Community of Women

My Mexican Studio Assistants-
Although I have studios in Durham, NC and Chapala, Mexico, most of my production work takes place in Mexico. Due to the vast difference in pay scale, I can afford to employ a team of Mexican women to fabricate my feathers.

Texture

The favorite spice of fiber artists
Even when I worked with fiber and encaustic, I bounced back and forth between letting the wax glow unimpeded versus adding waxed linen and wire to create surface texture. Now that I am creating feathers by screen-printing on fused plastic bags I have started to feel the tidal pull towards adding texture again.

Wandering in the Desert

Every summer I jury a couple hundred applications for the 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency Program. One note I frequently write on applications: work and statement both strong but not integrated. One day I snapped to attention because I realized that my pieces were guilty of this too.

Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga

Long before I met Naomi, I followed her work because she has an uncanny ability to meld the unforgiving hardness of metal with the lyrical softness of thread.
Naomi’s work using weathered sheet metal and crocheted wire thread are autobiographical in the sense that they reflect all of Naomi’s personal history.

El Anatsui

I will be blogging periodically about artists whose work influences mine and why. I’m starting with the Ghanian artist El Anatsui who works in Nsukka, Nigeria. Now internationally reknown, he creates massive wall hung pieces and installations from thousands of bits of recycled metal tied together with copper wire.

His work defies categorization and lives somewhere between painting, sculpture and fiber. Like many artists working on a large scale, he employs dozens of studio helpers to fabricate the work. While there are some who question artists who use the labor of others in the construction of their work, this is now a common studio practice, especially for artists working on a massive scale. Here in Mexico, I employ six local Mexican women in the fabrication of my feathers and in the silk-screening process.

I am very intrigued with the concept of making something from nothing and in this way, I see a relationship between his work and mine. We both share a passion for patterning and also elevating recycled materials (metal bottle caps for him; plastic bags for me), by forging them into work that is both visually complex and brimming with meaning and cultural references.

 

I am deeply inspired by the scale, beauty, inventiveness, construction and originality of El Anatsui.

 

Additional resources about El Anatsui:

http://el-anatsui.com/

http://www.jackshainman.com/artists/el-anatsui/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Anatsui

 

 

Olga de Amaral

I have been mesmerized by the artwork by Olga de Amaral for over 30 years. I first encountered this Columbian artist at Bella Artes Gallery in Santa Fe. I wandered in was instantly captivated by Olga’s work, which like El Anatsui, is a fusion of painting, sculpture and fiber.

Chakaia Booker

Chakaia Booker is the ultimate recycler. Her monumental abstract sculptures using discarded tires embody the ‘making something from nothing’ ethic. Encountering her work is overwhelming. It’s huge. It smells. It’s hard to imagine the physicality required in building with this unforgiving material. Looking at it is exhausting.
It’s also thrilling.