Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving back into home studio

In mid-August I moved back into my home studio to begin work on an installation in Zephyr Gallery for April 2011. My fellow artist friend, Todd Smith, and I have decided to do a collaborative installation on a sort of post-apocalypic flooding of the Ohio River and the resulting habitat for the remaining humans. Our plan is to use the natural flood line of the building to construct an atmosphere in the bottom of the gallery that is a flooded Ohio River with floating sculptural pieces and strata. The upstairs of the gallery would be transformed into the canopy where human size nests will be created from both natural and left over man-made debris. This is difficult for me to fully explain in writing because sometimes I think so visually that translating what I do in the English language can be difficult for me. Hopefully as I begin to document the process and post more blog pages about it, it will become more clear.
These are strips of cotton dyed muslin hanging on my clothes line to dry and later be tied to 1"x2"x8' wood strips for installation.
Because I need most of my studio for the installation, I've had to begin a new process of organization for my materials. Like other installation artists, I can not survive on creating installation art alone. I also create smaller works and teach, so I've got to have a studio that can accomodate my various needs. Very Challenging. And the picture above represents how condensed I've started to become with my supplies.
As you can probably see from this photo, my studio is inside of a garage that also has to hold sculptures and costumes from past shows as well as a bike and a lawn mower.

This is my first attempt at laying out the installation I began in my studio at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. I'm sure this will change many more times over the next few posts as my process moves forward.

Friday, September 3, 2010

May Review/Interview of My Work by Margaret Phillips for KMAC

(May 2010)
KMAC Artist Spotlight: Fiber Artist Michelle Amos,
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft's Artist-in-Residence
by Margaret Phillips

In a triptych of her most current artwork, 'Ohio River Rising on a Tree Line,' Michelle Amos' Ohio River flows in a silent rush. Each of her sculptural fiber vessels reveals warm-hued river water moving steadily over soil, roots, trunks, branches. From one vessel to the other, it is easy to imagine the left-behind history of the river: the rich dark water lines etched into tree bark, the gradual channels being carved into the submerged limestone. Amos' vessels bring to life the conversation taking place between tree and river, soil and stone. In the grace of movement, each sculpture reveals the beauty in the asymmetry of the other's biology: water and tree, each singly perfect in their interlocked states.

Louisville-native Amos, KMAC's newest Artist-in-Residence, credits her father with influencing her love of the water through a childhood spent reading Mark Twain's stories. Rounding out the Mark Twain experience, she once spent on a two-season stint on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. One event that furthered her fascination with large bodies of water was the experience of traveling through a locks system to reach the Pacific Ocean.

'We have the locks [in Louisville], but the only time I've traveled through a locks system was in Washington, on a commercial fishing boat leaving the port of Seattle heading for the open ocean,' she says. 'It's an amazing system to go through.'

Amos' vision for her current sculptural work will eventually include two more sets of large-scale Ohio River-based triptychs, as well as smaller-scale woven pieces. Part of her inspiration will come from her KMAC studio's close proximity to the Ohio River, as well as from her journals documenting numerous hiking trips along the river's banks. Some of her smaller scale vessels include what she calls 'peepholes,' after the peephole knots in wood and shells that she's discovered while hiking.

'I've moved away from Kentucky many times, and each time that I come back, I love it more, embrace it more,' Amos says. 'Several things influence my interest in the river: my love of large bodies of water, my love of Kentucky, and just how powerful and awesome the Ohio River is.'

A visual and performance artist, Amos' work is centered in her background in fiber arts. Initially interested in physics and art as an undergraduate student, Amos discovered her love of fiber art in a class taught by Lida Gordon at the University of Louisville.

'My first thought was that I would study fiber to inform my sculpture,' Amos says, 'but Lida turned me on to the work of so many interesting fiber artists. Joan Livingston was one artist whose work I immediately took to. Lida was nurturing; she challenged me to be a better student and artist. I found my home in the fiber studio, and it was sculpture that ended up informing my fiber art.'

KMAC's Artist-in-Residence program, made possible through a generous grant by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, has nurtured the talents of four other artists since its inception in January 2008. As an Artist-in-Residence, Amos enjoys museum-based studio space, a stipend for supplies and work, exhibition invitations to one or more shows at KMAC, as well as the opportunity to demonstrate her works-in-progress to the public.

'I'd like to think that my work reminds people of nature,' Amos says. 'We live in a very masculine world, and if you're in or near a city, you become so removed from the source. I feel that my work seeks to find a feminine balance in the world. Not all of my work is about the natural world; sometimes, it is about issues, feelings or relationships that are deeply personal, but I almost always use natural elements to express those ideas.'

As an artist educator who will graduate from the University of Louisville in August 2010 with a Masters in Teaching Special Education, she feels a kinship with KMAC.

'I have an enormous respect for what the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft does and represents in its gallery spaces, retail space, and especially its support for education and local artists,' Amos says. 'The work represented at KMAC is high quality, with a good mix of national, regional and local artists. Often, the work that I've seen at KMAC is interesting, quality work that I've seen nowhere else. I'm extremely proud to be a part of KMAC as an artist who teaches workshops and now as the Artist-in-Residence. It truly is an honor to be here.'

Amos will continue to work on her sculptural fiber vessels in her third-floor KMAC studio space until August 15, 2010. The public is invited to stop by to observe her works-in-progress and to learn more about fiber arts.

Recent Interview by Elizabeth Kramer for The Courier-Jounal

The First Time Sculptor Michelle Amos' first dip in the Ohio
August 8, 2010

I do remember swimming in the Ohio when I was a kid. I went with my mother and one of her friends on a boat and we jumped in. It had a different smell to it than a swimming pool — and definitely I remember that when it was hot. It also had muddy banks and debris, because you have a lot of trees and such that make debris, but you also have garbage that kind of floats and gets caught up on the banks. But when you're a kid you don't care because you're having fun.

Trips — and moving — to the West Coast emphasized how different it is. I'd come back here and the Ohio just seemed like another world.
My grandmother grew up in the Parkland neighborhood when there was the 1937 flood. She would talk about it all the time and that probably had a lot to do with my interest in the Ohio. And I remember the year I was pregnant with my son, 1997, and the Ohio flooded.
Michelle Amos recently completed a residency with the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, 715 W. Main St., where she completed a fiber-based sculptural installation called “Ohio River Rising on a Tree Line.” The installation will be on display in her studio at KMAC through Friday. Amos also will exhibit the work next spring at Zephyr Gallery, 610 E. Market St

VSA Art Installation in Bowling Green

Yesterday afternoon I drove to Bowling Green, KY with artist Brenda Wirth and her husband, musician, Greg Acker to install a group show at the VSA of Kentucky's Arts Access Gallery. VSA is a statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting arts, education and creative expression for all, with an emphasis on persons with disabilities. VSA Executive Director, Delaire Rowe, worked with Wirth to put the show together to showcase some of VSA's teaching artists on their roster. I've collaborated with Wirth and Acker individually and as a couple over the years on several projects. This project was different in that it is the first time the three of us were doing a formal show of just our work. Even though our choosen mediums are completely different, walking through the show you get a glimpse of our commonalities and a key into probably why we are good collaborators, friends, and inspiration for one another's work.

The above picture is Wirth standing behind one of her vinyl pieces with one of Acker's homemade instruments, Imbira Harp, behind her. Wirth's vinyl pieces were done in pairs for a show we did together on symmetry. One in each of the pairs is vinyl on vinyl with it's counterpart paint on vinyl.

Because so much of my other work is in progress, and I need to reference my new pieces, I brought six pieces from my older doll series (2008). The blue and red dolls are approximately 7.5 feet in height where the other two dolls are approximately 4.5 feet and 4 feet. Although it looks from these picture the dolls are hung in isolation from Wirth and Acker's work, that is not the case. All of our work is actually intermingled throughout the show.
Here Acker is tuning one of his drift wood instruments, Driftwood Koto. The chime instruments, Homemade Gamala, in the corner are all tuned to the black keys of the piano so that a pleasing sound is made no matter how you play them or how skilled you are at music. Acker is brilliant in his adaptations to instruments. He uses many techniques to make music making accessible and comfortable. In addition his calm, open, and welcoming demeanor draw even the least gifted at music into his world of exploration and playfulness.
Here you see the work of all three of us together. One of Wirth's pieces from a series of paintings she did looking up to the sky through trees. I believe this piece is called River Dweller. Next to it is a pair of my dolls titled Convulused Reunion for Michelle and Convulused Reunion for Melissa. Below is one of Acker's driftwood instruments with a gourd attached. It is hard to see from this picture but the diftwood is stung in two places, along the entire length of the piece and then a small section toward the right hand top.
The reception for this show is in conjunction with The Bowling Green Gallery Hop, Friday, October 15, 2010 from 5-8pm at VSA's Arts Access Gallery, 515 East 10th Street Bowling Green, KY 42101. Gallery hrs are Monday - Friday8:30AM - 4:30PM and the phone number for the gallery is 270-781-0872.

Leaving KMAC

Moved out of the studio at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in August. Here are a few pictures of the installation coming down.
Part of the experiment with this installation was to hang the strips of cotton muslin while they were still wet with dye to see what kind of effect I would get with the dye dripping down the walls and onto the floor. The concept was an abstraction of the muddy Ohio River flowing over the walls of the studio. The above picture shows what was left of the dye on the walls and floor, which of course I cleaned up when I de-installed.

One load waiting to go with my trusty coffee cup that mostly held water to drink while I worked.
The final load waiting next to the elevator.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

End of July Stuff in KMAC Studio

Still slowly plugging away at the installation in my studio at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. I've sorta run out of room in the space I've denicated to the exploration of installation on this body of work. I leave the Museum this month and I'm feeling the pressure of wanting to finish a few more pieces/ideas before I leave. I know once I leave and get settled in my home studio again I'll be very distracted with placement for awhile before I get back to making art. I'm looking forward to doing a show at Zephyr in April, 2011 which will give me tons more space to see my ideas in full form.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Installation going up in Studio at KMAC

Working on an installation in one half of the studio at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft right now.
So I had to move my workspace and all the other pieces in process to the other end of the studio.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stuff I'm workin' on in the Studio

I'm exploring with texture. These pieces were constructed with a wire mesh (chicken wire) frame. Woven with strips of hand-dyed cotton muslin and then dye was again painted on after they were woven. I later took raw wool and hand rolled it into loose yarn and couched it into the piece to create another layer of texture and color. This has been the new experiment I've been working on the past two weeks...so far so good. I'm now curious what will happen if I take some woven work, over dye it with a dark hue or black, and then roll a lighter color or white wool into loose yarn and couch it into the surface. How will the contrast work with the texture?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Residency

I was awarded and accepted a 5 month residency at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC). I started moving parts of my studio down there on March 15th. The studio at KMAC is smaller than my own, but I so enjoy the company and love having a studio downtown, it is inspiring. I especially love being near the river and other art spaces, with both tourists and downtown suit types running around at lunch time.
There are two big windows looking into my studio space from the outside workshop area in the Education Department. I immediately hung my name to claim my space and begin my process here.

The space stills seems sparse to me, which is distracting. I like more visually cluttered places.
Since I've moved in, I've been working old pieces doing experiments. I'm planning out my next series of work and need to run a few experiments to inform what I'm doing.
The more I work on these pieces, the more I realize I need to do some workshops with other artists. I need to learn some new techniques and spend more time on formal elements in my designs. There are so many variables and I have to limit what I'm trying to figure out or I get confused and overwhelmed. Dying combined with applying texture to achieve certain effects is what I'm currently working on. I have some images in my mind of what I want to do, understanding how to best convey those images, (or ideas), is the ever burning question.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Making Baskets for Teen Art Program

This past Saturday I taught a basketry workshop at the Hara Center to benefit the teen art program there. This is me attempting to push the reed further down in the warm water. Unfortunately when I ordered reed this time, I ordered one size larger than I typically work with. Soaking became very important to make the reed more pliable.
Both adults and children participated in making twine and coil baskets. The very younger children were taken into another area to create baskets out of old newspaper with the aid of the teens the program would benefit. A big thanks goes out to Kelly McCarthy, the girl who runs the joint, for coming up with the idea of making newspaper baskets with the younger kiddos.

No Holds Barred Group Show Art 227

So this South African born artist, Emil Walton, decided to take a family business on Chenoweth Lane and use it as an Art Gallery. Genius! The space is beautiful! and for rent. Let's hope for art's sake it makes enough money as a gallery that it won't be rented and will continue to operate as a gallery. I participated in their first show in Feb, 2010.
Here's my most recent work hanging in the No Holds Barred Group Show at Art 227 (227 Chenoweth Lane, Lousiville, KY).
Some pics of the crowd from opening night which drew a little over a hundred people.

Love Show at Rudyard Kipling, 2006

We had two promo posters for this event and I have to thank ADI Studio, Scott Henderson, for the photograpy.

This is me giving the "5 minute warning" before the show. Back stage anywhere the last few minutes before the show feels chaotic to me, fortunately I work with a great group of artists who "never let me see them sweat" -well, except on stage.
Joee Conroy of Ut Gret.

Greg Acker, of Ut Gret, in the background.
Love Goddess arrives to invite her artist friends to define love.
Kelly McCarthy in her piece, Universal Sustaining Love.

Stephanie Clark in her piece, Pink Poofy Love.

Mary as the Love Devil.

Ruth Bennet wearing her piece, Thea.

Terry Wunderlich wearing, Max and Jane define love.

Holly Morgan in her piece, Maternal Love.

Terry Wunderlich in her piece, Failed Domesticity.

Ruth Bennet wearing the second piece she created for the show.

Kelly McCarthy