Friday, March 27, 2009

Gilty Pleasures



The beginnings, fall 2007...



Bringing it out into the light again yesterday...



I'm stitching the birds onto felt...



Whew. I almost can't post about this piece because it feels almost overwhelming. But I need to process and why not do it here, where I can get some feedback? A good old studio crit. I need to reign in the chaos!!! I put this big wall piece away last winter, and it's been stored away in my flat file for months, waiting, not so patiently, waiting. Yesterday I pulled it all out and began to take things apart, and draw, paint, stitch, and glue. I am invited to be in an exhibit that opens next week, Gilty Pleasures, at Sanctuary Tattoo and Art Gallery on Forest Ave. This exhibit will showcase work inspired by illuminated medieval manuscript, and I have been given a whole wall to install my piece, Altared Self. It has never felt finished, and I am working to make it more textural and sculptural, adding more media to it, like yarn, pipe cleaners, and fabric. I look at this piece as a sort of stage set, an open book, or a bulletin board.

When I was in elementary school, I was always chosen from my class (along with one or two other "artistic" kids) to decorate the class bulletin board. This is really quite sad. Just because we 2-3 kids could "draw" we were chosen. Every few weeks the class all had to do drawings on a given topic - proposals, if you will - on the design for the next bulletin board. Topics ranged from seasonal, to subjects we were currently studying (I remember specifically making a bulletin board about the medieval world. I can still see the high waisted dresses and tall pointed hats we put on the women...). The teacher then decided which 2-3 students' drawings were "the best," and we got to design the bulletin board. The rest of the class had to sit and read or draw while we chosen few were allowed away from our desks to work at The Big Table with piles of cool supplies. I loved doing this, but always felt a bit guilty (not gilty!). It's no wonder that so many adults were traumatised by art "education" in schools back then!

Anyhow, I did love creating these big scenes, with piles of construction paper, glue and cotton balls for clouds, and as many staples we needed to get it all up. And how we used the stapler to "sculpt" the forms by buckling the paper out from the surface...

Altared Self is being constructed with this mentality. It's a sort of bulletin board autobiography.

6 comments:

Susan Beauchemin said...

Birds on felt--good idea! I love this piece--I'm glad you'll be putting it up--make sure to take a picture for your blog when it's up and finished--will it ever be finished?! Here's an idea--a giant felt board where people get to move the pieces around and some extra felt for those who would like to make a piece to add--a good idea for some other project though--I'd rather see this one done souly by you.

TERI REES WANG said...

How brave of You!
Looks like an extremely personal piece, with such history behind it.
Keep going. Can you add ...your regular habit?..coffee?..tea?..beer?
Coffee grounds work well with plaster and paint. Both tea and coffee make a great wash. Beer...I have no idea..
I love all your layers.

Martha Miller said...

hey, that's a fun idea, sue! remember our old felt board? i loved that thing...

Martha Miller said...

hi teri

"i love coffee, i love tea
i love the boys and the boys love me!" (ever hear this little dittie?)
"tell your mother just the same
she was the one who changed her name!"

hmmm, coffee grounds would be way fun to work with, and i am indeed a coffee drinker. i often use my coffee to paint washes with in my dream journals!
thanks for the feedback, gals - i'll let these ideas steep and percolate! :^)

Don Gray said...

It's a compendium--really a wonderfully ambitious, encyclopedic autobiography.

You say you would like to "reign in the chaos." Here's a thought: What if all the marvellous energy of this piece were spread out over space...maybe even time? To me, many of the parts and pieces function beautifully as independent, self-contained works. Could there be some kind of configuration that allowed these parts to express their richness without having to compete shoulder to shoulder? I could see this work spread across a room, or several rooms, functioning like an "installation," but still being seen as a single work.

Martha Miller said...

hi don

thanks for the great feedback! i really like that idea of this becoming several pieces spread out over space and time. i have such difficulty realizing that i can TAKE space and time. i always feel a bit frantic, like i don't have that luxary, and end up crowding things together... (hmmmm. i think perhaps this stems partly from growing up "shoulder to shoulder" with many siblings and cousins in a big family!!!) for now, though, i need to resolve this to fit on one wall - maybe after that it can come apart and evolve into a more expansive installation piece...