Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some Questions, and the Final 'Pulse'

1)   Where have I been?
Well, not here in blogland, obviously. This is the busiest time of the year at work, trying to write new IEP's and get all the paperwork together for my eighth-graders' high school transition meetings.  But I promise, I'll be around to visit everyone's blogs soon. That's all I'm going to say about that; otherwise, you might have to call me a wahmbulance.

2)   Why can't I leave well enough alone?
I think I've addressed this before. If I'm not quite satisfied with a piece, I will sometimes just keep messing with it until I've overworked it into the ground, if you know what I mean.  I hope that's not the case with Don't Forget to Breathe.  While it looked alright before, it was really pretty boring. Nicely boring- but still, boring. After giving it way too much thought, I decided that the problem was "a failure to communicate". Art, at its most fundamental level, is an attempt to visually 'say' something, whether it includes actual written words or not.  To see the earlier version and read the accompanying text, go here. To me, it just didn't 'feel' the way I felt when I made the piece.  I considered a few different possibilities, and decided to add water.

After I did that, I realized the blue of the water was too bright and cheery, so I covered it with mica, and stitching... I'm not exactly sure  how I feel about it now, but I refuse to do anything further.  I do, really...

3)   Can I use raw, un-melted beeswax in artwork - and if so, how?
Sadly, my husband's bees died.  He took the wax out of the frames and threw it away, but I quickly rescued it from the trash, because... there must must something I can do with it, right?

4)   If you change the name of your blog will the search engines be confused? Or is it better to retain the old name for official purposes, but just leave it off the header? I know the url will still go to the same place, but are there any problems I should know about?

I received an email from Seth apter saying that "your response to the question 'what is the one thing that you know now that you would have liked to have known when you first started to create art?' will be highlighted in my blog post on Sunday, February 24th as part of the series Tell All. In case you do not remember, this is part of the series of questions you answered for this project way back in June 2011." Since I don't remember my response, I'm curious to find out what I said.  I hope you're curious, too; just click on the 'Tell All' banner above.

And don't worry- if you're waiting for 'Dressing Up, part 2', I haven't forgotten; it will be posted soon!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dressing Up

Lately, I've spent more time on Pinterest than is likely to be healthy; it's difficult to drag myself away from so much fascinating art of every kind and description.  As I wade through this veritable sea of art, I've noticed a surprising number of artists using the dress as a format for their work.  This is intriguing to me, partly because it seems like such an obviously good idea that I can't believe I didn't think of it. As one who made paper dolls as a child, and clothed stick-people in dresses of flowers, it would seem to be a natural progression.  Though I did embroider designs on my jeans and other items of clothing back in the day (yes, I'm that old), I never made that leap, even after the advent of paper dresses in the '60's. I do remember them- sort of.

Dress made of paper. Print of red, black and white Campbell's Soup can labels, inspired by the art of Andy Warhol. The Campbell's company used their paper dresses as a marketing technique. With the exchange of $ 1.00 and two soup labels, a woman would receive a dress by mail. c. 1967

I think my mom bought one of these when I was a little kid; I'm sure it must have been strictly out of curiosity, because I know she never wore it.  I wonder if it came in a can?

"The Wisconsin-based Scott Paper Company decided to sell paper dresses to promote their new, more colorful paper products.... other companies knew a good fad when they saw it and for the next 2 years many companies started to sell paper dresses, mostly as an advertising gimmick, some political campaigns even gave away dresses with slogans and images of their candidates....  Wippette Sportswear started selling Le Canned Dress late in 1966 and sold 100,000 in November and December."

If you want to learn more, the above pictures and information come from the article "1960's clothing fads paper dresses and dress in a can".

The dresses I'm talking about here, though, don't come in a can, but they may be made of paper.  They are works of art, and with one exception, are not meant to be worn. They are beautiful, mysterious, and layered with depth and meaning; I thought I'd share a few here.

                   Self-Portrait, 2008 wire, paper and photographic images
                  W: 46cm H: 54cm L: 46cm                            by Lynn Dennison

Her profile on the Gallery K website says, in part, that Lynn's works "...fuse personal reminiscence, emotion and memories. Her work, whether it is painting or paper sculpture, explores the connected themes of gender, inheritance and above all the meaning of being female."

I think that's a good summation of the appeal of art in the form of a dress- there is an emotional pull that is undeniable, and undeniably female.  The dress itself symbolizes the female body in both shape and connotation (think of how we designate the gender difference of restrooms, for example.)

 By Susan Stockwell: Money Dress, 2010  Made from paper money from all over the world, stitched together. Based on the style of dress worn in the 1870's by British Female Explorers, honouring their place and role in history. Material: paper money notes, cotton thread, frame Provenance: London, UK

"Susan Stockwell's Highland Dress (2009) is an empty life-sized female dress composed of ordinance survey maps of the Scottish Highlands glued together. Stockwell delivers a visual blow to English colonization and occupation of Scotland over 300 years. Using military maps to create a woman's dress sends a double message of war and politics being dominated by men in Western history...."  From review of "Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art" at Katonah Museum of Art Journal of Multicultural Education- Vol. 12 no. 2.

Acquaintance of Kelp Forests  Kelp, Driftwood, Vintage Silk & Lace 56 x 41 x 41 by Christina Chalmers

 A Magical Life, steel mesh, plaster, oil and mixed media, 56x30x30  by Christina Chalmers

Christina Chalmers states, “In archetypal symbolism, clothing represents persona, a kind of camouflage which lets others know only what we wish them to know about us and nothing more. We are often "clothed" in our own private illusions of ourselves…power, money, success, pleasure, but there is really no substance to this "clothing"; it only cloaks what is deep inside and invisible...
the creative, unique and mysterious inner self. This work is about that with which we clothe ourselves and the "human divinity" or true self which lies hidden beneath." from Artist Statement, Selby Fleetwood Gallery

Christine Elfman   Storydress I   series of 12 images of dress made of torn story books

"Storydress II" is a series of photographs of a life-size paper mache and plaster sculpture. The dress is made of paper mache stories that I recorded of my great-grandmother’s autobiographical
reminiscences." ~Christine Elfman 

Lesley Dill's work is about giving "physical presence to the written word. She draws upon a unique vocabulary of visual metaphors, enhancing our interpretation of verbal communication. With intuition she informs and expands our understanding of ourselves, as she amplifies the deeper meaning of the spoken language through her exquisite works of art."  -

"Hinged Poem Dress" by Lesley Dill

She seeks to "explore the symbolic and visual potential of language. She often layers fragments of poetry over the human form, as in Faith (2010), a bronze figure emblazoned with a line from Kafka's Metamorphosis, emphasizing her belief in the transformative, visceral power of language. As Dill explains,'Language is the touchstone, the pivot point of all my work.'" Artspace artist bio

"Poem Hair Dress" by Lesley Dill

 Bea Szenfeld - Miss Garland. A kind of “partycamuflageuniform” where the silhouette of the cocktail dress reminds you of a Mexican piñata. The tissue paper chains that the dress is draped with have got patterns cut with laser beams. Material: 42 m paper chains and 138 pins.

 Icelandic singer, Bjork, wearing a Bea Szenfield dress to an award presentation.


"Storytelling and humanity form the basis of Louise Richardson’s work. Garments and sculptures made from a diverse selection of materials give a glimpse of untold tales. ‘Butterfly Dress’ is brimming with an intense sense of animation, conveying the magical attraction of butterflies." from April 2009 press release

 "Butterfly Dress"

"Charm"  mixed media and shed snakeskin
“I am currently looking at the idea of memory and identity, bringing universal messages to the viewer through the portrayal of objects in my own memory.” Louise Richardson

 Melinda Le Guay's dresses aren't made of paper, but I just couldn't leave them out.  They're knitted out of wire.

"Covert" by Melinda Le Guay
"Her intricately detailed wire dresses displayed tensions between their materials and the final object, creating an alluring beauty, which juxtaposed the dresses prickly surface. They also conveyed minutiae, through the repetitious act of knitting used to create the pieces." - Brenda May Gallery


Artist Melinda Le Guay says, "My work currently hinges on the physical and psychological susceptibility of the young female - when issues to do with identity sometimes culminate in self-harm, or body image disorders. A time when self-protection and retreat dominate thinking and negotiation in the world."

"Ravaged"-enamelled copper wire, thread, dyed gauze, thorn, dyed synthetic flowers, pin, paper

But wait - there's more!  Stay tuned for part 2.