Friday, August 8, 2008

Unexpected Rewards

The August 08 issue of Surface Design Journal has been published and is now available on newstands -- it contains the article, "Traces of the Past: Four Dutch Artists Respond to Place", that I wrote about an exhibition this past fall in a seaside Dutch fort. Els van Baarle had shared images with me two years ago of her first exhibit at the fort. Its architecture touched me as deeply as it did Els when she first visited the fort. The idea of making work in response to a place -- actually considering place as an integral element in the subject matter and presentation of art works-- intrigued me. So did the challenges of exhibiting in a space open to the elements, particularly the salty sea air and moisture. I wanted very much to travel to the Netherlands and see the exhibition but that wasn't possible and Cherilyn and Els had to cancel our planned interview in the States in June last year when Els' husband passed away, so we did our interviews via e-mail over a number of months.

Corresponding with four very different and talented, fascinating women was, as it always is, the reward that offsets the labor of drafting, revising and polishing a multitude of information into a finished, cohesive article. When the final draft and images went to Journal editor Patrica Malarcher in February, I breathed an expected sigh of relief and returned to my own work. I had done my best and felt pleased to be able to help good artists get more recognition; I didn't have any other expectations.

So, imagine my total surprise and delight when shortly after completing the article, I began receiving packages in the mail from the Netherlands!

Els' arrived first. I have been debating for a year now about including some three dimension works in my Pages series. I am intrigued by bookmaking but the precision I associated with it always made me keep my distance. Els' wonderful piece is beautifully crafted but not stitched or drilled. Long accordion "pages" fan out when opened from the recycled book cover that holds them. I love the way the book can be opened and posed in a variety of ways.

The accordion pages offer great flexibility for display, and are inspiring me to take an introductory bookmaking class next week to explore some basic, simple book forms that might provide an interesting contrast to the larger, hanging pieces in my letterforms series.

Then Cherilyn Martin's package arrived while I was out of town. It got buried for a while in the piles of catalogues and magazines that always build while I'm away, but eventually I found it and opened it. Another touching moment. This 8" x 8" deliciously textural work has the most delightful, tiny red stitching accents and of course, the illuminated letter form on the upper right. It reminds me a great deal of the work she did for the exhibition.

A short time later another small package arrived, this time from Cora de Kok, containing a stunning piece of wearable art, a stitched organza and metallic organza scarf with stitched edges that trail off the fabric and form interesting, twisting extensions.

I still am overwhelmed with appreciation each time I look at these gifts. I display them proudly where I can see them every day. I've written about many artists over the years and never expect to receive anything from them for writing profiles, and the surprise in being gifted with these pieces makes having them so much more uplifting. The generosity of Els and Cherilyn and Cora is a reminder to me of the strength and connectedness of fiber artists -- even when we speak different languages and live in different parts of the world, the love of the medium connects us.

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