Warning: Long and rambling post. I know I keep talking about more frequent short posts, and I'm trying to get there, really!
Has this been a really strange month for everyone, or just me? Maybe I should say strange year, and I can't believe it's almost over. I have twelve days off for the holidays, and I really need it to regroup and reconsider all that's happened this year, and my intentions for next year.
I'm at a stitching standstill. I can't seem to get moving on anything. It's partly that I'm so immersed at work with a particular side of the craft world; it's sucking up a lot of my textile energy. In the words of the most famous six-word autobiography, this year was not quite what I was planning. Remember last year? When I was all gung-ho about graduate school in cultural studies so I could create the job of textile anthropologist/global explorer/artist/author/sustainability expert/philosopher? Then the recession happened and I had to find a more stable income with health insurance. Then I spent the first few months of 2009 negotiating about the Washington job, spent a month there (yay museums) and ultimately decided not to take it, possibly my stupidest mistake biggest learning experience in a year full of 'em.
And now suddenly I've logged seven months in a different job, making ends meet, and many of the things that matter in my life are sitting in the way-back of the bus, and I can hear them clamoring for attention. I'm so grateful for the stability the job has given me, but also frustrated that opportunities came up that I could not fully embrace because I didn't have much flexibility. So I'm glad for a break and a chance to plan.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking about how different art forms inform each other. Given the stitching gridlock, I've been looking at paintings and photographs as well as fabric and stitching. The New York Times (seriously, I could spend all day just reading their art, politics, writing and culture blogs) has a great blog called Lens, and if you are at all interested in photography as art, journalism, or cultural record, you should visit it. I was captured by this post on Librado Romero, a photographer who also paints. I have no photography skills (have you noticed?), but I'm looking for a new camera that will at least give me a better basic tool to learn to take a decent picture with. Right now I'm thinking Canon S90 or Panasonic LX3, if anyone has thoughts.
Last week, I rediscovered Richard Diebenkorn's paintings. The more you look at art, the more you see the kinship in what calls to you. Though I'm a stylistic omnivore, I always swoon over the painterly, color-field experience, the kind that's deeply emotional but also intelligent, not random, with both a spiritual quality and an inherent reference to nature and the material world. Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series is like this. The Orange County Museum of Art has an exhibition of this masterful series scheduled for spring 2010.
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #54, 1972
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #125, 1980
This article about Diebenkorn draws a parallel between his Ocean Park paintings and the work of Agnes Martin, who I've written about before -- I admire her work enormously. Alabama Chanin has been inspired by Agnes Martin for her spring collection of handmade couture. I like when these pieces fit together and there seems to be a context and a narrative that links the work I'm drawn to and the artists I admire. (Here is a good review of Agnes Martin's work from 1992.)
Closer to home, I've raved about Deidre Adam's stitched and painted quilts before; she's also a gifted photographer and is now making some amazing paintings. She's a wonderful example of someone who can explore different media with great fluidity and grace. I especially like that there is a unified vision and point of view in all of her work, no matter the medium; this may be what distinguishes a professional artist from a hobbyist with a short attention span, so her fine example is something worth aspiring to. Here are some of her newest paintings, reprinted with permission. Her story of these paintings is fascinating; read it on her blog here.
I'll leave you with these images of beauty on this Christmas Eve. Thank you for being here all year, and a very sweet and soulful holiday to you; listen for the song of the angels. And a special thank-you to Laurie for paying forward my small gift; that made me very happy!
It came upon a midnight clear
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
"Peace on earth, good will to men
From heaven's all-gracious King,"
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.