Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bring It, Amelia Earhart!

So.. originally, I started knitting Harry Potter House Socks... but I got really confused with the heel turning business so I thought I would knit a hat while I waited for a chance to get to loop to ask what the hell the pattern was talking about.  And, well, I sort of knit a whole set!

The hat is an Amelia Earhart cap from a pattern I found on the internets.  
(I picked the pattern because it is entirely constructed of short rows... exactly what I needed practice with for my sock pattern!)  I knit it with the same sock weight wool/nylon I used for the feather and fan scarf.  I LOVE this color combo and wish I had an infinite number of skeins of it!  But unfortunately, I only had the one.  I knit the hat first (on size 8 needles, which makes the hat a little lacy) but had almost half a skein of yarn left, so... wristlets!

It was really fun to see the different patterns that the yarn colors made with different guaged needles (the wristlets were done on size 5 dpns).  

Check out these sweeeeet buttons I found in fabric row!!  Each wristlet closes with a button on the wrist and the hat has one on each ear.

(grr... arr.. I am tough.  Bring it, Amelia!)

(All right, I get it.  You're still hotter than me.  Whatever.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paper Jamtastic!

The My House Gallery's opening event for the show Paper Jam was amazing! Unfortunately, I was not personally amazing at said event and ended up only staying long enough to check out the phenomenal work before I headed home. (But in my defense, I felt a little crazy: 1. I think I had a fever and 2. my "date", who, by the by, is already in the doghouse and should know better, was a half-hour late.) Anyway... like I said: the work was amazing. Alex Gartlemann, curator at large, estimated that about 150-200 people came through the gallery throughout the night!

(Ooooh... Art.)

(Alex is the bearded fellow looking at the camera.)

(I don't know if that's a cape, a messenger bag, or just a really snazzy vest... either way I like it!)

The show featured almost 50 artist's work based on the 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper as a cultural icon. I entered my Women's Suffrage Memorial Handkerchiefs: machine embroidered images of Women's Suffragettes and motifs on sheets of silk screened notebook paper. (I made the piece in college, but it felt so appropriate- I was thinking a lot about paper and potential and history at the time.) I was surprised to see a number of other notebook pages among the other pieces of work. One artist knit a sheet of ruled paper, almost identical to mine (a nice and indicative duplicate). She stitched the lines in on top of the knit substrate and then stitched doodles similar to mine in look but not focused on any one theme (as far as I could tell in my fever/tardy friend related crazy state.) A lot of the other work dealt with communication... but I didn't get any photos. Sorry!

Among the teeming crowd were a few reviewers and I was startled and humbled to find that my work had made it into a review! (Well.. technically, I think it's just someone elses blog, but Alex sent it out as a "review" so... either way, it's pretty cool!) Check out the blurb about the event and see pics of my work (At the bottom of the blog there's a link to a flickr page; check it out for images of other work from the show):

And other press stuff that doesn't feature yours truly but are still pretty rad:

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the gallery! And if anyone else is interested in seeing the show, the gallery is open by appointment, so drop me a line and I can put you in contact with Alex.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reconceptual Fashion

No seriously.  I was flipping through the New York Times last week and remembered that it was fashion week!  (I was later also bombarded by multitudinous images of Linsday Lohan and Sam Ronson at fashion shows all weeeeek looong.  Oh wait.  Did I say "bombarded" I meant looked up obsessively online)  Anyway, let me just say that I was completely blown away by the Marc Jacobs Ready-To-Wear Spring 2009 line!  

Wow... that was the dorkiest fashion thing I've ever said.

But seriously!  

Jacobs quotes all sorts of history as his inspiration for this line:  1940's tailored pants lines and prints, straw boater hats, something about an Yve's St Lauren's show from the 1970's, and the fashions of the women's suffrage movement!!  (Did I mention swooooon??!)  But what most of the reviewers are talking about is how Jacobs managed to create a complicated line of clothes that "embodies America."  I'm not so sure that any one fashion line can embody ALL of America but I like watching him try.

(I want that waist-coat more than I want... well.. pretty much anything.)

What I do appreciate is the acknowledgment that fashion is complicated.  Fashion, history, the history of fashion, historical fashions... all seriously complicated.  Gender constructions inevitably factor in, and nothing is new.  I like this line because I feel like Jacobs acknowledges these complications, pays tribute to them, and still manages to make something new and exciting.

(Really really really exciting.)

I've actually been thinking a lot about fashion this season, but not in the super-hip up-to-date kind of way.  My most excellent friend Ketch has introduced me to "reconceptualizing" one's wardrobe!  Basically, you pick a theme and a look and shop/dress accordingly.  I love this idea!  I think it helps to add some confidence and fun into the changing of the seasons!    I'm thinking of going with something like a Glam Giles.  (You know... from Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Duh.)

(Picture him with more sparkles.)

I mean, sure, he's a librarian... but you should see him kick vampire ass!  I'm thinking a little british librarian, a little disco glam...  a little Jack Sparrow goes to Oxford...  I can't wait to go shopping.

(Three Words:  Huge. Shiney. Stripes.)

Check out the New York Times website for more photos of the Marc Jacob line.  Just search for Marc Jacobs spring 2009.  (I'd post the links myself, but my computer seems incapable of copying and pasting into the blogger site. ??)  If you're on the nytimes fashion blog site, go to "view slideshow" to see all 54 outfits.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Paper Jam! Show Opening This Friday!

My House Gallery invites you to attended its opening of PAPER JAM on Friday, September 19th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.

The 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper has become a fixture in our
contemporary culture. This standard image confronts us every day.Containing advertisement, files, faxes, business contracts, photocopies, and a myriad of information, we take in the information, oftenover looking the spatial context within which it is contained. What ifour standard paper size was drastically different? What if it was halfof or doubled in size? How would this change our perception andunderstanding of information? Paper Jam puts the 8 1/2 by 11 piece ofpaper under the hand of the artist to allow them to expand or contracttheir artistic understanding of the parameters of space presented.

PAPER JAM features:

Aimee Christopher

Jenny Kanzler

Hannah Heffner

Fernando Ramos

Hilary Grisham

Eoin Burke

Dana Vachon

Alison Nastasi

Austin Dodson

Robyn Hill

Jen Gin

Phu Pham

Julianna Lose

Bonnie Brenda Scott

Maggy Hiltner

Shelley Spector

Nate Butler

John Oliver Lewis

Jessica McCambly

Mark Price

Hope Rovelto

Alex Gartelmann

Bryan Rice

Daniel Payavis

Laura Conklin

Nora Renick-Rinehart

Alyson Gianasco

David Willburn

Amity Kurt

Maria Kretschmann

Iris Bechtol

Ted Carey

Mike Ryan

Jill Wasserman

Jim Burton

Nike Desis

Alexandra Torres

Jim Dessecino

Adam Oestreicher

Stephen Kent

Libby Rosof

Roberta Fallon

Sarah Provencha

Ed Waisnais

Alex DaCorte

Jake Allee

Heather Smith Jones

Michael Grothusen

Nathaniel Ross

Toby Canfield

Alex Montgomery

Courtney Todd

Chris Vereb

Melissa Sweeney

Lisa Scarpello

Tim Strazza

I hope you can all make it out to this great opening! Visits by appointment.


Alex Gartelmann

Executive Director,

My House Gallery

My House Gallery

2534 S. 8th Street

Philadelphia, PA


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Myth and Modern Art

I don't even remember what my mother and I were talking about when she handed me a little book entitled "A Short History of Myth" but it has certainly influenced my thoughts over the past few weeks. The short tome by Karen Armstrong is a succinct exploration of human development, both psychological and sociological, and how our myths shifted in order to reflect our evolutions: starting in the Paleolithic Period, it travels all the way through the industrial revolution (aka, the Axial Age) and into the "Great Western Transformation." Even from the first few pages, it was startlingly apparent that "myth" is intrinsically linked to my own definition of "conceptual art." So, I have been working out how that is and what that means for my art and for society at large.

Ideas of "truth" are very complicated in modern times. For us, something can be scientifically proven, or historically reliable and objects are objects- they have their own production history, but their symbology is limited to what they are and nothing more. However, human beings thousands of years ago had no way of distinguishing between reality and the sacred. In language it's referred to as the Holophrasic Theory of Language. Think of it as a "star with the points representing where we are today- cognitive language, scientific language, emotive language, poetic language, utilitarian language- and the center of the star symbolizes that earlier linguistic imploded time when myth was science and science was belief and belief was poetry" (Campbell, 54.) In other words, we have multiple truths as defined by the different languages mentioned above: an emotional truth, ie: "I love you", cannot be proven or disproven by the language of science (although that doesn't seem to keep us from trying: pharamones, what?) It's truth is not denied because of it's lack of scientific proof. But back in the Paleolithic Period (c. 20000 to 8000 BCE) even objects took on all qualities of their sacred implications. Stories were told to help people understand the sacred ramifications of the world around them. "The earliest mythologies taught people to see through the tangible world to a reality that seemed to embody something else. ... When these early people looked at a stone, they did not see an inert, unpromising rock. It embodied strength, permanence, solidity and an absolute mode of being... (Armstrong, 16.)

Now that, to me, sounds a lot like Joan Watson's Introduction to Sculpture class. I think it took her an entire semester to get us seeing material for what it embodies, not how easy it was to work with or whether we would be forced to use a hot glue gun (what?!? Hot glue!! Fired from art school!) But I'll get to this in a second.

Ok, so back to myth. Throughout human development myths, in this case orally transmitted stories, were told in order to help us figure out how better to be "more fully human." Logic and reason can allow us to kill animals and eat them in order to avoid starvation, but it could never help us cope with our grief or with the greater questions of humanity that were inflicted by such a violent action. They were stories about how to act toward eachother, toward the planet, and toward the animals we hunted. When we turned to agriculture, the stories turned toward tales of copulation and fertility. Once we developed cities, our myths and "gods" shifted to reflect city-living. It wasn't until we started to live by the rules of industrialization and capitalism that that the Institution of Myth was fatally challenged.

The birth of Western Civilization in Europe (c. 1500 give or take a few hundred years) was closely followed by the fracturing of Christianity, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial/Consumer revolution. As each of these developments were solely founded upon ideas of Logic the human need for myth was negated. Myth was now seen as something useless, false and outmoded. "Unlike myth, logos must correspond to facts; it is essentially practical;... it constantly looks ahead to achieve a greater control over our environment or to discover something fresh" (Armstrong, 121). The world that we are living in today has been without Myth- Myth as human beings have understood it since the dawn of understanding- for almost 500 years, and the psychological toll has been obvious. "As early as the sixteenth century, we see more evidence of a numbing despair, a creeping mental paralysis, and a sense of impotence and rage as the old mythical way of thought crumbled and nothing new appeared to take its place" (Armstrong, 122).

I think that the evidence of our looking forward is obvious: we can see it in the technology we strive for, the pop culture we cling to, and the fact that nobody respects their elders any more. The grand anomie is obvious, too: anyone living in a big city like Baltimore or Philadelphia can express that sense of overwhelming ennui, that feeling that everyone is trying so hard for no real gain, no change in life, no real ramifications. But are humans capable of living without myth? It seems to me that even as the definition of truth splintered, especially more recently with the rise of postmodernism, we have found ways to fill that need: Art. "In art, liberated from the constraints of reason and logic, we conceive and combine new forms that enrich our lives and which we believe tells us something important and profoundly true" (Armstrong, 9-10).

The parallels between myth and modern conceptual art are astoundingly multifarious.

Art exercises it's own rituals similar to those practiced with mythological story-telling. Where myths' ritualized actions included dance, song, and litany, art has it's own trappings: shows, openings and critiques. Where the responsibility for passing down myth and it's implications rested with chosen individuals, so, too, does the art world have it's hierarchies: artists, critics, art-historians. Art even has it's own sacred spaces- museums, galleries, institutions- in which one is expected to behave in a properly awed and respectful manner.

Artistic concepts are basically metaphors that make social and historical references.  Materials take on certain (and uncertain) symbologies through their inherent characteristics and their history:  how we as a species (and more specifically our place in the species: race, religion, nationality) have interacted with a given material effect how we think of it and thusly, how we read certain art expressions.  Art pieces are basically combinations of situations that make new statements.  The topics that artists choose to explore reflect society, history, technology, future, anthropology- the things that are pressing on the minds of society.  Modern art is a place to ask the important questions away from the baggage of religion.  Secular experiments for a secular society.

However, there are a few differences between myth and modern art that, I feel, are truly rooted in contemporary culture.  Where as myth was the responsibility of one story teller to carry on the traditions and to pass down the stories, modern art is utterly postmodern in it's availablility to anyone with a voice; it accepts that any truth is truth as long as the artists can convince you.

I really like thinking about my participating in the history of myth and humanity.  I love exploring the world through metaphorical eyes and proposing ideas and starting conversations.  I'm glad to be a part of this community.

(Books Referenced:  A Short History of Myth, by Karen Artmstrong, and Artistic Citizenship, by Mary Schmidt and Randy Martin.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Closer to AWESOME!!

Ok, guys, sorry for the delay.  Even as it is:  artists are such slackers!  Apparently, nobody took any photos of the event!  (Which is a lie, but I'm trying to get over it.)  Anyway, here's what I've got:

The Closer to Fine show opening went AMAZINGLY!  Melanie and myself worked diligently all day thursday night making hella-gay cupcakes 

(Dexter is a crazy-cupcake maker extraordinaire!  Total powdered sugar count:  12 cups!!)

and all day thursday hanging up the art.  

(Thanks so much to Sheila, Caroline and Ketch!  Our art-hanging heroes!)

But when evening came,  everything came together! 

(Even the cupcakes were gay!)

(Co-conspirators, co-curators, co-hotties at large!)

(Ted, Sarah, "red-hat", Lexy!)

(Sarah and Lexy love art.  And cupcakes.)

(Ketch= overwhelmed by art and awesomness.)

(So many people that we had to congregate outside!)

We estimate that almost 100 people passed through over the course of the evening!  So, thanks so much to everyone who came by to show their support for all the artists!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Scarf that took FOREVER.

Ok, so as you could probably tell from the title:  this scarf took me FOREVER.  And if I could do that super snazzy internet-type crazy link thing, I would link this to the entry where I started it... all the way back in February.  (?!?)  The pattern is a simple Feather and Fan, a 4 line repeat with yarn overs and k2tog to create this sweet structure!  I got the pattern from my dearest knit-sib, nellyface.  So why did it take me so long to knit?  Because I had 64 stitches across on size 4 needles so every row took me an eon and a half.  The yarn is a wool/nylon blend that is stretchy and soft!

I don't know if any of you do this, but while I knit I have tons and tons of ideas for other knitting projects that are never destined to be.  For example, while i was knitting this scarf, I wished I was knitting a large, drapey scarf that would wear like one of those hipster wrap scarves.  But instead of knitting one thing and pining over another, I decided to make this scarf do that instead!  

I knit button holes into the ending selvedge and sewed some nice Tagua Nut buttons (and one plastic, 'cause I'm a spaz and never buy the right amount of anything) to the other side, and... lo and behold, it worked!  

I had my doubts about this scarf while I was knitting it.  I loved the colors on the ball, but the color combos it made in the F&F pattern seemed.... a little Molly Weasley to me.  (Not that I don't love me a good Molly Weasley, but... well... I'm trying to stay away from 23yr old magical matron.  Magical, fine; matron... not so fine.)  But, I have to say that I am totally satisfied with the ending product!  I'm going to go ahead and do a light steam iron blocking, just to open up the lace work, and then...  ??  Gift it?  We shall see.

And now I can move on to all those other, coveted knitting projects in my brain!  As soon as I get paid I'm going to start some socks and get a head start on my holiday knitting!

***PS!  I'm still, STILL! going to post images of the Closer to Fine Opening!  I'm still, seriously, waiting for good photos.  But if I don't get any by the end of the weekend, I'll just put up what I have, cool?***

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Thread of Conversations...

Sorry for the photo quality- I still haven't gotten my camera fixed!  Anyway, here are some photos of the thread dress in situ at Cafe Estelle's:

The opening was a really nice affair:  there was beer and fruit and veggies and a fair few people.  A huge group of my awesomely supportive friends came, which was lovely.  I have mixed feelings about the Estelle's group shows because, as you might be able to see from this shot, a lot of the art tends to be... of a different ilk than my creations.  I tried to express this to another artist in the show (don't worry!  Someone that I knew and who had also made awesomely creative work!)  but she proceeded to tell me that I'm getting snooty.

Am I getting art-snooty??!?  I was really more commenting on the fact that my art doesn't tend to fit in with coffee shop art.  The cafe wanted to make sure I put a price next to it in case anyone wanted to buy it, which I did, but.... I can't quite see anyone deciding to spend $100 on an unwearable dress made entirely from recycled thread ends over their morning coffee.

Anyway.  I think it's pretty.  But I made it, so... there.  :0)

***PS:  I still totally intend to put up photos of the Closer to Fine opening!  But if I've learned anything from this whole experience it's that artists are fricken' flakey.  I'm waiting to get some shots from the event so that I can prove that there as many people there as I say there were!  Soon soon soon... hopefully!***