Sunday, January 31, 2010

Boro: rags and tatters

new work, 2010, acrylic and collage rice papers

BORO: Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan. ed. Yukiko Koide and Kyoichi Tsuzuki.
The Boro shown in this book is the sum of 40 years of field work by researcher Chuzaburo Tanaka. A few decades ago, Tokoku and Aomori, the northern part of Japan (snow country), meant 'dire poverty' to most Japanese. These dirt poor farmers, out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile out of boro- mere rags. Boro became 'survival' and any scraps of old cloth were coveted. The smallest snippets were saved and re-used over and over until the rags finally turned to ash and returned to the soil. Work jackets to bedding, were stitched, layered and repaired over and over. This cultural heritage survived and is now revered.

Things wabi-sabi are expressions of time frozen. They are made of materials that are visibly vulnerable to the effects of weathering and human treatment. They record the sun, wind, rain, heat, and cold in a language of discoloration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, shrinking, shriveling, and cracking...they still possess an undiminished poise and strength of character. Leonard Koren, WABI-SABI, for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Things wabi-sabi are usually small, quiet and inward-oriented. They beckon: get close, touch, relate.

Things wabi-sabi may exhibit the effects of accident, like a broken bowl glued back together again. Or they may show the result of just letting things happen by chance.

India, who lives in Australia, makes felt using wool and water and woven textile fabrics, and dyes cloth using plants and water. You can find her very entertaining blog, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, here and her beautiful website here.

Regina lives on Caribbean island called Netherlands Antilles. She works with paper and fabric, and her beautiful blog, Mostly Turquoise, can be found here.

For this piece titled BRANCHING OUT, Lorraine at Creative Daily used photographs of branches and bare trees, which she digital manipulated, printed the images on fabric and then pieced them together for this journal cover. You can find her wonderful blog here.

QUILTS by Nikki Giovanni

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm
And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Personal yet Universal

These are bits and pieces of cloth, old papers, wood and old rusty metal I have collected this past year.

This book, Hannelore Baron: Works from 1969-1987, by Ingrid Schaffner, was published on the occasion of a traveling exhibition managed by the Smithsonian Institution in cooperation with the Estate of Hannelore Baron and the Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles. You can still find this book used, along with other gallery pamphlets/catalogs at The Manny Silverman gallery in Los Angeles still represents her works. (None of the images in this post were taken from this publication. )

"Everything I've done is a statement on the, as they say, human condition...The way other people march to Washington, or set themselves on fire, or write protest letters, or go to assassinate someone. Well, I've had all the same feelings that these people have had about various things, and my way out, because of my inability to do anything else for various reasons, has been to make the protest through my artwork...." ---Hannelore Baron

Hannelore Baron was born in Germany in 1926. Her parents were proprietors of a small fabric shop. In 1938, during Kristallnacht (Nov. 9th), Baron witnessed the destruction of her home and the beating of her father. The family hid in the attic and her father was imprisoned at Dachau. Her mother was later arrested. Baron and her brother escaped to Luxemborg, and her parents later joined them. They eventually managed to sail to New York. Over the years she experiences a number of breakdowns and bouts of cancer. Her work goes through a number of transitions as she moved into paper and cloth collage and wooden assemblage. In 1989, there was a retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

For Hannelore Baron, 1926-1987, making art was a meditative form of experience and communication. She favored materials that were fragmentary in nature and familiar from use: scraps of fabric, wood, string, wire, game pieces, and labels. Together with her own cryptic drawings, she formed small collages and wooden boxes. Baron sought to compose what she called the 'message'-- an imagery of suffering and human hope. --- Ingrid Schaffner

"The materials I use in the box constructions and cloth collages are gathered with great care. The reasons I use old cloth and boxes is that new material lacks the sentiment of the old, and seems dry and hard in an emotional sense. ...I have always worked only for my own satisfaction and if the work is shown and accepted it is a wonder and coincidence to me because it was never intended for that." ---Hannelore Baron

I first saw Hannelore Baron's small, intimate works in a gallery in Seattle, in 1996. I had already seen her works in a book and knew a little about her-- that she had escaped the Holocaust and her childhood memories and adult struggles had informed her work at a deep personal level.
But knowing that small amount of history did not prepare me for the first impression and impact of seeing her work in person. I could not take my eyes off of the small pieces. I became very quiet, the busy city and traffic noises disappeared. I did not want to leave. The works touched me in such a deep way that I still can't explain or understand. But I did realize that this is what art works should do-- make us stop, make us look again and again...there should be a feeling of personal familiarity and universal humanity... a connection.

I would like to dedicate this post to my new found friend, Aleksandra, from the Netherlands. You can find her wonderful blog, New Times Arrived, here.

How Poetry Comes to Me
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light.
----- Gary Snyder

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It seems keeping company with stones is
Keeping company with eternity
From such a distant place
That still resides in me.
We hear it in silence.
We feel it in stones.....
And you release it in this gathering together.
----- Neva Gagliano

The above piece of poetry was written by Neva who also sent me these wrapped rocks and heart shaped rock. Her wonderful blog is called Openings Connecting and you can find it here.

Newest acquisitions: One Ammonite and two trilobites - fossils

"Although cycles of time can express permanence, in the garden the clearest symbol of eternity is the rock, an image of the mountain." Marc Peter Keane, The Art of Setting Stone

"I speak of naked stones.. in which there is both concealed and revealed a mystery that is slower, more vast, and heavier than the destiny of a transitory space." Roger Caillios

The stone was there before the wind,
before the man, before the dawn:
its first movement
was the first music of the river.
---- Pablo Neruda, Stones of the Sky

In Japanese gardens, compostion follows from placement of the first stone: all elements become interconnected. The same can be said for painting, or collaging papers, or assemblage. We make decisions whenever we make a mark, place a paper, paint a shape, or attach an object. There is something in the artistic experience, in the moment of creation, that is entirely onto itself, private and untransferable. Finding this stillness within ourselves for every moment of creativity, is our connection.

All that is cared for.
Left Alone in the stillness
In that pure silence married
to the stillness of nature.
---- Linda Gregg

"Because I cannot work except in solitude, it is necessary that I live my work and that is impossible except in solitude."
----- Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973

Friday, January 8, 2010


new work, 2010

A Book of Silence, by Sara Maitland, is an exploration of silence. The author found herself falling in love with silence. She explored the cultural history of silence, the importance of silence in religions,and its use in artistic expression. Could it be, that in surrounding our self in silence, our listening and looking becomes enhanced?

What is it about stone that attracts me? Is it the surface textures? the subdued colors? the timeless feel of eternity? The effect of time on stone is so slow, almost discernible. The mystery, the history of the stone fascinates me. When I look at stone I see the natural stains, the cracks, formations and surface textures. How can I incorporate this mystery, this seeming silence into my artwork?

STONE by Charles Simic

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill--
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

Monday, January 4, 2010


new second hand store acquisitions

In Dime-Store Alchemy, poet Charles Simic reflects on the life and work of Joseph Cornell, who was one of the first artists to elevate boxes of found objects into an art form, beginning in the 1900's. There are many books on Joseph Cornell's works of art. Dime-Store Alchemy is a little gem of a book, an act of homage, with short essays and commentary. Thank you to Gail Rieke, who recommended the book to me. You can find her beautiful artwork, and fabulous studio here.
All the quotes in this post are from Dime-Store Alchemy.

Jeane often writes about the progression and stages of her artwork on her wonderful blog, ART IT, which you can find here. Several posts ago, she wrote that "it" was not doing it for her. Several stages later, she wrote that "it' was now working for her. I know that "it" often refers the artwork. But there are times when "it" is not measurable or identifiable.
"It" is hard to pin down and describe. But we all seem to know what that "it" is. How do you know when you have found "it" in your artwork.