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Posts Tagged ‘Fiber Arts’

Time to Change

rachelbeckman.com

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PurpleOpenWeave

Cotton, Cashmere

Cotton, Tencel, Linen

Cotton, Recycled Silk

Cotton, Cashmere

Some samples get a new life as lovely wall hangings. In addition to my bookmarks, these will also be on sale during MICA’s Annual Art Market.  December 9-12, 10am to 6pm in the Brown Center.

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This ostrich has nothing to do with this post

This ostrich has nothing to do with this post

Some of you remember way back an exciting post sharing my offer of employment for MICA’s summer Pre-College program, and some of you may be wondering why the heck there is an ostrich at the top of the post and not new beautiful embroideries or that dang rag rug I keep promising. Never fear! Those things will come. But for the time being, the past two weeks and the next two weeks, my posts will probably (possibly) be sparse (non-existant) as I am very busy with my wonderful students and residents learning great new things and having the time of our lives. So maybe the ostrich is a metaphor for my absence, like having my head in the sand. Except instead of hiding, I’m having the time of my life!

The super exciting part is that I am the teacher’s assistant for both the fiber core class (meets three times a week with an instructor, three times just with the TA) and the fiber workshop (once a week with the teacher, once with just the TA) and I have a lovely fiber TA partner for both. I am absolutely amazed with my students; they are polite, respectful, eager to learn, hard working, and absolutely a delight all around. Take a look at our class blog to see what I’ve been up to and what we’re thinking about: Pre-College Class Blog! (To clarify, I didn’t create the blog, I’m just super excited that there is a blog so that people can see what a great program this is. Valeska, our lovely teacher, is to be credited.)

This weekend we will be going to D.C. to run around and see some amazing exhibits, so maybe I’ll have some things of interest to post after Saturday. Until then, wish me luck on my teaching adventure!

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Experience in Professional Development

I believe that part of self-educating yourself involves taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know what kind of asset an experience is going to be to your search for knowledge and wisdom–or for your resume. There can be many benefits to one opportunity that may not be evident from the beginning: working for Carly, I benefited from getting a look into the business of craft, practicing my weaving technique, receiving school credit, and making a friend while learning how to network with artists in Baltimore and beyond. I have high hopes for my summer job as a TA and RA for MICA’s Pre-College Program; not only will the teaching experience look great on my resume, but it too is a chance to network within the school and explore my options as an artist. Something I’ve learned is that you have to take your career into your own hands, even if you are uncertain of what that may be, and the earlier you start, the better.

Fist Print, Spring 2008

Fist Print, Spring 2008

Contests and Calls for Entries

Part of building professional development outside of the workplace is respecting yourself enough as an artist to put your work out for the public to see. This is something that I feel a lot of artists struggle with–finding the confidence to say that my work is good enough to hang on gallery walls and be printed in magazines. I’m lucky enough that I have an excellent support system that is always kicking me in the butt to take risks and apply myself. Last year, I submitted the above print along with some other miscellaneous pieces to the Fiberarts Magazine’s annual call for student submissions. Even though I didn’t have a cohesive portfolio at that point, I’m glad I submitted my work because it was practice for this year’s competition, and I’m busy ironing, photographing, and formatting my very fluid body of work–my weaving–this weekend.

For those of you who are also looking to exhibit your work, an excellent opportunity that has recently come to my attention is a call for entries at the Textile Museum in D.C. with a deadling of January 2010–so you have plenty of time! I say go for it, you never know what may come your way in the future;  the best thing you can do for youself is keep your eyes open to possibilities.

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my new best friend

my new best friend

I just got back from The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and- wow. I went last year as a newly born fiber artist and had a great time, but it was so interesting to go back as a weaver with an agenda. It was utterly overhwleming, but less so when I reminded myself that I don’t need hoardes of knitting yarns or gigantic bags of roving. With great focus and incredible amounts of self control, I managed to narrow down my wishlist to things that will be useful to me in the immediate future for practical and experimental purposes.

lovely purchases, including the ugliest shuttle ever made

lovely purchases, including the ugliest shuttle ever made

I decided I’m going to get into some serious spinning and felting this summer; I got some nice merino and some silk (!) to spin, plus some yarn for weaving and that great plastic shuttle (it was the cheapest one, seriously). I can’t wait for this semester to end so I can start brainstorming.

wool vendor

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dsc_1245

After my last post, I talked out my options with a few people and decided that what was right for critique today was to leave the edges for this piece as they were, but I did decide to add the book element to my installation because I felt it was important to reference the written material in a direct way that forced the viewer into the piece and to interact with the piece. In a way, it’s also an echo of me trying to find a solution to my pick-up piece from last semester, where I was battling with the importance of the story and the relevance of performing the act of storytelling during the installation of the cloth. By replacing my voice with the book, which carries my voice for me, the viewer creates a sort of self-dialogue, a self performance. In this instance, I felt that the book installation was necessary to the experience of the piece because my current work is about not only the story or the body of work the words create, but the process of the writing itself. The book comes to rest approximately in the middle of the cloth, and is suspended from wax thread attached to a nail, which is driven through the top of the cloth nearer to the top.

dsc_1235

I had an exceptionally good critique experience this time around. I feel like weaving crits are infinitely better and more sophisticated than any other crits I get at MICA, and I love that because I think the critique is so important to the development of the work. Good critiques inspire growth, and looking at others’ work and talking about it is an excellent source of inspiration. I admit I was surprised that no one mentioned my edges until my professor explicitly asked the group to address my decision in that area, which just goes to show how much can be said for the content of weaving before the technique is even considered. For the most part, the conclusion was that I should have hemmed the edges, but there was a solid dialogue of understanding that took place between all parties, those defending my silly edges and those pushing for a clean-up. What impressed me most was that while I have encountered critiques in which students have been very hostile towards me, attacking me, the artist, as much as my work, I find that in critiquing weaving, there is a deep respect for the intentions of the artist that allows for a significant amount of room for level-headed discussion.

All that being said, I always get excited with how much there is to be said about weaving. This morning my roommate asked me, what do you talk about when you talk about weaving? Essentially: How do you crit cloth? My reply was that a piece of cloth is just like any other piece of art, and should be treated accordingly. When we talk about art we talk about technique, craftsmanship, content and context, and none of this changes because the greater world sees what I do as craft. I always wonder how other people are talking about weaving, and what is being said, because I only get the perspective of the small bubble that is my classroom, where concept is the king. But I also think that a lot of people don’t know how to talk about weaving, so I thought I would share some notes from my enlightening night. (more…)

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At this exact moment in time I am overwhelmed by choice.

There is an inherent problem in working as a fiber artist. The techniques that we use have been around for thousands of years; cultures have always woven, spun, and embroidered just about everything. And for the most part, there haven’t been a whole lot of changes to these techniques over the years. There are variations, to be sure, but the same processes, tools, and machines get the same results. Because of this, it is often difficult to separate historical associations with something such as a woven piece of cloth with the cloth itself.

Here is my problem: I’m sitting on my bed, my latest cloth draped over my door and my eyes twitching in a sort of frenzied panic. I just spent the past hour or so hemming the top and bottom edges so that they appear even and clean- but what of the sides? Truth be told, the edges are a little wonky in the way that the first scarf you ever knit is wonky; the edges undulate in and out like I was on NyQuil while I was weaving. So the question remains: what to do with this? Do I hem the edges so that everything is even from top to bottom, or do I accept the cloth as it was made and display it in all of its uneven glory?

(more…)

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