I recently completed a two-week art residency that was sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council’s Artful Aging Ohio program that is “committed to enhancing the quality of life for seniors through meaningful experiences in the arts”.
I was based at the Granville Senior Center in Granville, Ohio, but also taught in two assisted living centers. Below is a gallery of photos from the residency and some quotes from my students. I enjoyed getting to know them all and I enjoyed providing them with an art experience that they found meaningful and different than the activities they normally encounter.
“You don’t know what it will be or what it will look like—just start making something!” –Don
“You don’t even know how much I’ve enjoyed this. And I’m shocked to have enjoyed it so much.” –Beulah
“This was different than anything they would have done with us here.” –Millie
“I enjoyed you doing this. It was great to have you here to do this.” –Lois
I just finished a week sharing my art and my process with the children at Patchwork Central, where most of the time the children see me as the Co-Director and camera lady.
It was fun to share my sculpture with them, and it was very fun to see the art that they created. It was also great to work again with my friend and fellow artist Jane Case Vickers. I started my career in community art almost 18 years ago by teaching art as Jane’s assistant in Patchwork’s Arts & Smarts Children’s Program.
I was very glad to get to teach with Jane again–I think she’s a great artist and a great teacher. We’ve always been attracted to similar materials and have similar artistic inspirations. We’ve done several projects and exhibits together.
One of these collaborative projects was called “Earthen Vessels”. We each created a series of female figures that explored the human form as a container for emotions and experiences. Each figure expressed an individual emotion or memory using found fabrics and found objects that we felt were symbolic of the theme.
The images above show my work paired with Jane’s. The first shows Jane’s depiction of Guilt (titled “Guilt: She’s Got a Belly Full of Walnuts”) and my depiction of Love. The second shows my depiction of Loss and Jane’s depiction of Healing. They range from 64″ tall to 40″ tall.
When we took these photos, we intentionally paired a more positive emotion with a more negative one to highlight the interaction between the two.
I have a couple art bundles hanging in my magnolia now. Here’s the second one after it’s had a little time to weather. I have seeds planted inside. Also inside are the remains of a planter lining and some fabric. I’m not sure what will happen, but I’m hoping for growth–even if it’s just the growth of mold.
As part of our show in Jasper, Jane and I led a workshop for a group of local high schoolers. We talked about our art some and they looked at the show. Then we went to the workspace downstairs and made some art.
We all constructed bundles of objects with the thought that they would be hung from a tree outside to weather. It was an idea that Jane and I had tried out earlier. I thought the kids came up with some great ideas and interesting construction techniques. In a way, we were manufacturing the kinds of objects that Jane and I collect from the street and other interesting places.
We provided a lot of odds and ends–fabric, paper, markers, thread, yarn, feathers, old toys, bolts, washers, pop cans, magazines, old Starbucks gift cards–even a Girl Scout cookie. They were asked to bring some object that they found around where they lived, and some did.
Above is one: a bundle of bundles. There was also one that made wings out of the Starbucks cards so it would spin. Several others got innovative with markers. Some even pulled the felt out of the inside of the markers and hid them at the center of their bundles with the thought that in the rain, the dye would seep out.
The teachers said they’d hang the art up outdoors at the school. I hope they did and that Jane and I can see it when we go back to take the show down.
Here’s a piece that will be part of my upcoming art show. I thought I’d call it Five Things I Want to Remember. It’s made with fabric trim that was given to me in a giant container of cast off odds and ends, wooden spools of thread that came in other big bins of cast offs, beads, and gold leaf.
A couple years ago, I got a whole bunch of gold leaf as part of yet another big box of cast off art supplies. I’ve enjoyed incorporating the gold into my found object art since then. I like the visual metaphor of gold leafed trash. I like thinking of the layer of gold like the layers of meaning that we all give everyday objects. They’re unremarkable objects, yet we handle them and they become precious to us. This can be good and bad.
The gold leaf can also suggest the practice of searching for joy and beauty in the everyday things around us. The gold adds significance and calls attention to details such as the way that thread wraps itself around the spool or the subtle undulations of a roll of trim as it unrolls itself.
Jane Case Vickers and I have a show coming up April 3-28 in the Krempp Gallery at the Jasper Arts Center in Jasper, Indiana.
Our show will be made up of lots of found object sculptures, plus we’re thinking we’ll display some of our odd collections of trash and weird objects. As part of all this, we’re experimenting with the concept of bundles of found objects and assorted materials that are left outside for the elements to weather. The items included in the bundles may have special meaning and that meaning can be enhanced by the weathering process.
Pictured above is my experiment with the idea. I found a fragment of brick in my garden and wrapped it in fabric scraps and paper, some with a brief reflection about the brick written on them. The brick is a reminder of structures that were part of my backyard when the house was built more than 100 years ago. I tied the bundle to the magnolia tree in my yard.