delicious hours concentrating on a piece I am working on. My attitude is always up-beat, anticipatory, excited, when I put the key in the door, flick on the lights, take off my jacket, put on some music and sit down at my worktable, in front of my expanse of windows. I very soon get involved with my piece. It is mostly a quiet and solitary involvement with the particulars of the process that is ongoing from day to day. The continuity is wonderful to return to. The logistics, problem-solving aspect of the process of doing my art are the pleasures for me. Figuring out each next step keeps me thinking and helps the work evolve. I can easily be at my worktable for hours, concentrating, focusing, working away and not realize that time has passed and that I should maybe get up and move, (or even go to the bathroom!). I am in a form of heaven.
Working on a piece gets to be a deeply powerful experience for me. I sit, I stand and look at all sides of my piece, I poke or sew or weave or pull or push with the materials. Right now I am working on a piece that has taken months to execute. I am at the point of seeing it almost finished. I have gone through the stages of envisioning the work as a whole, putting the various materials together , working intently on the different sections and fitting it all together. I started with pieces of suede and cable ties, in as many colors as I could come up with. I had to decide how I was going to use them with each other, what I was going to "say" in the piece and what the title would be. The title became "Excuses". I came up with a new way of working with cable ties. I embroidered with them, forming words, piercing through the suede, cutting the cable ties off at the "butts". These single words, mostly adverbs expressing excuses like "but", "also", "later", "still", I put onto patches of colorful suede and then had to figure out how to connect them and fit them onto armatures of metal hanging plant hangers. I have two bowl like shapes that relate to each other and can be displayed either hanging in a pair or sitting on a large pedestal leaning against each other. All along, I was spending time deciding which way to place things, how to attach things, what the ultimate result would be. There is that moment when I cut something or fit something, or place something that always feels like a risk. That is the rewarding moment. I think being an artist for so many years gives me the confidence to "go for it".
When I look up or take a break from my work, I remember my "universe". I do have a studio in a stimulating community of artists in the ICB building in Sausalito, after all. I am a social being and do enjoy talking with other artists surrounding me. I'll walk down the hall to visit or hear a knock on my door and sit down on my couch with another artist for a conversation or even stop for lunch. I have two studio mates who have somewhat different schedules than I do. We always are thrilled when we actually are all there. We each work seriously on our work, but love to chat when we can. I, mostly reluctantly, pack up my pouch, taking some part of the work that I can bring with me to work on at night, and go home.
This is my world. It is the love of my life...
Posted by: emily
on Nov 16, 2011
Did you ever go to an exhibit and want so badly to TOUCH a piece of art that you see? Being a 3-dimensional fiber artist, I "itch" to feel some pieces I see in exhibits. I know it is not appropriate behavior. I understand that if many people touch a piece, it might be affected or even damaged.
I encourage people to touch my work. How can I make such tactile, textural, prickly pieces and expect people to not be tempted to reach out and feel or stroke them? I understand the urge and I am glad to provoke the desire. There is only one instance that makes me cringe, when people say "Oh, this would make a great hat!", and they actually pick up one of my baskets and turn it over and put it on their heads. (This happens more times than I would have expected!) I know they are interacting with the piece, but it feels like they are dis-honoring it. Touching "lovingly" is one thing, wearing it is another... It seems like it is being made fun of, not taken seriously, demeaned in some way.
So, touching is a "mixed bag". How something is touched becomes more the issue. I'd like to think viewers could relate more to a piece if they could touch it. Certainly, for a 3-dimensional, fibrous, textural, sculptural, multi-layered piece, touching it would make it more accessible, more understandable, more enjoyable. Let art be touched!
Posted by: emily
on Oct 14, 2011
I have fun with my titles. Each piece speaks to me as I'm working on it. It evolves; it tells a story. I think about that concept as I am working. It helps me make some decisions, some of the many choices of form, color, details that come up.
Sometimes, I have a title before I even start. I have a feeling that I want to express. I "act it out" in the piece. I explore and expand it. It fulfills the thought, the idea, the concept. I most enjoy this!
Rarely, I make a piece and I do not have a title until it is finished. I have to back-track and think through what I had in mind, what I am trying to express in my visual language, what I want the viewer to get from the piece.
I do believe that titles help the viewer. A title gives an inside look into the artist's interpretation and intention. A title often adds a deeper meaning to the initial impression of the viewer. Sometimes, as is important in my work, a title gives the viewer some information about the materials used in the work. Sometimes, the title is personal to the artist, not necessarily understood by the viewer. But, to me, anything is better and more informative than "Untitled". Even "Piece # 10" gives me more of an understanding of what I am looking at. Taking the mystery out of a piece of art is helpful, in my opinion.
Titles can be informative, thought-provoking, emotional, interesting, light heavy, meaningful, catchy, funny, sad, ironic, and so much more. They do, in any case, connect the artist's concept to the viewer.
Posted by: emily
on Sep 21, 2011
I am a fiber artist, a sculptural basket maker. But really, I am a conceptual artist working with fiber, using basketry techniques.
My work is usually non-functional, not just decorative, containing a story or commentary or reaction. I start with inventing an idea. I expand on that idea with visual elements that suggest a mood or feeling. I like telling stories. I want to comment about that concept using a visual vocabulary. The piece I create speaks to viewers. It is a very special kind of communication.
Recently, I have incorporated text into some of my pieces. I am working on a piece called EXCUSES. I have embroidered with cable ties on suede as many excuse adverbs as I can think of in a colorful patchwork over an armature. It is coming together.
Even when there is no text, there is always an invitation in my work to see it from afar and approach it closer to see the detail, the reward, as a friend calls it, the conversation. It is my way of talking and being heard.
Posted by: emily
on Aug 16, 2011
There is something to be said for going to a conference with other basket makers. Having just come back from a National Basketry Organization conference in Boston, I am coaxed to reflect on the benefits and pleasure of spending time with other high level, experienced basket artists. It was so wonderful to not have to "teach" my approach to my art. It felt good to not have to explain every step. And I could start from "square two" and get deeper, faster into a conversation about basketmaking and my work.
For five days, I walked across a college campus for meals, seminars, workshops, stayed in dorms, shared bathrooms, rode on busses to tour museums and galleries, and got to know many fine people and their art. I value the bonds we created while conversing, sharing and working together.
Taking an intense three day workshop was a stimulating experience, to say the least. I think it was a reach for most of us, working perhaps out of our comfort zone, to "stretch" a bit. I re-friended a sewing machine. I learned to collage with fabric. I had pure fun doing it. I wonder if I will incorporate some of the skills and tools I re-learned into my future work. I wonder if somehow I am clearer about my own way of working and directions. I know I was stimulated and inspired by the connections and conversations with fellow artists and my workshop teacher. May the conversations continue.
Posted by: emily
on Jun 17, 2011
This is a phrase I often use when I am teaching kids or adults basketry. I want to make a point here. I want to encourage imperfection, individuality, purity, authenticity, experimentation, ease, freedom in creating. I do it in my own art. I see it in others' art.
We are not machines! Workmanship is only a human talent. Making "mistakes" is a human trait. Unique to us are our hand-made creations. Variations, blemishes, flaws become our personal expression. This is more than acceptable, it is desirable. Grace and artistry come out of our efforts, when we let go of trying to achieve perfection. This allows for an easier process and a more satisfying end result.
So, when looking at a piece of artwork, it is important to be able to see its original, exceptional uniqueness... the artist's hand.
Posted by: emily
on May 12, 2011
I have a certain style, a signature, a personal visual DNA. It is hard to explain. You have to see it! I have a way of looking at the world, an authentic voice, a way that I am "wired", a flavor of my work.
People recognize my work by now. I have "branded" myself. I fall into the "contemporary" art category. I use innovative approaches to an old art form... basketry. I incorporate mundane, everyday, ordinary materials and transform them with sublime , extensive, overdone excess. I often include salvaged materials, overlooked or discarded found elements. I engineer structures, assemblages, vessels, with color and texture. I am known for my use of cable ties. And, certainly, I create many pieces without any cable ties.
I seem to be unique. No one else is really doing what I do, choreographing materials as I do, using common, recognizable elements to create something whimsical or beautiful or edgy. I thrive on this personal style. I even have "UNIQUEM" on my car's license plate!