Friday, March 28, 2008

Carol Hummel – Embellishing Nature

“The focus of my work in recent years has been on personal awareness, potential and choice as well as the forces and situations that attempt to demean, control, manipulate and destroy.

Contradictions -- comfort vs. confinement, pain vs. pleasure, freedom vs. restriction – dwell within my pieces as reminders that things are not always as they appear to be and making choices independently of external determining forces is essential to living.”

I chose the term, “embellishing nature” to describe Carol Hummel’s work because she not only uses nature in the sense of wrapping trees and utilizing the landscape as her canvas, she also embellishes human nature with food for thought. Carol puts a new twist on what is thought of traditionally as a women’s craft (knitting) and moves it onto a grand scale of nature itself to illustrate the juxtaposition between the ease and imprisonment that is life .

When she isn’t teaching sculpture at Kent State University, Carol is working on fascinating projects that give pause and challenge the mind. She told me that most recently, she was very excited about being selected for a residency at the the Colorado Art Ranch during their Artposium, a two-day event exploring the intersection of writing, art and land use.. She said, “I’m going to build upon the work I did in Wendover (the viruses in the mountains and on buildings, doilies, etc.. plus have a couple new ideas...”

Tree Cozy

Tree Cozy is a tree – a natural object representing masculinity and strength –covered with a crocheted cozy – an emphatically handmade blanket representing femininity and comfort. On the most obvious level, it is a piece of clothing, personifying the tree and keeping it cozy and colorful throughout the year, enhancing the beauty of nature.

On another, the brightly colored crocheted cozy wraps the tree in personal and cultural nostalgia evoking memories of bygone times and places when life was good. On yet another level, the cozy softens the strong tree form while also emphasizing it. It simultaneously caresses and encases the tree. The cozy covering the tree fluctuates between comforting blanket and suffocating cover-up; it conceals as much as it protects; it hides as much as it reveals. Tree Cozy was on display from 2005 through 2008 in Cleveland Heights, OH in front of Cleveland Heights City Hall.

Down Under

Down Under(s) 1
Tree, Underwear

“Dirt Divers” are a series of work that personifies trees highlighting human intrusion on natural objects.
Down Under 2

Instead of protection and care, this intrusion has the human element burying its head in the sand in denial of its impact. It raises questions about where human intrusion is appropriate when inflicted on our environment.

Project Schnee

Project Schnee
Site specific

In 2007, I worked with students at Schnee Learning Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. The project introduced the students to conceptual art and allowed them to participate in the thought and experimental processes involved in the planning and execution of works of art. Each student had the opportunity to work on a week-long project developed by the class as a whole. They created a maze that symbolized the challenges of life that utilized 72,735 feet of yarn. In addition, groups of 5-6 student artists completed two-hour conceptual artworks that represented a variety of concepts using 300 crocheted "cells" which I provided.

Confined Comforts

Confined Comforts (detail)

Confined Comforts
Size Not Specified
Confined Comforts, Kent State University/Stark Campus, Cantonk, OH - 2005

Confined Comforts is an installation by Carol Hummel, completed in conjunction with Kent State University/Stark’s “Women Cross Boundaries” yearlong series. Confined Comforts takes women’s craft (knitting, crocheting) out of the domestic realm and into the public environment. It addresses the tug-of-war between comfort and confinement. While each strand of colorful yarn is beautiful, it also binds the trees, the environment, space itself. It serves as an analogy about life. From the moment we are born, we are wrapped by influences imposed upon us by family, environment, and culture. We are continually transformed by these threads of influence, but are we freed or bound by them? It’s important to remember that although our cultural wrapping can be very comfortable, it is also confining, and it’s the choice of each individual to either accept or reject the influences that encase her or him. On a formal level, Confined Comforts is a visual discussion of line, light, texture, color, space, scale, and form. The installation was completed with the assistance of student and faculty volunteers. It took 500 hours to complete and includes 820,000 feet of yarn.

72"h x 180"w x 3"d
2003 Student Annual Exhibition, School of Art Gallery, Kent Stte University, Kent, OH (juried) - 2003

Unraveling” utilizes an afghan with colors and patterns that are bright and bold – evocative of a particular era and social class, which I put in middle-class America in the Sixties and Seventies… basically my background. The material – yarn – is a feminine material and the piece is, in my mind, very much about females in the home. To me, the unraveling yarn is like some cryptic writing in a private diary or paint dripping from a melting canvass that is taking on new life and reforming into a new story… or a new masterpiece. In this piece, one strand of yarn is heading out on its own, searching. “Unraveling” is about something that is simultaneously ending and beginning… one of the basic processes of life and one of my favorite sculptural themes.

I wanted to include this last piece in this entry because it resonates so strongly with me, especially when I read Carol’s commentary. I felt empowered by its message of a personal declaration of independence from the demeaning negativity, control and manipulation of others. Brava, Carol!
You Are Ugly


You Are Ugly
Rice Paper, Wax
300"h x 8.5"w x .5"d
2003 You Are Ugly, Sculpture Gallery, School of Art Gallery, Kent State University, Kent, OH (solo)

You are ugly is about personal worth and freedom. To me, it is about the resilience and strength of the human spirit to cope with people and situations that attempt to demean, control, manipulate, or destroy. But it is also about freedom. Just as the scroll ends, so does the ability to reach the soul with negativity and hate. You are ugly is a declaration of independence, a realization that personal beauty and freedom cannot be destroyed.

You can see more of Carol’s work and commentary at her web site.


Rowan Willow said...

Wow, that cozy looks like a LOT of work, but beautiful!

I think I figured out that you are Stacey Zimmerman's mom...right? I won one of her pieces of art on the One World~One Heart giveaway. You are a very talented family of artists. I am so grateful to that giveaway for giving me the chance to make friends with such wonderfully talented people like you and your daughter :0)

Take care,
Rowan Willow
aka Tiffany

freebird said...

She makes some very interesting works. I really like it that she shares some of this artmaking with kids. I think we have given up too much art in order to have science and math. It it weren't for taking a craft class each year in high school I doubt I could have finished school. It kept me sane in a world I didn't understand. Still does, come to think of it.

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