Part 1: Break A Leg!

Solo Show Proposal Accepted!

Sergio Unzeta, the curator who was responsible for my solo show in Chapala (2018), has become a big fan of my work and has been shopping exhibition proposals around various venues in Guadalajara. At our last meeting in December, he greeted us with a big grin on his face and announced that his proposal for a solo show had been accepted at the Palacio de la Cultura y Los Congress (PALCCO).


This is a huge contemporary art and performance venue. The soaring space designed by ……. houses cutting edge music, dance, performance and cultural events as well as a fantastic gallery space. Just to intimidate me a little more, the last artist exhibited at PALCCO was Salvador Dali

Sergio Unzeta

Sergio Unzueta, is the Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chapala and he also had some cogent remarks about my work and process. It is his enthusiasm that generated the opportunity to mount my solo exhibition Turbulence: Birds, Beauty, Language and Loss at the Chapala Cultural Center (August 4 – September 15, 2018)

We will be meeting the PALCCO Director later in January to confirm the date (February/March 2021) and see the space. I am incredibly excited and also scared.

A year is barely enough time to create a new body of work especially considering my recent fall while horseback riding where I broke my ankle and got a concussion. No more riding for me! 

Salvador Dali Exhibition at PALCCO

More about the Salvador Dali Exhibition

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Sculpture-Vortex

Although I have a few larger pieces and one sculpture (Vortex) remaining in my Chapala studio, much of the work that I have made over the last two years has been on exhibit in the US and are now stored in my studio in Durham, NC. Since some of these pieces are already promised to other shows (Kansai will be traveling with Fiberart International to the Fort Collins Museum in Colorado in April 2020), it makes sense to keep them in the US and concentrate on making new work.

Kansai

My assistant Sandra and I will be visiting the family owned ceramic factory in Tlaquepaque to explore additional options for ceramic shapes that we can use for this installation. Their team hand painted all the plates (rather than using digital techniques) that we used for Broken, which added to the authenticity of the piece.

Broken-Detail
Broken-Full piece

This will be the largest solo show I have had since my retrospective at Translations Gallery in Denver in 2008. Although I am afraid I may faint when I see the space, I also know that it offers me a tremendous opportunity to spread my wings creatively. I am imagining more sculpture and installation along with the wall reliefs.

I’ve already started contemplating what work I would do and have a long list of work ideas that have been rattling around in my brain. I think that their time has come.

Deborah Kruger Studio
Deborah Kruger Studio
Deborah Kruger Studio

DAC Show

Cover of December Issue of Carolina Arts Magazine featuring Kimono
Artis in front of Conflagration with daughter and grandchildren
DAC Artist talking to a viewer
Artist speaking with viewer
DAC another view of opening
View of the opening and other artists and artwork
Young viewer responding to artwork
Granddaughter Reina admiring Kimono

Material/Process Exhibiton

Durham Arts Council, Durham, NC

(Click on thumbnails to view larger image)

In November and December, the Durham Arts Council is presenting an exhibition titled Material/Process that includes five of my recent pieces. The other artists are Gibby Waitzkin, Holden Richards, Reni Gower and Jackie MacLeod. Rather than choosing a theme like Climate Change to unite the show, the Director, Susan Tierney, organized the show by including artists for whom process is a central part of their art practice. 

Carolina Arts Magazine wrote a long piece with extensive information about the materials and process used by each artist: http://www.carolinaarts.com/1119/1119carolinaarts-sp.pdf

Visitors to the show were able to see environmental work by Gibby Waitzkin incorporating natural fibers, paper pulp and eco prints and work about the environment by large format photographer Holden Richards, who specializes in making Silver Gelatin prints using traditional darkroom skills. Reni Gower’s fascination with geometric patterning from cultures around the world are made with pains-taking paper cut pieces and Jackie MacLeod wowed viewers with her wide spectrum of architectural metal work using a plethora of surface techniques including patinas that require long periods of aging.

Taken together, this was a show that demanded a lot of looking and thinking for  the audience. All of the artists work on many levels, and invite their views to take time enter their worlds and consider the ideas, history, techniques and materials that they use.

I was honored to have my piece Kimono featured on the cover of the December issue of Carolina Arts. http://www.carolinaarts.com/1219/1219carolinaarts-sp.pdf

As you will see in the photos taken from the opening, I included two of my pieces from the Cambodia series, Cambodia and Homeland, which are both based on the map of Cambodia, the last remaining habitat of the Bengal Florican. My most recent piece, Conflagration, was hung in the center of the gallery and got a lot of attention.  This piece is also based on a map of the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. However,while I was making it this summer, fires were raging in the Brazilian rainforest, putting even more birds and other species at risk of extinction and I decided that the central belt of gold should be textured with golden waxed linen thread and red and gold wire to evoke these destructive fires. 

I also included an earlier piece titled Nest, which is largely black and features a texture of black zip ties. While the circular image and title evoke thoughts of home, the plastic found in this nest reminds us that birds will build their homes with whatever detritus they can find and more and more of it is plastic rather than natural materials.

Cambodia, piece based on map of Cambodia
Conflagration, piece based on map of San Luis Potosi
Homeland, piece based on map of Cambodia with waxed linen and wire threads
Nest, piece textured with black zip ties

The closing reception is Friday December 20th from 6 – 9pm and the Durham Children’s Choir will be performing. Please share this information with friends and family who live in the Triangle area of North Carolina. https://deborahkruger.com/current-exhibitions/

Artist and granddaughter at opening
DAC-Deborah-and-Christian
Artist and her husband Christian at opening
DAC artist with daughter and friends from Asheville
Artist with daughter and friends from Asheville, NC
DAC young viewers identifying art from catalogue
Young viewers matching artwork from catalogue with actual pieces
DAC artist talking to viewers
Artist discussing work with viewers
Viewers discussing Homeland
Another view of the exhibition space at opening

My New Project: Designing Merchandise Using my Artwork

My New Project: Designing Merchandise Using my Artwork

Even though I am enjoying a lot of visibility these days (I was in five exhibitions this year!) sales are slow and like most artists, I need a steady revenue stream to support my habit. 

For many years I thought about designing some commercial items to sell. Simple things like mugs or bags. Over the summer, I started to activate this idea and I was quite surprised to see how the field of print-on-demand has exploded. 

Although there are many print-on-demand companies to choose from, I decided to start my collection using Printify because they have 250 items and I found them very user friendly. Here’s how it works. You choose an item, say sneakers, and upload your design. In a few moments, you can see a 360-degree model of the item and can easily edit the design.

Cambodia- 2018 43.5 X 52 X 1 screen--printing on fused plastic bags, sewing

Click here to see 360 view of Cambodia Boot.

The harder part is uploading this to your Store, in our case WooCommerce, as well as our new Save The Birds Design website. Fortunately, I have a great team. Sandra and I develop the designs and Tyler handles the technical back end. 

Designing the items is fun.  We use details of my fine art pieces like Cambodia (pictured above). We have used this detail on journals, cell phone cases, latte mugs, sneakers, high heels, and boots!  actually shop on our website by each design! 

Since nearly all of my silk screens are developed from drawings of endangered birds, we used the drawings on tee shirts and mugs and grabbed a detail of the drawings and enlarged this for its design impact. Here you can see an example of a detail from the Shoe-Billed Heron and how we used it on bags, aprons, shower curtains, laptop cases and sneakers and boots.

When we create the silk screens that we use to print on the sheets of fused recycled plastic bags, we shrink the drawings into smaller silhouettes. Our Save the Birds Logo features six endangered birds: Bengal Florican, Kagu, Maleo, Madagascar Serpent Eagle, Giant Ibis, and the Shoe Billed Heron. You can see the logo printed on bags, mugs, water bottles and of course, tee shirts. 

Abstract Wing Design: Shoe Billed Heron

Sandra and I spent two months designing items for our collection and when we launched the Save the Birds website, we had 123 items for sale! We had a great time and you can see how creative you can get using snippets from your own work. 

On our mugs and tee shirts, we have paired the drawings with inspiring quotes by environmentalists like Rachel Carson (we sure didn’t listen to her when she published Silent Spring in 1962), John Muir, Julia Butterfly Hill, Wangari Maathai, and our youngest muse, Greta Thunberg.

One of the big benefits of print-on-demand is that Printify and its affiliate printers produce each order as it comes in, packages it and mails it out. There is no inventory or shipping for us and we end up keeping about half of each sale. Kind of like a gallery split. I think it’s a great arrangement.

Since I give a percentage of all my sales to organizations that protect birds and their habitats, developing this new line not only gives me a steady income, but it also enables me to raise more money to protect endangered birds. Some of our favorite organizations are Audubon, Bird Conservancy and ProAves.

So if my original artwork is out of your budget, take heart. Now you can buy merchandise for your closet or home and gifts that feature my artwork and bird drawings

Click on our logo below to visit the Save the Birds Design website: 

Milwaukee Art Museum

A Day at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

One of the fun things about exploring new cities is seeing their art museums. We had one day in wonderful Milwaukee where we sampled their best coffee, the Domes at Mitchell Park, the Harley Davidson Museum and the architecturally amazing Milwaukee Art Museum.

Here are some of the highlights of the latter. You can see my preference for abstraction using fiber and mixed materials in these choices.

I’ll say more about that once you have had a chance to see these four pieces.

-Cornelia Parker-

Cornelia Parker is a British sculptor and installation artist whose 1999 installation Edge of  England is constructed from chalk, wire and wire mesh. Parker’s work often feature household objects that have been broken and reimagined into new abstract structures. 

 

Portrait Cornelia Parker
Edge of England by Cornelia Parker
Edge of England (detail) by Cornelia Parker
Come Out #5 by Glenn Ligon
Portrait Glenn Ligon
Come Out #5 (detail) by Glenn Ligon

-Glen Legion-

Glenn Ligon is an African-American conceptual artist whose work explores race, language, desire, sexuality, and identity. His monumental 2014 silkscreen on canvas piece Come Out #5 took up a whole wall of the museum. This text-based piece was inspired by the 1966 spoken-word piece by composer Steve Reich, who was in turn influenced by the Harlem race riot of 1964. The layers of the text Come Out become so dense that the piece morphs into abstraction.

Glenn Ligion Website

 

-Robert Morris-

American sculptor Robert Morris was an important and controversial figure in the Minimalist movement. His sculptures, performances and critical writing explored facets of conceptual art and ideas about ephemerality. His spare 1970 piece Untitled is composed of industrial felt that hangs gracefully on the wall.

Robert Morris Artworks

Untitled by Robert Morris
Portrait Robert Morris
Morris Obituary
Inni-Che-ru-he (Stone Wall) by Truman Lowe
Portrait Truman Lowe

-Truman Lowe-

Truman Lowe was an American Ho-Chunk sculptor and installation artist known for large site-specific installation pieces utilizing natural materials. Like many contemporary Native American artists, Lowe’s art tells stories about the Winnebago people and his relationship to the environment. Inni-che-ru-he (Stone Wall) from his Canyon series is a massive and delicate installation made with chalk on paper and willow branches.

Each of these pieces excites me. They all refer to the grid, even if they are breaking it like Cornelia Parker and Robert Morris. These artists are all using humble or industrial materials in innovative ways. They gravitate towards a pared down or stark statement. And all of these pieces are large, breath-taking and elegant. 

And let me not forget to say that they were all hung in the soaring, winged, Milwaukee Art Museum, completed in 2001 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, featuring a moveable sunscreen, with a 217-foot (66-metre) span.

Although it wasn’t initially on my radar, Milwaukee is an outstanding cultural destination and the Museum was a gem. 

Fiberart International Opening

Fiberart International Opening

10 Days Left to see the Triennial

Attending the opening for Fiberart International in Pittsburgh, PA was thrilling and inspiring. There were 55 artists from 8 countries in this 23rd triennial exhibition and about half of them were able to come to the events that were sponsored by the two galleries that hosted the show, Contemporary Craft and the Brew House. The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh also sponsored a day long event featuring a keynote by Jane Sauer, gallerist, artist and thought leader in contemporary fiber arts. The jurors were Jane Sauer and Sonya Clark, Distinguished Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

The exhibition took two years to organize and the coordination of this effort was shared by Rae Gold and Risë Nagin. There were so many highlights for me and I’ll share a few here.

IMG_5762
Madeline Darnell, my hostess in front of the Pittsburgh skyline

First of all, I was hosted by the lovely Madeline Darnell, a member of the Guild. She not only had me as a guest in her home over the long weekend but also took me on a tour of Pittsburgh and to some of the area galleries. 

Fiberart Amy Morgan
Amy Morgan, Owner of Morgan Contemporary Glass

 We visited the Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery and had the opportunity to meet the owner, Amy Morgan, who is a firecracker and mover and shaker in the Pittsburgh art scene. 

Jim Arendt's first place piece, Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap

Some of my favorite fiber artists were also in the show. I met Jim Arendt, who collected the first place prize for his powerful piece Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap, which uses reclaimed denim to address labor issues.  There were several men whose work garnered awards and attention, a refreshing change in the female dominated fiber field. Another artist, Louise Silk, who also works with recycled denim, hosted a lovely dinner at her artist loft. She told me that she had been inspired by my installation Tribe of Dina that she saw in the 1980s. It’s great to learn that our work is making a difference.

I had a reunion with Susan Avishai and her husband Bob Bernstein from Toronto. They had attended our 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency program in Mexico earlier in the spring and we had a wonderful connection as fiber artists. Susan’s piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart is part of a series of  sculptures made from deconstructed, discarded clothing rescued from thrift shops. The other artist in our trio was Adrienne Sloan, who plans to attend the residency in 2020. Her piece 100 Days and Counting is a painful reminder of our current political debacle.

All in all, it was a great honor for my piece Kansai to be included in this exhibition and to have the opportunity to see so much excellent and innovative work in fiber.

Susan Avishai behind her piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart
Adrienne Sloan's piece 100 Days and Counting and Deborah Kruger's piece Kansai

Fiberart International 2019

Drawings of Endangered Birds from Artist Residency In France

In October 2016, I spent a month at La Porte Peinte artist residency in a small medieval village in central France.  I did hours of research about endangered birds, which led to a series of 18 drawings of birds around the world whose existence is threatened by habitat destruction and other thoughtless human practices.

Initially, I only intended to spend the residency doing research and writing about my artwork. I wanted uninterrupted time to answer questions about why I was so compelled to make art about endangered birds and what relevance they had to my own life. However, in the process of the research, the images of the birds were so haunting, especially the ones that were nearly extinct, that I felt compelled to draw them. That process was so intimate as I realized that in many cases, people would never see these birds again except in books and on the internet and I wanted to honor them with the human hand and heart. These images are now appearing in silk screens for the feathers I use to create my artwork, on plates that we design for floor installations and for my other creative projects.

(Click to view larger image)

Kansai Has Been Accepted into Fiberart International

KANSAI

I am proud to announce that my piece titled Kansai, has been accepted into Fiberart International, a very competitive international exhibition scheduled to open May 31 and continue through August 24, 2019. Only 4% of the applicants were accepted and winners were judged by Sonya Clark, a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University and Jane Sauer, a reknown artist, gallerist and former Chair of the American Craft Council. Both jurors are thought leaders in the world of contemporary fiber. 

 

Fiberart International is the only on-going triennial open to textile artists everywhere in the world and a growing national and international audience. The exhibition is produced by The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Inc. a nonprofit organization that promotes the appreciation of Fiber arts and fosters its development and continuation through member support and outreach. https://fiberartspgh.org/

 

The shape of Kansai is based on the map of a state with the same name in Japan. The colors of the piece reflect the Japanese flag and the feathers are fabricated from fused plastic bags screen-printed with images of endangered birds and endangered languages. I am not only honored to be included in this prestigious exhibition, but acceptance also signals an acknowledgement that my new materials exist within the fiber spectrum.

TERRA inFIRMA at the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, New York City

I feel privileged to have my piece Harbinger included in the climate-themed show opening at the inaugural exhibition at the new Dr. Bernard Heller Museum located at Hebrew Union College Museum near NYU in New York City.

Harbinger, 2018, 42 x 53 x 1”, screen-printing on fused plastic bags, sewing
Laura Kruger, curator of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

The exhibition, curated by Laura Kruger (no relation), focuses on climate change and global warning through the lens of Jewish values and contemporary social activism.  Laura Kruger explains, “According to our tradition, God created the earth and we are instructed to tend it and preserve it for future generations. It is our responsibility as the earth’s stewards to take action and effect positive change.”

Harbinger, Detail
Drawing of the Bengal Florican done during my artist residency in France, 2016

Harbinger, takes the shape of Cambodia as its form (a country considered extremely vulnerable to climate change) and last remaining habitat of the remarkably beautiful and nearly extinct Bengal Florican. My mixed media work using fused plastic bags screen-printed with images of endangered bird and languages, addresses the sharp decline in bird species as a result of habitat destruction, much of it caused by climate change and deforestation.

Like the other 65 artists in this show, I am haunted by spector of extinction and I join this talented group of artists who are all using their art to address climate change and contribute to Tikkun Olam, the healing of our planet.

I will be at the opening reception on Thursday September 6, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. If you are in the metro-New York area, please consider attending the opening and saying hello (you will need ID to be admitted). Laura Kruger has designed a beautiful catalogue for the show.

Aileen Bassis. Submerged City: Manhattan, 2018