High on Art

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This morning after breakfast (and still in my PJ's) I decided to mix and pour a coat of epoxy resin over two pieces I recently finished. The resin has to be stirred vigorously before pouring, which causes bubbles. One of the ways to release the bubbles is to blow on the surface, but the box warns not to inhale the fumes while doing so. While this method does sound a bit less tricky than the alternative blow torch solution, it is not as easy as it sounds. Because the stuff sets up pretty quickly, you have to work fast, especially if it's a large piece. As I continued to blow the bubbles out, I couldn't help sucking in more of the toxic air. Needless to say, I soon found myself propped up against an easel, laughing about something I can't quite put my finger on. My advice to others who may be curious at trying epoxy resin on your artwork is the same I give to my students at school: Kids, don't try this at home...and if you do, don't let your parents catch you!

One of the pieces I covered in resin is called War Paint. I completed this piece in 2006 but was never satisfied with it so I put it away in a dark corner of my studio. Once I got into screenprinting I knew that I wanted to totally revamp the piece using this technique. The piece has a powerful feminist voice. It shows four images of a woman applying makeup, coupled with the phrase: Prepare For Battle. It likens the idea of a woman applying makeup to go battle the day--to a warrior putting on war paint to go into combat.

Overall it takes on a Warholesque look, especially with the highly shiny resin surface.

Happenin' Halloween

Monday, October 29, 2007

Justin and I were lucky enough to be invited to Fayetteville's most exclusive Halloween party this year: Simone and Cory's House of Gore and Terror.
Because of my recent post as a judge for the Museum's costume contest, I have been very sought after for my expert eye in costume critique. Needless to say, I was asked to judge the costumes here too. It was a tough call between the many pirates, the gay carpenter and the dead body floating in the pool; but there could only be three winners. In the couples category, Doug and Barb were convincing as scarecrows (you two can hang out in my garden any day). First place in the male category went to Don the Pirate (let's face it, you just came for the booty) and lastly, first place in the female category went to Anna the Polish Gypsy for her moves on the dance floor and for staying in character all night. Congratulations!

This year we raided our costume box in the attic and I went as a mail order bride from Bangladesh and Justin went as an Iranian foreign exchange student (his outfit was complete with a ticking bomb strapped to his chest and a pocket detonator). Two thumbs up for the cotton candy machine!! By the way, next year somebody needs to monitor the pink bunny's punch intake!

Cape Fear After Dark

Saturday night at Festival Park:
I was asked to be a judge for this year's Cape Fear After Dark Halloween Costume Contest (sponsored by the Fayetteville Museum of Art). I was really impressed with the amount of work that some of the contestants put into their costumes. It was tough to make a decision. The last photo shows me getting a henna tattoo on my wrist. Unfortunately it made me look like a burn victim -- live and learn.

32 and Life to GO

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today is my 32nd birthday. It's cozy in my house; the man I'm totally in love with has just pulled out of the drive way and I'm alone to enjoy a full day of painting in the studio without interruption. I'm sitting in my PJ's as I write this, listening to KingQueen by Louque, watching the rain fall against the gray morning sky and I'm thankful. I've been so blessed in this life of mine. I'm also full of hope and expectation at what awaits me with each new year. (SMILE)....(BIG SMILE)!!

A Cancer Journey, World Tour

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lilly Oncology on Canvas began as an international art competition open to: those affected by cancer; their families and friends; cancer advocates, healthcare providers, artists and art students. The contest invited them to express, through art and in narrative, their own cancer journeys. This rich and enduring exhibition, which was unveiled at London's Royal College of Art in 2006 and has been traveling the world touching the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

Lilly Oncology on Canvas received more than 2000 submissions from 43 countries including Australia, Botswana, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, the U.S. and U.K. The competition yielded 36 winners in various categories including photography, oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel and charcoal. Monetary awards were provided to the winners' cancer charities of choice.

This was my submission:

Cancer is a Thief, Metal Etching, 13” x 10”, 1998

My father’s cancer journey began in 1996. It came as a shock to all of us when he was diagnosed and given 6 months to live. I was in my first year of art school and terrified at losing him to this thief called cancer. He fought hard for two years going through the routine of treatments and emotional ups and downs. He dealt with his illness daily with ebbs and flows that ranged from fear, determination to overcome, despair, depression, anger toward everyone (especially God), then acceptance and forgiveness. It was during these two very painful years that my father developed a relationship with his maker. He wrestled with God and realized his own frailty. He found peace in his heart and soul before he took his last breath. I was in the room when he died. As I held his hand the last thing he said to me was, “’night babe”, like he did when I was a little girl and he would tuck me in at bedtime.

I did this portrait of him as a tribute to his life and his fight. It shows him in his final stages; his weight loss and vacant stare; his glasses appearing to be twice to big. Cancer stole that body; that shell, but my father’s spirit lives on in our hearts and memories. It comforts me to think of him waiting in heaven where we will meet again and there will never be another “’night babe”.

Altered Esthetics Slideshow

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Click on the link to view the Art of Sacrifice Exhibition at Altered Esthetics Gallery.


Another Discovery

Friday, October 19, 2007

Today I made another discovery. Two photographs of an experimental painting I did in the Scad series. This one has a three-dimensional quality to it. I used a drawing/painting technique to create the top layer using charcoal and hot wax. Then I painted the second layer in red and cut out one of the squares in the top layer. Lighting is a key element to this piece to give it the shadows it needs to be effective. I'm not even sure what happened to this piece. I have moved so many times in the last five years that it probably got stuck in a hot attic somewhere and melted. Nice piece though. It was about 18" x 24" on heavy paper. Perhaps tomorrow I'll post one of my more recent non-objective pieces. I still have a love affair going on with simple lines and shapes.

Forgotten Scad

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You know how it feels when you put on a pair of jeans you haven't worn in awhile and you find 20 bucks in the pocket? Well, that's how I felt when I grabbed a book off the shelf and out fell a picture of one of my paintings that I'd totally forgotten about. The best part is that my immediate response to the work was "oh, I like that painting".
On the back of the photo I'd written the name of the person who had commissioned it while I was living in Kansas City, Missouri in 2001, just before I joined the Army. I don't think I named the piece anything other than Untitled but it is part of a larger series called Scad. For about three years I was really absorbed in painting intertwining squares and rectangles; I'm still fascinated by the shapes. Most of those pieces have sold but can still be seen on my website: www.amoveablefeast.us.
I call the series Scad because the word scads also means - a large indefinite number or amount.
One day I showed a friend a newly finished piece that was a 4ft x 8ft canvas filled with squares and his response was "scads". And there you have it.

Searching for an Olive Branch

Monday, October 8, 2007

Searching for an Olive Branch #1 and
Searching for an Olive Branch #2
Plexiglas, hand-drawn rub-on transfers, vinyl lettering,
maps, and shadow box
16" x 20", 2007
(A BIG Thank You to Auto Custom Graphics Inc. for doing a great job on the vinyl lettering!!)

Afghanistan has experienced continuous war and political and religious struggle throughout its existence. The al-Qaeda led terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 brought this mountainous country to the forefront of everyone’s attention. It’s no longer just a remote place that can be ignored, it’s a land where our own loved ones have fought and died in an effort to bring justice and peace.

My husband and I both joined the Army soon after 9/11 and since that time I have become shockingly aware of the atrocities and general state of affairs within Afghanistan, particularly the plight of the Afghan women. Violence, illiteracy, poverty and extreme repression continue to characterize reality for many Afghan women, especially those living outside of Kabul. My heart goes out to these women who experience restrictions on their freedom and violations of their human rights. Under the threat of the extremist Taliban force they weren’t allowed to have jobs or go to school, they were brutally beaten, stripped of their dignity and made to feel like they don’t exist.

I recently read Unveiled, Voices of Women in Afghanistan by Harriet Logan. The book is a collection of photographs and interviews of women who she met in 1997 when the Taliban had just taken control of Afghanistan from the Mujahideen and other warlords. The women were hopeful and relieved that the bombing and warring had stopped. They had no idea of the road they faced under the repressive Taliban rule. Logan went back after the Taliban’s defeat at the end of 2001 to do a follow-up with the same women. It saddens me to think that those women who were so hopeful at the thought of gaining their freedom, are still prisoners in their homes; their voices smothered under suffocating burqas. Even now, in 2007 Afghanistan is still under heavy oppression by Taliban insurgency. And while there has been some progress, particularly in Kabul, many women are wary and continue to meet opposition from men who are hesitant to change.

Worse than the Taliban brutality is the abuse these women face from their own husbands, uncles and brothers. Such is the case with Nadia Anjuman, a 25-year-old woman from Herat, who was beaten to death by her husband. In 2005, Anjuman published her first book of poetry, Gul-e-dodi (Dark Red Flower), which quickly became popular in Afghanistan and neighboring Iran. Before getting her formal education she was involved in the famed Sewing Circles of Herat, a group of women who risked their lives to study and write during the Taliban era. The group met in secret under the guise of sewing lessons at the Golden Needle Sewing School, where they were taught literature by a professor from the local university. Sewing Circles of Herat, by Christina Lamb chronicles this underground network of brave professors, writers, poets and students.

In the piece Searching for an Olive Branch #1, I used the following lines from one of Anjuman's ghazals (lyric poems) which speaks eloquently of the oppression of Afghan woman:

I am caged in this corner
full of melancholy and sorrow ...
my wings are closed and I cannot fly ...
I am an Afghan woman and must wail.

I decided to use another excerpt from one of Anjuman’s poems, Nazm, for the piece Searching for an Olive Branch #2. It basically sums up my exact thoughts on the situation for women in Afghanistan:

Will the sun rise?
Will the memories rise with it too?
Those memories that are hidden from our eyes
And while frightened from the flood and the rain of cruelness
Will the light of hope appear?

Each of these pieces are constructed of layered Plexiglas. I wanted to create a “God’s eye view” with the first layer of birds. The viewer is able to observe the birds from above as they search the land for any signs of peace. The maps are actually aeronautical operational navigation charts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The lettering of the poems is nearly transparent and intentionally difficult to read. I wanted to create a situation in which the viewer would have to really take a good look at the piece and absorb the full meaning behind it. Lighting is a key element in the design of both pieces. When properly lit, the birds and the words cast a shadow on the terrain beneath. To me this was an important element which represents the oppression that overshadows those countries. I chose the titles Searching for an Olive Branch #1 and #2 because the olive branch has always been a symbol of peace; from its origins in Greek mythology and ancient Rome, to the biblical story of Noah and the Ark in Genesis. While there are various theories as to why it came to represent a gesture of peace, a likely explanation centers around the idea that the cultivation of olives is something that is nearly impossible to do in time of war.

While there has been some progress made by the Afghan people over the past five years with the help of the United States and its NATO allies, it seems that they will always struggle to keep their country free from extremist rule. I can’t help but wonder if Afghanistan ever be able to sustain a strong government and if Afghan women will ever experience a true sense of freedom and security.

New Work Posted

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I have just posted 7 new pieces of art on my website. Located under the Narrative Paintings heading.

What you'll see:

By A Thread
(image posted at left)

This is the fifth and final piece in the Bird on a Wire series. Doing this piece has been a catalyst for some of the other pieces I've been working on lately that uses bird imagery.

Searching for an Olive Branch #1 and #2

Confronting the plight of the Afghan women through the eyes Nadia Anjuman, a female poet who at the age of 25 was beaten to death by her own husband. These pieces have been a labor of love. Not only is the subject matter close to my heart, the construction of the pieces was quite a stretch from my normal routine of painting. Read more about this in my next blog.

The text used in this painting was taken from a sex education text book written by a woman in the 1960's. My how times have changed. Read more about this and the others on my website under Artist's Statements.

Go to: www.amoveablefeast.us

Exhibition at the Throckmorton Library

Monday, October 1, 2007

Today I delivered 12 landscape paintings to the Throckmorton Library at Fort Bragg, NC. This solo exhibition of my work will be on display until the middle of December. See the information below for the library's hours. The image posted is called Saluda Ridgeline. It is 18" x 79", oil and plaster on panel, 2005.

John L. Throckmorton Library

Building 1-3346, Randolph Street
Fort Bragg, NC 28310-5000
Phone: (910) 396-BOOK
Hours: 11am-9pm Monday - Thursday
1-5pm Friday - Sunday
Closed: Federal Holidays