Monday, March 19, 2012

My solo show in Chicago and Cleveland this month

I was asked to create a solo exhibition for the Chicago and Cleveland venues of the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo.  The Chicago event is next week - March 22 to 24, at the Schaumburg Convention Center, and the Cleveland event is March 29 to 31 at the I-X Center.

Here are the pieces in my show "The Works of Susan Shie." They range from 2006 to 2012.  All images here are ©Susan Shie.  These are all large paintings, which I quilt, after painting, so that I can fold up and ship very large paintings, without having to build gigantic wooden crates to get them around the world!   For all pieces included, here are the materials and processes I used:

Materials: White kona cotton, airbrush paint, fabric paint. Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik perle cotton embroidery thread, one flameworked Pink Buddha Girl bead and one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-Fil bamboo and organic cotton batting.

Techniques: Whole cloth painting on white kona cotton. Drawing and color painting made with Aztek double action airbrush and airbrush paint. Small journal writing made with’s Airpen and fabric paint. Crazy grid machine quilting. Hand stitching (just on the border) with Laura Wasiloski’s’s hand dyed perle cotton. Various backing cottons, including Lunn Fabrics batiks.

"Greetings from Wooster."  2006. 50"h x 75"w.  Peace Cozy #7.
Begun Feb 17, 2006, finished Mar 15, 2006.

This piece is a sort of fictional Main Street of my town, with all my favorite buildings lined up together.  It includes stories of why I love these places so much, and in the center is a genuine, useable map of downtown Wooster.  You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here.

"The Punch Bowl / Star: Card #17 in The Kitchen Tarot." 2006. 84 "h x 63 "w.  Peace Cozy #11.  Begun October 10, 2006, finished November 1, 2006.

This piece is one of the Major Arcana cards in my 22 piece functional Kitchen Tarot deck, which was published by Hay House in 2010. It's about how family pulls together to help each other achieve our goals.  And I chose the punch bowl to represent the Star, because in our kitchens, a punch bowl is a very special and beautiful object that we only use for special parties.  That's my granddaughter Eva's birth chart floating in the purple carnival glass punch bowl, and that's Eva reaching for her Star, while standing on her mom and my shoulders.  That's my mother, peering out between the wash hanging on the line.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here.

"The Food Scales / Justice: Card #11 in the Kitchen Tarot.”  2008.   87.5"h x 78.5"w.   Peace Cozy #24.  Begun 7-19-08, fiinished 8-30-08.

This is actually the second version of this piece, with the first one being "stuck" unfinished, from back when I was doing so much hand sewing. By the time I made this one, I was well into my current body of work, in which all this tiny current events commentary and diary writing replaces all the tiny hand stitching and beading.  The stitching is mostly machine "crazy grid" unmarked funk patterns I sew over the whole cloth painting, after the airpen and paint tiny writing is done over the airbrushed composition.

In this piece Jimmy and I are toasting and having our nightly midnight snack before bed. A flower child Statue of Liberty and a Peace Rose flank us, and below are GEM - Gretchen, Eva, and Mike: our kids and grandchild. In my hand is the airpen, drawing on the black and white stage of this piece, which I drew upside down.  I liked doing that part.  It's all about balance, this Justice stuff, so I put in the antique food scales we used for many, many years at our Wooster Food Co-op.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here.

"Salt of the Earth: Ace of Potholders in the Kitchen Tarot.”  2008.  60"h x94"w    Peace Cozy #25.  Begun 10-23-08, fiinished 12-2-08.

This was the very first of the Minor Arcana card quilts I made, after finishing the 22 Majors.  Instead of doing these in some regular order, I draw each card from a tarot deck at random, to select the next minor card I'll work on.

I started this before the Presidential election of 2008, and it was an affirmation that Barack Obama would become our next President.  He's on the left side, bringing the torch back to the Statue of Liberty,  in a pie, which is always my symbol of special gifts. Jimmy's on the right, catch and releasing a trout, and I'm the Statue in the middle, celebrating Obama's win, before it happened.  You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here.

"Philadelphia Freedom: Two of Paring Knives n the Kitchen Tarot.” 2010.  82"h x 74.5"w.  Peace Cozy #33.  Began sketches 3-21-10, began painting 4-10-10. Finished art quilt 6-4-10.

This piece illustrates a little known fact of history: that President Washington illegally held nine slaves at the President's House in Philadelphia for both terms of his Presidency. I made this piece for an exhibition held in 2011 in Philadelphia, as part of celebrating the new Liberty Bell Pavillion.  All the art quilts in the show "The President's House" were about the nine slaves.

I just couldn't think of a nice way of showing this situation, so I ended up having the slaves, as birds, escape from the Washingtons, by busting out of a birdcage that's also Martha Washington's hoop skirt, and which is swinging like the Liberty Bell.  My writing is all about this historically neglected truth, and also it tells about the killings at Kent State, Jackson State, and other places where American authorities killed American citizens, who were protesting.  This part of my story happened, due to the 40th anniversary of the Kent State killings happening while I was working on this piece.

I put President Obama above Washington, as a bird, like the slaves, to encourage them to keep trying to escape their illegal bondage in a free state. The Kitchen Tarot card that this is is the 2 of Swords - Paring Knives in my deck.  So I gave the Washingtons the paring knives, and they're holding them more as weapons than as kitchen tools.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

"Kitchen Tarot Café: 4 of Wooden Spoons n the Kitchen Tarot.” 2010.  91"h x 81 "w. Peace Cozy #35.  Began sketches 9-14-10, began painting 9-22-10. Finished art quilt 12-15-10.

This was made to celebrate the publication of the "Kitchen Tarot" deck and guidebook in August, 2010.  It's a minor card piece, the 4 of Wands - Wooden Spoons in the Kitchen Tarot.  The man here is Dennis Fairchild, the author who wrote me and ended up writing the book that goes with my cards. If it weren't for Denny, there would be no published deck, as I am so lousy at marketing, it's a crying shame!  Denny's brilliant with astrology and tarot, having worked with both since his grandmother started teaching these things to him, when he was only seven years old!

Denny put up a Facebook page called Kitchen Tarot Café, so I made this piece as that very café, and I made Denny as the waiter and me as the cook.  The whole history of making the cards is here, going back to when I started the major card quilts in 1998, up through meeting Denny on email in 2008, and then getting published.

This card image will of course be in the FULL DECK version of the Kitchen Tarot - all 78 cards! - when I get them all made by 2022, I hope.  I also really hope that Denny will be willing to author that full deck guidebook, and that we get a huge coffee table book out of the deal by then, too!!!!!

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

"Royal Wedding: Knight of Wooden Spoons in the Kitchen Tarot.”

2011.  35.5"h x 33.5"w. Peace Cozy #38.  Began 5-7-11. Finished 6-1-11.

I didn't watch Prince William and Princess Kate's wedding on TV. I just don't watch much TV.  But I bought a magazine all about the wedding and soaked it all up, and then, when I was teaching one of my monthly Turtle Art Camps here at my home and studios last year, I decided to make my class demo piece be all about the wedding.  I had been particularly sucked in by the funky hats and how the Queen gets all the ladies to wear dress suits that match their funky hats.

I was also interested in how the wedding happened two days before Osama bin Laden was killed and dumped into the sea.  Such a huge difference in these two world events - extreme pomp and joy vs extreme violence, hatred, and fear.  I put my Peace Cozy on bin Laden, as I felt he is, after all, a human and a soul, and hopefully he'll get some good peace and come back in a less harsh life.  You know, HIS people consider him a hero for fighting against the West, which has really wrecked their countries over there.  So he's hated and loved, and got dumped into the sea.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

"Twilight Time: 4 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot.”  2011.  31"h x 39.5"w.  Peace Cozy #40.  Began 5-21-11. Finished 8-10-11.

This IS a Kitchen Tarot card - the 4 of Cups.  But it's totally about what it's like every night, when we get ready for bed.  Jimmy and I come up from our studios and turn on the TV, maybe at 11 pm or so.  We get two glasses of box merlot and maybe a little snacks poo, too.  The cats and Libby huddle by, happy that we're holding still finally.  It all came out of me pretty fast, when I airbrush painted it, because the scene had been so consistent for so long.

It used to be that Libby fit on Jimmy's lap like this, but not now.  She's a long, tall Sally, about 60 pounds now.  Double Doodle, bundle of love, but she lays on the couches, not on top of Jimmy anymore!  This is just what I remembered about the evening rituals for so long.  I put Eva on Jimmy's sleeve, when I heard her in my head saying "Hey, where am I in this picture?  Libby's MY dog, my twin Meeva!"  There was nowhere else to put her, but on that bare place on Jimmy's sleeve. OH, and I stuck myself in there, too, since I wanted to be included, just like I knew Eva would want to be!

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

"Rain Garden: Ace of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot.”  2011. 60"h x 91"w.  Peace Cozy #42.  Began 10-29-11. Finished 12-17-11.

In the Kitchen Tarot minor cards, this is the Ace of Cups - or Pyrex Cups in my case.  It's a very specific current events story, about how a chemistry prof at my alma mater, The College of Wooster, invented an organic, harmless substance he calls Osorb, which purifies chemically polluted water, without creating more chemical problems of its own.  Osorb is a nano glass, a silica product, which Dr. Paul Edmiston created in his search to create a substance that would detect explosives on people in airport security searches.  So it was an accident, which turned out to be a much better discovery than what he was aiming to invent.

This happened in 2005, and now ABS Materials, the company here in Wooster that makes Osorb, is on its way.  We really need this product, considering that clean water is now in less and less supply, and Ohio is planning to do a LOT of fracking to harvest natural gas, a process which most certainly will need Osorb to reclaim clean water, in the wake of the fracking.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

"Sweet Jane: 9 of Potholders in the Kitchen Tarot.”  2012. 61"h x 75"w. Peace Cozy #43.  Began 1-1-12, finished 1-30-12.

It's about Steve Jobs and my new iPad, Sweet Jane, and how my granddaughter Eva and her cousin Olivia and I drew Libby, my dog, on my iPad ... or did we?  I think maybe only Eva drew Libby that time, and it was on a huge piece of foam core.  But we went crazy playing with the drawing apps on my iPad that week after Christmas.

Because this is the 9 of Coins - Potholders in my Kitchen Tarot deck - I decided to include all the Apple devices I've owned, ever.  I came up short by one, and that one's potholder is for the next, future Apple thing I buy.  Which I hope is a ways off, since we just got Sweet Jane AND Arry, our new iMac, in December, after I sold a huge piece. (Yea!!!!!!)  You can see the stack of computers we've had, piled in historical order, on the right.  And then Libby's sitting on the couch, in the very pose she was making when Eva drew her so amazingly on the foam core, that I swiped the look of that pose.  (Thank you, Eva!  You're a 7 year old genius, for sure!)

And then there's the three of us as mermaids, floating up in the air over Libby, drawing her together on Sweet Jane, all of us just so psyched over what you can do with a drawing app and a touch screen, and six hands!  I made us mermaids, because we'd gotten Eva that Mermaid Tale movie, and Olivia brought another movie over, called A Dolphin Tale.  Pretty fishy story here!

Jimmy's off on the right, just peeking in on the chaos, along with the cats. Steve Jobs is holding up the iPad for us.  Well, you didn't think it could really float, did you?

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.  I also go over some of the current events diary and commentary I put on this piece, in that long statement, which is true of all of these pieces and their statements.  There's a lot of history and political writing there, that has nothing to do with the imagery in my work.

So that's it.  I hope you can make it to see this show, either at Chicago or Cleveland this month!  I had an entirely different solo exhibition of my current work, at the Artists Guild of St Louis, from January 20 through March 17, too.  A busy time!  Man, I own way too much of my work yet.  Buy some please.  I take payments.  Seriously.  You can make the terms.

Here's a piece I just finished, which is NOT in this Chicago and Cleveland solo show of mine, but I wish it was!:

"Flowers of the Arab Spring - Knight of Paring Knives in the Kitchen Tarot."

2012. 60"h x 74"w.  Peace Cozy #44.  Began 2-4-12. Finished 2-29-12.

The Knight of Swords - Paring Knives in my deck - is a person defending truth with words and communication. I chose two strong women who have been active in bringing democracy to the Middle East, to focus my story here.

On the left is Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian woman who's worked for women's rights for years and now works for that and for democracy, too. She brought an American 1958 publication to the Middle East and had the story of MLK, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Gandhi's nonviolent revolution in India, and the how-to's of civil disobedience translated into Arabic and Farsi.

On the right is my good friend Carolyn Robinson, who's worked around the globe in telecommunications since the mid 80s, specializing in bringing television news training to post conflict nations.  She is currently doing this in Libya.

This piece's writing includes, among many things, a lot about the government's violence against its own people in Syria during the making of this artwork, and sadly, still continuing now.

You can read the long version of my statement for this piece here with lots of big detail shots.

About the Peace Cozies, one of which is on each of the pieces I make.  I started them in 2005, needing to make a peace symbol patch to cover something else in my piece "Wilma (Peace Voodoo)."  So I made 32 little peace symbols and after picking one to use on Wilma, decided to use the rest of them in the next 31 pieces.  My rule would be that I wasn't allowed to decide where it would go, until the piece was all done.  I loved doing it so much, when the 32 Peace Cozies were all used up, I knew I had to make more. Where the first batch were on light yellow fabric, the next batch of about 55 are on green fabric.  I suppose when those are all sewn onto pieces, I'll make a third batch.  The picture above is from the last, newest piece I showed, "Flowers of the Arab Spring," and it has one of the new series of green Peace Cozies, sewn onto Carolyn's cheek, to help bring her safety and peace, while she works now in Libya.

If you have a little more time, here's a video of me talking about my work at my solo show "This American Life" in Birmingham, England in August, 2010.  I think there were 23 or 24 pieces in that show, and some of them are in this show, too.

Thanks a lot for reading all of this.  May the world now fill with Peace and Healing, for the good guys and the bad guys, both, whichever is which.

Love, Lucky, somewhere in Wooster, Ohio, March 19, 2012.  Happy Spring at 1:14 AM, just a few hours from now!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Libby's new training begins

 The day started like normal, with Libby bringing in the paper and waiting for Jimmy to reward her with treats.  This is a trick that Jimmy taught her, with advice from Libby's first trainer, Robert Howell.  But now we've decided we have to get her moved on, to where she won't jump all over the place when she's excited, will stay with us in the yard, and will be able to go with us to downtown events, where she can walk among other dogs and people and not jump on them.  She is really happy and sweet, but still, you don't want Libby in your face! So we're off later this morning to a new class.

 I couldn't catch it fast enough on the camera, but she sits up really high, holding the paper still in her mouth, and "sits pretty" for a few seconds.  So this is after that happened, and we couldn't get her to do it again. So this is all you get.  You have to imagine it!

 Now we're out at Brigadoon Kennels, aka BCU, just north of Wooster, and we're getting ready to start Libby's first new training lesson with Jim Wright, the owner and trainer there.  This was our second trip to Brigadoon, and Libby started moaning as we pulled into the long driveway.  She loves to go to classes, like we did last year at PetCo, because she loves other dogs, and she loves trainers!

 Jim put Libby through her paces, and then got Jimmy and me involved, for a full two hours!

 By the end of the session, Miss Libby was starting to fade out, even though she's only a year and a half old.  :)  But she had a really good time!  Her tail never stopped wagging the whole two hours, especially when Jim brought a cat in, to help us work on teaching her to not be distracted - and the cat surprised us all:  she had a live, sort of live, mouse with her.  Which she ate, while Libby practiced not being distracted.  I don't see that far, so I missed the nasty parts.

 However, she's been sleepy all day, and our evening walk was really easy, because she was too tired to outwalk us.  Then, when I went to take my shower tonight, she took to her bed with the Vapors, snuggling close to her confidant, Pinky.

To be fair, maybe some of her exhaustion was from all the extra kibble she got to eat today, in being rewarded for coming to whoever called her, etc. The treats as rewards will taper off fast, or we'll have a double sized double doodle on our hands!!

You can see she's a worn out student, but I know in the morning, she'll be ready to go!  We have a lot of practicing to do in any free time sessions we can squeeze in before we go back for another lesson with Jim next Tuesday.