Hello everyone! I hail from southwestern Illinois about 22 miles from downtown St. Louis. I’m privileged to curate and participate in a show for Innovations 2011, a biennial textile event organized by Craft Alliance and a host of volunteers in St. Louis. See Katherine Sands post on July 25 for a schedule of events or visit the Innovations blog. I’d like to tell you a bit about my show in this first article, but let me warn you in advance that I’m genetically incapable of telling a short story! The show is Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing which opens at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois on August 26 with a reception from 5-8 pm. It runs through October 2. Jacoby Center is also on the October 1 bus tour for Innovations.
Of all the Innovations exhibits I’ve seen in the past, I’d not come across one that involved teachers and students working in collaboration. As a former teacher with a number of students who have become artists themselves, an idea about how I could be involved with Innovations 2011 began to germinate. My initial idea was modest, but grew to include 5 other artists.
All of the other participants—Erin Cork, Nina Ganci, Jo Stealey, Laura Strand, and Erin Vigneau Dimick—are connected to me or each other by a teacher/mentor/student bond. We began meeting as a group in December 2010.
|The 6 of us at the swap meet with Erin Cork on Skype. I'm in purple, center.|
In January, we each brought a minimum of seven items to a swap meet—trading raw materials, found objects, dyed and woven fabrics, paper and old experiments from our individual studios. We took turns selecting items and then took up the challenge to integrate these shared materials into our own work. Akin to sowing seeds of inspiration, this collective conversation has deepened our bond, taken us out of our comfort zones and expanded how we work conceptually, materially and how we think about our work. It is without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever taken on as an artist.
|A detail of a work in progress from each of us was used for the showcard.|
I’d like to introduce you to my partners in this collaboration. I first related my idea to Erin Cork and Nina Ganci. Nina founded and owns SKIF International, a fashion company that specializes in avant-garde machine knitted sweaters, and hand printed and painted clothing that is sold in over 250 boutiques nationwide, and in Canada and Australia. Her unique sweaters and clothing lines can be purchased at wholesale prices in her factory/showroom on Marconi Street (which served as our monthly meeting place for the collaboration). It’s located on “The Hill” the quintessential Italian neighborhood in south St. Louis.
|Skif International is a riot of colors and a jumble of merchandise.|
A 2009 recipient of one of St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women Awards, Nina is an artist and a savvy CEO in this cutthroat and depressed economy we are experiencing. She was also my student for four years at Notre Dame High School in St. Louis where I taught from 1981-2000. As a young artist I could tell she marched to the beat of different drummer. I presented her with the art award the year she graduated. I called Nina one afternoon last summer and without a moment’s hesitation she accepted my invitation to participate in the collaboration. SKIF fashion has been featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and various fashion magazines. She exhibited at the Sheldon Galleries for Innovations in 2007.
This past Saturday I attend the wedding of Erin Cork. I met Erin in 2006 while she was in grad school. She came to my home studio to learn about organic printing. Her graduate professor, Laura Strand, head of textiles at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville had asked if I’d be willing to share my organic printing methods with Erin. We quickly bonded and worked together for 2 years experimenting with composted and solar dyed fabrics with natural materials. Although it wasn’t a formal arrangement I certainly considered Erin my student and I have treasured the friendship she has offered in return.
|2010 felt piece by Erin Cork exhibited at By Design in Alton|
She too accepted my invitation last summer with enthusiasm and then promptly moved to Virginia! Suffice it to say, this year has been a busy one for her. Teaching; commuting home occasionally for wedding planning; making her own wedding dress which is embellished with hand crocheted and beaded elements; AND working on three complex pieces involving felt for the collaboration in addition to squeezing in meetings with our group—sometimes in person, sometimes on SKYPE—would be enough to send anyone over the edge. But Erin has handled it all with aplomb. She was a radiant bride! Erin’s work with tongue in cheek crochet installations of domesticated doilies and felt have been exhibited widely in the area including two exhibits for Innovations in 2009.
With Erin and Nina on board I went in search of a gallery and realized I would need to expand the group because I had the opportunity of procuring Jacoby which is a very large space. I turned to Laura Strand and Erin Vigneau Dimick. Laura, who had been my professor too at SIUE for surface design and served on my thesis committee in 2003, has continued to be a wonderful mentor and friend to me. Her work with digital jacquard weaving is astounding.
|Sustenance, a 2005 weaving by Laura Strand|
She has just returned from North Carolina with several new weavings that I’m anxious to see. Laura does hand weaving too. In fact one of her collaborative pieces for the upcoming show involves the use of one of my rusted silks sliced into narrow strips and hand-woven on a linen warp. In 2009 a breathtaking solo exhibit of her woven waterscapes and aerial landscapes filled Jacoby Arts Center for Innovations. (Sorry no images of that) In addition to collaborating with me, Laura is also curating the SIUE Textile Arts Alumni Exhibition at the Edwardsville Art Center August 19-October 7.
Erin Vigneau Dimick, who teaches book arts under the umbrella of textiles at SIUE, was also a teacher to Erin Cork in grad school; and when she moved here from Pennsylvania several years ago she found a friend and mentor in Laura Strand. Erin’s experience encompasses photography and book conservation as well as fiber installations involving embroidered text. She also makes wearables.
|Work in progress for collaboration by Erin Vigneau Dimick|
In 2010 she was an Artist in Residence at Craft Alliance Grand Center in St. Louis culminating in a beautiful body of work about young womanhood, motherly advice and her Catholic upbringing. (click on Erin's link to Craft Alliance for a slide show of that work) Erin’s work will also be featured in Textile Variations/New Directions curated by Barbara Simon at the RAC Gallery (Regional Arts Commission) for Innovations, opening September 16 through November 6. Laura Strand is also in that show.
And finally, I invited Jo Stealey to complete the circle of teachers and students. Jo is head of the fiber program at the University of Missouri Columbia and was Erin Cork’s undergraduate professor. An incredibly prolific artist, Jo integrates paper, fiber, basketry and sculptural elements in her work making two and three dimensional works from books to large scale installations. Much of her work is inspired by nature with recent work being constructed of actual leaves.
|Jo Stealey, Forest from 2009 Innovations exhibit at the Sheldon|
In addition to her work at the university, Jo exhibits, lectures and teaches workshops around the country and internationally. In addition to Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing, Jo’s work will also be featured at the RAC Gallery show for Innovations. She spoke at the SDA conference in June, recently taught a workshop at Arrowmont and after her son marries in August, she is off to Poland to lecture at a conference on basketry. Whew!
As for myself, I was a high school art teacher for 25 years, and then earned an MFA in traditional printmaking. While in grad school I began a transition into organic printing on fabric using natural materials to compost and solar dye silk, occasionally using rust. I taught for a couple years at the college level after graduation and now work out of my home studio producing large scale organically printed and shibori rusted wall hangings and wearables using rust and plant based materials.
|Pond Ripples, 2010 Pat Vivod. Shibori rust. Not a collaboration, but will be shown at Jacoby.|
I have exhibited regionally and nationally. I was not involved in Innovations 2009, but was featured in two Innovations exhibits at Main Street Gallery in Edwardsville prior to that. This year my work was also juried into Fiber Focus at Art Saint Louis which opens September 16. You can see my work at Sentimental Pentimento.
|Garden Kingdom 2011 Pat Vivod for Fiber Focus show|
Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing will feature several collaborative works each from the six of us. At least three of us will also show a number of pieces from our personal body of work. Several members of the group will be at the opening reception, August 26. On Sunday, September 25, 2 pm there will be a gallery talk at Jacoby Arts Center. I and a couple of the artists will also be at the gallery on October 1 for the bus tour. Hope you can see the show sometime during its run.
(I have absolutely no idea why the sentences in the above paragraph are spaced as they are. I can't seem to do anything about it. Depends on which browser you have apparently.)
This is a detail of one of my works in progress. You can see it in an earlier state in the showcard above. Actually I forgot which way was up and photographed this from the top. It is a strip of one of Laura's test weavings for her Innovations show in 2009--a waterscape with lots of blue in it. I have flipped it over to the backside (what a difference in color!), turned it to work vertically, backed it with felt and stitched around all the shapes I could distinguish. They look like islands to me. Using my needle felting machine I have flattened all the "ocean" areas around the islands which nicely puffed up everything else. I further enhanced the effect with trapunto using wool I acquired from Erin Cork. This piece will form the center between two pieces of quilted shibori rusted silk when it is finished. Frankly folks, I should be working on it right now!