EXHIBITING GALLERY: Craft Alliance
TITLE OF SHOW: Elements: The Art of Textile Collage
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 11th, 2009- October 25th, 2009
CURATOR: Barbara Simon
6640 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF; YOUR LOCATION, PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS, PERSONAL STUFF…..
I live in the NW corner of the USA on a small island - about a mile and a half around - in the southern part of Puget Sound. We're a couple of hours from the Pacific Ocean, but we still have 13-foot tides twice a day, the air smells of tides and cedars, and eagles have a nest just behind our house. This island location is a major inspiration for my work.
Last year we tore down the 1968 A-frame that was our home, and built ourselves a new place to live. For the year of tearing down and rebuilding, we lived in the space below my studio, otherwise known as the garage.
I'm a member of the NW Designer Craftsmen, an organization with a grand history. We live near Tacoma, which has some excellent museums. Two galleries represent my work on a continuing basis: Snyderman/Works in Philadelphia, and Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe. I also welcome call-ahead visitors to my studio on Raft Island, Gig Harbor, Washington.
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS: HOW YOU CREATE, WHEN, WHERE, WITH WHAT MATERIALS……
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU? WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL DAY IN THE STUDIO? WHAT IS YOUR AGENDA? WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?
(I'm answering two or three questions here.)
I'll start with the Where and When part of your questions. The studio is built over our garage behind the house. I have a commute of about 20 steps up the hill. My studio has great windows that look both onto Puget Sound and the woods next door. One wall is all pin-up space and works perfectly for all the collage elements that become part of the work.
I work all day, every day that I'm at home, including at least one weekend day, I'm embarrassed to admit. My day in the studio starts somewhere between 7 and 8 and goes to between 4 and 5PM. I love to work. While I realize that it's not the most efficient thing to do, I generally start with a quick perusal of email. This is often done before breakfast and the time after breakfast then begins the making part of the day. If I have to do some serious thinking and/or writing, however, it comes first while I'm fresh and not distracted by email, music or the phone.
Once I begin to work and enjoy a little distraction, then I listen to all sorts of music: jazz, gospel, R and B, classical, and while I'm at the sewing machine, books on CD on my iPod and with noise-canceling headphones. (My industrial sewing machine is very loud and I found I became tired just from the sound.)
I try to time the painting portion of the work - the first step - for a good day when I can keep the garage door open. That means that I try to do a lot of painting in the months when it's not raining! Once the painting is made, it goes up on the studio wall where I stare at it a lot, trying to decide if I'll use all or a portion of it as the background layer. Once that decision is made, I begin to collage small elements of the same painted material on that layer. Once the composition satisfies me - and that may take days - the collage elements are heat-fused onto the painting, more layers of the same non-woven material are fused together to make it rather stiff.
Sewing comes last. It literally and figuratively ties the work together with lines of machine stitching that form a topological map on the surface. I can only let myself sew for an hour or so at a time, because my back refuses to cooperate otherwise. Consequently, I usually have two or three pieces going at a time. This allows me to change positions frequently, but also allows time for the work to gestate a bit while I focus on another piece.
The work has Velcro on the back layer that is caught in with the machine stitching. The Velcro matches up to its partner on a hidden frame, thus floating the work off the surface of the wall for its final presentation.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
I am working with the Gregg Museum at North Carolina State University in Raleigh on a project for 2011. I am the guest curator for an exhibition that will have about a dozen artists working with the theme, "Traces". The artists have been chosen, the grants are in the requesting process now, and we're beginning the plans for a major symposium to be held in March of 2011 in connection with the exhibition. We're presently working on ideas for the catalogue. It's a delightful, engaging project and I'm reading all sorts of materials that I wouldn't have had the excuse to do without this great invitation.
The other part of the invitation was to have a solo show of my work in the smaller gallery at the Gregg for the time span - spring semester. So I'm just beginning to do some serious thinking about the kinds of works I want to display. It gives me a good reason - in case I need one - to return to the studio every day!
Barbara Lee Smith- Exhibiting Artist in Elements: The Art of Textile Collage