Sunday, March 31, 2019

It’s up!

My newest exhibit (Migrations: Where have you been and what have you seen) is hanging at the Bloomington Playwright’s project until June 9th.  The doors are open from 9-5 and longer on performance evenings.  It’s wonderful to have only this new set of fifteen pieces featuring migrating creatures all together, which makes the exhibit feel very cohesive.  In my studio they have to share wall space with the rest of my art pieces.  Nancy Riggert helped me transport the Migration pieces and hang the show, and in the process I realized I never posted an image of the completed ‘Stitch in Time’ weaving, so I thought I would share that here.  It was great fun collecting all of the sewing notions for the piece.  
Some are old ones that I’ve had for years, while others were discovered on recent scrounging adventures.  The featured red headed weaver bird is making an elaborate woven nest out of found objects, and of course threads and yarns are the ideal weft, even for a bird.  All of the elements just live together happily in the space.

One of the hats that I sometimes have to wear besides artist is exhibit curator to develop stories within my pieces in an exhibit.  Normally I focus on objects within a piece, but curating a show makes me consider how completed pieces interact with each other.  The challenge is arranging art pieces, some with shared elements and others quite disparate, into a flow that develops as you gaze or walk along a series of pieces.  I want your eye and your brain to create a story from beginning to end.  
For my water exhibit there was a natural progression from single droplet that led to an ocean, but in this case I hadn’t yet physically isolated the migration series from the rest of my art.  Some of the progression elements might draw you through seasons, from bleak winter through full summer.  You will see color and style progressions, as well as some of the deeper cultural themes that underscored the genesis of this exhibit in these difficult times for human migrants.

Concluding and hanging this body of work was a cause for celebration, but it has to be a quick one because I’m off to a show in Mississippi (Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival) within the week.  Tommie was home for a few days of his spring break before skipping off to Auburn to spend a few days with his girlfriend.  We had conch fritters using frozen conch from our North Carolina vacation, which is a nice way to remember the trip throughout the year.  I then had to buckle down to complete a few more pieces for the show, because Jim has been whispering in my ear that he’d like me to revisit a few of my most successful pieces for the three new venues I’ll visit in the summer.  And so I did!  I find that I’ve matured as an artist, such that these new iterations are even richer and more dimensional than the originals.  I made the next iteration of my Garden Walk composition, which is one of his favorites, and it forced me to dig deep into my yarn bins.  If you’ve never seen my storage room, you wouldn’t know that all my yarns are sorted by specific color ranges.  I have carmines, earthy reds, dark yellows and sky blues all in separate bins, which were flying off the racks to accumulate all the flower colors for the path.  What’s also fun in assembling the piece is remembering this history of each element in the weaving.  I wove the background in Bloomington, stretched out the weaving in Michigan, needle felted the trunks on the drive home from Kawkawlin on spring break, and crocheted leaf clumps on the way home from Oberlin when I collected Tommie.  The piece is warm and happy because it reflects the life I’m living. 

And yes, Pie.  Jim kept it a secret as to what kind it was as I smelled it baking and waited to test it.  This season of the year is challenging for finding pie fruit as we look forward to the farmer’s market but don’t have any fresh fruits.  He did a sneaky thing, combining a mixed bag of frozen fruit with a box of fresh blackberries to pump it up.  My first bite was of a cherry, which was crazy, and then I hit the blackberries, which were flavorful.  The crust was baked to my definition of perfection, which is a deeply toasted wheat flour taste.  I hope I see more of those!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Harbingers, Herons and Fishing

The great blue heron is done!  And Jim and Tommie got to go fishing, so spring is off to a good start.  I’ve been working on my heron piece for several months, and it’s just so fun to have all of the pieces finally come together.  The hanging willow branches seen in the foreground were made months ago.  Each leaf is attached to the main branch by a thin chartreuse vein.  The technique I used for this takes me back about fifteen years when I was first starting out in fiber art.  
I came across a spool of thin wire wrapped with a thread of green that I thought was crazy—I would never do anything like that!  Still, I saved the spool for a special use.  Unfortunately, the green was not quite right for my piece, so I had to wrap my own material.  I discovered it’s really not that hard to make, it just looks crazy. 

Spring is finally here and I’m feeling happy. The winter hasn’t felt as horrible to me as many of my friends have said or posted.  I think that’s because I spent so much time in my art studio this year.  
I don’t know if it’s the broad spectrum lighting or the fact that I’ve been creating art every day, but I just don’t feel as exhausted as in years past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m tickled to have spring here, and I’m certainly celebrating with more spring pieces.  That brings me to my current piece, which is called ‘Harbingers of Spring’.  It will feature a cheerful Robin and several clumps of dandelions, traditional signs of the season changing.  Speaking of robins, I can’t believe how many we have this year!  It just seems like a bumper crop. 
It feels as if I’m avoiding more robins than squirrels when I’m driving these days.  Lately I’ve been working on the individual dandelion leaves.  I figure that I need to have four to five leaves per clump and roughly three clumps, so I have a few more to make.  I struggled a little with getting the proportions right when I needle felted the robin, but I’m pleased with how it turned out. 

I do still have a deadline looming for my exhibit called:  “Migration:  where have you been and what have you seen?”  I’m hoping to include my robin piece in that show as part of fifteen new pieces in the big reveal.  It will be fun to see them all together and have closure on my migrating animals project.  The exhibition will hang at the BPP (Bloomington Playwrights Project) into June, through their performances of “The Jedi Handbook” and “To Quiet the Quiet”.  Stop by and see a performance and the fiber art!

My big project on Friday was retrieving Tommie from Oberlin.  I set out at six a.m. with an espresso under clear skies in Bloomington.  It turned into a harrowing drive through rain, falling slush, hail and white-out snow conditions through western Indiana and Ohio.  I persevered and got my little pumpkin.  It was nice to meet up on campus with great aunt Marian and Uncle Paul and have lunch at Aladdinin Oberlin.  By the way, they make amazing pita pizzas.  My favorite is the Farm that is loaded with raw spring vegetables.  We got our hugs and hit the road again after a nice visit.  The weather turned nicer, with blue skies and puffy clouds all the way home.  It’s wonderful to have my family together again, even for a few days.  And yes, Jim did get to go fishing with Tommie.  It wasn’t a great day, with high, murky cold water.  Still, they launched the canoe and fished where they could and caught just a few crappies they released.  On the other hand, I suspect that my heron didn’t catch many either. 

And hooray, it was another pie week!  It seems like the fruit gods dropped a huge load of inexpensive blackberries on Bloomington this past week, so a nice blackberry pie appeared.  Yum.  I have one slice remaining until the hourglass timer gets flipped over and the sands reverse direction. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Spring flowers are blooming!

At least they are blooming in my art studio, along with butterflies fluttering.  In my mind, spring is in full swing!  I’m steaming up on a real deadline with an exhibit scheduled to hang on March 26th at the BPP.  This will be the first showing of my migration series called “Migration:  where have you been and what have you seen?”  I’m currently finishing pieces that have been in progress for some time.  The latest example is my ‘Monarchs in Transit’ piece.  I actually started the weaving four or five months ago and I’ve been slowly accumulating components since then.  Last week I assembled the first of the flower heads, and yesterday it all came together.  I’m quite fond of the monarch heads with embellished guitar strings for antennae.  I put a tiny drop of hot glue on each antenna tip and painted them matte black to create the effect I wanted.  I first bent the strings into a ‘V’ shape to embedded the structure in the head to anchor it.  I especially like the magical monarch that’s flying above the flowers looking for a place to land. 

I kept art progress moving forward this past week when we visited Grandma in the cold of Michigan for spring break.  The weather really wasn’t that bad and we did a lot of hanging out as a family.  We had an unexpected visit from Kathy Rulli, Jim’s cousin —it was great to catch up with her.  I spent a lot of time stretching out weavings into frames for the BPP show, although I’m also trying to finish a few other pieces before I head down to Mississippi to do the Ridgeland Arts Festival in early April.  I’m excited because this is a new venue for me and I get to visit with more cousins - Marth and Dave in Madison.  With two shows on the horizon I won’t be able to get to the garden for a while, because as soon as I return from the Mississippi show I’ll travel to Chicago for a long weekend with the Sounds of South group.  After that I’m definitely going to stick my fingers in the dirt!

As soon as we got back from Michigan I went full force in the art studio.  After completing the monarch piece I’m hurrying to complete a piece called ‘Thinking about Fishing’.  Jim is a wreck over the winter when he can’t get out fishing, so he spends a lot of time thinking and planning for the time he can get back on the water.  January and February are the hardest months for him, and this cold, wet March set back his mental calendar.  I can tell he’s ready to go when he drives out to the lake to check out the water color and level.  On Friday he saw a great blue heron waiting for spring fishing too, which matches the bird I’m creating for my piece.  My heron will be examining the water and deciding which fish or amphibian would make the nicest lunch. 

My family timeline is heating up too, which includes a drive planned for Friday to Oberlin to pick up Tommie for his spring break.  It was a little sad not to have my little pumpkin along for our spring break for the first time.  I miss him, but it sounds like he’s doing well and having a wonderful time—he’s right where he needs to be.  Cubba just gets twice as many hugs and kisses and it doesn’t seem to bother him.  And Grandma baked me a pie!  I didn’t get a picture, but it was a mixed berry peach pie, and it was tasty!  I had a slice each day I was in Michigan.  Now the countdown begins in Bloomington!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin