Well hello there. It has been awhile which really needs no explanation. We all know what this past year has been. And yet I have renewed energy as the sun begins to return.
After engaging in the Artist Residency in Motherhood and completely steeping myself in the online community I want to bring this energy to my locality in a concrete and physical way.
I am working toward this goal by developing a childcare supported art studio and gallery focused on sustainability in the arts. Offering onsite childcare is social sustainability – it provides equitable access to a population often overlooked in the infrastructure of the art world.
You can follow this project @surface.community on Instagram and support its development on IFundWomen.
I spent this week feeling rather helpless, scrolling through Instagram, taking in everyone’s advice for what to do in the face of racial injustice. I tried to be a good ally by following these recommendations but the tornado of voices was overwhelming. My goal moving forward is to be a voice when the tornado has ceased. My goal is the longevity of this action.
Today is Breonna Taylor’s birthday and Cate Young @battymamzelle has made a call to action in honor of her. Find it HERE.
In the studio this week I created static drawings, copies of the insides of privacy envelopes, in carbon ink. To me this imagery and medium illustrate the times we are living in.
This week my work seems trivial in the light of recent events. I acknowledge my privilege as a white person. Even in my own personal tragedies I have been privileged and I am constantly learning how to leverage that privilege to lift others up. Even when it is hard to see I ultimately believe in a common consciousness that binds us together.
This week I realized I have been making pathways, in copper ink and fiber nets, in stitches and knitting. I have accidentally slipped into a formal language consisting of lines. Lines going somewhere.
To be honest, less Art was made this week than in previous weeks. My pace is slowing down as I begin to imagine our life moving forward and prepare mentally for more change.
—hold on while I pick up the bag of chocolate chips I spilled on the floor…
Okay, back… Yesterday a friend called to see if I could go on a walk, a 6 hour hike up a butte to be exact, in the middle of the day. I said yes because this sounded nice in theory but as soon as I hung up the phone my anxiety peaked and I think I came as close as I’ve ever been to a full blown anxiety attack. New habits have been formed and those habits are SEDENTARY for goodness sake! Well we made it and I can barely walk but a lesson was learned. Ease into spontaneity, ease into movement but do it nonetheless.
Aeon and I photographed each other obscured by our art projects this morning.
The shroud is coming along. When this knitting is as tall as me I will scrub the floor with it leaving a ghostly image of my body- hands and knees.
Aeon and I collaborated on public art displayed at our home.
In other news we got a new vacuum and it is the delight of the household. Aeon says…
“Mom, the vacuum sounds like people singing church songs while a fire alarm goes off!”
This week in the Artist Residency in Motherhood I have been working with nets, making and sculpting with paper and feeling generally directionless.
My county is moving into Phase I of reopening the economy today. This brings the same level of uncertainty to my mind as the closing of schools did in March. I was privileged to have appreciated being paused. Now I am trying to remember what I was doing before March 16th and possibly reevaluating those goals.
But with certainty I can say, until my daughter returns to school I will be here full time mothering and making art.
From the Residency Studio this week…
WIP, homemade copper ink on paper
WIP, mud dyed yarn net as a cobweb in the kitchen
Experimenting with ways to display my foraged clay vessels.
Paper bead experiment. With dryer lint, studio paper scraps and my mothers t-shirts.
My residency work focuses on materials I can find on my 0.2 acre property in Eugene, Oregon.
This week I found some new colors in the backyard!
This color is the result of Evernia Prunastri Lichen soaked in ammonia for two months. This was just a little test, I put the yarn straight in the jar with the lichen and ammonia for two days. In a few more months I will strain the dye bath and heat it and this should yield a pinker pink.
I love color surprises! This color is the result of a mystery shrub taking over my backyard. The roots appear to be red so I tried them in a dye bath and here we are, with carrot orange! On the waste yarn gleaned from a local fiber mill the mystery shrub yields a color somewhere between salmon and peach which is also so lovely.
Before Covid I had been making nets of yarn dyed with plants found near the ocean where I lived shortly after having a baby. When I found this color in the roots of a backyard shrub I felt called to make it into a net again. Previously I had thought I was making nets with ocean dyes just in their connection to that place but now I realize they also have symbolic connection to me and my mental state at that time in my life. When I lived on the coast I was in a 24ft RV with a three month old babe with nothing to do but walk down to the ocean or to the park’s laundry room. We had just arrived in this rural area so I was completely alone while my partner drove into town to work.
If my life were a novel, the fact that I chose to give myself a residency in the place of my isolating postpartum experience in late 2019 and chose netting as a medium would be a clever foreshadowing to these current days…
I love the meditative rhythm of making nets but I need to do something to keep the yarn from snagging on hands! Lots of hand washing + yard work =
The growing pile of dryer lint and studio scrap paper is starting to feel like a stack of receipts. Or invoices? For my unpaid labor as a mother/ home keeper and artist.
Adding the new color to my daily stitch journal.
The knitted shroud is coming along slowly but surly. This piece is knit with gleaned bobbin ends from a local mill dyed with acorns and mud from my yard. It will eventually be as tall as me and used to scrub the floor of my home, leaving a ghostly image of my working body.
Artist Residency in Motherhood Weekly Progress Report.
Today ends the fifth week of my Artist Residency in Motherhood and I locked myself in the bathroom.
The lock down has hurtled me back to my postpartum experience. The constant “tension between independence and dependence, between self-assertion and self-abnegation and between love and hate” is overwhelming. (p.11, Parker)
Weekend goal: re-read Mother Love /MotherHate by Rozsika Parker.
The difference between lock down and postpartum is that now my child can assert herself and express her identity in opposition to mine verbally.
Redemption is in the fact “that conflicts generated by maternal ambivalence are potentially creative.” (preface, Parker)
In the studio this week—–
Playing with text collage, quote by Aeon.
Dryer lint paper continued. Laying damp paper over bodily care objects to create ghostly sculptures. Mother/Daughter pairs.
Knitting continued. Working on creating a body size piece of knitting that I will use to scrub the floor.
My creative energy is bubbling over but at the end of the day I feel like the little girl on the stool above.
We are also making a weekly video tutorial about handmade and recycled art supplies! Visit our Creative Kids page to see the handmade charcoal we made last week and check back on Monday when we teach you how to turn it into ink!
We have also worked on other projects that have not been shared including building sculptures in our front yard on a busy street with items from inside our home. Will post pictures soon!
These are my moments of letting go- I am not naturally a very playful person.
I am maintaining control in the small moments through a stitch diary, handmade paper and meticulous grids. In these activities I am working with the debris of the domestic.
I am paring down my rituals and focusing on what my daughter and I really enjoy.
When I am with my daughter we will continue our mapping and sculpture games as well as invent more games and new ways of interacting with each other and the world around us.
When I have alone time I will be focusing on my stitch journal featuring hand dyed cloth and thread and depicting domestic movements. I will also start work on a larger Body of Work piece involving mud dyeing, knitting and scrubbing. The third and final focus will be on small works on paper- grids and dryer lint paper- that I will be posting for sale soon!
Now that is a lot to do! So I am paring down my residency blog to just once per week on Fridays.
This week I have experimented with embedding objects and adding stitching to dryer lint paper.
is my working title for the performative act of scrubbing a floor with mud dyed and knitted wool yarn as well as the resulting soft sculptures.
This post will give you insight into the process of making this work and where it is going.
I am moving this work into it’s next phase. The square swatches I had been making and scrubbing with were tests and I now have enough information to move onto a larger piece.
I tested weight of yarn as well as scrubbing method.
Scrubbing yields the results I am looking for when I lay my hands with fingers spread wide on the cloth then pull my fingers together, scrunching the knitting between them.
The yarn that yields the results I am looking for is actually the bobbin ends from a local mill. Ewethful Fiber Farm generously gave me these beautiful ends! I love being able to use reclaimed materials in my work.
My next step is to make a larger piece of knitting, at least as big as my body laid flat…. Well actually I need to mud dye my yarn first! I will be posting that process on Instagram as I complete the steps.
The inspiration for the work came early in 2020 when I was still working 40 hours per week at a local mill as well as keeping a household, mothering and trying to make art. The work at the mill was repetitive and echoed the tasks of domestic labor. The positive aspect of this is that it provided spaces to THINK. But also to converse with my coworker who happened to be a very knowledgeable textile artist. She once described to me a kind of mitten that is made in Scandinavia where the inside layer is made of loose roving. Over time the moisture and movements of the hand inside the mitten will felt the roving.
I was inspired by this idea.
How can everyday touch create an object?
Specifically the touch of a working body?
(I tried this process with roving but it did not work as I intended so the question became..)
How can a body performing domestic labor move or manipulate a line?
A piece of knitting is a continuous line given form by working hands.