Saturday, March 1, 2008

U.R. Residency Highlights

Take a five day class and scale it down to fit a day and a half format and you'll get an idea of the pace in our textiles class at the University of Rochester on Thursday and Friday. The students were sharp, innovative and hard working -- many of them had no experience at all in textiles and just dove into the materials anyway. I confess, I loved watching how they experimented with marks and layers. We spent the first afternoon painting a slew of different materials -- cotton, cheesecloth, scrim, silk net, Tyvek and fusible web. The perimeters of the room and spaces under tables filled up with the results.

Katie, an undergrad who wants to work in film making, had a great time painting and printing with everything, including her hands. By the end of the class on Friday, she had added some wonderful handwritten text to some of her pieces, layering sheers over handwriting and then adding more writing on the surfaces. My language imagery loving self could definitely relate.

By Friday morning, the materials were dry, so we fired up the irons and started layering. The painted fusible not only provides patterns, it also provides an adhesive surface for layering. In this piece that Katie made she layered Tyvek and painted fusible web on a ground fabric painted with a salt resist.
Another member of our class, Joanna (in the grey shirt on the left), had to leave early Friday because she had a dress rehearsal for last night's on-campus production of The Vagina Chronicles. I was intrigued by these circle shapes she was creating by manipulating the threads of the cheesecloth and painted scrim.

I wish I could highlight each student and their work. Even though a few people found out by Friday afternoon that the last thing they wanted to ever do again was hand stitch a surface, others seemed to fall under the spell of the intimate, repetitive process of stitching.
Here are just a few of the other wonderful pieces that other students got underway during our time together: This minimalist piece shows how powerful the stitched line can be to a composition. The folded, unpainted scrim behind it, with the hint of painted layers beneath and just a little color on the top layer, was a very original use of these materials.

Repeating patterns with interesting variations (would you believe these gorgeous prints were done by inking and stamping with a stone ground wheat cracker?!?) helped add a lot of visual interest to this surface. Copper foiling added the reflective marks . The stitching on the right with that dark red embroidery thread adds a great contrast.

Many thanks to Professor Janet Berlo, on the right, who both arranged for me to spend this three days at the University and participated enthusiastically in the class. Genevieve, left, another student, has an MFA in photography and is working on her doctorate at the U. of R.

The faculty and students I met during this residency were all friendly and welcoming during my visit. I enjoyed talking with several seniors working in small private cubicles next to our class space about their senior projects and that helped me appreciate even more the high level of artistic development that is fostered in the U. of R.'s very small art program. My time at U of R was a good experience. I packed up and left with that usual mixed bag of regret and relief when a class ends and hope students felt they gained something positive from it. Who knows, maybe for one of them it was a wonderful beginning to a career as a textile artist!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to see the work done by students who treat textile materials as they would traditional art materials. I really like the piece that was stamped with a cracker; I agree that the red stitching really adds something. Thanks for your account of your residency. In the first installment, what work is that of yours? It looks stunning.
    Thanks for the information about Sulky Solvy. I have shopped at a Joann's in Fort Wayne and really enjoy the store. I found that because I am a member of Dijanne Cevaal's expressive book group, I have a google account and so I can comment on your blog. Please keep blogging.