Thursday, December 31, 2009
When I set out to make any new artwork, my goal is express a thought or idea stirring within my head, but also to create something that is visually interesting on its own, with or without any additional information about my concept or technique. However, I like to share my thoughts with anyone who may want to know more:
Journaling has been an important part of my morning routine for many years now. Taking a few quiet moments to get my thoughts down on paper is an enriching experience, and a way that I connect with God in my prayer time. My journal entries inevitably morph into a dialogue with God; I write, and then allow Him to speak to my heart in that still, small voice that usually gets drowned out by the busyness of the day. Selfishly, the pages are filled with personal intercessions regarding my own circumstances, situations, and issues. It’s a place where I can be totally honest and pour out my heart to God. I think that’s why I am so drawn to the Psalms; they are like King David’s prayer journal. David was continually praying for God’s help in his own life: “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught” (Ps. 55:1-2). The verses are filled with a very human voice that I can always identify with and relate to. Among the sacred poems and songs are prayers that exude David’s dependency, desperation, and love for God. Another example is found in Psalm 18:1-3, “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies”.
Several of my most recent works have been structured around concepts that incorporate my journal entries. “Nasar” is based off the idea of the Psalms as a prayer journal. The Hebrew word nasar, here translated “keep,” is used many times in Psalm 119 to stress the necessity of "keeping" (guarding, protecting) the various kinds of instructions in God’s Word: testimonies, statutes, laws, precepts, and commandments.
With “Nasar”, I first created a background by staining a piece of white vinyl with coffee and various colors of ink. Aesthetically it makes for a more interesting surface to work on and poetically, it suggests the way the Word of God covers and transforms lives that have been stained with sin. Passages from the Psalms were digitally printed onto sheer fabric and adhered to the vinyl. Each line of text was extended to the edges of the vinyl and literally provided the guidelines for the way the entire piece developed. This symbolizes the way the text also provides moral guidelines for my life, and also represents a journey from the external self to the inner man, the spiritual part of oneself. The nearly 400 hours of hand stitching was a very repetitive, yet spiritual experience. The mandala-like, circular patterns radiate an intensity of color from bright red to pale pink, and cover the text. As I stitched over each word with thread, I felt as if I were ingesting the words; taking them in, meditating on them, and hiding them within myself. In doing so, I was reminded of Psalm 119:11, which says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You”.
"Nasar", 108" x 36", hand stitched vinyl, digitally printed fabric, 2009
Check out my latest time lapse video to see the making of "Ties that Bind". There's music, so adjust your volume as needed. If you have high speed internet, watch it in HQ.
A few clips from the movie:
A few clips from the movie:
“Ties that Bind” started to take form, cognitively, when I was given a journal that my dad kept during the last two months of his life. As I read the words on the pages, my mind flashed with memories of him. I remembered seeing the same marks in the ledgers he kept of his collections, the lists he made, and even on my grade school report cards.
It occurred to me that everyone has ties to a personal history that goes back for generations, and even in nature, countless offshoots can develop from one central, mother root.
Although “Ties that Bind” has a visceral feel, not only in the way the forms make reference to the internal body and emotions, but also in the intuitive way it developed in the studio, I wasn’t trying to express any literal representation. Many viewers may identify the spheres as cellular, and the central form as a spine or womb, however, I like to think of them as “descendants” or “offshoots”, something that branches out or derives its existence or origin from a particular source.
The circular forms symbolize infinity, the circle of life, wholeness, a cycle of seasons, and the continuation of something. In this case, they also suggest the organic and regenerative nature of familial relationships. These relationships are the most dynamic and often, the most volatile that a person is involved in. They are sometimes nurturing, often dysfunctional, but undeniably part of everyone’s genetic makeup.
The use of text is a recurring element in my work. Aesthetically, I use it to incorporate visual texture, but it is also a way to add personal narrative and content to the work. It is believed that that specific stroke structures relate to the personality traits and emotional energy of the writer. Handwritten letters have a personal and nostalgic feeling, especially in the current age of emails and text messages.
I incorporated the journal entries and the many letters that my mother wrote me while I was in college and in the Army. The letters from my mom are all full of encouragement. I am amazed at the confidence they placed in me. The letters and journal entries were digitally printed onto distressed, sheer fabric and machine stitched in the same colors of the spheres; this forms the backbone of the piece that everything else stems from.
As I was working on the piece, I couldn’t help but wonder if I will ever be able to contribute to my family’s generational cycle, or if I will be introducing a new strand into the line.
The piece is made of several components including wet felted wool (acid dyed), needle felting, and machine stitched, digitally printed fabric.
The dimensions of the installation is variable, but is about 100" tall, 76" wide, and 60" deep.
My sister and her boyfriend, Mike, came from Missouri to pay us a visit so we rolled out the red carpet and took them to SundMist Pastures to see the llamas. What a great day it was! And we learned so much about these beautiful animals. They have THE softest fiber I've ever touched, so we just had to have some the exotic yarns. SundMist Pastures is an agritourism farm located in Bolivia, NC. A must see if you are ever out this way.