Warning. Long post. If you read it all you are wonderful!!
In the late fall I like to sit with what I might want to say to those whom are on my holiday greeting mailing list and encapsulate the year past. it's usually short and to the point. I always mention the latest happenings about my kids or that I welcome new shaklee clients, or my feelings of gratitude.
Lately I have things to tell about myself as an artist. In that regard this year I wrote:
"I participated in 29 art-related events in 2019. That’s up from 19 events last year and from about 9 happenings the year before. What a year! Highlights include: A HUGE (35’x7’) interactive solo collage installation! Imagine 15 banners of individual stitched collages with long dangling strings hanging in two rows from the ceiling. Impressive! I made prints of original work for the first time, I got published twice, and answered 12 calls for art. Some art calls were highly competitive. One made it to a gallery in Chicago and SOLD. 4 establishments now carry my work. I was invited to be a gallery juror, and secured an art commission. I am looking forward to the year ahead as I prepare for a touring solo installation that launches in January. I am booked to teach 5 workshops."
I am feeling rather proud. The above doesn't really say all that 2019 was about for me as an artist. I feel like I have done SO much!
In 2017 I declared that I would collage daily. I did that, loved doing that actually, and I continued doing daily collaging through a good portion of 2018, until I felt this indescribable overwhelm for the volume of work I was making. I felt buried alive in it. I felt emotionally stopped in trying to explain it all. I had to find a way to redirect my energies. I began to explore stitching my collage work. I felt distracted by wanting to learn quilting techniques that I could perhaps apply to paper.
All said I began 2019 with a bunch of ideas. One was to upcycle a former touring installation into a quilt. As first quilts go, and one made of paper. I definitely have a lot to learn. For someone who wanted to take a step back from making/producing. I ended up making a LOT of collages!
Here is an image of the quilt squares/quilt i repurposed from "Inspirit Form"
This hung in a group show at Make.Shift Gallery
My crow photograph had a wonderful flurry of exposure and success in 2019
It was highlighted in three galleries. It sold magnificently in two of them, along with two prints. It was published in a local arts magazine. Wow.
Project Catwalk was an idea that became a thing all unto itself. The making had what I describe as a fluidity to it. It poured out of me. A huge volume of work was created to hang in banners in a retail establishment. The signature collage sold as a print. The collection had two months of exposure to the community
One could walk through these banners of collages. the exhibit was definitely experiential!
When I dismantled this exhibit. I chunked it down to three new ideas. Ready to hang.
The idea of experimenting with the above project was to see what I could do in high volume producing that did not include frames. Purchasing and storing frames are a large challenge for me.
2019 was also a year where I began to add prints or a lower cost option for purchasing my work. Pieces that were offered in print were carefully selected by Brazen Shop+ Studio. A local boutique that features my work. I also added theses odd quilt square style pieces that hang by a grommet to my inventory there.
About 30 minutes from me is a neat little community that has a collection of galleries. It is where the photograph of the crow sold. I was encouraged to vend some of my stitched nude collages at a place called The Lucky Dumpster. I treasure being part of the art scene there and to have a place where this collection could be available.
Speaking of nudity. I use to host a collage circle. This summer while in the very middle of a monthly virtual session on FB. I was kicked out of FB for a nude collage I posted. It was such an invasive moment. I was furious. I ended up selling the original collage.
When i decided to stop facilitating this particular circle. I made another collage that morphed a woman and a bird.
My best patron/collector bought that piece too!!
This past summer I began to develop a new touring solo installation. It takes time for a long term idea to solidify. Having experimented with the concept of touring work before it seemed like a good idea to launch another collection. this one is 21 pieces and the theme is "singularity" I am reusing the frames from before. The collection opened this past week, and has multiple bookings in 2020. It ended up being a collaborative project.
A very good friend of mine from IL would send me these retro film images in the mail. Quirky circa '70's imagery. I developed these 6x6 ish squares that implemented her photographs and a crazy quilt style. I LOVE how they turned out. They were in the gift shop at the local museum during an impressive quilt show. Once that was complete I ended up approaching this lovely little gallery from where I use to live to host these pieces. The fact that the images were from a local historian that so many know and love, it was kismet that these collages show at this gallery.
In the fall I try and pitch the idea of selling calendars. It's not been a huge hit sales wise but I personally value the process of selecting 13 strong images from the year gone by. 2019 was also the year of Amber The Cat. I of course took WAY too many pictures of her. Prior years I selected the files and let folks print from their own calendar maker. This year I decided to investigate in a local print shop for a print on demand amber the cat calendar. Turns out its a bit pricy. Still - the calendar is really beautiful! People bought it. Not a lot of folks bought it but enough that I could then take a % of sales and make a donation to the local Humane Society where I got her.
I was invited to be a juror for a local gallery this year. 10 of us surveyed over 100 applicants for a select number of shows. The process was rather daunting. AND also very fascinating. It had me wonder if it was a good idea to have a super regimented art/project focus for 2020. I tend to be random queen of america. I leap at the variety of opportunities that come before me. MANY do not accept me. Which is OK. I believe the process of applying to shows is part of being an artist.
I dabbled with a few ideas that I feel I could develop in 2020. We'll see what comes of them. Two are in the realm of photography. One around the still life topic of 3. and the other around the idea of reflections.
This "three" project has had some positive responses and this particular photo has already sold.
The trick with all things photography is display/presentation. Experimenting with reflections I think will be great fun!
The other idea, and please notice that all of these are in the photography realm, is about something called The Empty Fridge Club. a yet to be developed idea.
This project was a happenstance making. My admiration of an artist and her illustrations for a magazine that I loved many many years ago became an ode project that I developed with collage. I basically morphed her work and photography from issues of the magazine. it was simply a story I wanted to tell. I have to find places that are willing to share this story and these 15 collages. They are such a strong collection of work.
I was hired to do a holiday card commission this year. An artist painted two doves. She photographed them. Added the photos to a collection of magazine pages and sent it all to me in the mail. She shared with me a bit about what she wanted her holiday message to be about, but mostly she said. I trust you!!
This commission was another example of "fluidity" where I just knew what to do. While the final piece is very me. It's more so, her and her husband and their message of love. I should add that this person is the largest collector of both my collages and photography.. She got to add the original commission to her collection.
To close, I spent a bit of time today reviewing this past decade.
( this post has taken me an entire afternoon to write! Not a bad thing to do when sick with the flu!)
Ten years ago, I was a very different person. With a complete different set of life circumstances. I had just emptied my nest. My children now independent of me, gave me the opportunity to focus on other things. I loved being a mom. I also knew with all of me what to do as a mom. I had a different barometer for confidence. I would not describe myself as a confident person. I am a risk taker. I am a trust my gut or trust my instincts person. I seem to live my life from one brick wall to another. Not much is by design. Gumption and perseverance are part of what fuels me, and I somehow find my way. Creating home is a huge theme in my life. I've overcome way too many years of alone, trauma, and tragedy. There were way more photography/ art successes in the early part of the decade than I give myself credit for. Including an impressive artist residency. What a grounding creative experience that provided me. When I moved west. almost 5 years ago now, I arrived wearing my "i am an artist hat". Not really a plan, more like a choice. More like a "if I don't wear this hat now. when will I?" Wearing my artist hat while risky financially turned out to be a good choice. My work is a deep personal narrative of my life. the many things I have gotten to the other side of are reflected in my art. Oddly I don't have all the words to put this past decade neatly on it's shelf. I just know as I make. More is added to the narrative.
Outside of what is shown above, I pulled together an additional sampling of collage work from 2019. The work is very unique, and it's organic path represents a lot of what this past year was all about.
This post is way too long for my liking. It does affirm the strong creative year I had though, which I guess is what a year in review is all about. Thank you for reading all of this. I treasure your support and encouragement.
Photography = a never ending opportunity to capture visual celebrations.