Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two writings


She waits with confidence, observing everything, witnessing the paths that stretch out before time, fully aware of all the intricate choices necessary. In conversation she is more often the listener than the speaker, watching with a soft, quiet, knowing smile, at once calming and infuriating. 

When finally her thoughts are vocalized, her voice is clear and unhurried, with the confidence of one who has all the time in the world, and her words are concise, each chosen for its efficiency as well as its meaning.

She is femininity in the truest sense, with soft curves that defy boundaries; no beginning and no end. Ever-expectant, she constantly waits for the next event, her sense of anticipation exuding from every pore. Her clothing is elegant and feminine, but understated, made of colors that constantly transition, subtle earthy hues that open to the next shade like gates lying in wait between gardens. 

Under her watchful gaze we all trip, and at times stumble, eliciting a slightly more pronounced smile on that wise face as we again find our footing.

Weather Formations (working title)

There have been times I believed I could do anything.

I could make the wind blow if I wanted. One day I even stopped the rain.

I visualized the rain clouds passing overhead and dropping their moisture on the

next unfortunate place – but oh no, not here, not here where I am standing strong,
where I am powerful, where I am in direct communication with nature and she is
being lenient about the execution of her plans.

There was a power in me, one that could sense changes of energy and respond to
them, one that felt heat others could not perceive.

And there have been moments so fortuitous that I felt that the world had a plan
specifically for me, that I was walking on a predetermined path, and on occasion
that there were road signs confirming my direction, moments when there were such
revelations of perfection that the concept of coincidence was rendered absurd.

Our friendship has been one of these.

One evening, the nighttime was suddenly filled with fireworks unlimited in color,
and it was humid like a warm night in North Carolina. We were two hand-holding
silhouettes, lost in the ephemera of the moment, marveling that we were standing
there together in our early twenties, witnessing a moment that makes life worth
living. The people around us milled around like centipedes, and we didn’t care, in
fact we barely noticed their movement attempting to interfere with our perfection,
failing to distract us from the light that danced in front of us.

I miss that girl, and that time, the unyielding optimism so inherent in both of us,
before it got lost along the way. I wish I could see her and cuddle with her and laugh
with her and be close to this girl who became like my sister, who helped define who
I am, with whom no amount of time could ever be considered too much.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I now find myself so far behind on my blog posts that I have no idea how I am ever meant to catch up. 
It is still my full intention to finish documenting our bookbinding trip to Europe; I have not forgotten about it! It looks like that will have to wait until the winter holiday, though, or I will remain eternally behind. 

Far more easily within my reach is a small update on the embroidery workshop I took at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts with Nick Deford, this July. It was an amazing week, and still, when I think of it I am astounded by everything that occurred within such a short time frame.

In lieu of an extensive post in this moment, I will share with you images of the embroideries I made while there. Hopefully at some point I will be able to post images of the work everyone else made; there were some incredible artists in the course! 

 the brain and the synaptic nerve, stitched into canvas.

toile print paper with a sheet of handmade abaca, with bees wax, embroidered.

In the realm of big news, by now most everyone reading this should know that I have transferred graduate programs, and am now living in Philadelphia, pursuing an MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking at the University of the Arts. It is unbelievable how fast this change occurred; I had less than a month to prepare for the move, and it was an incredibly difficult decision to leave the Fiber program at NIU. 
I moved to Philly on August 1st, and the past month and a half has been a roller coaster of emotion, as most transitional periods are bound to be. 

Now that I am feeling settled, and school has been in session for two weeks, I can state with absolute assurance that I have made the right decision. I miss my life in Chicago, particularly all of my friends. I love you all so dearly. But I feel a happiness here that I had forgotten it was possible to feel. A knowledge that is whole, and absolute, that I am meant to be here and that Philadelphia is embracing me with open arms. I feel that I was meant to have been here for a while, and now that I have come everything is falling into place. 

I am head over heels in love with UArts, and with the program here. I am at school every day for at least 14 hours, and it's wonderful. My feet carry me all the way from my apartment in South Philly, where I have the most terrific, I-can't-believe-how-lucky-I-am roommate, Hannah, and they almost never tire, never complain; the smile rarely fades from my face, and I'm struggling to fight back the tears that accompany unbridled happiness. 

Me in my new studio, provided by UArts. 

We have communal studios here, so everything is open, and we often have conversations with each other while we work. I'm already learning a huge amount from my fellow students because of this arrangement. There are 10 other students starting with me in my year, from all over the country (and one from South Korea, and one from China), with all different artistic backgrounds. I'm so thrilled to be here, learning alongside them!

Yesterday I went on a self-directed field trip as part of a project for our Color & Mark class, taught by Daniel Heyman. I walked over to Fabric Row, a section of 4th street that I had been wanting to explore for a while. For several blocks fabric store after fabric store dominated my eyes, and most had bins of scraps for sale on the street. I walked away with tons of different fabric samples, and some vintage laces and handkerchiefs, for embroidery or textile projects. 

We have already had our first critique, on a book we made in a week, and I am now working on a drawing for my very first lithograph which will be printed next week. I can't wait! More photos to come later (for real, this time...) so stay tuned. 

It's good to be back. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Paris, Brussels, and Bruges: Part 1: Half of Paris.

American Academy of Bookbinding Trip, 2011 to Paris, Brussels, and Bruges.

Monday, May 16th

I arrived in Paris after much difficulty navigating the metro, because as usual I was entirely unprepared. Thankfully a nice French gentleman gave me some guidance on the train, and I was able to locate our apartment in the Marais. It turned out I was unable to get a key, so I went on my way walking toward Relma to meet up with the group. I had been to Relma before, when I was in Paris with Shannon in January of 2010, so I had a pretty strong memory of where it was located. I set off with my suitcase walking through the streets of Paris, and after a couple of wrong turns, finally found the store full of my bookbinding comrades deep in the selection of fine leathers and papers. It was so wonderful to see everyone again! I knew at least half the group from previous courses taken at AAB in Telluride, CO, and it was wonderful to be reunited with this fantastic group of women. I purchased a couple of scraps of fine goat leather, and a new square that I had been wanting for a long time.

For those of you not in the know, Relma is a fine bookbinding supply house in Paris. They carry leathers in every color imaginable, and all kinds of handmade marbled paper, and fine bookbinding tools. My lovely sister Shannon has purchased several gifts for me from here, including a beautiful navy goat leather with matching marbled paper, and a French backing hammer (all of which I am still waiting to use on my next fine binding).

In the evening we had dinner at the oldest restaurant in Paris, Le Procope. I had a delicious meal of baked fish and a gigantic cinnamon crème brulée for dessert, which was just as good as one would expect to receive in Paris, but amazingly did not trump my friend Loni's lemon lavender crème brulée . Afterward we made it back to our apartment in the Marais that several of us were sharing (thanks to the generosity of one of my mentors, Mr. Del Harvey). It was a cramped situation, but also quite lovely because of the apartment’s location in the heart of Paris. Also, amazingly enough my friends Jeremiah Barber and Ingrid Rojas-Contreras had arrived in the city two weeks prior, and were living in a studio provided by Stanford a mere block away from where we were staying! But that part of the story comes later.

Tuesday was my first full day in Paris, and it began with a visit to HCP, exotic leather house, where the other trip attendees had visited the day prior and ordered leather. My jaw dropped in witness to the exponential amount of different leathers available at this store, which seemed to do a lot of business for handbag manufacturers. The leathers encompassed every species imaginable, from python and alligator, to ostrich and sting ray. I purchased a very small sting ray skin for myself, that had been dyed the most lovely, deep shade of bright orange. It was so beautiful that I felt that I could never relinquish it to place it back on the shelf, that I must purchase it.

We then went to the studio of Monsieur Villeroy, who is a professional leather parer in Paris. His machines are so amazing, that he can pare your leather down for a doublure in mere seconds – something that can take hours to do by hand. He was such a friendly gentleman, and I loved being in his cramped, relatively disorganized studio. I would love to have the capability to work full-time as a leather parer. And his rates are incredibly affordable, all things considered. I really wish we had someone maintaining a similar business here in the states. It would makes things so much simpler on a huge variety of levels.

For lunch we ate at an adorable Parisienne café, that I believe was named La Charrette des Beaux Arts (according to our itinerary). I had confit de canard (duck confit) with roasted potatoes, and it was incredible. The entire meal melted in my mouth, and I proceeded to eat my way through the whole thing, which I can only imagine that most Parisians wouldn’t have done.

The afternoon found us at Sennelier, an old artist shop that carried almost every art medium one could imagine. I spent a lot of time enviously ogling their paper collection, and when asked if I had found something I wanted, I responded with “Je voudrais tout les papiers,” which greatly amused the sales clerk. Sadly I got no digital images of this amazing store, but if I recall I captured a few on film.

Helene then walked us over to an adorable garden that had a couple of benches carved as open books. We took advantage of the photo opportunities there before proceeding on to the book shop Nicaise, to view several of their fine bindings. I didn’t take any photos here, but I know a lot of others did, so perhaps I can post some of theirs later on. They did have a good selection, but I knew the real treat would occur during our visit to La Librairie Blaizot the following day.

In the evening my apartment mates and I traveled to La Grande Épicerie de Paris to purchase some groceries for dinner. It was my second visit there, as I had gone with Shannon in my previous excursion to Paris, but it was my first time to really buy groceries for myself. It was such a treat; we created a delicious meal of sautéed green beans, chicken paté, a blend of delicious cheeses, French bread, and of course, macarons for dessert, including one unbelievable chocolate one that we coined “The Boyfriend”.

Afterward I walked down the block to visit Ingrid and Jeremiah in their studio space supplied by Stanford, and witnessed the unbelievable sight of Jeremiah hanging out the window, calling my name. I suddenly had the realization that here I am, in Paris, and this is my life, and these are my friends, and I get to be here with them, and it made me so unbelievably thankful to be alive, to be who I am as a young artist at 26 having no idea how my life will unfold before me, but suddenly incredibly excited to be along for the ride. They are two of the most brilliant people I know, and spending time with them in Paris talking about life… I could almost understand that it was always meant to happen, that we were always going to find ourselves there together, however briefly.

Wednesday turned out to be one of the most amazing days we spent in Paris, a day so full of unbelievable events that even looking back on it, I can hardly believe that it happened. We began our day at La Librairie Blaizot, which was my second time to visit. They pulled out countless fine bindings for our perusal, and I took a TON of photos. Some of the books were so beautiful that it was difficult to conceive that they were actually constructed with human hands… but that is the power of a successful fine binding! We spent several hours oohing and aahing, both inspired and absolutely intimidated by the talent that was presented to us.

Sadly I cannot remember where we ate lunch… I think it was a fast café that had a lot of fresh morsels, but the name of it is lost to me. In the afternoon we visited a bookbinding/conseration studio owned by Alain Devauchelle, and saw all of his employees at work. They were all lovely ladies, a couple of whom were no older than me, and were adorable and artistic looking. It gave me an idea of what my life could be like, if I were only born French.

Afterward we had a brief interlude at le Musée Rodin, which had the loveliest garden… so lovely that I didn’t even make it into the museum! We sat around outside eating delicious gelato, surrounded by beautiful trees, on one of the warmest days of our trip. After being refreshed by the sweetness of mango and banana, it was time to walk to the home of Monique Mathieu, right down the street. It is still unbelievable to me that I found myself in her house, that we were able to sit down at a table with her as she presented several of her books to us, and told us the amazing story of the love of her and her husband. The first binding she ever completed was a collection of poems by a local poet. Upon completion of this work, she met the poet… and he became her husband for life, and someone with whom she collaborated constantly. I must admit that it gave me hope, and made me excited for the person that I could potentially meet one day, the person who could be my complement in every sense of the word. There was one binding in particular that made me want to cry from its level of sheer beauty… for a few minutes I was unsure how long I would be able to hold it together, being with these women and sharing this experience.

Our day concluded with an unbelievable dinner at Le Pochtron, for which Monique Mathieu joined us. I can hardly remember what I had for the meal, except that it was some kind of fish, I believe, for it was entirely eclipsed by one of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever had in my life, an Ile Flottante. If you have never had one of these (literally translated as Floating Island), then have one at the soonest opportunity. I could eat that every day of my life and be perfectly content.

I have tons of photos to share with you from this part of the trip... but I am still editing, so please be patient!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crafty Bastards

I have returned from the trip with the American Academy of Bookbinding.
It was so intense that it will take me quite a while to decompress and talk about the trip... but expect photos and a lot of writing to take place sometime soon!

In the mean time I wanted to share that I will be in a show with several of my friends.

Crafty Bastards Sculpture Exhibition TBA Space 1039
Friday, June 10 at 7:00pm -
June 23 at 10:00pm
1039 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

For those of you who didn't catch it, this show is in Chicago. Just off the blue line Grand stop. So please come!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I couldn't have said it better myself.

"But the first person who ever wrote, who cut into stone and wood under ancient skies, was far from responding to the demands of a view that required a reference point and gave it meaning, changed all relations between seeing and the visible. What he left behind him was not something more, something added to other things; it was not even something less -- a subtraction of matter, a hollow in relation to the relief. Then what was it? A hole in the universe: nothing that was visible, nothing that was invisible. "

-Maurice Blanchot, The Absence of the Book

Thanks to my friend, Nicholas Hayes

Monday, May 9, 2011

I was screaming and no one could hear.

Handmade box with cream linen book cloth, inset kozo board with hole-punching, arduino LED lights.

Artist book with handmade kozo paper, hand-embroidered.

I alter... I rectify

I have a huge amount of photos to share with all of you, documentation of the Advanced Fibers show that opened this past Thursday night at Bad Dog Gallery. Unfortunately I'm unhappy with the photos I took of my artist book and box, so I will have to re-shoot those and keep you in suspense. I should be able to post photos of that Tuesday or Wednesday. In the mean time, here is my other work that was in the show, as well as the work of my fellow students.

One day I could say her name.
Handmade abaca paper on found frames, hole-punching, cotton embroidery.

These no longer phase me.
Handmade abaca paper with embedded mica, suminagashi ink, strathmore drawing paper.

I can tell you so much more in 25 seconds than I ever could before.
Handmade cotton weaving with inclusions, painted warp threads. I am much happier with this installation than what was done previously at the Glass Gallery. This time the weaving was installed at a 45 degree angle from the wall, and the warp threads were pinned much more chaotically, with some woven throughout the others.

Mary Hintzen's These are the memories you can't remember.
Alcohol bottles with labels removed, family photos.

Paige Sorenson's This is fine, so she'll be fine.
Linen with cotton embroidery.

Katie Wolf (I'm not sure of Katie's titles)
Inherited nightgown, transferred family photos.

Hand-dyed fabric, cotton embroidery.

Crocheted dress.

Jenna Goeringer (also unsure of title)
Embroidery on linen blend.

Vellum with watercolor and cotton thread.

Structure made entirely of wire.

Liz Howell (an incredibly prolific student; also in my Artist's Book course... the rest of these are hers)
Altered and handmade books.

Crocheted cocoon, hand-woven cocoon, handmade cotton paper shell, altered dressform, mixed media.

Altered matchbooks.

Weaving with applied marker.

The show was incredibly worthwhile, even though the preparations to finish my book/box, I was screaming and no one could hear, were so exhausting that I am still recovering. Six of my closest friends from the city came out to support me, for which I am endlessly thankful: Loni Diep, Chrysteena Lairamore, Erika Peyton, Kara Poe, Rachel Swenie, and Sarah Louise Walker. I felt completely immersed in love and support. Also there's no way I would have finished my work in the time allotted without the help of my friends Loni Diep, Jeremy Fox, Brian Montana, and Iga Puchalska. I love all of you!