Tag Archives: Indiana

Some linocuts have stories

Inspiration is a quixotic thing. Sometimes an image’s meaning is obvious, but for me, the stories behind my linocuts make their presence known in the slow, methodical process of creating. Such was the case with the linoleum block I created for my recent experiments with silk. My musings inspired the following essay, a version of which will be published in a compendium about justice sponsored by First United Church, Bloomington, Indiana. It is the brainchild of my dear friend, writer and artist Donovan Walling.

my-favorite-cope-hollow

My personal favorite in the Cope Hollow series.

I am fortunate to live and make my art in a naturally beautiful place. Hikes in the hills and hollows around Bloomington, Indiana often inspire my art. I recently completed a series where I needed a striking image of topographical lines. An area on a map of the Charles Deam Wilderness caught my eye. Poetically called Cope Hollow, it had fingered bottom lands with steep hill contours radiating out like ripples from a raindrop.

When I title my pieces, I strive for playful ambiguity. I want people to see their own experiences in the work. In this case, the actual place demanded acknowledgement. Ridges and hollows in this part of the world are named for early residents. Certain names are still quite common in the county, but no listings for Cope appear in the phone book.

Two unpublished articles from the public library provided the best information about the Deam Wilderness, which was officially designated as a wilderness area in 1982. This area was the last part of Monroe County to be settled beginning in 1823. Native Americans may have hunted here at a much earlier time, but they did not stay.

cope-hollow-topo-map

Almost all of the Deam Wilderness is part of the Norman Uplands, a formation of mostly siltstone that was sculpted by glacial run-off into drainages and steeply-sloped ridges. The desirable bottom lands were the first to be settled, but were subject to unpredictable spring flooding. The ridges were settled last, some so narrow they only had room for a house and a frog pond for water. Top soil here is extremely thin and the slopes were too steep to be settled. Making a living meant trying to raise enough crops and livestock to feed your family, and most families relied on logging for cash income.

Who would choose to live in such a place? Certainly those who had enough means would have kept right on going, reaching lands farther west that were much more suitable for a profitable economic life. Those who remained spent day after back breaking day felling trees and digging stumps, trying to coax crops and fodder from thin steep soils with inconsistent water. When the Forest Service began buying land for a national forest in 1935, it is no wonder many people jumped at the chance to sell out.

In my daily life, I am surrounded by people who are socioeconomically similar to me. Many are artists and friends. Some collect my work. A few generations ago, areas just around my home were the homesteads of people who clawed a subsistence living from an ungenerous land. Some lasted so that their names are still mentioned in the local paper. Others like the Cope family, have vanished.

Many around the world still experience this harsh life today. A search for statistics paints a sobering picture of poverty. How did I become so fortunate? It is hard to know how to help when the global problem is so vast. Perhaps it is best to start small, in my own backyard.

Cope Hollow is a good reminder.

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The truth about art festivals

I am thrilled to be in the beginning stages of my first commissioned linocut. It is so new, however, that my gradated blue rectangles aren’t ready for blog exposure. My other big project — the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts — is coming up soon on Labor Day. So in honor of the festival I thought I would answer some of the most common questions I get about art festivals. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions, and these insights are from my own experience as a festival participant, a festival juror, and local festival committee member.
 
Who chooses which artists participate?
If the event says it is a juried art fair, then submissions are chosen by a jury. Most festivals use an on-line service called ZAPP, where images of the artist’s work and a picture of the artist’s booth are uploaded. Jurors only see the images — no names or other identifiers are allowed — so it is hoped that the process can be without favoritism. Jurors see artwork by category (i.e. jewelry, ceramics) and give each submission a numerical score.
The festival then uses these raw scores to develop their list of invitees. They keep in mind how many of each type of medium they would like to have. There are usually many more jewelers, ceramicists and photographers than there are say, printmakers. They want to make sure the festival has a good variety of offerings.
Being a juror can be a tough job. Some festivals do live jurying — where the jurors look at the images together for a brief time and then submit scores. I did this for the Broad Ripple Art Fair one year, and it was exhausting to look at so much art! Other festivals allow jurors to score on-line over a period of time from any location.

 

My first booth shot came from an early January mock set-up in my church hall.
Where do all those white tents come from?

(more…)

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It begins at the salvage yard

Our family motto is “How hard can it be?” With this perspective we have embarked on many adventures: from renting an auger and cleaning out our own sewer (you shouldn’t) to learning to survive a dangerous hike in the Italian Alps (sing show tunes loudly to combat fear.)

Four and a half years ago, “How hard can it be?” got me my first press. As I’ve detailed in a past post, my husband built it for me out of recycled steel. Friday I received an e-mail that I am a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the state of Indiana. In the grant I described how I wanted to expand my press to accommodate larger work. I have one year to use the funds, so we began immediately.

When does art begin at the salvage yard?

(more…)

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Staring down the barrel of a grant panel

I recently applied for an Individual Artist Program grant from the state of Indiana. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen (anonymously) to my grant being reviewed by a panel of four artists.

This particular grant is for a maximum of $2000, and is for some use that would directly advance the career of the artist. The grant must have some sort of public benefit as well. Many types of artists apply — from novices to academic professionals. As I listened to the comments on about 25 applications, a few points kept coming up:

Be sure you understand the intent of the grant. In this case, grants that made a strong case for how the artists’ career would be affected received favorable comments. Does your proposal sound like you are shoe-horning your desire for a vacation into the grant format? (more…)

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