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/

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

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 Wins an Arte Laguna Prize

And I'm a winner!

Like most artists, I spend weeks every year writing grant proposals for artists, applying for artist prizes and exhibitions, and scouting for residencies. I hate thinking about how much time this adds up to but it’s A LOT! Plus, many of these opportunities charge fees for entry. And the competition is tough. 

So imagine my surprise when I scrolled down the list of winners of the Arte Laguna Prize of Venice and saw my name as a winner in the Sculpture and Installation category!! 

The list of jurors is impressive

There were 25 winners in each category (Painting and Photography as well as Sculpture/Installation) and it is truly an international art prize. Some of the countries represented for the Sculpture prize were Taiwan, Brazil, Ukraine, Denmark, Serbia and Japan. There were only 3 winners from the US, so I was doubly amazed. 

This international art prize started in 2009 with the goal of bringing more contemporary artists to the attention of curators, museums, galleries and residencies in Italy and Europe. 

The Arte Laguna Prize is a juried competition and  this year was an impressive mix of international art professionals including the Chief Curator of the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel,  the Artistic Director of the Ural Industrial Biennial, the Curator of the Visual Arts Gallery in New Delhi, the Artistic Director of the Format International Photography Festival in the UK and from Italy, a prominent Architect and a distinguished Art Critic and Curator.

Upcoming exhibition in Venice, Italy

In addition to a cash prize, the selected winners’ artwork will be exhibited at the Arsenale Nord de Venice, a gallery in the heart of Venice, from March 11, 2023 – April 16, 2023. I must say, that is quite a way to kick off my 70th birthday on April 16, 2023! Time to brush up on some Italian.

AVIANTO: Kruger’s new solo exhibition opens at the Train Station, Chapala

The dream becomes a reality...

When I first moved to Lake Chapala from Massachusetts and discovered the Train Station Museum.  I used to sit in the main entry area, usually when there was a concert, and day dream about having an exhibition there. Now, eleven years later, my dream is becoming reality.

On May 14th, my solo exhibition AVIANTO, will open to the public and if you live near Lake Chapala, I hope you will attend the opening gala at noon (details below). All of the artwork in AVIANTOcelebrates the beauty of birds and the effects of climate change on migration and global bird populations.

My advocate for this show is the Train Station Museum Curator and Director, Gabriela Serrano Suzan, who reluctantly came for a studio visit last fall and promptly fell in love with my work.

It was a memorable meeting for both of us.

Deborah and Train Station Director, Gabriela Serrano Suzan

Museum Consortium of Jalisco

She is part of a larger team that form the Museum Consortium of Jalisco (Secretaría de Cultura del Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco), a group that includes fourteen museums throughout our state. This group is headed up by the visionary Curator, Miriam Villaseñor and the head of her administrative team, Gabriel de la Torre.

Together, these dynamic arts advocates have designed a traveling show for “AVIANTO”, that will open this fall at the Casa de la Cultura in Magdalena, and at the Museo de Sitio Juan José Arreola in Zapotlán el Grande. In 2023, the show will circle back to Guadalajara and open at the Government Palace, where dignitaries from around the world are entertained.

The Train Station built in 1920

New work debut!

My abstract artwork has evolved a great deal since my first show at the downtown Chapala Cultural Center Gallery nearly four years ago. “AVIANTO” will debut all new work that feature the long tail feathers made from recycled plastic that have become a signature feature of my artwork. 

The show will be spread over two art galleries at the beautiful Train Station, which is a historical landmark in Chapala.

The soaring clerestory of the Train Station will include an installation of three of my new sculptures that show the influence of traditional Mexican ceramic forms and some of my large-format bas reliefs. In the second gallery viewers can see my new collection of smaller work, framed glicee prints, my latest new direction in printmaking and also some historical work that gives a visual perspective to what I am currently making.

 

Opening Reception of Avivanto

After two months of working seven days a week, Avivanto was installed and we had a glorious opening reception. We had a great turn out including many of the women on my studio team.
All the members of the Museum Consortium of Jalisco (Secretaría de Cultura del Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco) were also in attendance. 

Here are some of the photos from this special day.

Red Vessel, work-in-progress

Next stop...Italy!

Several of the large-format abstract pieces in this show will travel to Venice next spring as part of the Laguna Arte Prize that I just won for Sculpture and Installation. So if you miss one of these shows, you can catch the work in Italy!

The Avianto exhibition will run from the opening reception on Saturday May 14th at noon until September 30th. All works are also on view at Saatchi.com

Resources

Gallery: https://sc.jalisco.gob.mx/agenda/rutas-turisticas/6496

Curator, Gabriela Serrano Suzan: sergabriela@gmail.com 

The Old Train Station Musum: www.oldtrainstation.com

Saatchi Art: https://www.saatchiart.com/deborahkruger

Follow Deborah’s show on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborahkrugerstudios/ 

 

PLUMAS: Solo exhibition at PRPG.mx in Mexico City

Curator Micheal Swank had his eye on an additional gallery space in his Colonia Juarez building for two years and when the space became available in October 2021, he jumped on it. After signing the lease, he announced his good news to our Virtual Residency Art Lab, one of several amazing artist programs of PRPG.mx. And later that night, he called and asked me to be the inaugural show.

 

Gallery view showing Broken, Habitat, Vortex, Accidentals and Devotional

Ordinarily, Micheal gives his artists a three-month lead time. In my case, we had a scant four weeks. During this time, he was upgrading the space, installing lighting and making other improvements. 

Somehow, we managed to organize the exhibition and on November 2nd, a truck arrived in Chapala to pick up all the artwork and drive it to Mexico City (8 hours away). Meanwhile, my assistant Sandra and student intern Liliana and I took an overnight bus from Guadalajara to CDMX so that we could hang the show.

Despite the usual snafus, short fuses and lack of supplies, we managed to get the show up on the walls by 1am on the day of the opening reception, November 6th.

 

Behind the scenes.....

Deborah putting on her heels for opening
Jenny and Sasa from Madison, WI flew down to see the show
It takes a pueblo to hang an exhibition!
Rodrigo Arcienega, Deborah Kruger and Micheal Swank at Plumas
Leo the building manager handling beer at the opening
Hanging the Kimono at the Plumas exhibition
Deborah on the gallery balcony with banners

For the first time in my life, I hired a public relations expert based in Mexico City, Rodrigo Arciniega. Thanks to Rodrigo’s extensive contacts, he arranged for TV personality Johnny Carmona to be the MC and ribbon cutter at the opening reception. Carmona is a judge on the Mexico version of RuPaul’s Drag Race (La Mas Draga). His bubbling personality, fame and turquoise beard brought in a big crowd including lots of press.

As a result of Rodrigo’s efforts, information about the show appeared in over twenty print and on-line venues including La Razón de México, Art Spiel (US), Zero Magazine, Art Morbida (IT) and Textile Artist (UK).

At the opening, I met many local artists, gave several halting interviews in Spanish and enjoyed the positive response from all quarters. I would say that my debut in Mexico City was a smash hit!

THE SHOW.....

Johnny Carmona, Micheal Swank and I in front of Devotional
Artist in front of Accidentals
Detail of Accidentals
Artist looking through Vortex
Artist in front of Accidentals and Broken Installation
Detail of Devotional as seen through Vortex
Deborah Kruger and Johnny Carmona, judge on La Mas Draga
Johnny Carmona at opening with Accidentals in background
View of Broken, Accidentals and Habitat through the center of Vortex

The exhibition will be open until December 11th and will continue on-line on Artsy until February 15th. 

Resources

Gallery: https://prpg.mx/

Curator: Micheal Swank michealswank@prpg.mx

Press & Media: Rodrigo Arciniega soyrodrigoarciniega@hotmail.com

Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/deborah-kruger

PLUMAS: My First Solo Show in Mexico City

On November 6th my solo exhibition ‘Plumas’ will open both physically at the Proyectos Galería Mexico City and virtually on Artsy. PRPG.mx and partner gallery Dab Art Co. (Los Angeles, Ventura, and Austin) will be jointly presenting my show.

Both shows are firsts for me. The 10 pieces on display at Proyectos Galería mark my first solo show in Mexico City. This is also the first time my work will be shown on Artsy, an international on-line forum that is only accessible for artists that are represented by a member gallery. 

I met curator and gallerist Micheal Swank last summer through his Art Lab. This virtual residency was another first for me. I hadn’t participated in an artist group since I moved to Mexico from Western Massachusetts eleven years ago. For the previous 25 years I had been a member of a wonderful women artists support group.

The summer Art Lab gave me the opportunity to evolve ideas for a new sculpture and also deepen my thinking about appropriation, a topic that has been on my mind since I began using Mexican huipils as a source of inspiration. I continued Art Lab through the fall and during that time I developed my relationships with an international group of artists and also with Micheal, who skillfully facilitated the group.

Having relationships with curators who understand and are enthusiastic about my work has been key to opening doors and working with Micheal Swank is no exception.

Micheal’s curatorial approach is unique. He is genuinely interested in having authentic relationships with the artists in his circle. Micheal is also an ardent supporter of LBGTIA art and artists. In my experience, that kind of acceptance has been in short supply for bisexuals like myself so I felt very comfortable in the queer-friendly space that Micheal created.

When a new exhibition space suddenly opened up in Micheal’s gallery building, he invited me to be the inaugural exhibit. Although we didn’t have much lead time, our ability to communicate well enabled us to pull together the show in just over a month.

Fortunately, I have been preparing for an upcoming museum show in 2022, so I have a lot of inventory. This allowed me to easily fill the new PRPG.mx space.

I feel extremely fortunate to have Micheal’s avid support, which has not only affirmed my artwork but also my career trajectory.

Exhibition dates for Plumas:

At Proyectos Galería Mexico City, November 6th to December 11th, 2021

On Artsy November 6th to February 15, 2022

Opening Reception: Saturday November 6th,  6 – 10pm

Address: Calle Lucerna 1, Colonia Juarez, 06600 Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

 

Resources:

PRPG.mx Gallery and Resdiency Program: https://www.facebook.com/PRPGMX

Art Lab: This is an 8 week online and in-person residency program https://www.facebook.com/groups/prpgmxartlab

Curatorial Program: This new in-person and online curatorial residency is focused on building community with an emphasis on ethical relationships between artists and curators from all over the world.  https://prpg.mx/

Curator Micheal Swank: https://www.dabart.me/curators

Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/?fbclid=IwAR1ZtcqP73I8tAcpDtTfvRhMLPlznzVVufg2Wl7yUvRZ3imQeCZkUC1uw9w

Deborah Kruger’s Fall Blog

Current Exhibitions: My work will be in two international group exhibitions this fall

Earth Matters

This exhibition is sponsored by the Surface Design Association (SDA), my favorite fiber organization. I was on their Board of Directors for several years. The show will be held at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, MN September 3-October 30, 2021

This exhibition was juried by Nnenna Okore, a well respected environmental artist and art professor. The exhibition focuses on the ecological repercussions of human influence through multilayered perspectives. My piece Conflagration will be shown along with forty-three other eco-based textile artists.

More information: 

https://deborahkruger.com/2021-sda-earth-matters/
https://watermarkartcenter.org/earth-matters/
https://www.surfacedesign.org/events-exhibits/exhibits/earth-matters/

Rufino Tamayo Bienal

Abandon was chosen to be in the Rufino Tamayo Bienal, which has been traveling throughout Mexico since October 2020. The third stop of this touring show will be at the Museo de Arte de Celaya Octavio Ocampo in Celaya, Mexico from September 10 – November 27, 2021. Fifty-one artists were chosen for the exhibition The final stop of this prestigious Bienal will be at the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City (dates to be announced).  

More information:

https://deborahkruger.com/museo-de-arte-de-celaya-octavio-ocampo-2021/

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Museo-Octavio-Ocampo/1628352910747740

Virtual Residency in Mexico City

I am also in a very exciting virtual residency based in Mexico City organized by curator Micheal Swank. What, you may ask, is a virtual residency? 

Micheal is the force behind PRPG.mx, a queer friendly multi-platform organization that presents exhibitions, residencies and community programs. Since the residency meetings are on Zoom, artists around the world can participate. Each of the artists that are juried into the residency propose a project and we discuss these projects together over the 8 weeks of each residency. Since all the artists are very accomplished, we can dive into nuanced conversations about the ideas and process of our various projects.

Follow Micheal’s projects on Instagram and Facebook

Instagram Hack!

My Instagram account got hacked in late August and I’ve been quite upset about it. I think I’ve moved through all the classic stages of grief and I finally started a new Instagram account @deborahkrugerstudios 

Instagram is so important to me as an artist and I loved the community that I had worked so hard to build over the last two years with many artists, curators, and galleries around the world. I had over 1,600 followers and I am so frustrated that I have to start from scratch.

If you were wondering why I haven’t replied to a recent chat or post, now you know why.

So, before you continue reading, please hop on Instagram and follow me again at my new address: @deborahkrugerstudios  I would also appreciate it if you shared my IG with other artists and curators who would enjoy knowing about my artwork.

News from the Studio

Beginning the last week of August, we welcomed Liliana Heffron from Providence, RI to our studio team. Liliana will be spending a six-month art internship with us and she will be helping out with constructing the large pieces that I am preparing for upcoming exhibitions, learning about the endless fundraising required for building museum-scale work, and mastering social media skills that include writing and video editing. Her sweet disposition and strong work ethic make her a bright light for all of us. 

I have a lot of other irons in the fire for grants and exhibitions and I look forward to sharing more good news with you down the road. 

Thanks as always for your encouragement, comments and support,