Confidence in Crochet

My mom taught me how to crochet when I was younger, maybe around 11. The first project I ever made was an afghan blanket with a chevron pattern. It was a cream color with maroon and navy stripes and it took me ages to complete. I struggled to get it just right- dropping stitches here and there, not sure exactly how or why that happened when I swore I was counting every 12 stitches. It wasn’t until 2015 that I started creating a garment business from crochet- selling scarves and headbands. In 2016 I went as far to really start branding myself more as a small business- expanding my product line, creating a specific style and texture within each scarf/garment, using a specific brand of yarn throughout each piece. It wasn’t until as recently as 2017 that I actually started considering crochet as a medium to also create fine art objects.

I entered graduate school in the Fall of 2016 yearning to combine craft and photography. Not sure exactly how I might do that, I stumbled through my first year of graduate school until finally Molly Burke, the Assistant Graduate Director, looked at me and said in so many words, “why aren’t you crocheting?” At that point in time I didn’t have an answer. Crochet for me had always been a hobby and a side hustle that made me some extra cash throughout the holidays and winter. What would it look like to create fine art objects via crochet? What would it look like for me to be a craft/fiber artist? Could I combine crochet and photography in some way?

Since last Spring, I have began to more heavily investigate these questions. My love for crochet has only grown and I have come to really appreciate the beauty of a stitch, as well as the object that is created when all of those single stitches come together for a greater whole. Although I am still adjusting in being a more full time craft/crochet based artist, I’m growing more confident each day as I continue to work in this medium. Crochet has a strong sentimental value to me and what more appropriate for the work and content I am currently trying to navigate which so closely surrounds my family dynamic

Using a craft taught to me by my mother, I am using crochet to create objects that investigate the relationship I have with my father: creating conversation about his career as a firefighter, the pride in his work, and something he loves most by using what I find pride in, love most, and have chosen as my career. I labor over these objects in a similar way to which he labored intensively as a fire fighter. A very different kind of labor/work and yet still the diligence and excellence of my work is what drives me in paying homage to the very same diligence and excellence that he required of himself.

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1000 Feet

I’ve begun testing out some materials to see  which will provide the most “bang for my buck” if you will.  Not necessarily in relation to literally cost but in how the material begins and then translates into a crocheted object.  For example, last week I purchased 3 yards of fabric (1 yd = 3 ft … so 9 ft in length).  The fabric itself is around 1 yard in width as well, you’d think that is a pretty good amount of material and should translate into a decently large crochet piece.  After spending a couple hours cutting the fabric into 1-1.5 inch strips and sort of slip knotting them together to create a yarn like structure and crocheting it together, I discovered the exact opposite.  The piece essentially came out to be approximately 24 inches in width and maybe 6-8 inches in height/length.  I recall having similar sizing breakdowns last spring.  A 6ft by 10ft silk image, once crocheted, became approximately 33x 22 inches.  The shrinkage of material just really isn’t worth all the work and effort that goes into it.

Remembering that I had a 1000 ft. spool of rope, I decided to see how that would translate as well as to see what the crochet stitches would begin to look like and how it could function as an object specifically with the weight and body of this material.  It took me just about 2 hours to crochet this piece and although there is still quite a bit of shrinking happening within the substrate (it’s not a 1000ft or even close to 1000 ft finished piece) there seems to be more room for development with this material.  Some things I found interesting about the rope as a material are it’s heavy weight once crocheted into a larger object, the looseness and free flowing nature of it even as a crocheted object, its potential for manipulation through wire and layering, as well as its potential for different texture and size via the diameter of the rope.  Below are some images of the rope piece and ways I have begun to think about it’s potential for manipulation and created context through layering via hanging methods.

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Blue: A love affair

I’ve never been the kind of artist that uses art as a means to express personal emotion.  For years I photographed the female form because I was interested in the aesthetic of the abstraction of the body and creating interesting compositions through a photographic lens, but since I have been in graduate school it seems the content of my work has gone from aesthetic, formal observations, to emotional, personal content.

For 2+ years I dated a man who I thought I might ultimately share a future life with.  We met in undergrad and developed a friendship, but there always seemed to be a little bit more there.  We were awkward and avoided the potential feelings we might have and instead spent time dating other people, until eventually in the Spring of 2014 we decided to give in and figure out what this weird thing was between us.  I always used to say I feel like I loved him since the day I met him, it just took me a while to come around to it, and I still believe that’s true.  I drunkly told him after a month of dating that I was falling in love with him- something I still am embarrassed about to this day.  Our time spent together in a small rural PA town while we both finished school was nothing short of amazing.  We both played rugby, we were both hard working students, christians; our relationship was what some would call picture perfect.

Unfortunately, however, as we got more serious, so did the potential for our future, or lack there of.  He was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and come graduation he would have to make the decision as to whether he would find a job in the states and stay, pursue a masters here, or head home and study there instead.  The latter occurred and was something I feared for a very long time. In August of 2016 as I began my first year of graduate school here in Columbus, OH, he left and returned to South Africa without a set timeline or plan to return to the states. We did what we could, but ultimately our relationship ended in November.  Being an ocean away, with 6-7 hour time difference, and no real guarantee of when you may see each other next is as you can imagine, emotionally daunting.

Blue; a love affair is a body of work that is comprised of photographs I took in December of 2014 while I visited my boyfriend at the time and his family in South Africa.  The photographs are accompanied by a small book containing a written narrative that explains a personal association created between the color blue, South Africa, this man, and his family.  The photographs are printed as Cyanotypes to also reflect the content of the book and the color association.  The combination of written narrative and personal photographs aim to explore and explain memory and the pain or emotion that comes with a love once lost. unnamed

Keep grinding

Welp, my final critique with a small group of faculty is a short 10 days away.  I am anxious as I have a lot of work to do, but also keen to get the critique finished so that I can then focus on really preparing my work for final install for CHROMA.

I am currently TAing a photography course, Material Studies, and we were just recently introduced to a very interesting alternative photo process called Mordant printing.  Essentially a photo sensitive liquid is made from a mixture of Potassium Dichromate and water.  The liquid is applied to fabric, dried, and then a large negative is sandwiched between the fabric and a piece of glass and exposed to UV light.  This produces the image directly on fabric.  The image is then rinsed and the final process involves hand dying fabric using natural dyes- synthetic dyes do not work for this process.

Since I have been using the textiles printer a lot to print images directly on fabric- this method provides an alternative avenue and also incorporates an interesting piece of domestic work that I think could be a very interesting process piece for my work.  Let me explain…

 

Lately I have been using my images from the textile printer and finger crocheting them into large crocheted photographs.  The images themselves aren’t totally recognizable, however, I am interested in the idea of breaking down the domestic space through ripping and cutting of the image, and then reconstructing it through the crochet process. This is fairly simple but makes slight reference to a domesticated craft or work process through crochet that I find relevant.  With the Mordant printing I can take it even a step further.  By printing images on fabric through this alternative process there is hand washing of the fabric involved- similar to when I use the textile printer, but then the last step- hand dyeing- is where I believe my process can really also speak to the content of the work.  In order to use a natural dye, I can buy them online, OR I can take actual existing objects and “cook” them in order to prepare the natural dye.  For example, onions skins are great for fabric dyeing, avocado pits, flowers, carrot tops, leaves, insects, roots, etc.  In order to create the dye the aforementioned objects need to be heated to a certain temperature and “cooked,” in which then the liquid produced will be used as a dye bath.  The idea of having to complete the domestic task of “cooking” in order to produce the work creates a compelling layer in relation to my interests of woman’s work and domesticity.

I have some concrete ideas that I am going to pursue this week and really hit the ground running.  I almost feel hesitant to make something that I want to without having run the idea by someone yet- which is odd, because as an artist I have always made things on my own but I think a little part of grad school has embellished some sort of need for approval into my thinking- but not today!  (And no one at CCAD has ever said to me that I need their approval to make something, to be clear).  I am excited to really grind things out and get the week going!

Stay Tuned!

Studio visits galore

On Wednesday I met with my mentor Danielle Julian Norton.  Together we spoke about the direction of my work and brainstormed through some potential ideas I was creating.  I felt a lot better as we spoke and as our meeting concluded.  She really gave me some excellent advice in a way to think about working and art making in general that I hope will help me not only now but further into my career.

 

Today I also had the pleasure of meeting with Curator Amanda Hunt.  Unfortunately I missed her lecture last night because I had work-upon meeting her and seeing how down to earth and awesome she was, I was even more bummed that I wasn’t able to attend.  We had a quick 30 minute discussion and she was able to give me some artists to consider and some advice in regards to where I am thinking with going in my work.

Don’t be too literal in what I am thinking of referencing.

Be aware of the spectrum of experiences that could be applicable-not just my own.

I even briefly spoke with her about what I am thinking about for my possible thesis work and her intrigue was encouraging.  It was wonderful to get some time to speak with someone outside of CCAD and have them talk through my work and ideas with me.  Time flew by unfortunately but nonetheless it was a great opportunity.

 

This semester has been really wonderful and chalk full of studio visits which has been so helpful and eye opening.  I realized last semester I had not really taken advantage of visiting artists and opportunities like this and so I made a promise to myself that this semester I would make sure to really take advantage of visiting artists and lecturers who were willing to meet with students and do my best to meet with as many as possible.  So far it has served as a really positive avenue to understand my work better and get more of a holistic insight.  I am so blessed to be at a program that offers so many opportunities for growth and exploration.

 

Also- Amanda was the first person to ever ask me if I was a feminist and in the moment I was almost startled by the question.  I felt almost nervous or unsure but proudly answered, yes.