On a recent chilly Vermont afternoon I had the pleasure of visiting Elizabeth Bunsen’s studio to unwrap some “bundles”. I was honored that she saved them for me. I truly understand how much creative restraint it requires to not open them up right away.
They are so mysterious…every single time. I can’t really explain what they feel like—an ancient scroll, a map, a message from ancestors, a signal from nature, a calling, a memory, a longing…they’re so peaceful and yet a little haunting as well. I told you that you that it’s nearly impossible to describe what it feels like to unwrap these bundles.
I’m much better at showing you than telling you.
I did a three day workshop with Elizabeth Bunsen last week. This is one of the prints I made with indigo and rust. I wanted to take my print and add the prairie influences that are speaking to me right now. I used my photographs and one of my leather pendants in one of the circular spaces on the print. I’m not sure which image I like best. They seem like very different art forms now.
“I live in a northern paradise with short sultry summers and achingly bitter and beautiful winters, spring we call “mud season” and fall is a glorious crimson and golden falling into winter. This seasonal cycle functions as my muse and guides my work… In the winter I simmer tea and eucalyptus, spring blooms in my rust garden where I slosh tea and make marks with my ever growing collection of rustie, summer brings warm days and cool indigo blues and in the gold of autumn there is much gathering – calling out the curves of oak, the caramel scent of maple, the saffron arch of ginkgo, as the leaves sing their last songs. Wherever I am, I am in a continuous dialogue with my environment; I wander, gather, arrange and collaborate with natural processes. I explore and experiment as a “domestic scientist”. Meditative play is how I attempt to stay grounded and balanced. This is how I live my art.” —Elizabeth Bunsen
Elizabeth’s studio is like visiting a museum with a docent who is warm, full of knowledge and passionate about the objects. The metal grate was given to her by a friend. The coral is from Australia where she traveled and taught. The wool is from her sister. The rust graveyard keeps growing and is always revealing something knew. Rust and Memories.
Starting tomorrow for the next three days I get to participate in a workshop with Elizabeth and see what kind of “rusty voodoo” she practices. I can’t wait to explore and see what happens. I have a dress that is way too bright and in dire need of some “mucking up”. I will post some pictures of process. Rust and Memories.
“I love paper. I especially love making marks on paper while collaborating with natural processes… I use tea, rust, botanical pigments, indigo and other domestic solutions. Doodling on these papers – around a ring of rust for instance functions as a meditative technique. Over the years my stash of marked papers has grown and I often mix them up in little sample books. I also hang lengths of marked paper on hand-twined silk strings along with eucalyptus dyed fabric. My “to do” lists often end up dipped into the indigo vat or dyed and become little books of collected dailiness. These processes often succeed in helping me create the illusion of slowing the passage of time.” —Elizabeth Bunsen
“Moon Over Nebraska” This license plate is from her Grandfather’s truck.
I sent Elizabeth my photos and asked her to respond to the images…because I had to have a better description for you, the readers.
For me to write about Elizabeth’s work is equivalent to trying to describe the way I feel when I jump into the ocean or feel rain on my face. It’s a sensation. It’s ancient and internal and highly personal and not easy to put into words. However, I’ll try.
My first pull to her work was threefold:
ONE: The palette (rust and blues make me swoon)
TWO: The license plate from a Nebraska truck. I’m from South Dakota.
THREE: A very unique quality that is feminine, industrial, dreamlike and yet tangible and familiar at the same time…again, ancient really best describes her work for me. Do you ever have those people, places or things in your life that keep surfacing even though you don’t have a known connection? For me it’s 1930s Berlin Cabaret—another post— another time.
Elizabeth’s work feels like I’ve been waiting to see it and that our paths were suppose to cross at this point in my life.
I hope you enjoy her work and please share and check out her blogs and FACEBOOK page.