Feathers

I’m not sure whether I’m just noticing this more, or if it is an actual new phenomenon, but I seem to be finding a lot more feathers than I used to. I have the feeling it is less a matter of there actually being more feathers than of me being more aware of them when I pass by. I’ve started collecting a lot of the ones I find, although I know that there are some potential legal issues with owning parts from certain protected species of birds. I do have a permit that allows me to own eagle feathers, although the ones I own were obtained through legal channels as opposed to finding them on the ground.

(The whole permit for feathers thing is rather interesting anyhow. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor titled, “What Makes a Native American Tribe?” said: “So Sisk-Franco is no more eligible for an eagle-feather religious permit than a white Protestant, nor is her tribe eligible for other legal provisions meant to protect Indian cultures.”)

With a series of four mixed-media paintings I did recently, I incorporated a “feather” into each one. I use quotation marks because instead of using real feathers, I chose to scan and print out versions of feathers. The image above is the one I used. I was actually pretty happy with the results, but did find it interesting that I have had feedback from some people saying that they thought it would be better with a real feather. I’m still fine with the “simulated” feather. Not because it may be more archival, but because I think that it’s inclusion is more about it being a symbol in these works than about the bird the feather came from. Amusingly, I forgot that these pieces are hanging right next to me as I write this, and I just glanced up and saw them. I feel good about them.

But as for all of these other feathers I keep collecting, it will be interesting to see where they end up…

Handcrafted Diploma?

It’s always amusing how cleaning/organizing can lead me to make something new. Today I was sorting through a stack of papers and came across a couple of sealed official transcripts from Cornish. Unbeknownst to me, our cat had yakked all over the corners of both envelopes. I ripped them up and threw them in the trash.

Then I started thinking about them, and what they mean, the numbers, the scores, the significance of what those documents contribute towards who I am. I decided to fish them out of the garbage and save them for a potential project. Later today, when I was doing some gluing and then had some time and a spare panel, I started working on this. I’m going to have to step away from it for a bit and see how I feel about it. I’m kind of thinking of it as my personal version of my college diploma. It would be sort of fun to hang them both together?

It incorporated portions of the official torn transcript with acrylic paint and graphite. I also used stencils from spring of 2010 when I was at Crow’s Shadow the first time that year. I always save them, and these cutout triangles with the dried ink on them were perfect. The paper I used for the stencils was already red, and the inks on them were mostly red, black, and gray. It seems like it may be a little busy, however I seem to think that of most of my things lately. Until I go back and look at them, that is.

In progress: Robohontas (mixed media)

Well, I did manage to get some work done today that I’ve been meaning to get to. In the same vein as my recent (still unfinished) Pocahontas pieces, I thought it would be cool to do one using Robohontas. This particular photograph of her seems so iconic to me that I thought it would be perfect to use. I also decided to try and do a different way of cutting and reassembling the triangles so that they all come to a point at the center. The above picture gives a sense of my process here.

As with the other ones, I’m cutting a single image up and using it to create two similar, but separate works. Both of the images were printed using archival Canon inks on 100% cotton paper. Gotta try and stay archival, I guess.

Here’s where they’re at now. The edges that you can’t see are black. The light was reflecting off the gold paint, I’m sure these won’t be fun to try and photograph later on. Going to have to step away from them for a bit and decide what the next step is. I’ve got ideas, but not entirely set on the direction. Same with the “Pocahontas” ones I’ve shown earlier. I really like them, and am leaning towards using what I intended for them on these ones intstead. Will post photos upon completion…

Saturday in Tacoma: “Dale Chihuly’s Northwest”

Bryn agreed to go with me to check out the Chihuly exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum that I’ve been wanting to see. First, however, we went to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium since we were going to be down in that area (and we really like animals). Got to see one of the polar bears swimming up close, the arctic foxes, red wolves, and walruses. I love owls and they had several, although my favorite was the Pygmy Owl (above) who we couldn’t see at first, and then discovered at the top of his exhibit, looking down at us. I also think seahorses are really cool and was looking at one of them and happened to think that maybe he was going to the bathroom. Then I realized that it was actually a little teeny-tiny seahorse! He was having babies! And there were a bunch of them, but they looked like little specks! Anyhow, we finally had enough of viewing animals and headed for lunch and our next destination:

Dale Chihuly’s Northwest! Above is the official image that Tacoma Art Museum has been using to advertise the show. It was compelling enough that it got me. I really liked the juxtaposition of Native baskets, blankets that are associated with Natives (but made by whites), and a “basket” inspired by blankets made by a white artist. There’s definitely a story happening here. But how was the exhibit? Well, let me start by saying that I had never been to the Tacoma Art Museum. If the show had been bad, or I was expecting a long day of looking at art, I would have been disappointed. The building is nice enough, very contemporary, and the art on display was fine. But it is a rather small museum.

However, I was not disappointed. There was an initial gallery of Chihuly work that had been gifted to the museum by himself and others. The work was interesting and okay. But once we wandered through the other two galleries and got to the final section where the exhibit I’d wanted to see was, I was much more impressed. I tried taking a picture or two, but they didn’t do it justice. Below is an image from Chihuly’s website showing the huge wall of Pendleton trade blankets along with one (of the two) large wooden slab tables with glass that were in the center of the gallery. There is also a view I found on a random site that shows the opposite wall that was covered with framed Edward S. Curtis photogravures, and the structure (there was another on the opposite side of the room) with wooden shelves filled with Native basketry and Chihuly glass.

I loved being in that room. If Bryn hadn’t been with me, I probably would have lingered (as well as nerded out upstairs in the Art Resource Center–art books!). I even made a purchase in the gift shop. For eighty-two cents, I walked out with a postcard featuring a photo of the “Indian Room” in Chihuly’s Boathouse residence/studio in Seattle. And I was struck by the many similarities between how the exhibit was staged and the image of the room. If there had been a book or brochure about the exhibition, I would have bought it. But the postcard was a great, and much cheaper, way to remember. I found a slightly different, although similar view of the “Indian Room” on the Seattle Yacht Club’s site (below).

Ultimately, I’m really glad I went. It was a nice day and I have a newfound appreciation for Chihuly’s earlier glass art. If I could live in that gallery, I would! It was that great of a space. Plus I got to see owls. What’s not to like?

Chihuly in the Northwest

Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork is EVERYWHERE in the Puget Sound region. There is, of course, the Museum of Glass in his hometown of Tacoma. I can think of several places in Seattle that have his work on display. And then there is this large piece hanging in Bellevue at Lincoln Square. I’m rather mixed personally on his artwork. I know that it is generally produced by other people at his direction, and I’m not a huge fan of the pieces like the one above.

I’ve heard several anecdotes about him through my attendance at Pilchuck Glass School, which he helped found, and other associations in the art world. A guest speaker for a lighting design class in school had previously worked for him and said that no matter what one thinks of his art, it is fun to work with as a lighting designer.

He does have a large personal collection of Native art and artifacts. I’ve decided that I need to go check out the exhibit, Dale Chihuly’s Northwest, at the Tacoma Art Museum this weekend. I’m intrigued by his cylinders and soft cylinders, of which I haven’t seen many. It isn’t unusual to see Native artists (Preston Singletary, Joe Fedderson) make basket forms from glass so I’m curious to see what Chihuly came up with and how he was influenced by Native trade blankets.