Visual narratives that bring together images from newspaper sources along with personal selected drawings highlight my interest in pictures, stemming all the way back to childhood memories when "looking" at pictures could keep me occupied for hours. The purpose is to seek and present either a commonality or a contrast or both through juxtaposition of these images. Hand stitching highlights, defines and stresses the important topographies of the composition. The stitch is my mark-making tool of choice because of the intimacy it presents in connecting the hand to the art. It provides a way to incorporate embroidery, which I learned during my childhood years and have continued to use in my art making practice for approximately thirty-five years. Even though my work has evolved and changed over the years, the use of stitch has always been a constant and joyful experience. All pieces consist of laminated paper and silk organza fabric, matte medium, and embroidery floss.
From 1998 through 2010, my work continued using the threaded needle as the tool of choice even though ideas evolved. Work focused on:
1. French knots for KNOTTED WORK to construct art fabric, mostly recognizable imagery;
2. Stitch for TRACED MARKINGS; 3 phases included use of disperse dyes paper transfers, pojagi/bojagi inspired patchwork, fashion inspired figures, silhouettes and garment shapes;
PHASE I: The Use of Disperse Dyes and Synthetic Fabrics The first phase of the traced markings series was developed simultaneously with the knotted work. However, as the knotted work grew to a close (about 23 total), I began the traced markings series, which evolved over time to include other influences and directions. For years I had wanted to try disperse dyes, but resisted because polyester and poly blends had to be used to imprint imagery. And this was a no-no because of the synthetic nature of some of the materials. I did not wear synthetics and I did not want to use them in my artwork. As time moved on, I softened my stance and experimented. Then, on trips to cloth stores, I discovered polyester dress fabric that appealed to my aesthetic (even though I would not use it in dress making!). They were composed of sketchy and sparse designs, mostly representational subject matter, which could serve as backgrounds and overlays for the types of nonobjective shapes I wants to transfer with disperse dye-coated papers. Experiments worked. Results proved to be plausible because they allowed for the building of layers and hand stitching to outline shapes and fill in spaces. The backstitch was the stitch of choice even though running and seed stitches were employed in some instances.
PHASE II: Pojagi/Bojagi-Inspired PatchworkAfter an introduction to Korean wrapping cloths made during the Chosun Dynasty (1832-1910) called pojagi/bojagi by Chunghie Lee, Korean artist, educator, writer, the traced markings series was extended to the use of a sewing machine in my art making practices. It was a way to introduce the sewing of cut fabric shapes together, creating a patchwork surface on which to hand stitch the structural lines of the patchwork as well as the marks that appeared in individual fabric shapes.
PHASE III: Fashion-Inspired Figures, Silhouettes and Garment Shapes Fashion has always had a strong appeal for me. From my high school home economics classes to teaching in fashion and interior design programs at the University of Houston, it has held my attention. During those times I purchased many fashion magazines, studied the images and clipped and saved those I liked. Overtime, fashion, again, has become a focus of my work and I have begun to buy and study styles of today. In addition, the reality TV show, “Project Runway", has provided another avenue to explore creativity in fashion. Just knowing fashion's popularity in today's society is a constant reminder of my past interests and renewed awareness. These works are sans pojagi/bojagi patchwork backgrounds and grew from the fashion vignettes. Trace marks continued along with different aspects of fashion figures, silhouettes and garment shapes.
3. Backstitch for FASHION ILLUSTRATION SERIES The pieces in this group only use muslin as a base and embroidery floss to backstitch the complete surface of the stretched fabric, thus creating a new fabric. It was my way to use stitch to illustrate fashion and the figure. The work on this series is ongoing.
With two advanced art degrees, my first long term teaching assignment, somehow, left me with a new situation. I would be teaching in an art education program at Baylor University and producing art for scholarly/creative endeavors in fibers/fabrics. Eventually, though, my teaching assignment became one where I would be teaching in a fabric design concentration in the B.F.A. program.
During the early times, again, I was searching for a way to use my previous background in my artist/teacher responsibilities, and at the same time, incorporating some of the ideas presented to me during my M.F.A. studies at the University of Georgia. Initially, I used some of the fashion face images I silkscreened for my thesis exhibition. The following images reflect some of the pieces I did during my early tenure at Baylor.
The years between the early 1970s to 1992 included teaching at the University of Houston, graduate school at the University of Georgia and Florida State University and a one-year replacement position at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Selected early work was completed from the time I went to the University of Houston to teach in home economics, which later became human development and consumer sciences to the time I decided to get graduate art degrees in the mid 1980s.
At the time I began my university teaching career, I was still in the learning mode. In fact, with the teaching assignment I had, there was constant searching for techniques, materials and processes to teach my related/applied art/design students. Also, intuitively I knew I must be a practicing "artist/teacher"; that is, I must make "art" to learn how and what to teach. In addition, my work could be used for creative scholarship (even though at the time I was naïve about these expectations, but I was a quick study).
The chosen images reflect SOME of the pieces completed that demonstrate the variety of experiences related to learning, teaching and scholarly activities. Most (all but three) are examples of work completed at the University of Houston. No work reflects my Master's thesis work. The last one is the only piece I did while in graduate school at Florida State.