Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kwik-E Bliss. Pleasure in seconds.

Some pleasure is in the waiting. Not Kwik-E Bliss.

Kwik-E Bliss., 2014 Mixed media and hand embroidery.

This is the bliss of getting your fix. The kind of fix that you can only get at the convenience store, at dawn, before work.

North Carolina refrigerator repairman and poet Waylon Stefans wrote about his morning stops at the Kwik-E Mart, watching the amazing relief of his fellow patrons getting their addictions fed ahead of their drives into work.

Playing the Mega Millions (here, in stitch) was Waylon's greatest bliss.

The first golden bite into a Honey Bun, the salty crunch of the pork rind, the gentle hum of the Red Bull lighting up your brain... And then there is the sweet kiss of nicotine filling your lungs. Bliss. Enchantment.

Some of these fixes extend beyond the transaction with the clerk at the counter. Take Waylon's greatest fix of all -- playing the lottery.

Every day, before driving to his day job, the repairman/poet purchased three scratch-off lottery tickets and four Mega Millions plays. His truck was filled with lists of numbers to be played. There was always the slightly soggy silver powder from the scratch-offs, mixed with orange Cheese Doodle crumbs, on the filtered tips of the Marlboros in his ashtray.

Painted Cheese Doodles and layered bits of lottery tickets on the card.

The pleasures of the lottery stayed with Waylon, day and night. Imagining what he would do with his winnings was worth the $12 he spent every day.

The year before Waylon died (of a heart attack, alone in his truck in the driveway of his Durham home), Thirteen Blackbird Press published this collection of his poetry. It was his sole publication. His numbers never hit.

(From my faux library catalog card collection for made-up books.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

String Box 4, for my brother and his beautiful family

String Box 4, 2014. Watercolor and hand embroidery.

I know I'm a little obsessed with these String Boxes. I can't believe that I've only made four, because there is something about the contrast of the wild colors of the watercolors and the precise structure of the embroidered boxes that makes me happy.

Another view. Which way is up?

String Box 4 was made for my brother Joe and sister-in-law Charisse. My family is small (my parents, my brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews, who live in Austin.) 

To be honest, sometimes all of the smiling family Christmas photos on Facebook make me feel left out. I don't have children of my own. I'm divorced. I have the desire for a big family, but it wasn't in the cards for me. Although I'm a non-traditional person, I'm not immune to longing for what I don't have. People who have children are so lucky.

WIP. Stitching the crosshairs. 

But what I DO have is amazing. Joe, Charisse, Kelsey, Hudson and my parents, Peter and Min. They are all so loving and kind to me. They all make me feel like I belong to them. They take care of me. I wish I could take care of them, too. 

Before the first stitch.

All I can do is share my love with them (I try to be a good aunt, sister and daughter) and make them things. And String Box 4 is what I made for Joe & Charisse, who bailed me out of an enormous abyss this year. I can never thank them enough. 

Another view of String Box 4, 2014.

This is all I have to give. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Now Showing - Threads of War

By crazy coincidence, a portion of the Denmark-based collaborative art project in which I participated, In a War Someone has to Die, is currently on display in Raleigh. And I'm thrilled that my piece is in the show.

One of the loveliest pieces from In a War. Artist unknown.

Curated by Betsy Greer, the Threads of War exhibition also includes textile art by Bonnie Peterson and work from the Combat Paper Project, in which a military wife, soldiers and civilians make paper out of worn military uniforms.

In a War, installed by Betsy Greer.

I never expected to see this work again. It has been shown several times in Copenhagen. Betsy did a wonderful job installing the collection in Gallery Two at Artspace in Raleigh, NC.
In a War, by Jamie "Mr X" Chalmers.

Selection of languages, textiles. Regram from Andy Bechtel.

One of the highlights of attending the opening was meeting Betsy in person and spending time speaking with her about the individual embroideries. We geeked out together, marveling at the needlework, variety of textiles and beauty of the stitched languages. What a lovely, passionate, interesting woman Betsy is.
In a War. Artists unknown.

(More about the uber cool Betsy: She is a writer, a researcher, and a maker. She earned her MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths College in London in 2004. She is the author of Knitting for Good! and most recently, Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism.)

Variety. Mine is the pink piece with blue and green flowers.

On a personal note I was struck by how much my stitching has improved since I made the piece in 2012. And I was moved almost to tears to see my mother’s handwriting, which I stitched, in her first language, Spanish. My mother has the most beautiful, looping, unusual way of writing.
Satin stitch Arabic. Artist unknown.

Here are the exhibition details: Threads of War, Artspace, Gallery Two
, 201 East Davie Street, Raleigh, NC
, December 5, 2014 – January 17, 2015