Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making cuddly pillow to process grief



  Lately, local, national and world events have made me do a lot of
pondering about how we  process grief and help others do the same,
especially children.   It seemed an appropriate time to write up the
pillow project I led in February.

  How to help the after school group of children understand and process
the the grief of losing someone who had been such a consistent
presence in their lives for so long?  That was the challenge when Sam,
director and surrogate grandmother/friend to all of us died in February.
We had told them she entered the hospital and explained it was serious.
They all wrote her sweet cards of love and appreciation with favorite
memories which we took to her. We reported back to the kids how
pleased she was to receive them and how it helped the hospital realize
how much Sam was loved. We didn't encourage get well quick cards.
We then  moved on to letting the kids know that she was not going to
be coming back....like so many other times...and yes was dying.  Then
told them  when she died.  We let them be sad, show emotions, show
grief as they all needed to. My challenge was to help them process in an
additional  way.


  Zina Worley( Z's Fashion and Accessories) had donated lot of  fleece
scraps to the center and I had picked up additional textile materials at
the  Extras  for Creative Reuse Center  in Lynn when I went up
gathering  materials for the First Night workshop. Making large
pillows seemed a  good way to go....lots of soft materials to handle.
Just laying  them all out on the table the day Sam died seemed to help
even the most emotional of  the kids.



  As with most HYCC projects, we did not rush...worked one day a
week (or a bit more sometimes) The  project took about a month -
planning, choosing colors, designing, and hand stitching. It is
informing to see how many kids have never worked with a needle
and thread and which ones have. As they were working, they
continued to talk about Sam and process the loss.


As you can gather from photos the final results varied beautifully.
The only consistency was general size.  I had purchased 20x20
inserts to put inside the pillow covers the kids made...so we had a
basic shape and size to aim for.  I figured an insert was definitely
the way to go. We machine stitched three sides with kids involved
in that as well; then each learned to do a blind stitch to close up the
fourth side.



It was sweet to get reports back from the kids and their
parents after they finished and took the pillows home. A few said
they slept better than in a long time.  In retrospect, I wish we had
extended the project to adults - board members and others who were
processing Sam's loss.  It might have been useful during this difficult
period of transition. Often kids are a lot more resilient than adults.

Next post....back to art and shows.....

Adventure on.   Wendy









Saturday, June 6, 2015

Resurfacing after a long winter and neglect of blog


Last weekend I participated in the Paradise City Arts Festival in
Northampton.  A young woman came by to make sure I was still
alive and well...She'd been  checking my blog and saw it had been
a very long time since I posted -Dec. 2014!!!  I apologized to her
and now to everyone else who has been wondering just where Wendy
was wandering...and in what universe.

I'm happy to relate that I didn't disappear under the 100+ inches of
snow we had in Boston this winter, nor fall to some dreadful disease.
My life just became complicated by an extra job. Sam, the long time
director of Hawthorne Youth and Community Center  where I was
teaching art workshops once a week went into the hospital in January
and died in  early February.  She had led the organization for over 40
years, working  often 80-90 hours a week up to the day she entered
the hospital. Needless to  say the sense of loss to the organization
and community at large was significant.  Processing  loss and grief
on the part of the children and adults was difficult. Someone who
knew the after school children was needed to fill in every afternoon
from 2-6. Since I live only a couple blocks away, I was the logical
choice...especially considering the conditions which prevailed in this
record  breaking Boston winter.  There certainly have been snowy
winters before, but usually the snow melted between storms.

It has been good to be there for kids and adults, but has impacted the
time I've  been able to spend on some  aspects of my art business like
my blog.  For the next few weeks I'm going to try to catch up  on that
front....reflect on some of  my art making, the art of others, and some
of the projects I've done with the after school children.

Now that it is actually warm in Boston,perhaps I can look back with
a smile  at  this winter... and what emerged from under the snow.
I created the traveling  librarian pictured above during the February
blizzard names "Juno" - thus their title "Juno and Julz".  It seemed a
bit like we were living in Alaska. Juno's snout was one of the stones
I picked up in the caves of the Bruce Peninsula - see my blog post
from last September 19


I continued my series of traveling librarians this year and printed up
a small 8"x8" book with images of  them, a couple poems and
description of our daughter and son-in-law's library and literacy
non profit From Words to Wings. I sell the book  on behalf of their
program in Ecuador. ($25 paperback,, $30 hardback).


In February, I participated  in the Baltimore American Craft Council
show.As always I was inspired  by the creativity of exhibitors...
including their creativity of finding ways to actually make it to the
show.   An example of the extraordinary work at the this show is this
sculpture by  Jeffrey Raasch, title "Brick Treehouse". It stretched
my concept of tree houses.
I've been in awe of Jeffrey's work for many years.  Be sure to check
out his website: jefraasch.net to see photos of his spectacular work
and his story.
    One of my favorite puppeteers, Don Becker was also there:
Don was going to participate in the New Orleans Jazz Fest this
spring.  Have to check in with him and hear reports.  I'm sure
his sales were spectacular.
    Sometimes connections are made at shows via folks who see
your work and are sure who else will like it.  That happened for
me this year at Baltimore.  A couple came by and immediately
thought of a friend of theirs who is a dragon collector and gave
me his contact info.  Turns out he has more than 20,000 dragons
in his collection - but only two leather ones.  I said we had to do
something about that....This spring I made him up one of my
Dragon Names books - with now 465 different names of dragons
in it:
Understandably he doesn't have room for my 4 foot or 10 foot dragons,
but has ordered a 12" leather dragon sculpture.  It's still in the hatching
stage.

    I'm continuing to work with children after school until the school
year ends, but don't have any more spring shows so hope to be able
to post on a regular basis...catching up for this year.

   See you back here soon...and thank you for your patience.

   Adventure on.    Wendy
 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Inspiration at shows in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Boston


   Happy Holiday Season everyone.....
Before I'm off to share the holidays with family, I wanted to end the year
highlighting a few of the wonderful artists I encountered at my final two
shows: American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn  and CraftBoston along
with a trip to St. John the Devine cathedral to take in Xu Bing's 100
foot long phoenixes (shown above)

The Brooklyn show (Nov. 22-23) produced by American Art Marketing
at the Brooklyn museum was beautiful. Better attendance than last year.
Attendees were very enthusiastic and it has all the marks of growing
into the awesome show we know it can be.  The quality was excellent
and range of work exciting. This show is part of a new series of  AMA
shows with museum connections. Look for more of the series in 2015.

I really enjoyed talking to Zaliah Zalkin  about his  luminary vessels in
carved alabaster .

The beautiful vessels have a quiet spiritual presence


Infused occasionally with a sense of light humor.  Zaliah said 
he created the vessel below when his wife was pregnant:

Check out Zaliah Zalkin website: zaliahzalkind.com to learn
more about this second generation sculptor and his process.

On the funkier side - Barrie Rust  was there with his
Great Plains handmade musical instruments


What fun a band would be playing these:


One of my favorite artists/sculptors, Reina Mia Brill , was also
there adding funk and fun.. Reina took off a little time to
give birth to and begin the fun/creative challenge of raising
twins.  Now she's back with more energy than ever with an
added cool twist to her work  reflecting her situation as
an enthusiastic and occasionally crazed co-parent:


Valerie Gladstone of Brooklyn Dollworks  was there,too. It is rarer
and rarer to see dollmakers at these shows, so I was  glad to meet
Valerie and see her work.

The figure below was purchased by the same collector with whom
my Canoby, the canoe paddling librarian found a new home. I trust
they will get along famously.


As I mentioned above, I made it over to St. John the Devine to see
Xu Bing's amazing phoenixes after the show.  I missed them at
Mass MOCA....so didn't want to miss them this time.  They will be
there until the end of February...If you haven't had a chance to
experience them and learn the story behind their creation,
try to manage a trip to the upper West side of Manhattan. It's
definitely worth it!  The use of recycled materials from the Chinese
construction site is  masterful....look closely:

and the setting is spectacular:

If you can't make it to the cathedral, here is a link to a good video piece
on the story behind the phoenixes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu4sD4c6yXA

Finally - a couple mentions of artists at CraftBoston, Dec. 4-7.
Best of show went to Sang Joon Park.  His work is
exquisite, I appreciate  his recognition of the bowl as art.


His design approach to his beautiful place settings is strong, simple yet
complicated.



Finally - artist choice went to contemporary metal worker
Michael Rossi.

We especially loved his airplane shapes:

Happy Holiday to all. May yours be filled with warmth, music,
good food, friends, family and story and the new year be filled
with wondrous adventure!

Hope to see you down the road.....2015 is looking like a busy year
of shows for me beginning with Arisia 2015 Jan. 16-19 and the
American Craft Council show in Baltimore Feb. 18-22.

Adventure on!        Wendy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Traveling librarians -process and completion


As mentioned in previous blog posts.. Inspired by the program
From Words to Wings which our daughter and her husband founded
in Ecuador, I've been making a series of traveling librarians...even
tried my hand at a little poetry to accompany them. 


          Traveling librarians

Some children cuddle at home
To share a book, hear a story
Some children walk down the street                                             
To find a book, hear a story
Some children go in a car or bus
To search for a book, hear a story
Some children go online 
To discover a book, read a story
Some children turn on the tele
To see a book, hear a story

Some children dream and wait
For the traveling librarians
     Who come by jeep
     Who come on horseback
     Who come by canoe
     Who come by skiff
     Who come on dragon’s back
      Who bring books
      And stories 
      And  wings


It's fun to see them emerge in the studio...
Here are some process photos:

A dragon librarian...basic armature:

 

A little further along...polyester and thread
around wire..and designing spokes.


Muslin hand stitched over stuffing....
(small creature in front ended up a winged dragon
named Majestis) 
 

Next leather....






Patina added to leather....and rawhide wet-formed
spokes (and books) added:



Completed Pageante and Roland




Head of another creature...which I thought was going to 
be a dragon...but she had something else in mind



Beaded leggings were definitely requested.



And a basket just perfect to fit between legs and hold mini books..
including a mini dragon book, of course


As I said, thie creature had her own ideas.. These rawhide wings
seemed much more appropriate than dragon wings... and 
Skreeraugh (aka Peggy) came to life..


But it is not just creatures that can bring books...Remember
that wood from the old dock in my last blog post?

 

As I thought it might...it became a skiff with library on
board..



Loofe, the librarian enjoys taking a break to read one
of his books...




Other Star Wandererers prefer to arrive by canoe:




Canoby enjoys paddling  along with books in tow




Next destination for the librarians is the Brooklyn Museum....where
I'll be participating in the American Fine Craft Show, Brooklyn
Nov. 22-23.

There was a fun article by Jenifer Eberhart  on the show  which
appeared  last week with responses by myself and four other 
sculptors to various process and life questions at examiner.com:

All my figures  are looking forward  to greeting folks in
Brooklyn....and sharing the booth - #49  with a new species of mini
creatures called  Taradiddles...(more about  them in a future
post.)

Hope to see some of you at the Brooklyn Museum!

Adventure on!   Wendy