Thursday, April 29, 2010

Onward and Upward

I am taking a new direction which has been brewing for some time now. Instead of focusing my energy on the fine-art side of things, I am going to try my hand at the craft side (with the aim of eventually being able to quit my day job!) I have started a business called "Stella Saves the Day" which is still in its infancy. I will be making and selling restyled vintage jewelry and incorporating my embroidery in some of the lockets. They are like little personal, private artworks. Stay tuned! My shop will be here on Etsy. and I will continue to blog here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Work

This is a new piece that I am working on. I am using scraps of old linens as the base. The hair is dyed using Manic Panic :-). I am thinking of making a series of smaller, less complicated pieces that I can mount in antique frames and sell on Etsy. What do you think?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays

Wow, it has almost been a year since I last posted! Yikes!! Well, I guess it has been a big year: I got married and turned 40. I have also taken a break from the hairwork and have been doing some "regular" sewing. Like with thread. On a machine. Not this weirdo hair stuff. I have been itching to get back to the hairwork, however, but perhaps in a different format. Stay tuned. Be well and have a happy new year all!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Show at Frederieke Taylor

I have four pieces (two of them above) in a show at Frederieke Taylor in January/February. My good friend Kirsten Nelson, who shows her wonderful sculpture at the same gallery was asked to curate a show of drawings and prints. It will be great to be showing with my fellow Purchase MFA alum, Brian Lund, who was also the best studio mate ever!

In the Viewing Room: display/displace, curated by Kirsten Nelson
16 January – 21 February 2009

Opening: Friday, January 16, 6-8pm

The selected artists use mark-making and invented graphic vocabularies to locate a recognizable trace of a form, a story or a place on the empty page while they retain an ambiguous sense of space. There is no foreground or background to anchor the image in these artists' works, though each approaches this elusive space from a different direction.

Brian Lund uses an invented language of dots, dashes and notations to graph Bob Fosse's film, All That Jazz (1979) in a series of schematic and musical drawings. Brian translates the details of the movie edit-by-edit and mark-by-mark into abstract compositions that pull away from their source material.

Karl Nelson presents detailed fragments of seemingly direct references to specific objects, architectural structures and biomorphic forms in these prints. By eliminating foreground and background and combining unlike forms such as a brick wall and cloud, the images remain open and ambiguous.

Jennifer Perry translates the solid architecture of concrete bunkers and rigid rock forms into delicate and overlapping schematic drawings using small perforations and hair. The modular stacked forms float, detached from their surroundings and context in an open plane.

Eduardo Santiere uses detail and subtle marks to build drawings that allude to a possible and potential place. The fragments of biomorphic and structural forms suggest an imagined space, though recognizable moments of urban and microscopic/cosmic "scapes" can be found in the details of each cluster.

FREDERIEKE TAYLOR GALLERY 535 West 22nd Street, 6th Floor New York, NY 10011 t. 646.230.0992

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Well, we moved to Fort Greene recently and I am just now turning my thoughts back to my artwork...our space is much smaller so I will have to work on the kitchen table. There is something great about that--except that I have to clean up after myself every time!! I found out that some of my hair drawings will be in a group show next January. It is older work, but I think it will look wonderful with the work of the other artists in the show. Here is the link...scroll down to "Opening Lines."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New Piece for April

This piece is based on a detail from Goya's etching entitled: "Y No Hai Remedio" or "And it Can't be Helped."

Enlarging the image and working on a smaller detail seems to provide a much more powerful image. I am working now on isolating individual figures and reorganizing them on the ground to create even more tension.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good News

Yay! My piece from the Shadow Show at Real Art Ways (see January 2008 postings) is printed in the January/February issue of FiberArts magazine. (It is only in the print version, not online). It is my first magazine exposure!

Slow and steady wins the race...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some progress

I am forcing myself to move a bit faster on this, and it seems to be going well. After seeing some of the online images of the incredible Chinese hairwork, I am getting some ideas about how to use crosshatching as a way of showing value--it is far more effective than parallel stiches, which is what I am doing. However, I am trying to follow Goya's markmaking as much as possible, and he pretty much uses only parallel lines. Perhaps I will vary it when I try working from photographs. That will be a challenge! My drawing chops are a little rusty...

This shows the original Goya etching to the right:

And the spindle with the hair "thread" which is knotted end to end:

Friday, January 18, 2008

How it All Started

Many people want to know why I started to make this work and where I got the idea from. I am not the first person to sew with hair (see links on the lower right); people were using human and animal hair to sew with thousands of years ago--it is surprisingly strong (and abundant!). Chinese women during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) embroidered images of the Buddha with their hair to show their piety. It is still a popular art form in some parts of China today. (Check out Professor Wei Jingxian--he has done the portraits of all 43 American presidents in hair!!! WOW.)

The best known hairwork in Europe and America, however, was the mourning jewelry and pictures which gained in popularity during Georgian and Victorian times (Queen Victoria of England made mourning jewelry extremely popular). Saving the hair of dead or departed loved ones and wearing it on the body was an incredibly intimate way to remember loved ones. Many of the women who were skilled in this specialized art came from a small town in Sweden called VĂ¥
mhus, and they traveled all over Europe to take orders and sell their work to combat the extreme poverty that they were experiencing in the late 18th to early 19th centuries (more here). Hairwork made by the Swedish women and others was called "tablework;" the hair was plaited using a special table with a hole in the center and bobbins to weigh down the strands of hair (similar to bobbin lace and Japanese Kumihimo). The results were gorgeous bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, brooches, and wreaths.

I started working with hair in 1998 when I had a bad bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or ME for you readers in the UK). I was enrolled in the sculpture program at the Massachusetts College of Art, but I just didn't have the energy to go to the studio most of the time. In my "collection of interesting things," I had a ponytail of hair that my mother had saved from a haircut. I discovered that I could easily knot the ends together to make a long "thread," which I collected on a spool. My mother taught me to sew when I was little, so it was a logical next step to try to sew with it. I drew some simple forms onto heavy paper and then pierced hundreds of holes for the needle to go through. The drawings became more and more complex over the years; the three-dimensional forms that were represented by many of the drawings were, in my mind, containers for memory: rooms, houses, fortresses.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Disasters of War", 2007-

After a hiatus, (exploring sculpture in graduate school) I am finally working again in the medium that I love best: hair embroidery. I am in the process of rethinking the format that I used from the 1998 to 2005, however. The abstract, schematic works seem too cool and analytical for me now, and I want to find a more direct and personal way of processing the travesty that is the war in Iraq. Looking at Goya's depictions of the horrors of the Peninsular War in the early 19th century alongside the graphic photos of the carnage in Iraq on the internet, I see uncanny parallels. I have started to make my own "mourning pictures" by sewing the hair into drawings based on Goya's etchings. I chose fragments of antique linen tablecloths as a support, which contrast the rather gritty images which I embroider on them, at the same time as they echo the genteel Victorian era in which hairwork was so popular .

The sewing of the hair is extremely slow and painstaking; I have to find a way to speed things up. I am posting my progress as a way of spurring myself on to work a bit faster!
J+R (brunette), 2005, 22" x 28", human hair sewn into canvas

This piece is currently on view at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT as part of "The Shadow Show" (curated by Elizabeth Keithline and Kristina Newman-Scott). The closing reception is on February 2nd, 2008, from 2-4 PM.