Monday, January 14, 2008

Stitch Witchery

Apart from being an inspirational and supportive friend... and the mother of one of my adorable godchilden, Lili... artist Ana Voog (shown left in one of her fiber creations) inspires me artfully in more ways than I can say. Known by many from her days as lead singer for Minneapolis band, "The Blue Up", she is probably better known today as the performance artist behind anacam, a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week webcam. Last year, she was featured in an international documentary called Webcam Girls that profiles some of the leading players in the webcam phenomenon. She is intelligent, inquisitive, a devoted mother and an awesome visual artist who works with a wide variety of media. I find myself particularly inspired by her fiber work....and since tomorrow is National Hat Day (bet you didn't know THAT. Did you??), I would be remiss if I didn't mention Ana's beautiful and unique art hats.

Ana creates some pretty incredible one-of-a-kind, sculptural art hats from crochet, usually from wool that she spins herself. Click here to see! Having recently been gifted with a spinning wheel and loom, I have gained new appreciation for Ana's work with fiber. I liked the description of Ana's hats given by another blogger: "Ana Voog's hats are everything that hats should be...impractical, individual, and WARM! They are an outlandish tribute to the lost art of hat wearing."

I, personally, come from a long line of women who sew and work with fiber, only I never learned to do these things myself. When I was a child I tried to learn, but my Mother, in her ardor for sewing as a way of life, would, without fail (and probably from a lack of patience) finish my projects for me. Otherwise, I would have monopolized her sewing machine for weeks. In retrospect, I think that sewing was a great comfort to her at the time. She was very good at it. She doesn't do it much these days, but her old Singer still commands a prominent place in a corner of her dining room.

I've always been attracted to creating things with fiber. I love going into stores that sell yarn and to examine colorful, textural fabrics, imagining the projects I could create with them if only I knew how. In fact, when we make the drive from California to Oregon, I always insist we stop at my favorite yarn store along the way in Ashland. There, I pick up skeins to use in future projects. I do use fiber in non-traditional ways in my art work sometimes, but I don't really know how to knit, crochet nor to create garments for myself. I have a very nice sewing machine, but haven't done much with it beyond sewing straight seams for curtains and pillows. I plan for this to change in the next couple of years.

One thing my mother encouraged when I was around five years old, was my learning to embroidery. I used to sit by her side and work on my embroidery projects as she zipped through her own projects on her beloved Singer. I can remember more than one instance in fact, when I stood up from my chair to discover that I had embroidered my work to the upper part of my jeans!

Wanting to get back into the whole swing of things before I dive in head first into other areas of fiber work, is my current project, an embroidered likeness of Frida Kahlo, whose spirit and inspiration have taken me through some trying times. This is a photo that I digitally enhanced, and I am pretty much going to simply follow the outlines with stitchery. I call this one, "Frida Electro".

Frida Electro

I probably won't haul out the loom and spinning wheel until some point after I get through my master's program in school, because I will, no doubt, have to take classes to learn how to use it all. Right now, embroidery seems like a good place to start.

Baby steps....

Stacy Alexander