Biostrata Residency Week Two: Undersea Adventure

This past week at Biostrata: Cutaway Ecologies, Mr. Shark got his coat of many colours. One of the many wonderful things about working at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre is that they have day camps, so this week little dancers came out to visit and learn on their lunch breaks.

I started off by finishing up my form with cotton:
Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_3

The pieces are all ripped instead of cut so they have a frayed edge. That is one of my favourite attributes of this method, it gives it topology. This is really important when it comes time to paint. Blank canvas has never been my thing, better to have landmarks to work within.

spider, squirrel, shark_wm

When I dug out my paints (I’ve really missed painting with gouache) I discovered this dried up old tub had turned into these beautiful cell patterns. I think I will use it to model the painting on the inside.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_1

So the patterns were loosely drawn, and colours chosen. Mixing and matching colour chips (like you get for house paint) is a great way to figure it out. That way you know what you’re looking for before you start trying to mix, and you can check the combinations ahead of time.

Shark Painting WM

Funny thing I noticed, when I am paint mixing, and arrive at the colour I’m looking for, it takes on a sort of velvety look like melted chocolate. That’s how I know when to stop. I’m sure it’s just an illusion my brain uses to let me know. Same thing happens when I get the right amount of water in there.

This week there was plentiful rainwater to work with, which made it extra lovely. Working in a rain storm even made me feel a little like a shark.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone

The octopus carving was also refined. Here it is wet by the rain to show you the colour it will be when polished. I learned from a visitor that he looks like an infant from this angle. I can certainly see that now, and it adds a different dimension to these nested sculptures.

Biostrata Week Two - shark skin, octopus stone_2
So I have a little left to do on this piece this coming week, which is okay because he will be the largest one.

Also exciting on Monday, I had my first live radio interview. It gives a good overview of the project and it’s motivations, I will leave you guys a link when it’s up as a podcast. Thank you to Mark Kilfoil @ CHSR 97.9!

Shark painting_1 copy

Looking forward to finishing the first sculpture up this week, and starting the silk painting workshops. Last chance to sign up, it’s going to be a really fun month of Thursdays!

Biostrata Residency Week One: Sharktopus

This was the first week of my Biostrata: Cutaway Ecologies artist residency. I am so thankful to be working outside in the Culture Garden at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Every summer I feel so justified in shirking my work, because, well it’s summertime, and the outside calls to me. This year it’s different because I get to exercise both of my passions, art and nature, all at the same time. I think I’m onto something here.
Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_2

This project is all about connection between organisms. I’ll be making three nesting sculptures, each showing a different biome. So, naturally, I started the week off by researching biomes, which are areas of similar climate which house similar animals and vegetation.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_3

Fun fact: an increase in altitude acts the same as distance from the equator, in terms of which biome you find yourself in.

Tuesday is not only research day, but also design day. I started by choosing the different animals that would be represented throughout the residency, and then made little polymer clay models to get an idea of form.

Fimo maquettes for biostrata sculptures Wm

When I say nesting sculptures, I mean that in the sense of nesting dolls. These will be sculptures within sculptures. The first ecosystem I’m working with is the marine biome, and the first piece represents an apex shark.

The innermost layer will be an aquatic terrarium like you have seen in some of my previous work. It contains a Marimo moss (actually a form of algae) and shows the base of the food chain.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture

Around this is a stone sculpture which shows an octopus or squid type creature, something tentacley that would be delicious to a friendly neighbourhood shark. This acts as skeleton to the skin.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_1

The skin layer is flexible textile and plastic. When finished, it will be painted with the habitat of the shark: water and those neato underwater rock formations and hydrothermal vents.

He is made up entirely of other creatures and his environment. Without them he would have no substance, and could not go on holding the shape of a shark. We humans are not exempt from this rule either, we are all made of what we eat and live with.

Shark Cotton

This week you can stop by Tuesday-Saturday from 9-5 and see the skin painted, the stone refined and polished, and the whole thing put together. To find out how you can follow along and participate, visit here.

 

The idea of a waterlily.

My time at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design is winding down. I’ve spent the last four years there: working, playing, becoming. It took me in, an emotional wreck, and spit me out a productive, contributing member of the community. Not to mention happy.

As a sort of homage, my first piece in our Graduate Studies show explores the idea of creativity. How we build it inside of us, like a little embryo. Not alone though, with lots of help from people who have practice.

A Green [Artist] Lily Pattern Design 3D Print

This piece began life as a 3D model, then was printed in plastic. To make a pattern for the full-size textile version, I covered one of the petals with masking tape to steal the form, then blew up the resulting shape.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Petals Pattern Sewing

The petals were all sewn up in digitally printed cotton (see Nymph for details)

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Centerpiece Cutaway Sculpture Petals

They were then attached together. When it came time to make the center, I photographed the 3D model and blew it up to the correct proportions…

A Green [Artist] Lily Petals Stamen Design

…and made a flat pattern by tracing it, adding a couple inches for shrinkage, and coating the whole thing in packing tape (my favourite).A Green [Artist] Lily Stamen Felt Flat Pattern

This protects it from the water when wet felting, so it doesn’t all fall apart before you get it sorted.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Felt Stamen Rain

Wet felting outside on a rainy day seemed appropriate. You end up soaked anyway. Wool was added to both sides of the flat pattern so that it acts as a resist. When finished you get this:

A Green [Artist] Stamen Felt Vessel

When the felting was finished, the resulting vessel was dyed with acid wash dyes. While it was drying I blew up a balloon in there to produce the rounded shape.

The flower itself is inspired by the water lily. Our college sits right along the river, and our culture is greatly influenced by that connection.

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Flower Idea Cutaway Centerpiece Sculpture

Inside is a tiny green Marimo moss ball in his aquatic terrarium. You may remember these guys from Nesting.

Around him are the protective and encouraging petals of my teachers and fellow students. He is the little embryo, the idea inside the lightbulb. For him this piece is named, Idea.

If you would like to meet him in person stop by the Graduate Studies show, Super Bees. It’s opening 5-7pm on Friday the 13th in The Gallery at NBCCD. Look forward to seeing you there!

Environmental architecture

All of our technology comes from nature. Not only did we creatures build it, but we would be silly to think we are inspired by something other than natural processes. The more we learn about how biology and biosphere work, the more our own advances look like an homage.

My challenge is to show this back and forth in a collection of silk wall quilts. I will borrow inspiration from Saint John architecture, and unlike some of my previous quilts, these will not just be the buildings. These buildings will be overwritten by their naturally occurring counterparts.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_10 architecture, waterfall, water, roof

I chose Saint John because of the breakdown, a sort of reversion to something less strict and geometric.

Saint John Industrial Landscape_8And then I thought, what about the other side of this coin? Don’t we transform nature into architecture?

New HampshireThese views of New Hampshire are begging to morph into buildings and cities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder where we draw the lines between technology and nature. At first glance it seems pretty easy to make the distinction between what is made and what simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But does anything simply occur? Organisms evolve to adapt to niches put in place by other organisms, and all species have been forced to adapt to the overwhelming changes we’ve made to this planet. We make and change things because of evolved tendencies in our brains. So then maybe everything simply occurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The lines get blurry when you put your thinking goggles on. Where do you place the line?

Green.

Some changes have come to the way I relate to the world. I am moving away from my branding of Bottleneck Consensus and into something a little more committal.

Let me explain. Bottleneck Consensus has a meaning which I respect. To show you the meaning, let me draw you a picture:
Bottleneck consensusdiagram

It is not that I am no longer there. I still have ideas in their permeable little cars, vying for space and colliding and eventually issuing from my throat and my hands in haphazard bundles.

But it’s like now, they get along a little better. They have nice bumper car edges, or matching puzzle piece sides. Together they line up to form a sort of spade, and drive their way out into the world.

So my ideas have come to this nice point, where I want to put my name on them and take ownership. My family name is Green, a name I chose and a name I carry proudly. It was my grandfather’s name and it will be with me my whole life.

When I sign my name it is:                              Allison Green Signature

As in: a member of the Green clan. My actions will be held against my family. While in my teenage years I thought that an archaic and nonsensical punishment, I understand now. The concept of of upholding the honour of your ancestral line, is simply beautiful.

box workshop and mom tree pillow 035_1

But of course Green means much more than that. Green, as in new. I am a new artist. Emerging and forever learning. I am not full grown or stuck on a single path. I need a lot of help, and to gather communities of people who want to learn too. I am A Green Artist.

StonePlantTextile Process 3 019

Green is versatile. The human eye can see more shades of Green than any other colour. I know my work can be different and more challenging every single time. There are as many versions of my work as there are versions of Green. I am A Green Artist.

Planters- Allison Green- Bottleneck Consensus_1

But most importantly, Green is the colour of nature and the base of all that is alive. I have this plan to live in harmony. Technology, humanity’s logical side, is vital to our continued existance on this perfect planet. With its help the Green things can survive, and in my own small way I will ensure that. I am not there yet, my practice is still filled with the trappings of the quick and the synthetic and the toxic, but this renaming marks the beginning of my learning, a contract to everyday be a more Green creature.

new hampshire 1 066_1

I am  Temp Logo Dark Green A Green Artist

Nesting.

This piece is the last in the series for now. It is the insect with child. Inspired by the transparent eggs of insects and fish, as well as universal shapes of motherhood.

Insect Lifecycle Design Nesting - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus - Copy - Copy
The pregnant form was wet-felted, then dyed.

Nesting Process Allison Green

It was then stuffed to add dimension and softness.
StonePlantTextile Sculpture Process 017 copy

A collection of lightbulbs were hollowed out. This is the best part: they were filled with water and a single living Marimo moss, the spark of life inside the egg.
Nesting Process Allison Green_4

Placed inside a protective woven sphere, along with round stones, the eggs now peek out from within their mother’s belly.
StonePlantTextile Process 3 010

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_2_1

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_1_1

Nubile.

This piece is the adult insect, in full flight toward the viewer. It is also a gaze of awareness. I looked to the luna moth for inspiration, who seems to be made of leaves and twigs.
Insect Lifecycle Design Nubile - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus

This piece began with one of my favourite disciplines: silk painted quilts.

Nubile Process Allison Green_1

Finally with an excuse, I began collecting leaves and seeds. This was fall so I had a great colour selection to choose from. After cutting them to shape I applied a sealant for durability. Like this they look almost manufactured.

Nubile Process Allison Green_2

They were then arranged in a sort of gradient. I loved this part. The sealed leaves felt like leather and had a variability of surface that man-made textiles can’t achieve.

Nubile Process Allison Green_3

They were quilted in place, a challenge to not push too hard and rip them. Next time I would love to try fresh leaves. I cut out some of the paths so the silk could poke through.

Nubile Process Allison Green_5

Then came the little tree seeds, all lined up in a row. They remind me of the feathers on a moth’s wings.

Nubile Process Allison Green_7

Some rigidity along the edge to add curl to the wings, and dimension for the body. Seemingly soft, this creature has pokey edges and stones behind the eyes.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_25_1

Fragile though she is, she creates a strong shadow, and witnesses all.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_22_1

Nymph.

Dragonfly Larva Scan_2

I have to say this one is my favourite. It went along swimmingly at every stage. My first step was to draw the dress design, then create a life-size paper mock-up. You can see them side by side:

Nymph Process Allison Green_8

The next step was to make this into a pattern. I chopped up the mock-up and recreated it with layers of cotton and interfacing.

Nymph Process Allison Green_2

But I didn’t use just any cotton. These patterns I digitally designed using close-up scans of leaves. The day they arrived from Spoonflower and I opened up the package: magical.

Nymph Process Allison Green_3

The next piece in the collection is Nymph, the juvenile insect. It is very closely inspired by the stunning patterns of the dragonfly larva, as seen in the charming book “Zoom in on Nature”:

Each piece of the carapace is separate and self-contained, so that they overlap like armour. Once they were all machine stitched into plates I pinned them on the dressform using my meticulous photo-records:

Nymph Process Allison Green_4
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1

I hand sewed them all to each other. It was at this point I realized two things: I am really glad I didn’t make this out of stiffer cloth, and I really really need to buy a thimble. Stabbed fingers aside, I love the control of hand sewing, and it went along a lot quicker than I had imagined. I wouldn’t begin to know how to accomplish this on a machine.

If you didn’t get to see this lovely lady in Saint John, she will be making an appearance in Fredericton! I have the luck of taking part in the bi-annual show for the Textile Dept. at the NB College of Craft and Design. A lot of really incredible designers come out of there every year, you don’t want to miss it. Check out the last one if you don’t believe me!

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

See you at the opening in The Gallery at NBCCD tomorrow evening (Feb 6) at 4:30 – 6pm.

Nascent.

Moving back in time now to my last exhibition, “Foundation” at the Saint John Arts Centre. It was so exciting to share space again with the interns I spent so much time with at Sculpture Saint John. They had a lot of excellent work. One lovely artist, Alison Gayton, brought sculptures she created on a learning vacation Italy. You can check out the amazing story over at I Love Saint John Pottery.Others Foundation Panorama_2

As promised, I’d like to take you through the story of my work in the show. I am intrigued by lifecycles. I think it’s incredible the commonalities between different organisms when you really get looking close. These works explore the insect lifecycle, as it relates to us. You can read more about the concept in this post.Panorama in Situ my side_2

The first piece is Nascent, inspired by insect eggs. The idea came to me staring up at a tree in Odell Park one night. In the dark each leaf cluster looked like a cluster of eggs.
Insect Lifecycle Design Nascent - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus_0001

It started with a tree, and then went horribly awry.
Nascent Process Allison Green_3

As you can see, the bowl shattered under the weight. But it was a good thing after all because then I found this bowl:
Nascent Process Allison Green

But then, of course, my tree died. I was sad, I get attached. That is okay too though, as I still had a canopy of my own to add:
Nascent Process Allison Green_2

My teacher commented that the geometric shapes give it a logical, human element, and I like that. Without the leaves the form became simplified, and the more I look at it, the more I am happy about that too.
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