Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kids! Make the Most Amazing Art!

True story....a young man in my quilting class, came up to me after a session and said, "I really like your class. Wish I could you buy you a slice of pizza." Then he drew one for me on the chalk board. I took the eraser and wiped off  half of it. "Thanks! That was good!" I said. 

It's not the teacher that makes the class, but the students. Every class is different. In sound. In texture. In intent. But the students, no matter what their demographics and circumstances, make the class what it is. Some students come along through the creative process willingly; some kicking and screaming. But once they "get it" the art happens quite naturally. I invite you to enjoy this picture taken from a class I did at a local elementary school. The project was "His story, Her Story...What's YOUR story." As you can see, the kids produced wonderful fiber art story panels. Heres to children and art. It takes a child to raise a village!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Keeping Up with the ARTes

Often, when you are creating art, you barely have time to think of it once it's done, let alone record it. Take this installation that I did at Sweetwater in Sewickely, PA last year. I was proud of it, but I never took a single picture. Fortunately for me, curator Elizabeth Ashe Douglas did. Elizabeth challenged me on this one. "Fill in those awkward spaces with something beautiful," was her mandate. It did not come naturally at first, and then so naturally, I was to wonder why it never occurred to me to try an installation before. To date, I consider it one of my finest artistic efforts. The installation is based on my interest in "cause and effect" and artistic portayals in a similar vein--like the work of Rube Goldberg.  You see, art can come not only of your own will, but the will of others who can spot your potential better than you can see it in yourself. Ms. Douglas, a nationally known artist and performer continues to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to me.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Open Letter To My Fellow Arts Educators

I'll be working for at least two summer camps in 2013. I don't do this because I have to do it. I do this because I need to do it. I have learned that art-making with children revitalizes an artist like nothing else. It test your mettle both as a person and as an artist.

Some children will follow everything you say in your classes to the letter and come out with a very smart project. Others will defy you and your instructions, and still manage to come out with a very smart project. The difference? The latter outcome gives YOU as an instructor much more than the former. When a young artist questions your techniques or makes changes for changes sake, you can either punish them, or allow them the freedom which you had when you first created the project. This does not mean letting them go completely willy nilly. I'm not talking about behavior here, but process. What's wrong with them painting something you never intended to be painted; or gluing on buttons, or using the orange rather than the blue thread. You have to think and to ask yourself--"Does it really matter?" If it truly does not, then allow for some artistic rebellion. Art is a personal thing, even to a student and an arts educator has leverage few other teachers have: The gift of discernment. One and one can equal two to two thousand in art. Art is subjective; so stop drinking your own Koolaid. Sometimes, as an arts educator, you have to let go...and let art happen.

One of my classes, "Fashion Cents" is at the Irma Freeman Center from June 17-21 from 3 pm to 6 pm.
For more IF camp info click here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Branching Out

My installation "Free Forms"  created with found objects is currently at the Feminine Aesthetics exhibition, curated by Elizabeth Ashe Douglas at 709 Gallery, downtown Pittsburgh through March 31, 2013. The wire breast piece is part of  antique dress mannequin that was almost lost to me when it was lifted (by accident?) by my landlord and her janitors, who had decided to help me "clean up" my studio; the wonderful dried palm skeleton was found on the streets of Miami after a storm while I was vacationing. I dug the wooden barn blocks from the earth at a salvage site in Pennsylvania. My intentions: create a bond between disproportionate matter while channeling Asian experiences. Above, a page from the exhibit's catalog. For one review of the work, click here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

U-prep Creates a "Home" Quilt

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts speaks to the city through it many art projects and programs that allow for local talent to work in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, City parks, and other educational institutions, who utilize their teaching artist program. I have been fortunate enough this fall and winter to be placed at U-prep (formerly Margret Milliones) Middle School where students are creating a fiber project which will one day hang at a community institution in their neighborhood. Meanwhile the students learn about  their communities historic places, the joys of quietude, pre-planning and a life skill that could one day save a pair of pants :-

The quilt will be featured at the Geek Art Green Innovator's festival on April 5th from 6 pm to 9 pm with guests Knit the Bridge @ ARTica Gallery 5110 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15224.