I am excited to offer a natural dye and weaving course at Peters Valley again this summer, Aug.13-17, 2021. The location is tranquil and convivial–a perfect spot to devote the time and enthusiasm to creating new colors and weaves. This class introduces to students to working with plant based dyes, collected directly from a dye garden (since Peters Valley is located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, we cannot gather plants on site). We will immerse naturally colored wool into a set of dye baths to create rich palette for weaving.
In addition, students will receive instruction in weave structure design and development, computer assisted design demonstrations (to render weave structure ideas and color ways), hand finishes, and will take home an elegant, handwoven wearable, as well as swatch sheets documenting the colors obtained from each dye source. Participants are welcomed and encouraged to be in touch with me about harvesting their own plants for use in class.
Very happy to have been invited to contribute to POWIDOKI (Afterimage) an incredibly beautifully designed journal published by The Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts Łódź (Poland). The periodical is devoted to significant artistic and scientific events.
Introduction to Natural Dye class on wool at Peter’s Valley School of Craft, beginning with naturally colored wool, students developed a range of color using Logwood, Brazilwood, Rubia cordifolia (Indian Madder Root), and Osage Orange. This workshop group met on two consecutive Saturdays for a total of 5 hours and worked independently over the week to scour, mordant, dye, and record their work.
All images used with permission from the maker/photographer.
This edition of four weavings is a result of a call to participate in LOCKDOWN 2020 – PATA uniting PEOPLE – International Exhibition at the Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts Łódź. Organized as part of the International Summer Courses Printmaking and Textile Art PATA, the curators asked “all works will in some way refer to the lockdown, even if simply through the date of their creation.”
According to the Washington Post “in 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.” By June 2020 Trump has made close to or surpassed 20,000 misleading or false remarks, frequently repeating and embellishing the same ones more than 300 times. Sadly, the president of the United States of America is not the only world leader who has resorted to lying, with tragic outcomes during the global pandemic.
Lincoln, NE–Exhibition curator Katelyn Farneth, brought together a group of sixteen women artists from the mid-west to anchor a what could become the first annual FiberFest in Lincoln. Work in the exhibition features text applied to textile with embroidery (Jen Bockelman), quilting (McKenzie Phelps and Celeste Butler), and machine embroidery (Camille Hawbaker Voorhees), to point out a few. Other artists work with dimensional materials to create forms in space. All artists manipulate their chosen textile material(s) to maximize the ways color, pattern, and texture combine to express and reveal. The combination of work is beguiling, with bountiful use of color to draw in the viewer. Each artist contributed two or more works, allowing for depth in the show. The thoughtful installation of the work, with each artists’ work hung as a group, allows the viewer to spend time with each artist’s expressions.
Continuing the legacy of women driving the fiber movement, these artists boldly work in mediums once relegated to craft and breathe new life and a sense of urgency into their chosen mediums. With the #MeToo movement taking our country by storm and the threat to women’s bodily autonomy becoming more real every day, being a female artist working in mediums once considered domestic and “lesser” is both an act of defiance and celebration
Juilee Decker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Museum Studies Program and Hinda Mandell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology co-curated the exhibition Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism and edited the beautifully designed catalog of the same name. Betty M. Bayer, professor of Women’s Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, writes in the foreward to the catalog, “Every thread, fiber, weave, and stitch reinvents art and craft as democracy’s warp and weft—needling, in significant ways, relations of gender, race, class, and justice.”
The show features work by thirty-two artists. My piece, titled “Resist,” is included in the exhibition. For the catalog statement, I wrote:
Acts of resistance are documented in the literature about life in the Polish ghettos and concentration camps of World War II. I honor the individuals who had the courage to act morally in the face of life-threatening and deadly conditions with the weaving titled Resist. The word continues to resonate today.
The show runs through October 25, 2019 at the Anthony Mascioli Gallery, Harold Hacker Hall, Central Library of Rochester.
This weaving was the last of a series of “At the Fence” weavings. Originally from NJ, I live in the Midwest and shortly after moving to Nebraska in 1986 I learned that I was living in what some have termed “the nuclear heartland.” The first four weavings from this series examined the human toll of the use of nuclear weapons during WWII and the devastating impact the two bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, had on the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Heroic individuals dedicated their lives during the cold war (and beyond) to protest our government’s continued development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
In October 1987 I spent the night as part of a missile vigil in the Kadoka, South Dakota area, sleeping alongside an MX missile with my two female companions and an armored personnel carrier. The organizers of the vigil alerted the Air Force we would be camping out at selected missile sites in the area.
The image of the fence was my way to pay tribute to the people who sacrificed their freedom to protest and practice civil disobedience at the fences of various facilities in the USA and abroad. This last weaving in the series brought the imagery to the current time in the early 1990’s, with faces of people engaged in human rights struggles, or perpetuating those struggles in the name of the armed forces, around the world—for example in South Africa, Honduras, and Panama.
This weaving is included in Fiber Arts IX. Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Aug. 2- Sept. 8, 2019.
This weaving was included in Further Evidence | The Art of Natural Dyes at Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, NC, May 28–July 14, 2019 and will be auctioned at the Penland Benefit Auction, Aug. 9-10, 2019. I began a series of four letter word weavings in 2017. I hope once the viewer sees the words Soul Full, hidden in the checkerboard, a shift in attitude is possible. As with any dyed fabric, this weaving should be kept out of direct sunlight when choosing a place to hang it. Absentee bidding is available at the Penland website link above.
Further Evidence | The Art of Natural Dyes featured the work of sixteen international artists working with natural dyes. Co-curated by textile artist and dyer Catharine Ellis, who, along with Danish textile engineer and chemist Joy Boutrup, recently published a long awaited book on the subject and will be co-teaching at Penland School in 2019. The resurgence of the use of natural dyes in both studio practice and commercial dyeing was recognized in the exhibition, including works on paper with ink and pigment, and woven and printed textiles.
The North Platte and the South Platte Rivers meet near the city of North Platte, Nebraska, and form the Platte River, which flows 310 miles across the state where it meets the Missouri River. In the Kearney, NE area, it serves as a staging ground for the annual migration north of the Sandhill Crane. They feed in nearby cornfields by day and roost in the river by night, adding up to a pound of fat to their body weight before they take flight again toward their nesting grounds.
In 1714 Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont (born 1679) was the first recorded European to come upon a river which the Oto people called the Nebrathka, meaning “flat water.” The French word for flat is plat and eventually the river became known as the Platte.
Teliza Rodriguez, the curator of the Musuem of Nebraska Art, invited Jay Kreimer and me to create a piece for an exhibition titled “A River Runs Through It,” (February 26 – July 21, 2019) and requested we develop a work to place underneath the central skylight in the main exhibition space. The premise for the exhibition is the “Platte River – from the sounds and sights of the land, flora, and fauna that surround, inhabit, and visit it to the sky that stretches far above.”
This work began in October 2018. I designed the weaving using software called ProWeave. I wanted to use a weave structure that would show movement, like the current or movement of water, and I wanted the color to reflect the colors of a setting or rising sun. We often think that water is blue, but when looking at a river, the color is always changing and relates to the light in the sky, the depth of the water, the time of year and any number of other details.
Once I determined the size of the weaving—I calculated how big each weaving would need to be—I discovered it would take up to 30 lbs. of cotton thread. For the dye, I used plants I have collected. Fortunately I have been harvesting flower tops for many years and had dried marigolds, cosmos, and other traditional dye plants, weld and madder root, that I had on hand to use.
I modified a weave structure by Franz Donat, published in 1890 in Bindungs-Lexikon fur Schaftweberei downloaded from Handweaving.net. If you look at the ends of the weavings you can see the strips, but the diagonal nature of the weave structure, along with the red/orange of the weft color, alters the perception of the strip, so it is not clear to the eye.
I worked on the yarn preparation for this project for 1 1/2 months: winding over 4,000 warp threads; binding the warp so when I dyed and wove them they spelled out the word FLAT; preparing the yarns for dyeing, including washing the natural cotton to remove any natural oils and debris, mordanting them in a tannin bath followed by an alum bath; soaking the plant material to make the dye; filling big pots of water to cook the dye; dipping sections of the yarn into a ferrous pot to create the dark strips of colors; drying the yarn and rinsing it. The next step was to remove all the binding.
Meanwhile, Jay Kreimer worked on developing the clouds and the eight foot legs of the crane, dropping from the sky. He also created a score that combines natural and created sound to complete the piece. We consulted on color and how to work with the space of the skylight. When we deinstall the work in late July 2019, I will be able to see how the color holds up to the natural light coming into the space from the doors and skylight.