Friday, March 16, 2012

Lee Bontecou

Another of my inspirations...

This last one is my favorite...I like seeing the interaction between the individual pieces...a collection of characters. You can read more about her here and check out this video from MOMA below.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Julie Arkell: Combining Cute and Creepy

Below are some images of the creations of Julie Arkell, an interesting artist I first encountered in Selvedge magazine.

From "Julie Arkell is one of England's best recognized contemporary folk artists working in papier-mâché and mixed media. It has been said that Julie, "...cannot resist the rejected debris of everyday life.  She especially favors discarded toys for inspiration and printed textiles”."

I have turned to papier-mâché  again and again because of the ease with which I can combine it with found firing or heating to damage the little bits of everyday I wish to employ. Arkell's work is funny and a little keeps me a little off kilter when I examine it....which, for me, keeps it from becoming too cute.

You can see more of Arkell's work here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Manon Gignoux

In June 2008, I had the chance to take a class at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. It was an incredible, life-changing, inspiring two weeks that I will never forget. I met many amazing artists and learned a lot..both about dying fibers and how to live life as an artist.

Haystack is also where I first encountered Selvedge magazine. I came across issue #22 which is filled with dolls of all sorts. I went home determined to get a copy of that particular issue and a subscription.

(I did get a subscription eventually...for my is so expensive it is a special occasion sort of purchase. I think of each issue with its beautiful photographs and heavy matte paper as a book for my permanent recycling these puppies!)

The main reason I was so enamored with issue #22, which I eventually won on Ebay, was for its photographs of  the work of Julie Arkell and Manon Gignoux. I'll post more on Arkell later. For now, have a look at the work of Gignoux.

Manon Gignoux is a French artist who makes textile sculptures, clothed objects, clothing and accessories.  I love her muted palette, use of layers and texture, and simple forms. Her figures are pared down to just the essential details. As the viewer, I have plenty of room to project personalities and invent stories. The fabrics are carefully chosen for their texture and hand...they carry with them a strong sense of history, of use, and of the beauty of the everyday. Besides Gignoux's figures, I especially enjoy the dressed objects. With a couple buttons and some carefully selected scraps of cloth, she magically gives a salt shaker or a bottle a unique personality.

Eventually, you will be able to see more of Gignoux's work on her website...but as of late, it has been taken down for an overhaul.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Melanie Bilenker

I have a fascination with hair. I prefer extreme haircuts...the kind where for days after my appointment, catching my reflection in a mirror or window takes me completely by surprise. (Who is that?!) I like to keep my hair when I get it cut. I keep it around as a record of time past...and now, as I am starting to get grays, as a record of "how my hair was". Sometimes I use hair in my artwork. I think of it as rope - for tying, restricting, confining, escaping - and I think of how it gets tangled, disheveled, and then combed back into place.

Many artists use hair in their work. One of my favorites is Melanie Bilenker. I can't remember how I first learned about her...but she is in my files. I always make a point of showing her work to my drawing students when we discuss alternate drawing materials. How can you make a line without charcoal o graphite. How does the material the line is made from effect the quality and meaning of the line?

All of these works are "drawn" with Bilenker's own hair. On her website, she writes "The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments."

I am excited about these pieces because of the simple, everyday scenes so carefully rendered. The sense of depth Bilenker carefully creates makes me feel I am peering into a window to another world.

You can see much more of Bilenker's work on her website.