UPLIFT: Helping the Women of Mexico through Art

Before I tell you about all the wonderful Mexican women I work with, let me set the stage by telling you a little about me. When I was young, I spent many weekends making clothing from scratch with my mother, her twin (my Aunt Shirley) and my cousin Ellen. We worked in teams cutting out pattern pieces, pinning, sewing, and pressing open the seams. By Sunday at least two of us had new blouses, dresses or new outfits for upcoming weddings or Bar Mitzvahs.

During my working years, I managed a medical billing company staffed by women, a truly pink collar job. In its heyday, I employed 11 women most of whom were not college graduates (including myself).

Now that I am retired from my day job, I finally have the time to be  a full-time astract artist making the museum-scale work that I’ve always dreamed of. In order to create these massive wall murals and sculptures, I employ 5 Mexican studio assistants.

Avivanto artist in front of Accidentals
Sandra and Debora in the studio
Samantha sewing strips of feathers

Empowering women is a life goal

I was listening to a podcast earlier this year (while I was hiking across Scotland!) and an interview with Coach Dawn Staley on Fresh Air touched me to the core.  Dawn is an American basketball Hall of Fame player, coach and three time Olympian. She is currently the head coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks. When she talked about the ‘sanctity of the team,’ I realized that I also feel that working with and empowering women is a central, deeply satisfying and spiritual part of my art practice.

With the exception of Sandra, my full-time assistant who is university trained, most of my studio assistants are Mexican women with grade school educations. It’s common for Mexican women to leave school early to help their large families with cooking and cleaning. Three of these women are in the same family: Alicia and Lourdes are sisters and Samantha is Alicia’s daughter-in-law.

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Alicia enjoying a quiet time trimming prints

Overcoming Cultural differences

We have all had to adjust to the cultural differences between us. I have introduced them to fine art, professionalism, consistent and compassionate employment and a myriad of new skills including screen-printing, machine sewing, weaving, painting, inventory maintenance, video and other art-related techniques.

They have rarely worked for a foreigner (extranjero in Spanish), gone to a museum or gallery or been praised for their work. I have learned to work to Banda and Mariarchi music and work with people who rarely plan for the future, which is appealing spiritually, but maddening when on a deadline.

Alicia and Lourdes screen printing

What Alicia and Samantha have to say

Womens blog - Alicia and Samantha pinning work on wall
Alicia and Samantha pinning works on wall

Serenity, safety and satisfaction

We work together to make all the components required for my environmental artwork. In the process of making this art, we all enjoy a special serenity, safety and satisfaction. 

I’m definitely back in my comfort zone making things with a community of smart and motivated women.

Artist Talks with Deborah Kruger about her exhibition AVIANTO

Beginning on Saturday, September 3rd, artist Deborah Kruger will offer a series of three free artists talks at the main gallery of the Train Station Museum at the Gonzalez Gallo Cultural Center.

Each Saturday at 12:30pm, Deborah will focus on a different aspect of her artwork.

Saturday- September 3-12:30pm

The first talk will center on her art practice, art philosophy and specific techniques. Although everyone is welcome, her comments will be of particular interest to artists and creatives.

Saturday- September 10-12:30pm

In this talk, Deborah will discuss the Jewish themes that run through her work. Although her work is not overtly Jewish, her cultural heritage is reflected in the content and making of her work. Everyone will find this talk of interest and being Jewish is not a requirement!

Saturday- September 17-12:30p

The third artist talk is geared for the general public and Deborah will discuss why she works with recycled plastic bags, and the environmental themes that are central to her work.

The artist welcomes questions at all of the Artist Talks. She is happy to explain aspects of the meaning and making of her work that are of interest to her audiences.

The Artist Talks will begin promptly at 12:30pm. There will be chairs available to anyone who needs them.

Gonzalez Gallo Cultural Center
González Gallo 1500, Centro, 45915 Chapala, Jal.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CCGonzalezGallo/

World Textile Association 25th Anniversary Exhibitions

During the first year I lived in Mexico, I work accepted into two exhibitions celebrating the World Textile Association (WTA) Biennial with the theme of Air. Butterfly Effect was accepted into the large format exhibition at the Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico City and Remnants 18 was included in the exhibition on Recyclability at the Cultural Center in Oaxaca. 

This year, I was invited to exhibit in two exhibitions celebrating the 25th anniversary of WTA. The first exhibition is for small works 25 x 25 x 25cm, in keeping with the 25th anniversary theme. I decided to make a small basket for this show in Miami. Red Feather Basket 2 is reminiscent of an earlier basket form and I enjoyed returning to this format. The original basket Red Feather Basket 1 (now in a private collection) was made with fiber, encaustic and waxed linen and wire threads.

The new basket uses my signature feathers made with recycled plastic bags and also incorporates the waxed linen thread around the mouth of the piece. The feathers on the new basket have images of endangered birds of Mexico and Colombia and also endangered indigenous languages such as Yakme, Totzil, Cho’lol and Purépecha.

The second exhibition will be held at the Galeria de las Esculturas in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. This mid-size work exhibition will include Remnants 18, the piece that was originally in the Recyclability show in Oaxaca 12 years ago. I donated this piece to the WTA collection and am excited to see the work on view again.

The celebrations for 25 years of WTA will take place in 23 Venues in 13 countries including Chile, Spain, Costa Rica, India, Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia and the US.

The World Textile Association (WTA) is the brainchild of Pilar Tobón, a Colombian artist who now resides in Miami, FL. The goal of the organization is to support textile artists around the world by giving them international visibility and opportunities to exhibit in museums and fiber-friendly institutions.

https://wta-online.org/blog/x-biennial-of-contemporary-textile-art-wta-25-years/

2022 WTA Nuevo Aire

Remnants 18, 2011, 31 x 16.5 x 1”, fiber, encaustic, oilstick, paint, waxed linen, wire thread

About:

The World Textile Associate (WTA) is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with fiber exhibitions at 23 venues in 13 countries. WTA selected Deborah’s piece titled Remnants 18, which is in the WTA collection.  

Dates: Nov 19, 2022 – Feb 12, 2023

Location: Galeria de las Esculturas
Avenida Rafael Murillo Vidal s/n,
Campo Nuevo, Xalapa Veracruz 91069
Tel. 2288137753

Opening Reception: Saturday November 19th 

More information: http://jex.ivec.gob.mx/

See my blog for further commentary: https://deborahkruger.com/world-textile-association-25t

2022 X International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art: 25 Years WTA

Red Feather Basket 2, 2022, 10 x 10 x 10”, screen-printing on recycled plastic bags, sewing, wrapped cord, waxed linen thread

About: The World Textile Associate (WTA) is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with fiber exhibitions at 23 venues in 13 countries. Deborah was invited to 25 Year WTA exhibit at MIFA in Miami with her new Red Feather Basket 2 featuring her signature recycled plastic feathers.

Dates:Nov 3 – Dec 15, 2022

Location: Miami International Fine Art (MIFA)
5900 NW 74 Ave. Miami FL. 33166
Phone: 305.470.0009

Opening Reception: Thursday Nov 3rd

More information: https://wta-online.org/blog/x-biennial-of-contemporary-textile-art-wta-25-years/

Horsehair and the process of waiting

Box of horsehair!

Lucky Me!

Many years ago, I had a studio at the Arts & Industry Building in Florence, Mass. There were over 70 artist studios and small businesses tucked into this old brush factory. One of my neighbors on the fourth floor was a fellow who restored violin bows. Violinists from around the country sent him their broken bows and he fixed them. As part of the repair process, he had to cut off the horsehair left on each bow. And lucky me was the recipient of wonderful boxes of discarded horsehair! 

As you can imagine, this was a treasure trove for an artist and I found ways to incorporate the horsehair into some of my pieces. At the time, my work was quite small and I wasn’t able to use it in great amounts. But I always imagined that some day I would have a creative brainstorm and find a way to use the horsehair.

 

....and then inspiration strikes

Over the last ten years, I moved my studio from Western Massachusetts to Durham, North Carolina and also to Chapala, Mexico. And the horsehair followed along, waiting patiently for its turn to shine. I never discarded the boxes of horsehair and felt confident that someday I would figure out how to use it.

 

Horse Hair showing sewing
Three sets
Horse hair on vessel

For you collectors of odd things!

I am currently preparing for several museum shows, which require making large pieces. One of these is an installation of ceramic inspired sculptures called Vessels/Vasijas. They range in size from 4 feet to 7 feet high. I’ve been stuck on one of these pieces for months and nothing I have tried has worked. And then inspiration struck! I took out the horsehair and started sewing them into 5 inch tufts. They are exactly what the piece needed! 

It will take another couple of months to finish this sculpture, but now I have an exciting, new direction and finally the horsehair will make its long-awaited appearance. So for all of you  collectors of odd things, have confidence in your choices and know that if you feel really drawn to something, it will find a way into your work.

New Journals from Deborah Kruger Designs

As a life-long journaler, I have a soft spot for interesting journals. Like many of you reading this blog post, I also use journals to make lists (countless lists!), sketch and plan future art projects. As a result of this passion, Deborah Kruger Designs now offers an array of journals.

For people on the go (isn’t that all of us?), we have several styles of smaller 6 x 8” lined journals that fit into backpacks and bags. The spiral bound and hard covers have inspirational quotes like Art Saves Lives and Make Art Not War (we really need that one now).

We have a new spiral bound lined journal that says Speak Your Truth. The quote is lying on top of a detail of my newest blue feather piece. I hope the quote and the artwork resonate with you. There’s also a multi-color version..

If you love journals that close with an elastic band to keep your thoughts private, you will appreciate our new 5.5 x 8.25” moleskin-style blank journal with a dramatic Speak Your Truth text on the dark cover. 

Just out this week is our new Ninja Cats design, which you will find on two journals, both using details from my golden artwork titled Turbulence. If you are cat lover and journal writer, this one is definitely for you! 

Whether you are spoiling yourself with the perfect journal or buying gifts for your favorite doodlers, list-makers, sketchers and poets, I truly hope you find something in our collection that speaks to you. Happy Journaling!

Please visit deborahkrugerdesigns.com and browse our full collection of merchandise and gifts!

Deborah

The Guadalajara Reporter

Unique ‘Avianto’ exhibit explores endangered birds & human languages

We artists love our visibility and I have been blessed with more than my fair share.  It was with surprise and pleasure that I read the latest review of my current exhibition Avianto by the new president of the ASA (Ajijic Society of the Arts) which has completely captured the essence of my work. Bethany Anne Putnam has managed to tease apart the many layers of my art (both physical and contextual) and present one of the most insightful reviews of my process and art practice. I especially appreciated how she understood the importance of my Mexican studio team and how their empowerment lifts all of us. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

(click on images below to read article)

Deborah Kruger Designs Summer 2022

Hello from Deborah, the artist behind Deborah Kruger Designs

Hi! I am Deborah Kruger, an artist who loves birds, nature and ecology. I am especially concerned about endangered birds and they appear in most of my artwork. Although I exhibit my work internationally, like most artists, I don’t support my studio entirely from art sales and I also need other revenue streams to pay for materials and staff. I have started the Deborah Kruger Designs collection as a way to share my passion for artist-designed merchandise using items that everyone can use. I can now offer you a curated line of useful merchandise that I have designed using details from my original artwork or my drawings.

Spring into Summer
with my new collection

Cool Journals

I chose items that I personally enjoy, like journals. I’ve been journaling since I was 14 and love buying special journals. In the Summer Collection, I have designed several striking covers with inspiring quotes, like Art Saves Lives and Make Art Not War. 

But instead of just using text, I used some details from my artwork Turbulence. I hope you consider buying one for yourself where you can write or keep lists.  These journals also make great gifts for your writer, artist and doodler friends!

Mugs

Everyone needs a collection of cool mugs for sipping coffee or tea while we are thinking (or procrastinating!). Even if you can’t afford my artwork, you can definitely afford my mugs! I realized that when I blow up details from my artwork like Accidentals, Habitat or Cambodia, they become lovely abstract designs. So now you can bring my artwork into your home in a very practical way. Now that we can socialize again, consider buying a few as a hostess gift for friends with an artistic flair!

Drawing

All of my original artwork begins with drawings of endangered birds. The drawing process is very meditative and I spend hours drawing each bird. If you look closely, you can see images of the elegant Reddish Egret, the majestic Black Solitary Eagle, the tiny Shining Honeycreeper and the Red Billed Tropic bird with its astonishing long tail. I’m just mentioning some of my favs.

I realized that the feather details in these drawings are just so interesting, I decided to use them to decorate my new merchandise. For example, take a look at the AOP Totes that have a splash of feather details along the top of the tote. Of course you can take this tote when you go shopping, but you can also wear it out.

Helping Women

The other reason I have started this new merchandise line is that my studio supports several local women and their families. I need a lot of help to build my large-scale art and sculpture that I exhibit in museums and galleries in the US and Mexico.

When you buy products on Deborah Kruger Designs, your money is also going directly to support and empower women! If you are like me, that feels GOOD! Know that your sales are also going to support an excellent cause!

Art for Everyone

Creating a collection of dazzling merchandise is my way to make my artwork accessible to everyone, not just elite art buyers. I’ve had so much fun matching useful items for your home and office and cool gifts with eye-catching designs that are often details of my original artwork. 

One of my new products is a Smartphone stand. Like reading glasses, I have them all over my house. But like most Deborah Kruger Designs products, they are easy to find because they are covered with bright red or blue details from my art.

Eco Merchandise

The entire Deborah Kruger Designs Summer Collection has an eco-feel and the designs are truly unique. I’ve chosen items that will not end up in landfills and I have offered you eco-options like our sleek stainless steel water bottles. If you are someone who likes to stand out in the crowd, whether with a journal, tote, or coffee mug, this collection has lots of exciting products for you. Have fun shopping and continuing to be a design trendsetter (and tree hugger like me)!

Gifts

Of course you deserve to buy cool things for yourself. You work and play hard. But we all find ourselves scratching our heads and wondering what to buy for our friends. If you know someone who likes to make heads turn, consider buying one of my new scarves. I wore one at my last opening and got SO many compliments. 

Have fun shopping Deborah Kruger Designs and know that you are supporting artists and women and shining a light on the environment and our precious birds.

PS – My favorite item in the new line are our packs of Poker Cards!! The perfect gift for you know who!

Order Now for FREE shipping within the USA!

Deborah Kruger gana Arte Laguna Prize

¡Y soy una ganadora!

Como la mayoría de los artistas, paso semanas todos los años escribiendo propuestas de subvenciones para artistas, solicitando premios y exhibiciones de artistas y buscando residencias. Odio pensar en cuánto tiempo suma esto, ¡pero es MUCHO! Además, muchas de estas oportunidades cobran tarifas de entrada. Y la competencia es dura.

Así que imagina mi sorpresa cuando revisé la lista de ganadores del Premio Arte Laguna de Venecia y vi mi nombre como ganador en la categoría de ¡Escultura e Instalación!

La lista de jurados es impresionante.

Hubo 25 ganadores en cada categoría (Pintura y Fotografía, así como Escultura/Instalación) y es un verdadero premio de arte internacional. Algunos de los países representados en el premio de Escultura fueron Taiwán, Brasil, Ucrania, Dinamarca, Serbia y Japón. Solo hubo 3 ganadores de los EE. UU., por lo que estaba doblemente sorprendido.

Este premio de arte internacional comenzó en 2009 con el objetivo de llamar la atención de curadores, museos, galerías y residencias en Italia y Europa sobre más artistas contemporáneos.

El Premio Arte Laguna es una competencia con jurado y este año fue una mezcla impresionante de profesionales del arte internacionales, incluido el Curador Jefe del Museo de Arte de Haifa en Israel, el Director Artístico de la Bienal Industrial Ural, el Curador de la Galería de Artes Visuales en Nueva Delhi, el Director Artístico del Format International Photography Festival en el Reino Unido y de Italia, un destacado Arquitecto y un distinguido Crítico de Arte y Curador.

Proxima exhibición en Venecia, Italia

Además de un premio en efectivo, las obras de arte de los ganadores seleccionados se exhibirán en el Arsenale Nord de Venecia, una galería en el corazón de Venecia, del 11 de marzo de 2023 al 16 de abril de 2023. Debo decir que  ¡es una gran manera de dar inicio a la celebración de mi cumpleaños 70  el 16 de abril de 2023! Es hora de repasar algo de italiano.