One of the great things about having my studio at McGuffey, is the chance to meet so many new people. Our studios are open to the public, so people wander in fairly frequently. I have met many other fiber artist from the area. I have met art supporters, and the curious. Meeting the public at my art shows, was one of my favorite things about doing art fairs, so I welcome the personal contact and chance to talk art with both those who are knowledgeable and those who are seeking knowledge.
And of course there are my fellow artists. The sculpture pictured here is by Jim Respess, my studio neighbor. It is a monumental scale public art sculpture in Charlottesville. Jim is both a philosopher and an artist, and we share a love of mid-afternoon tea with a dash of discussion! Another artist and I are talking about offering 'open studio' or 'fiber funday' classes next fall. Michelle is a mixed media and book artist, with a background in printing, so it could be a fun partnership.
Then there are tours!
Last week I had three groups of third graders come tour my studio. They were wonderful! The first group was so attentive and asked great questions. The second was a challenge; all over the studio but enthusiastic. The third group was right in between. A little girl stopped on her way out and said "will you please teach me?" So I said maybe in a few years, but she could come visit anytime, and she immediately looked at me and said "FRIDAY??!!" I really expected her to pull out a Blackberry to book a time!
One of the things the kids wanted to do is touch... I totally get that...it is why I have textured textiles instead of flat photos. So I told them, to never touch in a gallery or a museum, but it was MY studio and MY rules, so go ahead and touch. They did! And really got into the textures. One little guy wanted to know how many beads were on one piece and, when I said I didn't know, so he spent 10 minutes counting them and announced "153"!!
The following day, the touching got better.
Sarah, a confident and out-going young woman came into the studio Thursday. She was looking for part time work or even to volunteer to help in the studios. This is not remarkable in itself, but she was blind so it was pretty remarkable! She was asking many questions about my work, so I invited her to see/feel for herself. Her fingers traveled from stitch to stitch, and found the frayed parts and the smooth parts. She wanted to know the origins of the textures. As an artist, it was wonderful to see my work appreciated on a totally new level.
What are we missing by instituting a "no touch rule"?
The kids and Sarah really made me think about a feeling I have long held about art. I think we make it too precious. Would Rodin or Michelangelo really never have wanted the surfaces of their work to be enjoyed? Didn't they choose their materials for the feel as much as the look? Would we have even more admiration of Amsel Kieffer if we could experience the sharp and rough with our fingers as well as our eyes. Textile art is, in its very essence tactile, so why can we only touch with white gloves? As an artist, I find the term "visual art" a limiting misnomer. Art might be a far deeper experience if enjoyed with as many sense as required.
Okay, I get it, we are preserving our art for the ages. What if we didn't care about that. What if we feel that a few generations ability to experience 100% was better than eons experiencing only a portion? Should artists be able to tell museums and galleries, that [respectful] "hands on" is okay for their art? Almost every artist I know (including myself!) has been chided by guards for getting our noses too close as we struggle to see brush strokes and textures. I bet if you actually touched a Van Gogh, there would be some powerful vibes still in those strokes!
On Monday, in the Shenandoah Skyline Drive, we stuck around until the sky rewarded us! The clear winter sky and the lack of foliage, make the mountains appear even bluer than the Blue Ridge normal look.
The blue just got more and more intense as the sun started to set. Click on any photo to see it larger.
And we saw a couple of animals too!
The deer were out in full force, finding the food, and then we saw the owl.
So, I am still talking about the day trip to the Shenandoah Skyline Drive (if you missed yesterday's post about ice, check it out!). It might be winter, the trees may be bare, the temperature below freezing, but some green things are thriving! Under, in, and around the icy rocks were so many mosses taking advantage of the lack of competition and canopy.
Any spot that gets sunlight and melting ice was covered with the most Kelly of greens.
These little habitats are so hidden and overpowered during the warmer months, but are the stars of the show now. The shapes are amazing, and so very sculptural. These photos show the mosses, but the lichens were equally prolific, if not as showy and photogenic.
Also enjoying their time in the spotlight are the pines. They are especially bright set against the grays of the bare trees and brush surrounding them. The last time I photo'ed these mountains, they were sporting the hot colors of fall, now they have let those leaves drop and the green pines bask in the sun.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the sky in all its glory! (here is a taste of things to come!)
A year and a half ago, we left the beauty of the driftless area of Wisconsin and moved to the mountain area of Virginia. It has been a wonderful move, and the beauty that surrounds us in Virginia is amazing. But the winters are different; No shoveling, less precarious ice, my nostrils no longer freeze shut, scarves are more decorative than necessary, and fingerless gloves almost make sense. On the other hand, it has been a long time since I have seen a lavender-blue shadow on powdered snow, heard the silence of a winter morning or the crunch of frozen tundra under my feet, I no longer can tell who visited during the night by the tracks in the morning. But yesterday I found some real beauty in the Virginia Winter... the ice.
Yesterday my "photo and phiber phriend", Susan, and I took a drive up into the mountains to explore. We have done this during the height of trillium season, during the bursting beauty of the Mountain Laurel season and other more hospitable times. Neither one of us was terribly hopeful about finding anything interesting, much less beautiful in the snowless, 30 degree, winter gray, but I am happy to report we were very wrong.
As the day progressed, the temperatures didn't rise much, but the sun was bright. By afternoon, some melting had begun, and the ice in the sun began to crumble noisily as the drips dropped and chunks fell off.
The most interesting ice of the day was the smallest. We didn't even notice it at first. We were hiking down a path, and while looking at the mosses and lichen, noticed some strange formations in the looser soil around us.
I have no idea what these crystal-like formations are formed, but it seems they grew up from the ground. Perhaps something about the water freezing and the ground contracting? If you know anything about it let me know! they we only about one inch long at the most, and often had a stone or pebble at the top of them.
So what we thought would be a mundane day, turned quite magical (I think that happens a lot if you let it!) and I haven't even told you about the deer, the owl, the waterfall, the sunset or the moon.... stay tuned more tomorrow.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !