Hey ya'll! Today I wanted to share with you some of artists and makers I derive soul-gratifying inspiration from. Note the consistency in that all of the artists I will be highlighting are in fact strong, independent woman! It's not that I even am trying to highlight only women (I had to change the title of this blog post after I noticed the consistency), but I honestly just appreciate a lot of fiber works and makers spaces that just happen to be women-run. As a female (and feminist!) artist, I am so proud and energized by all of the contemporary makers and businesswomen I am able to collaborate with, celebrate and ask questions to. It's like having so many older sisters I am able to look up to!
I think for me, as I move into my mid-twenties, something I really appreciate in the arts and world of craft/fibers is the idea of s l o w i n g down. Thus, the concept of slow-stiching is a huge appeal to me and inspires my own practice.
This is me attempting to slow down right before my M.F.A. thesis exhibition. I know right.
Slow Stitching is really also known as hand stitching. This process ultimately means you derive carpal tunnel from the hundreds of hours you put into working with you hands for the sake of creating something beautiful. Its a process that yields high quality works that are truly one of a kind. This idea doesn't just begin and end with stitching, many arts practices adopt the idea of showcasing skill by utilizing old or ancient techniques that require time and practice. Below are some artists who also either make work or support other artists whose practices align with the concept of slow-making.
Honest Alchemy was created by Elizabeth McTear. Her practice, like mine, involves the copious use of indigo dye blended with the Japanese technique of folding fabric or, Shibori. Her artworks are meant to be utilitarian, a scarf, a tablecloth, handkerchiefs. I think when one finds themselves in the "maker mentality" or someone who produces goods to be used, the product should always be able to stand alone with or without a person to style it. Elizabeth folds fabric in such a way, that simply hanging it on a wall is as good of a use as actually wearing it. And her mastery of many other natural dyes is extremely impressive. I'll take one of everything, please.
Jude …oh Jude. Words pale in comparison to your beautiful embroidered works. When I look at any image on this lady's blog, I am usually filled with a sort of prideful rage...I experience a lot of complicated feelings when viewing her work, like total respect and also shear jealousy all at once. I bow down to your glorious artistry Jude! I also want everything she have ever made and would gladly adorn my entire apartment from ceiling to floor in her fiber works ( I assure they would easily cover my sad square footage I reside in). I also really enjoy the language she creates for herself on her blog and when she speaks about her pieces, she calls them spirit cloths. I'd love to sit down next to a roaring fire and drink tea and ask her hundreds of questions to harness her knowlege. I have no more words to say other than you would be a fool not to follow her ridiculously poetic and awe inspiring blog like me. On the daily. Your welcome.
Marlee Grace is the shopkeeper and creator/mastermind of Have Company; a storefront, artist residency studio and gallery in Grand Rapids Michigan. I was fortunate enough to stop in there while I was visiting Michigan a few summers ago. Let me tell you, the space Marlee Grace has created is intoxicating! From the calming natural colors of the pastel bricks and raw wood shelving, to the plethora of soft linens and objects specifically curated to incorporate all of the nooks and crannies, I felt a very real sense of calmness. Besides the inviting space and intoxicating smells of salves and lotions made by friends from nearby apothecaries, all of the items for sale are locally sourced from Michigan artists or made by artists who have come out of her residency program. All of the makers take on the slow-stich/ slow-made idea. Items range from zines, posters, bags, linen clothes, magical herbal potions and leather sandals. Mmmmmm take me back to pure Michigan please.
And the last awe inspiring artist I will be sharing with ya'll is the brilliant and ever so clever Olivia Robinson, who lives right here in lil' ol' Baltimore! I was so fortunate to have her step into some of my Fiber classes while attending M.I.C.A. and picked her brain about the world of fiber, social justice and community engaged arts. Her interests align with just that. Her specialty is rooted in "smart-textiles" which utilizes electrical circuits within fiber pieces to create meaning, pass and share information and/or create image and sound. The images above are from a show called Evidence: Identity Through Fiber Art which was housed at the Creative Alliance. Her piece in the show "Near and Far Enemies: Shade" becomes a teaching tool and political statement about Baltimore city redlining, and how certain neighborhoods develop (or don't) as a result. Hand stitched copper thread carries electricity through the quilt. The center depicts a map of Baltimore City neighborhoods. LED lights create a map from each neighborhood to an average tree size found in that area. The unfortunate trend is that the more affluent the neighborhood, the larger the tree; the more a neighborhood lacks resources, the smaller the trees. The quilt sends a very powerful message to everyone; that is, look around and notice the institutional and systemic racism that does truly exist. The concept of who gets more shade as they walk their neighborhood streets is just as political as any other social justice issue. Olivia's work is important to see, it sends a loud and important message in a beautifully constructed and technically sound artwork. Now go and explore more of her work!
I hope you are filled with a great sense of urgency to create your own slow-made works. Good luck, happy making and never stop researching others who fill you up with inspiration!
Posted on a waxing crescent