Thursday, February 28, 2008

U.R. Residency Chronicles

Although it snowed steadily all day Tuesday and through the night, by the time I left for the University of Rochester late Wednesday morning the roads were clear and the drive went smoothly. Whew, great relief.
For the first day agenda, Stephanie, the wonderful studio coordinator, helped hang some of my work in the open gallery space at the entry to the Sage Art Center. Then I spent the afternoon working with sheers and incense sticks right inside the main entrance to the building so students could observe a bit of my process. Janet Berlo, the art history professor who arranged this wonderful opportunity, kept me company. She has developed a new interest in experimental embroidery and practiced making French knots.

Although I look a bit dazed in this picture, I had a great time. I came into the experience with the mindset that I would use this time to do some experimentation that would further my own work. I had been wanting to explore burning different language marks on a variety of fabric surfaces. I knew I had only a small table to work on and that burning surfaces was intriguing enough to make people passing by curious.

So I stretched various fabrics over an embroidery hoop and used a lit incense stick to burn different marks and patterns in each one. If you know good sources for incense sticks in varying widths, please let me know -- variety would have been useful for comparisons in using them as "writing" tools. Then I cut those surfaces into organic shapes and burned the edges with a lit candle while students and faculty members stopped by on their way to and from classes and studios. Loved talking to both students and faculty --the environment is so dynamic that I felt totally at ease and at home.

At 4:30 I gave a presentation to students and faculty, answered some questions and then enjoyed a wine and cheese reception in my honor afterwards. Today and tomorrow I'll teach -- students will paint and layer fabrics today, compose small samples tomorrow morning and then hand stitch into the surfaces tomorrow afternoon. I can't wait to see what they create with these materials and processes. They are wonderfully open to exploring new materials, so there will be lots more images to show you by tomorrow.

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