The theme for this exhibition was taken from a series by Lindsay Obermeyer which, in turn, was inspired by a text entitled "Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society" by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. (1) The title, Woman's Work?, in the context of art, brings to mind the traditional (acceptable) forms of artmaking by women such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, etc. Endeavors such as these not only have had to overcome the stigma of "craft" but also their association with the feminine due to their ties to the home and to the family. Yet while our customary idea of family has changed and "sewing arts" have overcome their non-high art classification, there remains something inherently familial, homey often, about these particular art forms. The three artists chosen for this exhibition, Anni Holm, Mark Newport, and Lindsay Obermeyer, share both their process-knitting-as well as the use of knitting as a metaphor for our connection to one another.
Mark Newport knits several Costumes whose bright colors, often recognizable symbols, and shape are reminiscent of the super-masculine action heroes which picture largely in our childhood memories. The concept of action hero speaks to the traditional notion of husband and father as protector of the family. Not only do Newport's Costumes remind us of heroes battling outside forces but also of our interior world, our home. When juxtaposed with the medium of knitting the Costumes conjure memories of the warmth and safety sought in our domestic environment through their allusion to cozy blankets and warm sweaters. Due to the lack of an actual body to fill these Costumes, when exhibited, they appear passive as they hang limply from the gallery wall. Thus Newport creates performances which "activate" the Costumes by showing himself in the process of making and wearing them.
The connection of textiles to the traditional role of woman finds its strongest voice in the work of Lindsay Obermeyer. For Obermeyer's series entitled "Woman's Work" she addresses the relationship between mother and child. For example, in her piece Twirlers Obermeyer uses thread to create a sweater whose "breasts" extend and pool onto the gallery floor. The resulting image is one in which the viewer is invited to connect to the biological demands of motherhood as well as the reality of an unending bond/giving of parent to child. Twirlers also alludes to the demands upon one's time which can be problematic for an artist/parent. Historically, for women, a choice must be made between their artwork and their duties to their family. Obermeyer reconciles this dilemma by conflating the two.
About NEIU Art Gallery
The NEIU gallery is located at 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue in building E in the northwest area of the campus. Parking is free in parking lot F the night of the reception only. The Fine Arts Center Gallery is a visual exhibition space committed to showing innovative works of art in all media within a pluralistic, culturally diverse setting. Fall gallery hours are 10am-5pm Mon-Fri. Please call 773-442-4944 or visit our website at www.neiu.edu/~gallery/ for more information.
"Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams."
-- Paul Gaugin
We did it! Mary and I successfully completed two yarn bombings with the help of the Rogers Park community! Rogers Park is officially now blooming!
The weather was comfortably cool and sunny. We couldn't have asked for a finer day. Students from the Chicago Academy of Math and Sciences gave us a hand. With their help, it only took 45 minutes to install over 200 crocheted marigolds and a dozen or so papel picados. Thank you CAMS students! You rocked!
We managed to cover 2/3 of the fence along the Clark Street side of Touhy Park which is the length of a full city block. Given that a Chicago city block is 660 feet long , that's approximately 440 feet yarn bombed!
Waste not, want not. The chunky red flowers were made from upcyled red "thread" from The Red Thread Project®, the community art project I originated and led for 7.5 years. I love them and want to make a blanket full of giant squishy red flowers.
October 6th is the official Chicago Artists Month tour of the Rogers Park yarn bombings. Hope to see you at the mini yarn bombing event hosted by the Rogers Park Business Alliance at 2pm!
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." - Chinese proverb
The Red Thread Project® is a community art project I started 7.5 years ago as a double dare from curator Kaz McCue. Little did I know that the simple dare would blossom into something so large. The Red Thread Project® celebrates community connections, both visible and invisible, while encouraging and fostering individual creativity. The hats on display exhibited the creative efforts of hundreds of youths and adults from across Chicago (and as far as Belgium) who’ve been knitting and crocheting hats since late September.
On December 3rd we partied! 300+ hats were attached to one very long read "thread." We had so many hats that we didn't have enough room to lay them all out! People of all ages and all parts of Chicago came to celebrate, showing their community spirit, and let's face it to get down and boogey. The event was at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of "What's Your Art: Celebrating the Art Centers of Chicago" presented by Chicago Public Media, Sixty Inches from Center, TimeOut Chicago and Intellegentsia.
We had a last minute change of music with the EE Marching Band providing a fantastic New Orleans jazz sound. Meida McNeal and Felicia Holman got us line dancing and Sara Convery photographed the event. Mary Lawrie rearranged her work schedule to help with all the last minute attaching and assist with the installation. Bless you lady, the show would not have gone on without you!
All hats contributed will be donated to local charities including those assisting cancer patients, foster children, the elderly and the homeless. Since its inception in 2004, over 6,000 hats have been donated to charities in Terre Haute, IN, Memphis, TN, Grand Rapids, MI, Sugar Grove, IL and St. Louis, MO.
The Red Thread Project® was a featured program of Chicago Artists Month 2011, the sixteenth annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant community presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture.
Thank you to the following organizations for hosting Red Thread Stitching Studios:
And a special thank you to these great folks who helped make the day happen!
Andrew Altman (webmaster), Nicolette Caldwell (Sixty Inches from Center), Georgia Chilton (media organizer), Sara Convery (photographer), Penelope Dullaghan (illustrator), Felicia Holman (choreographer), Tempestt Hazel (Sixty Inches from Center), Mary Lawrie (intern), Meida McNeal (choreographer), Corinne Peterson (sculptor and knitting circle maker), Breeze Richardson (Chicago Public Media).
So what's next? I've had offers to bring the project to more cities, but it's time for new adventures. I will soon be archiving the project which will become part of the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University. If you have a photo or a story you want to be sure is added, just let me know.
"Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons."
--Ruth Ann Schabacker
It's craft fair season and I am busy in the studio. The DIY Trunk Show broke all expectations! Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to say hello. Your smiles were a great gift. And to all who made a purchase, thank you again. I woke up last week to find a giant puddle of water in the basement. The leak was more than a leak. Evidently everytime I turned on the bathroom sink, a huge waterfall came cascading down my basement wall. What normally would have caused a major panic was offsett by such great sales and knowing I could easily pay the plumber. So a mighty THANK YOU!
You can next find my work at the Out of the Box Holiday Gift Market (see image above). I will be there 12/10, 12/11, 12/17 & 12/18 selling my beanies, berets, and bags as well as new charming paper ornaments made with vintage papers and colorful felted hats pins.
In the meantime, I am busy knitting more of the red "thread." I picked up another 68 donated hats, so I guess that means another 68 yds of i-cord to knit over the holiday weekend. Yeah!
My daughter and I have a tradition. We make pumpkin pancakes followed by either pumpkin pizza or homemade pumkin ravioli (in a sage and brown butter sauce) followed by pumpkin pie. Yes, being a vegetarian, it's a pumpkin theme around here rather than the focus on a turkey. When completely full and barely able to move, we head out to the movies to watch the latest chick flick. Unfortunately there aren't any chick flicks on offer, so I think it will be the latest Muppet movie. While I will miss family in St. Louis, I am thankful for the down time we have together, giving us a chance to recharge the energy levels before holiday season swings into high gear.
Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!
The first is Unwind - a Knitting Pub Crawl with The Red Thread Project® - Saturday, 11/12, 3-6. Registration / check in is at the Rogers Park Business Alliance (RPBA) - 1448 W. Morse. You must check in and get a wrist band at RPBA, but then can travel to whatever bars in whatever order. The goal is to visit all 6 pubs. At each bar you will receive a playing card, the best poker hand at the end of the night at each bar wins a prize.
I will be rotating between these fine bars collecting hats for The Red Thread Project® and assisting with hat making queries.
Act One Gastropub - 1330 W. Morse
Buffalo Bar at the Heartland Cafe - 7000 N. Glenwood
Chuckies - 1412 W. Morse
Duke's Bar - 6920 N. Glenwood
Glenwood Bar - 6962 N. Glenwood
Morseland - 1220 W. Morse
This event is presented by Rogers Park Business Alliance and Sifu Design Studio and Fine Yarns.
On Sunday 11/13 from 10-3 is the 3rd annual Holiday Market at the Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N. Sheridan Rd. I will be there with new beanies, berets and bags, plus my latest line of hat pins and the ever popular all natural, moth repellant herbal sachets. There will be many fine treats and a fantastic raffle! Don't miss it! And yes, I now accept credit cards. Woohoo!
Here is Mimi the Mannequin modeling Nixie, a deliciously soft beanie knit from Highland Peruvian wool, merino and a merino / silk blend yarn with needle felted dots for a bit of extra dash. As always, my mission is to brighten the grey winter landscape with bits of bright color!
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.” -- Elizabeth Zimmerman
I am excited to introduce Vivaloom, a new resource for all you loom and board knitters! Launched this week, it features five patterns designed by me with many more to come and dozens more by other designers noted in the field.
While I've been knitting for 38 years, it's only been within the past seven that I've been using knitting boards and looms. Why do I love working with them?
If you haven't given a loom or board a try, it's high time you did. You will quickly find yourself addicted.
"Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true." -- Lyman Frank Baum
Two weeks ago I woke early to find this lovely surprise. I stared in disbelief and awe. Rainbows are rare. Surely it had to be an omen. A good omen. Right?
I was preparing to install my work at ArtPrize. Did it mean I would find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, like a $250,000 first prize? One can dream, but alas no. But then again, maybe I did find my pot of gold, if not a direct monetary one.
Opportunities are what you make of them. ArtPrize afforded me an addition to my public art portfolio and gave me direct feedback from others. This feedback proved encouraging. For one, many asked if I would be making the flowers available for individual purchase. They saw my work in their home, a part of their lives. They just couldn't take on the size and expense of a full installtion. I can't either which is why I designed it for easy storage and shipping. So when they asked, I had a price in mind and not one person flinched. Several gave me their cards and asked me to email them when they come available.
Others asked if I would be selling patterns of the individual flowers. Yes. I am already in process of a book proposal based on this very thing, full of details about the flowers themselves in addition to the patterns. I've loved making them and enjoy the thought of sharing the fun with others. In the meantime, I'm preparing several patterns for sale in my Etsy shop and am considering kits.
I even had a request to rent the installation for a wedding reception! I am meeting with the bride-to-be in a week to discuss the possibility. Now here is a concept I had never considered in my wildest of dreams, but it has me thinking about how I can expand upon it.
Money for art doesn't have to be derived from the direct sale of the work. And I question the model of the arts depending on grants. A recent survey I took asked if I felt my career was ever impeded due to lack of grant funding. Are they kidding?! While grants can help and provide one with a structure for working out an idea, it doesn't have to be the primary source of income. In fact, that way of thinking actually limits one. I've always tailored my ideas to be within what I can do now with sketches worked for grander schemes. Some of those grander ideas have taken fruition, such as The Red Thread Project®, others remain in my sketchbook, but my career has never been held back due to lack of funding. Don't get me wrong. Times have been tough. I've raised a daughter on my own. I have piles of medical bills (literally two inches thick when you stack up the envelopes), but I will never let money or someone dictate my career. Call me stubborn.
So like the beauty of finding a rainbow at dawn, I keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities. I take the disappointments and look at how I can do better. I hope for an ease in cash flow, but know its constrains don't limit me, only I can. For now, I'm going to put on the kettle for more tea and get back in the studio.
"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still." -- Dorothy Lange
When the catalog for Chicago Artist Month (CAM) arrived, my daughter was flipping through it when she stopped at this image of me.
"Mom, this doesn't look like you. I mean it is you, but it's not."
She went on to explain that I don't look like a mom, but an artist. I laughed. I'm both, right? I didn't get it. I'm a little thick. She saw an underlying confidence that I couldn't. A confidence that has held me afloat during years of struggle to hold onto my art practice through the thick and thin of life.
I felt awkward having the picture taken. I'm not one to jump in front of the lens, especially when I have cold sores the size of an elephant. The day was warm, the beginning of a heat wave. My mind was on getting to the trade show where I had a booth. I couldn't relax to enjoy the moment. The photographer Maria Ponce was great. She kept ordering me to move this way and that. I finally sank into the role as her model, letting her get on with the job she was paid to do.
Me. A model. Good grief.
Being chosen as one of the featured artists is an honor. I've worked hard to reach this point. But so have many other local artists. What makes me so special?! Nothing. But as my daughter keeps reminding me, I should be thankful. And I am.
I am very thankful. Hopefully the attention will allow The Red Thread Project® to grow. I am excited by the number of venues hosting Red Thread Stitching Studios. I have a great site for the installation and I learned last week that the performance will be at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of "What's your art?" on December 3rd. Meida McNeal confirmed today that she will choreograph the performance. I organized all of this on my own, without funding and not one intern, just the occassional help of a few friends. (Thanks!) I've worked 12-14 hour days for several months. I can't believe it is all real. The official launch is in just two days.
Learning to accept everything with grace has been my biggest challenge. I still feel self conscious, but I keep in mind a recent conversation with Mr. Pringle, director of the Harlem Theater Company. He asked me if I was good at what I do. I think so. " Don't you know?," he asked. Okay, he had me. Yes, I am good at what I do. "That's better." Is this the part when I take a bow? "Why not!"
I was kidding, but he wasn't. I understood his point. He wanted me to see in myself what my daughter was seeing in the photo. I'm here. I've survived a ton of crap. Accept the kudos as part of the package. I wouldn't have made it this far in life and art without some sense of confidence and endurance.
If Mom were still alive, she'd give me a hug and then serenade me with an ear piercing rendition of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman!" She played the song until the record srcatched.
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Suddenly, I feel 13 years old with an urge to roll my eyes.
Anni Holm sent me this video of The Red Thread Project® when it was at Waubonsee Community College in 2010. I can't thank Anni and the rest of the college enough for this gift. So if you are thinking of getting involved and want to learn more, take a look at the video.
(While I check on technical difficulties with embedding the video, try going directly to You Tube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6qb1qyHGn4