Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Report from Convergence 2: some juried shows

 If you've been to Convergence, you know that it is a feast for the eyes and the soul.  So much to see!  Do!  Learn!  People to meet!  It's wonderful and a tad overwhelming.  Adjacent meetings and exhibits of the American Tapestry Alliance, Complex Weavers and other groups before and after Handweavers Guild of America's Convergence add to the mix.  

In my last post, I shared the experimental small-format work of ATA's unjuried show Tiny but Mighty.  Today I'd like to share some of the standout work in some juried shows I saw in Knoxville.  I did not get to all juried shows, and my biggest disappointment is that I was unable to make it out to Maryville, TN to see the exhibit of tapestry by master weavers Jennifer Sargent, Tommye Scanlin and Pat Williams.  I heard it was fabulous.  

Sharing space with Tiny but Mighty at the Emporium Gallery was work by Complex Weavers.  These artists often work on 8 shafts or more, sometimes utilizing Jacquard looms, and also explore innovative materials and relief and 3-D effects.  The work that stood out for me often incorporated transparency, wire, and three dimensions in multiple layers.  It was dazzling and had me wondering for a brief, crazy moment if I should revisit shaft weaving.  Weavers know that it takes considerable time, effort and practice simply to master the basics of weaving traditional structures.  This work continues the modern tradition, going on 60 years now, of weaving with unusual materials in ways that explore the limits of woven structures to make a personal statement.

From Complex Weavers exhibit; Morphology I by Melanie Olde, 13.8 x 17.7 x 2.4", 
130 denier nylon monofilament; hand-dyed thread, handwoven, multi-layered, 24 shafts 

 Cascade, by Darilyn Bennett, 12.5 x 12 x 2", 24-gauge craft wire, handwoven 2/2 twill, ondulé with fan reed raised and lowered incrementally, 20 increments/contour, 4 shafts.  
Winner of Heddlecraft's More with Less Award.

detail, Cascade by Darilyn Bennett

Self Reflection in the Time of Covid by Molly McLaughlin.  36 x 24 x 2", various metallic threads, 40 gauge stainless steel wire.  Theo Moorman technique variation allowing slightly open weave in both warp and weft.  4 shafts.  

detail, Molly McLaughlin, Self Reflection in the Time of Covid

Robin Haller, Internal Combustion.  33 x 40 x .5", 10/2 cotton, 10/2 rayon.  
Handwoven, TC2 hand-jacquard loom

detail, Robin Haller, Internal Combustion

Su Butler, Tribute to Wm. Morris, 33 x 17.5 x 1/8", 16/2 cotton, silk/wool, linen. 
Handwoven Brocatelle, hand-painting, 50-shaft drawloom, 300 single units. 
Third Place Winner, Complex Weavers 

detail, Su Butler, Tribute to Wm. Morris

Two doors down from the Emporium was the UT Downtown gallery hosting HGA's juried Small Expressions show, for work in any fiber technique and smaller than 15" in any dimension.  This is an annual exhibit that travels for two years.  If you do small-format work, I urge you to enter!  For me, these pieces stood out.     

Al Canner, Hexapod, 15 x 15 x 4"; cotton, hemp and rayon cord, glass beads.  Knotting (macrame). 

Lydia Hall, Liminal Dwelling no. 2, 10 x 9 x 3"; steel wire.  

Rebecca Smith, Transformation.  12 x 8 x 5"; cotton, wool, mixed fibers,
coated copper wire, Japanese seed beads. 

Marcia Weiss, Intersection 1, 15 x 15 x 1"; linen, cotton; double-cloth warp ikat.

Ellen Ramsey, Seismic Shift (Tipping Point), 8 x 9"; wool, rayon, cotton and linen; handwoven tapestry

Kady Ambrose, Receipt Paper Basket, 13 x 7 x 9"; receipt paper, rattan, oak rim;
stake and strand basketry

With two notable exceptions, work in neutral tones seemed freshly eloquent to me.  Work that pushes into relief or three dimensions, work that recalls the forms and techniques of basketry but pushes beyond into sculpture, spoke with a strong presence. Ellen Ramsey's flat tapestry, Seismic Shift (Tipping Point), adopted a non-rectangular format that reinforced her concept.  Each of these works employed simple materials to make a strong, straightforward statement.  I will be pondering these thoughts as I move forward in my own work.  

My next report from Convergence will look at work in HGA's juried basketry exhibits from 2020 and 2022, the Leaders and Interns exhibit of 2022 Convergence instructors, and a few snaps from classes I taught and took.  


Monday, July 18, 2022

Report from Convergence

Greetings, everyone, from Knoxville, Tennessee, where the Handweavers Guild of America, American Tapestry Alliance, Complex Weavers and others are gathered for a confab four years in the making.  It's been so great to see old friends and to meet in real life folks I have only known online or through their books or work in exhibits.  What a treat!  I was so happy to finally teach the three classes I'd been developing for so long, to such excited and creative weavers.  

And the work I'm seeing in exhibits has been hugely inspiring and thought-provoking.  I want to share here some of what struck me.  I haven't seen all the exhibits yet so there may be another post like this to follow.  

I high-tailed it as soon as I arrived to see the ATA Unjuried Small Format Show Tiny but Mighty at the Emporium Gallery.  ATA member weavers were urged this year to really break out of the box and try some non-traditional approaches to tapestry, within the limits of 10" height or width and 2" depth.  Here's some of what I saw:

Louise Abbott, Fabulous Flying Fungi

Work on a grid theme by members of Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound (TAPS):
Clockwise from top left:  Suzanne Hubbard, Julia Rapinoe, Liz Pulos, Margo MacDonald.  
Work on the Tempo theme by some members of High Desert Tapestry Alliance, clockwise from top left:  Nancy Wohlenberg,  Janice Peters, Cindy Dworzak,  Carol Seeds, and Heather Gallegos-Rex. 

Linda Gormley, Lemon Macaron
Liz Pulos, Smoke
Terry Olson, Still Life
Felicitas Sloves, Crossroad Blues
Kati Paaki, Señor Paco
Vicki Aspenberg, Just for Fun

Sue Weil, Oh yeah!
Holly Wilkes, Let the Colors Go Where They May
Susan Iverson, Flutter
Fannie Lee, "I" Matter

Above, left to right, more work from TAPS:  Cecilia Blomberg, Ellen Ramsey (top center), 
Joyce Hayes (bottom center), Mary Lane. 

Work on a grid theme by, clockwise from top left:  Nicki Bair, Sweet Sixteen; Merna Strauch, Rothko Squared; Karen Leckart; Multiples Slanted; and Carolee Howes,  the power of multiples (look up).

I continue to be inspired by the restless creativity and willingness to color outside the lines that I see in my fellow weavers, whether they are working in tapestry, basketry, mixed media or woven yardage.  The conference is a feast for the eyes, the hands and the mind.  Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Gosh, is it just me or did life get busy all of a sudden?

I've been kind of quiet on social media for awhile until just the other day--but I'm still here, plugging away in the studio and at the laptop.  Read on a for a recap of recent weavings, new workshop dates added to the schedule, and preparations for the Big Mama of fiber conferences, Convergence

I did a little poll on Instagram and Facebook asking folks which arrangement of this 3-part piece worked best.  You've seen it in progress on the loom, and since then I've been dithering about whether to stick with the original layout, with the panels hung separately and offset from each other: 

Molly Elkind, Faraway Nearby, (c) 2022.  Cotton warp, wool, linen, metallic, kudzu wefts.  

Or this one, suggested by my good friend and talented fiberist Julia Stephens, which has more of a collaged feel.  The plan here would be to weave a small inset piece that looks like that yarn wrap in the center top.  

Molly Elkind, alternate view 1, Faraway Nearby, (c) 2022.  
Cotton warp, wool, linen, metallic, kudzu wefts.

A few people suggested this arrangement, which I had tried before and discarded.  But this time around I'm liking it a lot better.  

Molly Elkind, alternate view 2, Faraway Nearby, (c) 2022.  
Cotton warp, wool, linen, metallic, kudzu wefts.

(Please excuse the amateur photos--works in progress!)

The popular vote at first was to stick with the more traditional arrangement, the first one, but lately the third one, just above, is gaining traction.  It's been great to hear everyone's readings of the piece and I'm grateful (though still dithering a bit).  If you have an opinion, please chime in by commenting below!  

Speaking of helpful feedback, my small feedback groups have been going great.  There are three groups of 4 to 6 weavers meeting now on Zoom, once a month, to share their work and get and give feedback.  We also discuss a tapestry or art-biz topic every month, and I throw out a suggestion for experimenting and expanding skills each time as well.   (This is optional, not homework.)  There's one opening in the Monday group; comment below if you want to know more.  

I've also been doing a few more small pieces in the SkyGrass series.  I will be taking these to Convergence as well as some other small work to sell on Saturday night 7:00-7:50 pm.  It was a lot of fun to use Japanese ramie bark yarn from Weaverhouse to embroider a blue grama grass seed-head on the first of these.  Definitely planning to do more experimentation with stitching and weird fibers.  

Molly Elkind, untitled, (c) 2022.  5" x 5"  
Cotton warp, wool weft, ramie stitching

Molly Elkind, untitled, (c) 2022.  5" x 5"  
Cotton warp, Churro wool weft, linen and metallic stitching

Molly Elkind, untitled, (c) 2022.  5" x 5"  
Cotton warp, wool weft, linen, wool and metallic stitching

As you might guess, these are all inspired by the little gold/taupe seed-heads of the native blue grama grass.  The middle one incorporates hand-dyed indigo Churro yarn from the good folks at Tierra Wools.  

At Convergence next week, I'm teaching three times.  On Friday, July 15, I'm doing a full-day class, Weave a Minime, which is full.  On Saturday morning, July 16, I'm offering a 3-hour seminar, Your Tapestry Superpower:  Sampling--all about the various kinds of sampling you can do before sitting down at the loom to make for a less frustrating and more time-efficient tapestry weaving experience.  No loom required for this class.  And in the afternoon on Saturday, I'll present The Contemporary Tapestry Scene:  Trends & Traditions.  This is a 90-minute slide show surveying the field of contemporary woven art.  There's plenty of room in the Sampling class and in the slide talk.   Register here.  

I'm thrilled to report that the remainder of 2022 and 2023 are shaping up to include quite a bit of both in-person and virtual teaching.  You can see my entire teaching schedule here, but here's a quick rundown of recently added opportunities: 

August 20, 2022:  Zoom lecture for Weavers' Guild of St. LouisFinding my Voice in Fiber

October 1, 8, and 9, 2022:  Zoom class sessions for Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) on Building a Color Palette.  This class offers practical advice (minimal color theory) on selecting a palette for your fiber piece that supports your  intentions, whether it's tapestry or another fiber art medium.  A feedback session will be included in the three session/six hour workshop.  

Nov. 5, 10 and 12, 2022:  Zoom workshop for MidAtlantic Fiber Arts Alliance (MAFA).  This is a brand-new workshop entitled Weaving Landscape in Tapestry.  I'll present a number of approaches to responding to those special places in our lives with woven tapestry.  Six hours spread over three sessions, including feedback.  

July 20-23, 2023:  In-person workshops at New England Weavers Seminar (NEWS), in Worcester, MA.  I'll be offering Collage to Cartoon . . . and Beyond! and Collage:  Design Tool and Art Form.  

You can read more about each of these classes on my website's Workshops page--click on the blue-highlighted titles there to open a PDF with all the details about each workshop.  

It hasn't been all work/no play.  Sam and I spent a wonderful week kayaking and whale-watching in Puget Sound in June.  Thanks to fellow tour members for these photos.   

I hope you get a chance to do meaningful work, connect with your tribe, and get outside and play this summer.  Join me here next month for a full report from Convergence.