Wednesday, March 18, 2009
During the past two months I have been investigating the needs to mount CYBER FYBER 2. I've learned so much, collected valuable information, and made many new contacts. I've also had to face facts. It pains me to announce that CYBER FYBER 2 has been postponed indefinitely....maybe until 2011...maybe longer. Current economic realities are harsh. A bright future might be on the horizon but there's no way to determine when it will blossom. South Carolina ranks second in US unemployment statistics and daily the numbers increase. I know teachers whose contracts will not be renewed after decades of loyal service. I know too many people in the arts and elsewhere being forced to take numerous, unpaid vacation days in order to avoid layoffs. I've had former Mouse House employees call asking if I have any openings. (I don't.) One of the people on my "Selected Reference List" is now looking for a job....needing references of her own. Our newspaper has cut staff because company advertising is so low. This cutback eliminated the entire arts section...writers and editors. The owner/editor of the region's monthly art magazine just took out a second mortgage on his house. The gallery in which my 2007 show with Janet Kozachek was held has closed its doors. I know of at least one other art gallery doing the same.
How can I, in good faith, approach businesses for financial support? I can't! How can I apply for grants from arts agencies that are experiencing as much as 25% reductions from their sources? I can't! How can I proceed knowing that Steve and I can't personally cover the expenses or expect help? It's impossible.
I don't, however, have to remove the show's listing from the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio's website. These two weeks in the incredible gallery space are mine! I WILL USE THEM to mount my own solo exhibition. The "working title" is "Life Everlasting". This installation will focus on personal and universal identities through art inspired by grave markers and epitaths.
There will be more developments, of course. For one thing, I've recently submitted exhibition proposals for "Personal Grounds" (including the entire Decision Portrait Series) and Blues Chapel. Also, I've applied for several artists residency programs and also for a summer scholarship to Penland. Depending on the outcome of one of these programs, I will hopefully be traveling to Austria with Pian and Annica (my Swedish stitching buddies) to take a workshop with Sara Lechner! I've started submitting my work for gallery representation too. In a nutshell, I'm redirecting my focus...away from CYBER FYBER 2 but toward an exciting, artistic year in art.
Monday, February 2, 2009
(Above: The flier announcing the opening of Embedded Energy by Ellen Kochansky.)
Ellen Kochansky is a very, very talented fiber artist from Pickens, South Carolina. For several months she's been in residence at 701 Columbia Center for the Arts, 701 Whaley Street, Columbia, SC. Her work has been fashioned into a textile installation called Embedded Energy. Celebrating the people, stories, and rosources of the Olympia Mill and community, this major installation will be on view from February 5 - April 5, 2009. The opening reception is this Thursday, February 5 from 7 - 9 PM. I will be attending and posting more images. The photos below were provided to me for this post. They show Ellen and her new creations. For additional information, call (803) 779-4571.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
(Above: Caroline Commins and me at CYBER FYBER.)
(Above: Caroline Commins posing in front of her fiber postcard # 75...the one with the recycled silk tie.)
Everyone knows that today is a historic day. There's an inauguration in Washington, DC....lots of buzz on television, the Internet, and in this morning's newspaper. It's a big day here at CYBER FYBER too.....a big day on the heels of a big weekend....at the end of a major fiber exhibition here in Columbia, South Carolina. Yes.....CYBER FYBER ends today at 5 PM.
There were all sorts of details, pretty pictures, precious memories, and tidbits of information I meant to capture for this blog. Alas, I could only do so much! So...here's a few things I'd like to share:
Caroline Commins, the creator of Postcard # 75, flew into Columbia late last Saturday night from her home in northern California. Steve and I had attended a black-tie wedding celebration earlier in the evening (a busy way to wrap up ATC DAY!) and arrived at the airport clad in a tuxedo and a floor length, red trimmed black kimono. We held up a sign with Caroline's name and tried to tell her that proper Southern hospitality always means formalwear at the airport! (This really should have been a blog photo!)
On Sunday I hosted an informal gathering in Caroline's honor. Susan Sorrell, Caroline's long-time on-line fiber instructor, had cancelled but the afternoon was still lots and lots of fun.
Yesterday was a busy one in the gallery. Caroline was able to tour Ellen Kochansky's art residency studio at 701 Columbia Center for the Arts. We went to dinner at Gervais and Vine. Then, I tried to sleep but dreams of all the people, inspiration, and future plans for CYBER FYBER 2 danced in my head.
CYBER FYBER has attracted so many people.....those who only go to art venues now see stitches in a new light....many who sew see their creations destined for gallery walls...there were ladies from the Charleston quilt guild, the Fringe Sisters, a group of French quilters whose husbands work for the Savannah River Plant, women from Charlotte, Nellie Durand and her husband from Tennessee with friends, Betyann Shaver's entire family from Aiken, Joni Fedderson and her husband from Sumter, Jill Rumoshosky Werner at the opening reception, Fulvia Boriani Luciano and fiber friends on ATC day, Mimi Renne Sainte-Laudy's family, tatters and knitters and those who crochet, all sorts of people who learned about ATCs and others who didn't think anyone else in the area even knew what an ATC was. Linda Neely, the Interim Dean of Education and Art Professor at Lander University sent three ceramic ATCs for the International Random trade....and I didn't knew know she was aware of CYBER FYBER! Sarah Graham, a local librarian who helped with ATC Day was one of the lucky receiptants of these interesting cards. Deirdre Mardon came to Sunday's party and was thrilled with the response. As director of the Conagree Vista Guild/CYBER FYBER's lead sponsor, her impression is quite important. We brain-stormed about the future direction for CYBER FYBER 2. Every day has been an adventure. Today is the last one for the show at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios....but the journey is far from over!
Steve and I will dismantle the exhibit at 5:00 PM today. We'll be boxing all the artwork in the Main Gallery and sending it back to the artists....except for Veleta Staffney....all three of her pieces are sold! We'll have an opportunity to thank the Vista Guild for their support at tomorrow's monthly meeting....and "warn" them that we'll be needing their help again in 2010!
So....today is the last of CYBER FYBER....but it is just the beginning of CYBER FYBER 2, January 7 - 19, 2010.
I can honestly say that the coming show will NOT be the same as this exhibition. I have no problem doing lots and lots of work again....but it absolutely CANNOT be the same work! CYBER FYBER must evolve....it must be an exhibition that shows how the threads of communication established this year have stitched us together into something else! I also know that the future show requires in put from our supportive, global community of Internet connected fiber artists! So.....let me know your ideas! Post a comment or email me at email@example.com!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
(Click on image above to enlarge. Mimi Renne Sainte-Laudy's winning postcard being presented by her sister Georgette Zissel and her daughter-in-law Debi Combis of Charlotte, North Carolina! It was so very exciting to have them present for the announcement!)
Today the on-line votes and the physical, paper votes from Gallery 80808/Vista Studios were added together. The winners were determined! The announcement was made! Here it is:
PEOPLE'S CHOICE POSTCARD
Mimi Renne Sainte-Laudy
PEOPLE'S CHOICE ATC
Friday, January 16, 2009
(Above: Ellen Meder, the lovely University of South Carolina college student who wrote an article about CYBER FYBER for the Daily Gamecock!)
(Above: Betyan Shaver and her family visited CYBER FYBER last Sunday. They are posing under her fabulous postcard # 8!)
(Above: Nellie Durand, the fabulous creator of Postcard # 113, and I together at the gallery....just yesterday! She's coming back today and we'll take more photos!)
Lots has been happening here at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in Columbia, South Carolina where CYBER FYBER is on display. Every day people come to see the show! The publicity has brought all sorts of people who have never been to the gallery, looked as textiles as art, or heard of ATCs and postcards being traded. All sorts of local quilters, embroiderers, and other textile artists have also come.....most of whom I've never met. Thus....all sorts of wonderful new connection are being made and common interests are being shared! It's been exciting!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Exhibit Shows Internet’s Impact on Art World
A review of Cyber Fyber, on view at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios through Jan. 20.
MARY BENTZ GILKERSON
Alree Barr, Cache (detail)
Cyber Fyber is not your average gallery exhibition. It is the culmination of a monumental, yearlong project developed by Columbia-area fiber artist Susan Lenz. The project was inspired by the sense of community she developed with other fiber artists around the world through her blogging experiences.
The Internet is a vast web of resources that is very attractive for visual artists in particular. Most artists use it to market their work through web sites and online galleries. But many others are taking advantage of the social and professional networking opportunities not only to market their work, but also to create ties with other artists throughout the world. Some limit themselves to the main social networks like MySpace and Facebook; others use using free blogging sites to create their own networks.
Lenz has done all of the above: She has 12 blogs associated with the Cyber Fyber exhibit alone.
The quality of the artwork is high, but the most important thing about the exhibit is the process Lenz used to put it together. It is a manifestation of the paradigm shift in the art world resulting from artists making full use of the Internet to control their own careers.
Art entrepreneurs like Lenz are going beyond simply organizing their own local exhibitions to building national and international networks that they can use for both marketing and professional support. Lenz was able to curate a truly international fiber arts exhibition purely from the contacts that she made via her blog, an unthinkable feat 10 years ago. The show includes work by artists from more than 26 countries including Australia, England, Germany and Canada, as well as the United States.
Cyber Fyber has two components: 400-plus fiber cards that Lenz traded with other artists, and larger works by 17 artists in an invitational section.
Some of the small cards are little gems, but the main impact of this section comes from the sheer visual weight of so many pieces. The grid pattern that was used to hang the pieces makes this section read as one large quilt.
The invitational section has some more traditional work, but most of the work could stand on its own in any contemporary art setting. Cyber Fyber is a four-panel book piece by Jacqueline de Jong of the Netherlands. Accordion folds allow the work to stand on its own on the pedestal where the viewer can see both the front and the back of the panels. She uses a range of dark earth tones in her richly textured abstracts.
Fulvia Boriani Luciano, from South Carolina, also works with abstract forms and shapes. She creates quilted hanging pieces in various grid formats, exploring subtle color relationships.
Penny Sisto of Indiana also makes quilted wall pieces, but she uses representational imagery to create narratives that deal very openly with social commentary. Strange Fruit VI is dominated by a large female figure, her mouth open in a scream or cry. To her right, six male figures swing in the branches of a tree.
The range of work in both sections gives an overview of the broad range of styles and content being addressed by contemporary fiber artists. The invitational has allowed Lenz to go deep with the work of the 17 selected artists.
The exhibit showcases the potential of the Internet to change the reigning dealer/artist art-world paradigm. The role of the middleman, i.e. the dealer, hasn’t been eliminated — yet — but that role is definitely shifting.
Cyber Fyber will be on view through Jan. 20. A variety of related activities are taking place in conjunction with the exhibit. Visit the main Cyber Fyber blog at
cyberfyberexhibition.blogspot.com for more information.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The following article appears in the University of South Carolina's daily newspaper, The Gamecock. This is a link to the website on which the article appears. It includes a wonderful slide show put together by Ellen Meder, who is as delightful as talented!
Gallery features artists bound together by online connection
Local exhibit showcases innovative artwork, unites creative minds from across country
Ellen MederSometimes the most unsuspecting communities are the closest knit. Cyber Fyber, an exhibit of the works of fiber artists from around the world, opened Jan. 8 at Gallery 80808 in the Vista. The show can only be described as the physical manifestation of a pre-existing, complex network of the creative blogs from people who weave equally intricate works of art.
Assistant Mix Editor
A concept of local Columbia artist Susan Lenz, the show features a diverse group of fiber artists' larger works in the main gallery, as well as hundreds of other artists' trading card and postcard sized miniature pieces.
The coordination of this revolutionary exhibition has been in the works for more than a year. In late 2007, blogging and reflection lead to one ultimate thought for Lenz.
"It was very, very obvious to me that the most influential thing that had happened to me that year was the gradual involvement in the international community with other fiber artists online," Lenz said.
Soon with a desire to merge the online community with her physical community, in addition to the fact that in her five years of renting studio space at Vista Studios she had yet to utilize her two free weeks of gallery space, Lenz produced the project now known as Cyber Fyber.
"I wanted to show other people how easy it might be, no matter what their interests might be, to be part of a global sort of group of like-minded creatives," said Lenz.
When Lenz announced her invitations to the exhibit, naturally via blog, the enthusiasm was immediate and the comments on the eclectic nature of the group were numerous.
One of the more unsuspecting artists is Nikki Wheeler, a 35-year-old mother who, until the opening of Cyber Fyber, had never exhibited before. However, with her dainty fabric scrolls erupting from a purple cube, Wheeler represents a younger generation of fiber artists, who utilize online sites such as the Ebay-like Etsy.com and refitted cigarette machines, called Art-O-Mats, to sell her unique work.
Across the room from the amateur is Dijanne Cevaal, a world-renowned fiber artist, author and curator. Though seemingly simple in concept, the intricacy and vibrancy of her tapestry-like piece, "All the perfumes of Arabia," is nothing short of exquisite.
Other highlights include Jill Werner's installation piece "Transformed" with its brilliance in color and concept as well as Penny Sisto's moving and mind-bending portrayal of a heart wrenching lynching in "Strange Fruit VI."
For those who still don't quite understand the amazing skill, patience and craftsmanship involved in the stitching of each of the pieces, Emmy Schoonbeek's "TAST Book of Stitches" gives gallery-goers a chance to actually hold and feel the many amazing ways the artists painstakingly transform fabric, thread and yarn into high art.
Schoonbeek is featured in the exhibit in more than her art though. Her likeness is featured in one of Lenz's Decision Portraits. A part of a larger installation concept called "Personal Grounds," each portrait confronts a major life-altering decision made by the subject, with stitched words that work in conjunction with titles such as "Teenage Mother," "25 Years Sober" and "Death Wish." One wall actually features four decisions made by four of the show's featured artists. In some ways the deep personal nature of each piece, stitched on tea-stained muslin, conjures a revitalized age-old concept that quilting is about storytelling; this online community not only impacts each member's artistic future, but helps chronicle and express their pasts.
But how to incorporate the hundreds of artists that could not be in the show?
"I made ATCs, artist trading cards, two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half, based on baseball cards," Lenz said. "I started with 130. Then I made 163 of postcard size. I thought it would take me all year and lots of begging to get them all traded. In less than six weeks they were all gone and I was making more."
In total, Lenz traded small pieces of work with more than 400 fiber artists from more than 27 different countries and all but five states. Best in show and people's choice awards will be chosen (tallying gallery votes as well as online comments) for each size category. The modest prize, leftover scraps from Lenz's studio and Columbia's House of Fabrics, is like hitting the jack pot for a fiber artist.
The full show is open to the public daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Jan. 20. In true multimedia fashion though, the exhibit is also posted in its entirety on the Cyber Fyber blog, http://cyberfyberexhibition.blogspot.com/, which is the hub of links to each individual artist's own blog. With the success of the show, Cyber Fyber 2 is already on the 2010 calendar. But Lenz, who will have pieces in two national juried competitions in the next month, has plenty of tricks left up her sleeve.
"I know it won't be a repeat of this," the ever-creative Lenz said. "It's important to me because any idea like this, meant to be reflective of evolution, must also continue to evolve."
Not knowing how long the slide show presentation would be available, I've copied the images and included the text that accompanied each image.
Above: Artist trading cards and postcards, all made of fiber materials, disply the unlimited range of possibilities from simply running stitches to elaborate beading or batik. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor.
Above: Relative unknowns who learned all of their quilting techniques online are featured alongside writers of internationally published books and tutorials, such as Maggie Grey. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: "Binary Humanity," by Maggie Grey, author of influential fiber art books, displays print outs of various comments left on her blog about the life changing nature of an online community. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: Artist Susan Lenz has rented space in Vista Studios for just five years to professionally pursue her passion and experimentation in fiber arts. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: With over different fabrics, Susan Lenz's quilt depiction of Mamie Smith is not only bue. It is exemplary of the blues singer's first recording "Crazy Blues". Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: Susan Lenz's self portrait, embroidered with the words "I quit my job to persue art," represents her 2001 decision to turn a life of working around art into a career of creating art. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: Professional fiber artist Penny Sisto focuses her works on the diversity of people. Her piece "Strange Fruit VI" comes from her 2007 Slavery series. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: "Wetlands," "Mother Earth," and "Midnight Lace" by Veleta Staffney were created as part of an online monthly beaded journal challenge. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: 247 postcards utilizing an array of techniques keep visitors to the CYBER FYBER exhibit entranced for long periods of time. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: Self-taught fiber artist Corinne Stubson specializes in altering books to create more three-dimensional art, such as "Flower Girl". Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Above: Emmy Schoonbeek's "TAST Book of Stitches" gives people foreign to the diverse world of stitching a detailed glimpse into the world and vocabulary of fiber artists' techniques. Photo Credit: Ellen Meder/Assistant Mix Editor
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Yet, before then, I want to write....to blog...to share my impressions while many are still raw data, emotional moments, unforgettable details, special glances from friends, smiles. I'm lucky. I type quickly....nearly at the speed of a strong stronger drawl. (I don't have a Southern accent...but living here in Columbia I hear this sing-song slow tempo frequently. I type with the same rhythm.) I want to remember....I want to return to the feelings, the sights and sounds of pleasure...I want to capture the essence of CYBER FYBER...thus I write....I type.
When in this sort of mood, I like to let my fingers try to keep pace with the words and visions in my mind. Over the keyboard.....stream of consciousness is released. Thus, if reading this post and finding the language confusing.....simply stop. This is just my mind and heart rambling.
I want to bookmark some of the images.
My mom and Sonya looked absolutely beautiful....decked out in fashionable outfits...walking down the hall early for the CYBER FYBER opening...bringing the large plastic trash can from home.....there to share, to help, to do whatever was necessary, to enjoy and celebrate with me....family...I had a few moments to share the exhibit with them.
Jill Rumoshosky Werner walks up and introduces herself. I knew she planned on coming to the show. I didn't know when. I didn't know to expect her for the opening. I nearly faint. Here she is...in person....one of my personal icons....a physical manifestation of the word "concept". She never got my message asking if she needed a place to stay on her visit...but she's here anyway! We talk of family....deep, moving experiences. We talk of influences, fiber, the interconnectiveness in the fiber community. I feel like I've always known her. I, too, "want to live in the world of Jill" forever.
Alex shows up....my tall, handsome estranged son....I also hug his girlfriend Erica and whisper, "Thank you for bringing him." My mother and sister get to touch him, see him, talk to him....first time in over a year. They don't stay long...but he came! He even dressed up for the occasion. There is hope.
The spread of food is almost too beautiful to eat....a bed of parsley on which the sweetest asparagus beg for consumption....dipped in the prettiest hot pink beet dip....nuts, cheese, the most tender meat....it was such a fancy affair...certainly not "just another" art opening...I've never tasted such delicious art....and it truly was art....not a catered affair at all....an edible installation....Thank you Suzi....from the bottom of my heart. You played the role of a caterer even though you are my patron, a collector of my work, someone who I should have served....not the other way around...but you brought me champagne. I raise this glass to you.
Bert and Ed come. They pose for my mother in front of Poet, my Decision Portrait....Ed with the stitched words "I married Bert". Sonya and I pose in front of Wanda's portrait. Mom snaps another picture....three daughters, one a xylene portrait, one the maker of three blackwork masterpieces in the main gallery.....but she's here with us.....Mom and Sonya call her.
Foreigner....Foreigner....another "model" for the Decision Portrait Series...a young college freshman from a far away country I can't pronounce. I snap her picture...she signed the "model release" on the edge of the table from which wine and champagne are being poured. She's perfect! Stitches sparkle in my mind....stitches for her....stitches for another "model" who found me series on-line....someone from across the country willing to share her story for Overcoming Domestic Abuse....I can almost see the stitched words "I Press Charges" even though I've never seen her face. Beyond the emotional high of an art opening, I'm soaring with anticipation....eager to "get to work".
My best friend Sharon Licata plays hostess....greeting so many familiar faces that I can't greet...welcoming new people....supporting a show, a medium, an entire community that she's not really part of....I'm so very, very lucky to have such a true and wonderful friend.
Neil buys Nikki Wheeler's Grow. There's a big to-do about the red dot....just as it should be...electricity is in the air. Kay Reardon is infected with fiber....a recent student from the Columbia Museum of Art class I taught this summer. Doni Jordan brings an armful of fresh cut flowers. Jeanette Grassi came from Charlotte. Virginia Scotchie pays me a compliment and I didn't even know if she knew who I was....she's famous, you know! I'm honored. John Whitehead admires the mix in Penny Sisto's quilts. I'm just so glad to see him....he's always been there for me, for Steve, for Mathias and especially for Alex. The entire Boiter-Jolly family comes. We laugh, we hug, every such occasion a reunion. Kristine Hartvigsen probably doesn't attend every function with which her magazine is involved....but here she is....not putting in some obligatory visit but really involved, enjoying, looking at all the art. More and more....I'm honored, humbled, amazed.
Polly Stout is impressed and has great ideas for CYBER FYBER 2....isn't it wonderful! A true friend, like Deidre Mardon, on the Vista Guild. So many friends....Guy and Cynthia (on crutches!), Alice P, Ginny N, Rachel Haynie, Betty M., Sandi and Pat, Dolly and Sims, Fred Delk, Lisa and her husband, Pat G, Denise and Bruce, Cyd and her group of well heeled friends, Stephen Chesley, David Yaghjian, Pat Gilmartin, Jeff Donovan, Michel McNinch...most of Vista Studios resident artists.
I'm sitting the floor....my Swedish stocking against Denise's colorful hoses....Jeffrey Day's flashy socks....lots of laughter. My first cousin's daughter and her boyfriend come. Kim Bendillo tells me that she's found a fiber friend in Australia....someone from the exhibit to give her advice for her upcoming trip Down Under....connection! I've forgot some of the many, many people who offered good wishes, congratulated the success, told me how impressed they were.....I'll have to add more later!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Early this morning I posted the video of Ellen Kochansky's selection for BEST OF SHOW POSTCARD and BEST OF SHOW ATC. It is here. The video includes Ellen's comments on each card and the jurying process. Below is a list of the winners and the honorable mentions! CONGRATULATIONS!
BEST OF SHOW POSTCARD
Postcard # 101
Honorable Mention Postcards
Postcard # 83
Fulvia Boriani Luciano
South Carolina, USA
Postcard # 48
Postcard # 127
Patty Van Huis-Cox
Postcard # 240
BEST OF SHOW ATC
ATC # 141
Honorable Mention ATCs
ATC # 110
ATC # 66
ATC # 152
ATC # 92
ATC # 20
Thursday, January 8, 2009
(Image above: Pam Freck's tatting shuttle styled business card.....picture composed like Brett Flashnick's image of Natalie Richard's ATC below! Brett is a photographic genius!)
Please scroll down and read the wonderful article that appeared in today's newspaper! I'm thrilled, of course! Yet, I have no earthly idea how tatting became part of the article! Had I been asked, I could have said that my Grandma Baker had three sets of pillowcases with elaborate tatted insets and trim. (I now proudly own them!) I could have said that I've tried smocking, cutwork, withdrawn embroidery, needle lace, and even knitting....all techniques I tried, didn't master, and don't currently consider doing ever again! But tatting? No, I've never done any tatting.
I know what tatting looks like; I admire it greatly; I'm familiar with tatting shuttles too. But....I still have never tried it.
So, I read the article in the newspaper, smiled, and figured that my friend Jeffrey Day simply embellished the article a bit. As an embroiderer, a little embellishment never bothers me!
By 11:00 AM I was in the gallery, ready to receive visitors. One of the first people to wander in was Pam Freck, past president or program director (I can't quite remember now!) of the Palmetto Tatters Guild! She came right away after reading that I tat! Wilma Black, a member of Logan Lap Quilters, Devine Quilters, and the Greater Columbia Quilters, joined us in my studio. (Image below: Pam on left; Wilma on right!) We had a lovely time sharing stories of stitches! What a wonderful world....when a little embellishment added a new fiber dimension to CYBER FYBER!
One of the stories we swapped was about the Artfull Bra Project done by the Quilters of South Carolina. Wilma created the Mardi Gras (Let the Good Times Roll) bra on page 2.
Artist Susan Lenz, poses in front of a wall of small pieces that are part of her Cyber Fiber exhibit at Gallery 808 in Columbia, S.C., Friday, Jan. 2, 2009 (BrettFlashnick.com/Special to The State) Today CYBER FYBER opened! Today The State newspaper ran this article with colored images on the front of the Life & Style section!
Thursday, Jan. 08, 2009
Blogging inspires fiber artist in new Columbia exhibit
Susan Lenz makes her art in an old-fashioned way — with needle and thread. She communicates with other artists working in fiber in a new way — through blogging.
The two come together in “Cyber Fyber,” made up of about 400 pieces of small fabric artwork (none more than 4 by 6 inches) as well as another 40 larger works. The pieces come from as close as her studio and as far away as Australia.
“I knew I wanted an exhibit to show people how access to the Internet changed my art,” Lenz said. “It created my supportive, global community, ; and it’s fun.”
Both sewing and blogging sneaked up on her.
“I didn’t learn to stitch while a Girl Scout or from my grandmother — though both tried on at least one, horrible occasion,” said Lenz, who grew up in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Instead she got interested looking through the crafts on display at the Ohio State Fair. There she saw all kinds of needlework, none of which she knew much about.
“One was called tatting, and I didn’t know what tatting was,” she said. (Tatting is a technique used to make a kind of rugged lace; it’s how those chair-arm doilies at grandma’s house were made.)
They looked simple enough, said Lenz, who has a degree in medieval and Renaissance studies. So in 1985, she entered an embroidered pillowcase and won a blue ribbon. For the next year, she immersed herself in studying sewing, embroidery, knitting, crocheting and yes, even tatting.
“I checked out — repeatedly — the ‘Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework’ from the library,” said Lenz, who owns and operates the Mouse House, a framing business. “My only supplier was Frank’s Nursery and Crafts — a local version of a 5- and 10-cent store.”
Since then she’s gone off on many nontraditional tracks — cutting and burning fabric. She’s recently been doing installation art projects that involve almost no sewing.
Although she had been making items from fabric for almost 20 years, she didn’t consider her work to be “art” until a few years ago, after she moved into Vista Studios in late 2002.
“My first ‘art’ was created in my current studio, and really, nothing dates to years in the 20th century,” she said.
The Web has become a big part of her life as well, but that too was happenstance.
About four years ago, she volunteered to keep the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios online listings (a kind of blog) up to date.
“I’d never even heard of blogs,” Lenz said. “But it was just like sending e-mail, and since I’d journaled all my life, it was not a big deal, and no one was reading it anyway.”
Then two years ago, she began a blog to keep people abreast of a ballet competition in which her son, Mathias, was participating. It was in Bulgaria and not much news was getting out — except for hers.
“It got like 1,000 hits,” she said.
That’s when she saw the power of blogs to connect artists , and in her case, artists who work with fabric.
“I’m part of the 21st century, and the Internet is definitely part of the journey.”
And part of blogging is also, like sewing, an old-fashioned skill: writing.
“Through writing you spot trends you’ve experienced, developments in your work you might not have been aware of when you were doing it,” she said. “It gives you the ability to step back and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
And in the end, it can lead to a show that connects the small group of people like Lenz making contemporary fiber art in Columbia to Dijanne Cevaal, a Dutch artist who lives in Australia and has curated and been in exhibitions around the world, to a Washington state stitcher who has never been in a show.
“Basically,” Lenz said, “everything is possible in an Internet community.”
Artist Susan Lenz, holds a piece by California based artist Natalie Richards, which is part of her Cyber Fiber exhibit at Gallery 808 in Columbia, S.C., Friday, Jan. 2, 2009 (BrettFlashnick.com/Special to The State)
- Brett Flashnick /Brett Flashnick
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
(Click on image to enlarge.)
It was a lonely, hard job......but someone had to do it! That someone was the fabulous ELLEN KOCHANSKY, a world renown fiber artist from Pickens, South Carolina who's in the midst of a textile installation residency at 701 Columbia Center for the Arts. The solitary task was left to her.....pick one, only one, BEST OF SHOW postcard and one, only one, BEST OF SHOW ATC. I took nearly two hours....which isn't surprising at all considering the depth of talent and number from which to select.
In the end, Ellen selected the two winners and several "honorable mentions" (no "award" but a ribbon will be sent!). Videos were taken of Ellen naming these stitchers and giving her comments. I will post this after Saturday, Fiber Day at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio, when the official announcement will be made!
Ellen used little scraps of neon lime green paper to tag dozens she considered strongly....so don't confuse anything in this image as an indication of any final decision! This image was taken shortly after Ellen arrived....not anytime near the end!
By the way, Ellen saved all the scraps of paper for her future work!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
(Click on image above....."after lighting!")
Today I'm working on the labels and signage. It took almost two full hours to carefully position all 400+ labels on the ATCs and postcards. I've taken some video for a soon-to-be-created/released "feature film" too. Tomorrow there should be an invitation/newsletter sent to everyone who has traded, all the email addresses that I could find for fiber related shops in South Carolina, the entire database for Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, the Congaree Vista Guild list, etc. If you are reading this after tomorrow and didn't get one of these invitations, email me!
By the way, if you are coming to CYBER FYBER from out of town, especially those who have traded with me, please let me know!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
(Click on image to enlarge. This is the opening from the central hallway/entrance into the large gallery. There are additional "before lighting" photos of the exhibition at the end of this rather long post!)
There's lot to report! First and foremost, CYBER FYBER, the physical exhibition is a REALITY! All the artwork is here and hung! Every fiber ATC, all 225+ fiber postcards, and a beautiful gallery full of art by the stellar, international group of invited artists is in place. I'm still working on the signage for the main gallery....but the hundreds of labels for the postcards and ATCs are done...just waiting to be stuck in place!
Thus, I'm ahead of schedule! Why? Well, Jeffrey Day, the arts reporter for The State Newspaper, has written a major article for Thursday's edition. He sent the nicest, young photographer Brent Flashnick, to take photos....including a "portrait" of me in front of the ATCs. (I'm praying I looked acceptable...especially since I stopped wearing any make-up over a year ago!) The photo shoot was scheduled for Friday....so I went into "high gear" and hung the show early!
(Click on image to enlarge. Central hallway/entrance to Gallery 80808/Vista Studios!)
Voting for PEOPLE'S CHOICE postcard is coming along very, very well....please also remember to vote for PEOPLE'S CHOICE ATC!
(One of two small hallways at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.)
This evening my mentor Stephen Chesley spent an hour or two helping me set the lights. This was a task I dreaded.....having never lit a show before. Stephen, however, is an expert at analyzing light, painting light, enjoying sunsets and breaking dawns, and also how to find the dim areas in a room. He positioned all the spots and floods. It all looks much, much better than most of these photos....so, I'll be taking more shots soon....and videos! Just compare the
"before lighting" photo
to the "after lighting" photo!
Here's another shot of the rest of the postcards....they occupy five sections of wall in three rows each! That's a lot of postcards!
The ATCs occupy one of the longest walls in the atrium. They are below (after Stephen set the lights!)
I've also updated the blog post for FIBER DAY. Click here to see more photos from the amazing Creative Sewing Center of West Columbia, the partner for Fiber Day. There are also images and information on some of the discussion/demonstration leaders.
Above is just one of the photos from Creative Sewing Center.
Now....I have an important announcement! There are going to be two more awards! In addition to the two PEOPLE'S CHOICE awards, there will be "BEST of SHOW" postcard and "BEST of SHOW" ATC. Ellen Kochansky, an incredible fiber artist from Pickens, South Carolina who is currently in the midst of a textile installation residency at 701 Columbia Center for the Arts, has graciously agreed to jury the award selection. Poor Ellen! She really doesn't know yet how difficult this is going to be....especially since I'm planning on creating a video of the award selection....featuring her, of course! I've written an email suggesting next Monday evening as a time for her to view the walls of work. If all goes well, the official announcement will be made during Fiber Day, Saturday, Jan. 10.
The prizes will include all sorts of "goodies". Lori Brown, owner of House of Fabrics, collected up a bag full of things to be divided for the four awards. I've been adding to the stash. Below is a photo of Lori in her downtown Columbia shop....now in its 52nd or 53rd year of business! It was started by Lori's grandfather who still lives about the shop! Scroll down to see some additional shot of House of Fabric....lucky me....I live about one mile away from all these exotic fabrics, buttons, and trim! Lori is also very special to me....she, her son, and her partner posed for my Decision Portrait Series piece called Happy Family.
Mentioning the Decision Portrait Series.....there are all now part of CYBER FYBER too!
Here are the rest of the "before lighting" photos of CYBER FYBER!