Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Time Sewing at Lill St Art Center

This week I taught my first class at Lill St Art Center here in Chicago! Aptly enough, the class I'm starting with is first time sewing. The class went GREAT! I have amazing and dedicated students and I can't wait to see what they make throughout the five weeks of our class. No pictures yet, but for now:

(Thanks to Johanna for the image! When are we getting t-shirts?)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Renegade Season in Chicago

This past weekend was Chicago's Summer Renegade Craft Fair! As opposed to the winter fair, at which Lucy and I shared a booth, the summer fair is out-doors. And even though the weather here has been beyond gorgeous and fall like all week, Sunday was determined to be the hottest day known to humans. Despite being sweaty messes, we had a blast- and dropped a fair chunk of change. Seriously, though? Between the heat and the hordes of beer drinking customers, Lucy and I didn't really envy the merchants.

I only walked away with one purchase, but I WANTED to walk away with a lot more! Here are some highlights from from the veritable stack of business cards that came home in my pocket:

1. Handbag with amazing front pockets! By Cut Out And Collect

That's right: those front pockets are like skirt pockets- fully lined, baby!

2. Adorable Charm Necklaces by Michelle Hartney.

3. Skull Dip Bowl by No Tengo Miedo Clay.

(For the Murder Credenza, clearly.)

4. Embroidered Cards by Despina Papadeas.

(An excellent sentiment.)

5. Stitched leather wallets by Robbie Moto.

A friend once told me that she would never vote for a political candidate who hadn't personally shaken her hand. At the time, the notion seemed a little impractical. But it stuck with me and I slowly started thinking that way about things other than politics. There is a lot of stuff in the world and we, as consumers, are so often disconnected from the makers and the designers and, really, any part of the process. Being able to meet and talk to so many prolific artists/designers/craftspeople at an event like the Renegade Craft Fair allowed me to feel connected what I was buying. And I like that.

In a lot of ways I am extremely intimidated by the Indie-craft movement and it would have been very possible to be completely knocked-out by Renegade: there is JUST SO MUCH STUFF. (Not to mention that a lot of it looks really similar...) As a craftsperson trying to make it out there in the carnivorous world, how am I supposed to carve out a place for myself? Should I make objects that are just like everyone else's because the imagery will be automatically popular? Or should I gamble on going in a different direction? Finding a balance between the two has been an elusive task over the past few years.

But instead of coming home, drinking straight from the bottle of Kraken and despair... this year I decided to be energized by the crazy hoards and the boatloads of owls and squids and pennant flags. So, in the words of Voldemort from the Harry Potter Musical,

"Look out world, I'm gonna getcha."

Right after I take a 4 day nap.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Burrow Studio Blog!

That's right, friends... The Burrow Studio- my home sweet home and studio sweet studio- officially has it's own blog. Which will, undoubtedly, be equally if not more awesome than this here blog because it combines the incredible artistic powers of one comic genius Lucy Knisely and my humble self. And guess what! We're gonna update it every sunday! Which is only a couple days away! You should probably go there right now and catch up what you've already missed. (Be sure to click on the links... the photos and comics are SO worth it.)

Sudio Blog!

Go now and be amazed!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Queer Etsy Street Team!

So, apparently the etsy community is a complicated and uber-supportive network. Who knew? Not me! But now that I have nigh-on infinite time to peruse the interweb, I'm discovering all sorts of helpful sites.

Like the Queer Etsy Street Team!

"We are a mutually supportive community inclusive of all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexed and Questioning etsy sellers. We're a global team and plan in future, as we grow, to organize regional and national events focused on queer art, crafts and entrepreneurship. We currently operate a team store funded by member donations. 100% of proceeds from our shop (less etsy and Paypal fees) are donated to various charities. If you're queer, here, and etsian, we want to meet you!"

How cool, right? I had to join.

The group has a group store (linked above), a yahoo group with almost constant chatter, and a great blog! This summer they have been doing a series of color themed challenges which focus a rainbow selection of products made by members. The most recent was the Green Challenge... so I contributed my Green Plaid Hip Zip!

(Hot model!)

You can buy any of the Green Challenge products at the Etsy Treasury here!

Very cool, internet... very cool.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Erstwhile Inspiration: from Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

I've been thinking a lot about Claes Oldenburg this summer so I was delighted to find book of his sketches on Lucy's shelf. (One of the greatest thing about living with another artist is that I get to look through all of her awesome books!) The collection, put together in collaboration with his wife, Coosje Van Bruggen, is entirely sketches of food.

Banana Split, New York, 1987

And they're amazing! I guess it's unsurprising that he was so focused on food: so many of his sculptures ended up being edible objects. But what I loved about this book was that it not only gave me such clear insight into the sculptors' process but also into how he and Coosje sourced their inspiration.

Apple Core, New York, 1988

Apple Core, (1990) at the Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem.

At the end of the book there's this very sweet bit of writing by Claes: "Coosje and I have spent thirty years hardly ever apart, operating together as one imagination on whatever comes into view." He goes on to reveal that the reason they started sketching food was that Coosje developed food allergies: "What had been a pleasurable activity became a dangerous one." Unable or unwilling to give up the joys of food, however, Coosje suggested a "displacement of the senses- that which could not be eaten could be consumed by the eyes."

I, too, have been battling with my relationship to food. After years of constant stomach aches, my doctor suggested I stop eating gluten. I wept for the loss of bagels in my life... but I did it (mostly). A year and a half later, I returned to the doctor only to be told that- partially because I had stopped eating wheat- I had developed extreme iron-deficient anemia. So now my food choices are this crazy balancing act: how much gluten have I had today? Am I gonna feel like crap? Was it worth it? Will refusing to eat the bread/pasta/beer at this potluck make me feel too awkward and needy? What happens over time when you have to weigh every eating decision- run it through a rubric of qualifiers- is that eating stops being fun. It takes on this monumentality that is, ironically, all consuming.

I have no way of knowing if Coosje had a similar feelings about her diet... but the knowledge of our shared experiences helps me to see these sculptures in a new way. The scale of the object becomes a metaphor for it's relationship to the human body- a relationship that is especially poignant when you consider that the human body is supposed to consume the food object.

Cake Slice with Cherries, Minneapolis, 1988

The sketches, as well as the sculptures, are without a doubt humorous and comical... but they are also a somewhat threatening: who exactly is in charge here? Is food's proper place in the world to be subjected by the human body? Or is the human body dependent upon food? The food becomes so large that it ends up taking on aspects of architecture.

Chateau Marmont as Caviar/Avocado Mousse, Los Angeles, 1991

From those sketches to the famous installations like this one:

Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1988
Stainless steel and aluminum painted with polyurethane enamel
29 ft. 6 in. x 51 ft. 6 in. x 13 ft. 6 in. (9 x 15.7 x 4.1 m)
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

As I am spending increasing amounts of time in my studio it becomes more and more important for me to gain insight into the inspirational processes of artists I like. Without the structure of academic education, it's becoming harder for me to find my path... to know what to make next and why. I find that my brain is swirling with ideas but none of them seem important enough to be worth following through on. I think it's good for me to see how other aspects of my life- like my relationship to food- are viable sources of artistic inspiration. Thanks, Claes and Coosje!

But most importantly- where's the giant sculpture of this guy??

Langoustine, Paris, 1990


Images a la Carte, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen. Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, 2004.