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!

Better Late than Never…

I have been meaning to post on here with updates about my work for the past week and a half but unfortunately keep putting it on the back burner- but better late than never they always say right?

I had my first critique on January 25th, the second week of school.  I was eager to be critiqued so early in the semester so that I could hear feedback from my peers and hopefully be able to figure out what type of images I wanted to make and the materials I was going to use.  As I said in a former post, I wanted to continue with silks but I was really struggling with making the imagery on the silks meaningful and was hoping my peers could provide some helpful advice in regards to that issue specifically.

For my critique I printed a 6ft. by 10ft. image on silk hung on dowel rod with free range to move and be observed.  The image was of a living room interior- still what I would say, a flat, boring image.  Thankfully my peers agreed and came to the conclusion that I was trying to be “too nice” in my image making.  My frustrations about the underlying expectations for women to work in the home are extremely apparent when I speak about it, so I needed to start to make the same sentiment in my artwork.

Looking back at some artists like Martha Rosler and Sandra Ogel, who had done performance/video pieces discussing this topic in a similar vain, my wheels really began turning. I started to think about some major chores or duties that women are expected to do within a home and broke them down to folding laundry, ironing, dishes, and vacuuming.  Beginning with the laundry elements of folding and ironing I thought about making a work inspired by Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen. I have never done video work before so this is my first attempt, but so far, I am very excited about the possibilities it holds.  I don’t want to get away from the silks completely, because I really enjoy the metaphor created between the transparency of the silk as a material and the transparency of invisibility of women’s work.  I am working to figure out how to combine the silk printing with the video, possibly with projection or installed hangings with video projections coinciding with the fabric pieces.

My next critique is on the 22nd- just about a week away.  I am looking forward to having a video completed as well as silk prints to have a nearly full installation. ‘Til soon!

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Final Thoughts on a final critique

As my final critique rolled around, I was excited, a little anxious, but excited.  I felt like I had completed a decent amount of work, varying with different materials and printing substrates as well as installation works.  All of which were things I had either not done before or had little experience with.  I felt prepared.  Why then when the time came to present my work was I so bloody nervous??  One may never know.  Either way, the feedback and critique were both helpful.

As I photographed couples and their homes, my work began to take on the idea/construct of a sort of sociological survey of people living in their domestic spaces today.  Which was indeed what I was investigating, however, it wasn’t making my viewpoint come to light or bringing forth the message I would have hoped.  The images documented these lived in spaces and the people inhabiting them but really what were they saying?  Truthfully, not too much.  They were documents.  There were some interesting things happening I think with sewing into the details of images, printing and collaging on cotton, as well as printing on silk and yet still they were not quite saying what I wanted them to say.

I watch many women around me deal with the daily frustrations of being responsible for the domestic duties within their home, and as a woman myself I find it daunting and aggravating.  I see the women I know exhausted, stressed; not feeling as though they have enough time in the day to go to work, get what they need for dinner, tend to their own wants- maybe workout or do some yoga- and also get dinner prepped and cooked by a reasonable time.  Not to mention clean and vacuum on the weekends, while they also work their second job.  All the while, their partner spends his time perhaps relaxing in his chair watching tv while dinner is prepared or maybe outside doing some work in the yard or garage until it’s time to come in and eat and then relax before bed.

Many women I know enjoy cooking, enjoy baking, and heck some even enjoy cleaning, however, it is when these things suddenly go from voluntary activities to required underlying expectations that a line is crossed and they no longer become enjoyable. As a woman I find it incredibly exhausting to think that this is what my life may become but truthfully I hope to find a partner that will be willing to share these duties so that I will not have to feel as much of the burden and frustration that many other women I know face.

As I begin this semester and continue exploring these ideas I hope to bring to light this notion of frustration, exhaustion, and daunting task work that women undergo as shared household members.  I am hoping to continue to work with printing on different fabrics and finding a way to manipulate them to show my point of view and opinions on the subject matter more clearly.

 

Below are images from my final critique.  A culmination of a semester’s investigation.

The cost of being a woman

As a photographer I am interested in the domestic space and the roles that both men and women play within that space, specifically one that is shared. There is a variety of statistical analysis and studies that have been reported by sociologists as well as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that state, even in 2015, although strides have been made, women are still doing more housework than men. Arlie Russell Hochschild describes housework and caring for children as a kind of “second shift” that a woman must work after being at a regular full time job all day. I am largely interested in creating photographic work revolving around this underlying expectation created for women while also incorporating craftwork aesthetically within the photographs. My work currently is a documentation and exploration of the domestic space itself as a means to research current men and women in their domestic spaces leading eventually to a more concise and specific narrative regarding what many would deem as “women’s work.”

Thanks to Alice Frenz

In my last post I mentioned the idea of quilting images together as a means of collage- so without hesitation the process has begun. Luckily CCAD is blessed to have a textile digital fabric printer and even more blessed to have a faculty member, Alice Frenz, who spends 10+ hours with this machine printing things for students. I met with Alice on Wednesday about possibilities and scheduled to make some tests for today. She’s wonderful to work with and today was more than accommodating. We actually made my first full print!

There are a variety of textile materials to print on and I am so excited for the opportunity to print on both cotton and silk fabrics. The silk will allow me to layer transparent images on top of the opaque cottons- allowing for a more traditional collage element. Monday I will print my second base image and then hopefully have the silks by mid week!

 

Let the cutting and sewing begin!

 

The beginning of the end.

I haven’t posted in about two weeks.. whoops.  And I also have realized a lot of my most recent work is not posted!  Stay tuned!

Thanksgiving break has come to a close and with it has come a bit of anxiety with a side of stress due to time (or rather, a lack thereof).  There are only 3 more weeks left of the semester- I’ve almost made it through my first trial of graduate school!  (I don’t want to get too overzealous though, there is a lot of work to be done).

This weekend I also am participating as part of the on campus art show.  I have been prepping like crazy for it, making scarves and other craft oriented things.  As much as I am looking forward to it on Saturday it has been a major distraction to my current photographic practice and I am keen to get it over with and get back to my main focus.

This week I am going to be experimenting with some hand stitching on larger photographs that I printed last week on campus.  During my critique, some of my peers suggested that within the work I presented that I should combine my notions of collage, large printing, and hand sewn/craft elements into one and see what I can come up with.  I am excited to spend some time in my studio this evening and do a bit of sewing on some of the larger images.  I definitely need to grab some more embroidery thread though.

While thinking about the digital collage prints, I was wondering how else I could incorporate craftwork into these images, different than that of the more rigid, documented interiors of the domestic space.  Immediately my mind went to quilting.  I quilted a photograph once before and I truly loved the process, as time consuming and frustrating as it could be.  I’ve been thinking about printing these large domestic interior images on fabric and then collaging them in a manner similar to that of which I have done through digital processes but now with sewing.  I am excited to give it a shot and think it could really elevate the imagery in a way that I have been hoping for.  My main concern is finding an outlet to print them on.  Because the images are all mainly at 24″ to 44″ wide, I cannot adhere the fabric to a piece of poster board and feed it through the Epson 9890 as I usually would.  They’re just too large  The fashion department does have a brand new fabric printer so I am waiting for an email response on gaining access to that as a resource.  I don’t think outsourcing the prints at this point will work with the time associated with shipping and what not, but I may have to splurge on costs and order from spoon flower with expedited delivery.

Cheers to new ideas and exciting work to come!