“Once the fabric of a just society is undone, it takes generations to weave it back together.” —Deepak Chopra
July: I worked on my coursework for my positive psychology class. I created a handbag out of a friend’s damaged Audi seat. I was generously given a huge amount of fabric that was just beautiful to work with for the SEABA fashion show coming up. I read a lot about the psychology of geography—the study of how we behave in relation to our environment. I traveled to South Dakota to visit my family and was lucky enough to get to shoot some photographs at the Burke Stampede Rodeo. Oh, cowboys…
August: I sketched, sewed, painted and made handbags…a big blitz of work. Using the company SPOONFLOWER I got photographs printed onto fabric. My daughter, Lucy wore a skirt I made with an abandoned farmhouse photo I shot in South Dakota on it. I used rust prints Elizabeth Bunsen created with Nebraska license plates to create fabric as well. Burlington master goldsmith— Jane Frank designed jewelry worn in the show—the pieces were such a beautiful compliment to the clothes.
September was a blur: The fashion show was entirely consuming the first 10 days of the the month. I love to be in flow and entirely focused on one thing. Deadlines are my jam. However, this year I also needed to create my final project for my Positive Psychology course at the same time . I graduated and got to spend a week at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with a remarkable bunch of people from all around the world. Later in the month my husband and I went to the Champlain Valley Classic Car show, taking photos and talking to classic car enthusiasts was just great after being so busy.
October: I turned 50 on the 12th. I was taken to Martha’s Vineyard by friends. My husband surprised me by getting my folks, my sister and my brother-in-law to Vermont for a long weekend to celebrate with me. That was remarkable AND he threw a party complete with my friends putting on a musical review, poetry, singing songs and making me feel so unbelievably grateful for my life. I took a few of my favorite images ever and layered more photos. Jeff and I dressed as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo for Halloween.
November: I traveled to Burke, South Dakota. I took photos of Herrick that made current and former Herrick residents very happy and remarkably nostalgic. I got to hang out with my great nephew, Liam (oh, and the rest of my clan). I created digital images of my own planet based on a conversation with my son. The planet New Vagus is based on the vagus nerve—the power center of our nervous system. I wrote. I cried when Leonard Cohen died.
December: I made leather pendants for gifts. I kept playing with the image of a South Dakota two-lane road, layering the photo and playing with the visuals of memory. I created a line of scarves with my images on them. I will post the link soon if you are interested in ordering one.
January 2017 is off to an interesting start. I’m cleaning out the basement—sorting through letters, photos, the kids clothes I’ve saved, toys, books and all of the things I can’t believe I now have to deal with. I’m learning a lot about myself and why things seemed so very important to me.
Turning 50 is an interesting age to take a look back, look ahead, try to stay in the moment and not get too stuck in any one place.
Elizabeth Bunsen and I are both prairie girls. Elizabeth from rural Nebraska and me, as you might know, South Dakota. We wanted to design a collection that reflects our shared sense of interior geography. Our efforts will walk down the runway during Burlington, Vermont’s annual fashion show—STRUT. The show is a part of a three day art celebration in Burlington, Vermont…SOUTH END ART HOP.
Elizabeth creates amazing rust prints on paper. I’m a graphic designer. I wanted to design some of our textiles for the show. I ordered these from SPOONFLOWER. I think they came out beautifully. The fabric wasn’t too expensive and they were pretty quick on the turn around. I can’t wait to work with these prints.
RUST PRINTS + ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR = PERSONALIZED TEXTILES
Elizabeth is getting ready for the Art Hop in her studio now as well. It’s sort of a kooky, busy, creative time in Burlington, Vermont’s South End. We will be using some of these pieces that she has ecodyed with eucalyptus and indigo.
I will be making handbags for the show out of leather scrap. I love the way Elizabeth’s fabric floats next to the leathers. I’ll keep posting more of our work as it’s available. This is by far my favorite creative time of the year and working with Elizabeth’s creations is bringing some additional energy that’s really welcomed.
I’ll be doing a real blitz of long days in my very hot studio starting August 27th. If you stop by to visit—an icy, unsweetened iced tea from Cumberland Farms is always welcomed.
The South End Art Hop’s STRUT is on September 10th
Here’s the link for tickets. Both shows usually sell out early.
I shot these images at an ecodyeing workshop at Elizabeth Bunsen’s studio in Burlington, Vermont yesterday. I have many more photos to share from the workshop however, I thought I would just post these 4 images today. There is some magic alchemy in this process that has a unique ancient pull.
This process make me feel like a lot of other possibilities and options exist in many realms of my life not just in my creative work.
When Elizabeth Bunsen and I were hanging her latest work we wondered what it would be like to project different images onto her eco-dyed scarves. I couldn’t wait to work on this idea and began making collages with her textiles and my photographs in Adobe Illustrator.
Our “prairie stories” collaboration is starting to take shape as Elizabeth and I continue to discuss memories, identity and the geography that has most shaped who we are as adults. It’s no wonder we have a short hand about our childhoods. Elizabeth grew up in Lodgepole, Nebraska (population 319 as of 2013) and I grew up in Burke, South Dakota (population 601 as of 2013). Also both of our grandfathers were bankers. We both have twenty year old sons. And our art and process can provide deep sorry and remarkable joy at the same time.
We’re artists and our storytelling is in the visual realm. Our conversations have been wonderfully insightful, however, if we were only sharing our ideas in a written form, I believe it would feel like we’re only telling you half of the story…or perhaps even less than half.
To me these layered memories feel like I’m looking through the curtains of one of the many farmhouses of relatives and friends I visited as a kid. These memories are readily accessible but also a little hazy like the yellow tint of an old faded Polaroid photo.
The words will come as our ideas evolve, right now the images are coming first. We’d love to hear your ideas about how the interior geography of your youth has shaped who you are today, your choices and what direction you would like move into.
Elizabeth and I are gaining some understanding of how big of a role it’s played in our own identities…give us land lots of land.
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 have been dyeing wool and silk with eucalyptus for a few years – the scent that results is enough to keep me going especially during our long winters. I have quite the stash of beautiful samples and experiments… some I stitch (I love using the stitch as a design element) and some have resulted in teaching aprons, hats, pants and even sweaters. For me – a sleeve or a portion of a garment can become an art object all by itself.” —Elizabeth Bunsen
When Elizabeth refers to these pieces she uses “rusted” as a verb not an adjective. I love that. She was showing me different textiles and then let me know how they were “rusted”.
We really connected about making art that is usable and environmentally friendly. Her technique is easy on the earth and she uses fabric she already has or was given. That’s how I prefer to work too.
Her work has such a unique quality that at one point when she was showing me a sweater from her mother (top photo) I felt like I should be in a back room at The Shelburne Museum with white gloves on. I really adore the archeological quality of her work and process…again an ancient pull.
I have so many men’s jackets and I’ve wanted to rework one for a while. This silk jacket was the perfect color to fit into my collection. Now, I don’t possess any tailoring skills whatsoever, but this is the start of what this piece will look like. I like the reference to silent film star fashion with the deep arm lines. Now I get to design something for underneath. I think that piece will reference Friday Kahlo with some heavy stitching and maybe even some painting. My model, Genie is stopping by for a fitting this morning.
The second image is the start of a wrap I’m making out of scrap fabric I have in my studio and jewelry I have laying around. I can’t wait to work on this. Hand stitching is a very meditative process for me. Last night a few hours went by and it could’ve been fifteen minutes. I’m off…I can’t wait to see what happens in the studio today.