Thursday, October 16, 2008
Around the same time that this idea began taking shape, Toni Thomas from the Catfish Friday women's artist collective contacted me about participation in the Newark Open Doors Studio Tour '08. The show, Multiple Me, will feature pieces that the artists have created as part of a series. There really are no coincidences.
I love working in fiber. Sewing for me is spiritual and meditative. Fiber is soft warm comforting elemental primal strong resilient sensuous womb-manlike. It comforts and protects. I imagine the earliest humans walking upright then yearning for something soft and warm to cover themselves. Leaves bark skins – eventually they start weaving elements together into fiber. The women dye it with mud and berries to make it beautiful. Berry red, indigo blue, moss green, saffron yellow. They stitch shells and bone to it for ornamentation.
I also love working with clay for the faces. It's messy like making mud pies. Somehow, I keep making variations of the same face. It is the face of my grandmother. I am always struck by how magestically African she looks.
My encounters with the women artists of Catfish Friday have been mind expanding and life changing. They have encouraged me to see myself as an artist and story teller, and to realize that the work has value outside of me. Everybody is moved by the dolls on a primal level, which was surprising and extremely gratifying. One sister, an accomplished sculptor, came up to me at the July show and whispered that she had 5 brothers growing up, and never owned a doll. We were both near tears, understanding that as grown women, we have to give ourselves the same permission to play and imagine as we command ourselves to work and responsibility. (Interestingly, I find that male artists always want to challenge and critique and question the artistic choices I make - "why did you use this line?", "why is her stomache so big and her butt so small?" Stuff like that. Men tend to value their work and worth, intrinsically. They will put a crazy-high price on what they do, sometimes even if its not good. We women tend to value everything and everyone else first - then maybe ourselves last if at all. I ain't mad at the brothers, though. There is a lesson in this somewhere. But I really enjoy working with women artists. Their critique tends to be kinder, gentler and non-competitive, which suits me. The only competition that matters is your competition with self.
I still play with dolls. I hope I can encourage other women to play with dolls, too.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Catfish Friday logo courtesy Toni Thomas
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I submitted this doll for inclusion in a gallery show, Surprise! First Annual Miniworks Exhibit at Unison Gallery, New Paltz, New York, October 3-28. She is 4", cloth, paperclay, acrylic and beads. The call was for miniature art works, any medium, no larger than 5" x 5" x 5".
Gwen Jackson and 3D Doll Club, demonstrating techniques. Dolls on display
Joyce Strohman with her sculpted creations. More dolls on display.
Gwen Jackson and the 3D Doll Club of Mt. Vernon, New York hosted this year's Day with Dolls in August. This is the place to be to learn, meet your peers, and see what other artists are doing with their craft. A great time was had by all. Thanks, Gwen and 3D. Can't wait 'til next year.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Having a good time at the exhibit; Shenita & me, Crystal & me, LaShay & me, Josh, Kelly & me again; Everybody; Mixed media artist Bisa Washington with "Rough, Dry and Nappy" (left) and "Double-Ended Promise" (right) by Ade Tugbiyele Sedita (not shown); Artist/Curator Toni Thomas with poet Esther Morales.
LaShay with mixed media artist/gallery owner Ade Sedita; the Eyeshadow Series with artist Diana Jensen, shown; poet Esther Morales; poet Elaine Lee (left "The Gift" by Gladys Grauer, not shown and right "Double-Ended Promises"by Ade Sedita).
Artist/Curator Toni Thomas with "Mermaid West" (acrylic on fabric with quilting) and "Mermaid Observing Wolf", mixed media on paper; performance by poet Esther Morales; artist Sadee Brathwaite with "Private Conversations", oil on canvas; LaShay with Auntie Joan.
"Private Conversations" by Sadee Brathwaite; my "kids" Josh & Kelly; LaShay with Auntie Gillian.
Earthlocz Spirit Dolls #5 and #6 - cloth, paperclay, acrylic.
The opening was a huge success – the art of Sadee Brathwaite, Mary Baldwin, Gladys Grauer, Diana Jensen, Tara Lamount, Toni Thomas, Ade Tugbiyele Sedita and Bisa Washington was phenomenal – the spoken word art of Esther Morales and Elaine Lee pulled it all together and made our spirits soar in Spanish and English! The guests were delightful. I am so gratified and humbled to have been included in a circle of such warm, accomplished, energetic and spiritually generous women. Please visit my new sidebar, Catfish Friday and Friends, for more on these visual artists.
Special thanks to Ade Sedita of Newark Art Supply for inviting us to share her gallery space (and for her kind encouragement to me over the last year), and to Toni Thomas for curating the exhibit (and for pushing me out into the deep water). You put everything together so smooth, you make it look easy (and I know it ain’t).
Also, thanks to my family/friends, Kelly & Josh, Shenita, Crystal & Co. (Crystal, your design of my postcards is off the chain!), Joan, Gillian, and of course, LaShay, my starchild who works the room as only she can. I love you all!