On connecting the dots

It is always so helpful to get a good shove in the right direction. I am grateful to have received one in the form of a Creation Grant from ArtsNB. Though I am always a little shy with projects at this stage (before I can point to an object and say “Look there! That is what I mean!”), I would nonetheless like to share my proposal with you. It will give you an idea of where I am coming from as this project unfolds, beginning in October. I hope you will be as excited as I am to get started!

Black-eyed Susan

Connectome

Standing at any point in a room, we receive light from all around. It converges in our minds and informs us of the world outside. But we are also reflecting light. At a point two feet away, our image is found there with all the others. This fact speaks of connection. We perceive ourselves as contained systems, but in real, physical ways, we are blended with the outside world.

To date, my work has focused largely on pairing technology (us) with nature (outside) to make the connections apparent. I am finding this approach too subtle. This new body of work will show the connective tissue, the ripples of light, between the subjects. To understand the imagery I will be working with, envision the following:

“Thus every body placed in the light spreads out in circles and fills the surrounding space with infinite likenesses of itself and appears all in all in every part.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

I will construct the rippled compositions by digitally blending and repeating photographs. From these designs will grow nine low-relief works, twelve square feet and up, with some taller than a person. They will be exhibited as a labyrinth of freestanding panels whose adjoining imagery brings to mind a single continuous work. Four months of consistent practice will see them finished and provide a jumping off point to complex sculpture in the same vein.

This project will explore a variety of textile-infused techniques. I have been evolving a silk quilt process which makes use of hand-painted and digitally printed cloth. The ripple concept also lends itself to scaled-up tapestry, woven using large tubes of printed photograph. Several of these works will have a person-shaped hole or reflective surface in the center, immersing the viewer in the rippled connectome. Every aspect of this project is built to amplify the sense of connection to the world outside.

Garden Person

On getting my work to ask the hard questions:

The other week at an opening there were a number of you who said “I can feel the conflict between industry and nature in your work.” This, in its way, made me sad, for in making the work I felt a harmonious combining of the two.

But the artist makes only one half of the work. The rest is all you, and I am so privileged to learn your side. It lets me know who you are, the other, and how I can talk to you. To state your thoughts lets my work know you and dialogue back.

Leaf Filled

I noticed – hey – I know now what that person feels about industry/nature. My work asked them that question and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was trying to tell them something. But my work had other plans. It was curious.

Meditation cushion print

A thing that comes up in my reading/listening a lot: the idea of making art based on questions, not answers. Answers and truths are illusory. This is a controversial stance. I’m not placing it as an argument but rather a hypothesis. In my experience, personal truths (are there other kinds?) are transitory.

Seasonal trees block

Out in the people world, I find it difficult sometimes to talk to people about — people things. I’m not very good at it. I mean about families, spouses, heartbreaks, haircuts, injuries. These are relevant and important, but I am private in ways and just not very good at sharing back.

On the other hand, I am crazy to learn what projects/ideas/innovations/science/stories/techniques/places/spaces/perspectives/mind-tricks keep you awake at night. You know what? Sometimes its really hard to get people into those conversations. I learned a secret pass-phrase to get right in there, but some things are just tricky.

decal blocking x 2

So I’ll get my art to do it. Then go places with it. It’ll be my wingman.

Hey guy, my art says. Quick, what do I make you think of? Wear it all over your face.

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.

 

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?

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

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.
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_13_1

Nymph

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

Nymph
Original digitally printed cotton from leaf photographs, cotton, corduroy, interfacing, reed.
Size small dress © Allison Green 2013.

The second piece in the Time Flies Collection, this dress shows the burgeoning juvenile insect. It is designed after the dragonfly nymph.

See how it was constructed, and the other items in the series: Nascent, Nubile, and Nesting.
Exhibited with Foundation at the Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John, NB.
Pricing available upon request.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1

Nubile

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_22_1

Nubile
Silk face and backing, cotton interior and thread. Sealed leaves, tree seeds, stone, and wool.
40″ x 8″ x 30″ © Allison Green 2013.

The third piece in the Time Flies Collection, this shows the adult insect is in full flight toward the viewer. It also takes the form of a gaze of awareness.

See how it was constructed, and the other items in the series: Nascent, Nymph, and Nesting.
Exhibited with Foundation at the Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John, NB.
Pricing available upon request.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_35_1 Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_33_1 Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_25_1