Sunday, April 13, 2008

Same Trail, New Twist

Letter production continued all day yesterday, although not in a neat and orderly factory line manner. Quality engineers everywhere would have nightmares about MY production methods.

Basically every surface of my sewing area filled and spilled over with letter patterns, cut out letters, fabrics and scraps by the end of the day. I had decided yesterday was the day to fix the Pages 3 piece, draped over the ironing board on the right. I fused down crisp, fresh letters over the ones that had gotten a bit distorted from washing and they complete the piece wonderfully. All I need to do today is put on the hanging sleeve. My husband has come up with a prototype for acrylic hangers for these pieces so they will hang about 6-7 inches away from the wall -- that way they will cast shadows through the openings and the piece will move whenever there's a breeze. But all the time I've been working on the latest wallhangings and this piece, my mind has been playing with my long list of ideas and variations to choose what I want to explore next. So here's the bones of one possibility that I put together while I cut and fused.

I stapled fabric to 18" x18" stretcher bar frames, drew a 12" frame as a size guide and decided to play with hand embroidery and overlaying sheer letters on top of each other. While these are leftover letter forms from the latest Parables pieces, I could just as easily arrange a variety of letter form shapes into compositions.

I find the shapes created where the pieces intersect and overlap a rich area to consider and develop in future works. For this first sample, however, my idea is to investigate hand stitching the surrounding surfaces, then mounting it to a canvas wrapped frame. I already have purchased thirty 12" x12" canvas wrapped frames to develop multiples that can all be hung together as one large work or in small groupings, and this sample will help me play with and work through some initial ideas.
I'm finding that one of the most challenging things for me to do with this series is to honor the idea in each piece and not immediately leap ahead to the next ones and start spilling out a jumble of ideas onto one surface. I envision a series where each work leads to the next variation, a progression that records my creative process -- a map that shows how one idea leads to the next...and the next. When the body of work hangs together at my exhibition in May, I'm hoping this evolutionary trail or map will become apparent and as interesting as each individual work.

My mind is still chewing over the ideas behind the language theme.One occurred to me yesterday when I was talking about my work with a friend after she asked me why I had chosen to work with just one letter shape on these two Parable pieces ( a good critique question, by the way!). One immediate response was that I wanted to design a form that looked interesting no matter which way I oriented it, but that didn't seem to get at the heart of my intention. So I contemplated the Parables pieces as I worked on cutting and fusing letters to the Pages piece yesterday. Then I realized that I want the letter forms on these two surfaces to actually "read" like SOUNDS, to have movement and resonance. The phrase popped into my head, "Sounding it Out." I like the ambiguity of this -- isn't language a metaphor for culture and our attempts to "translate" our world?

If we were to attempt to translate the sounds of language visually, would the results become a kind of visual melody? Evidently I see patterns of movement in written language that trigger associations with dance-- but now it seems I am also aware of the patterns of spoken language and the wonderful cadence of the human voice. Can hand stitches on this new small work capture some of that rhythm?? Lots of juicy, intriguing questions and thoughts accompany these "factory work" days!

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