Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ICONIC: work in progress, and a show!

These days the term of highest praise is iconic.  Something (or someone) that is the latest, hippest, purest exemplar of its type is iconic.  The online Urban Dictionary offers this:
Similar to "classic," iconic is generally restricted to more recent, highly original, influential, or unique, works of art, artists, or performers. As such they are now well-established and widely celebrated in popular culture.
"Oedipus Rex" is a classic, but the original "Planet of the Apes" is truly iconic.
Unfortunately, like every over-used word, it will soon cease to mean anything.   Epic, anyone? Awesome

Overused or not, ICONIC is the working title of my 2018 show of tapestries.  Save the date:  the opening will be Sunday, February 25, 2018.  The show will run February 15-March 13 at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) in Atlanta. 

Lest it sound presumptuous to describe my own work as iconic, let me explain.  I've been obsessed for the past few years with a particular icon, the one pictured below, of Mary the mother of Jesus.  This is an icon in the original sense, a painting of a religious figure intended to enhance prayer and spiritual devotion.  For me, this image has sparked a whole series of tapestries exploring the meaning and influence of the mythic figure of Mary. 

Mary, detail of 6th c. encaustic icon at Sta. Maria della Francesca church, Rome
I am nearing the completion of this series now, having begun the seventh and final piece recently.  Here's my progress so far on Mary (yes).

Molly Elkind, Mary (Yes), handwoven tapestry in progress, (c) 2017
And recently I cut off the loom my largest, and most personal, piece in the series, called Mary (the anxiety of influence).   

Molly Elkind, Mary (the anxiety of influence), handwoven tapestry, (c) 2017
You can see photos and read about some of the other pieces in the series here and here.

Related to this series is another series I'm working on, loosely based on medieval illuminated manuscripts.  These texts were packed with meaning for their original readers, serving as prayer books.  Nowadays most of us cannot read the text, and we appreciate them purely for their decorative qualities, and perhaps for the insight they offer into a different world and time.

I find these manuscripts fascinating for the layout of the pages--those margins, either empty or packed with intricate decoration!  That profusion of pattern!  That beautifully lettered text, which contains some kind of sacred meaning, out of reach for most of us today.  The way the patterns, pictures and words are interwoven into one unified surface fascinates me.   

In my tapestry series I am experimenting with compositions that explore margins and centers, and with combinations of text, or text-like patterns, and abstract imagery.  Red Letter Day is part of this series.  I am starting a companion piece, tentatively titled Red Letter Night--it will have a dark background.

Molly Elkind, Red Letter Day, handwoven tapestry, (c) 2016

Here's a peek at the collage and some sampling I've done for Red Letter Night

And I have several small pieces in the series as well.  Here's one:

Molly Elkind, Huh?, handwoven tapestry (c) 2016

An icon provides an occasion and the means for contemplation, for meditation, a chance to forget oneself and one's daily life for a few moments and enter another deeper or higher reality. . . . Rather like what we have come to expect artwork to offer us.

What is iconic for you?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fierce Fibers exhibit in Marietta, Georgia

I am pleased to be included in a juried show that opened last night at The Art Place in Marietta, Georgia.  The work of nine local fiber artists in on view, and the show offers a snapshot of the variety of work being done in fibers today, ranging from weaving to art quilts to fabric collage, silk painting, and freeform embroidery.

Here are just a few of the pieces that caught my eye.  I urge you to go see the show yourself and see all the work. The show is up through September 28.

Left to right:  artists and organizers:
Sharon Ahmed, Rebecca Reasons Edwards, Virginia Greaves, Leo Edwards,
Molly Elkind, Danielle Morgan, Devon Pfeif.
We are posed in front of Rebecca and Leo's piece Let Hope Rise.
Not pictured:  artists Deb Lacativa, Sandy Teepen, and Hellenne Vermillion
Top:  Molly Elkind, WTF and Huh? tapestries
Bottom:  Danielle Morgain, Into the Light Again, mixed media quilt

Deb Lacativa, Rever 1-4, mixed media fabric collage.
Deb's assemblage heavily embroidered and quilted fragments had me itching to resume my meditative stitching practice. 

Devon Pfeif, Lily Pond, quilt

detail, Devon Pfeif, Lily Pond.
I enjoyed the precision and dimensional elements in Devon's quilt.
The bird and the leaves are fussy-cut and stand out from the surface. 

Sharon Ahmed, Magic (top) and Frog on Lily Pad, embroidery

Virginia Greaves, Minerva, quilt

Virginia Greaves, Minerva, quilt.
I enjoyed Virginia''s choice of fabrics--at a distance they blend to create realistic depth
 and up close you see the witty prints and wild colors.