Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bauhaus Project

2009 is the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus—a German art school that existed between 1919 and 1933 in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin, Germany. The Bauhaus’s students and teachers were such people as Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Georg Munch, Walter Gropius, and Gunta Stolzl (among many others). Although the Bauhaus ran for less than two decades, the influence of the design theory and ideas about art had far reaching effects. Many ideas begun at the Bauhaus continued at schools in the United States such as Black Mountain College after the German school closed in 1933.

I am currently engaged in a Bauhaus project which is the brain-child of a good weaving friend of mine, Cornelia Theimer Gardella ( She is a native of Erfurt, Germany and she and her husband Kurt split their time between Germany and northern New Mexico. Conni wanted to do a project connecting the ideas begun at the Bauhaus in the early 20th century and its influence on contemporary tapestry artistry. She approached myself and James Koehler ( to collaborate on a project that would explore the ideas from the Bauhaus and connect them to our current work in the southwestern United States. James, Conni, and myself are all contemporary tapestry weavers. Conni and I have been mentored by James Koehler for the past several years and I definitely feel grateful to be included in this project which will continue our mentoring relationship and further my knowledge not only of contemporary tapestry, but of some of the art forms’ roots in Bauhaus ideas.

We are planning a show of our work in Germany during the 90th Bauhaus celebration. All three of us will display works hopefully in a gallery in Erfurt--Conni’s home town. Our plans also include a workshop accompanied by lectures designed to connect the Bauhaus ideas with our current work in New Mexico (and Conni’s continuing work in both Germany and New Mexico). We are currently looking for a venue for the show in New Mexico when we return from Germany, probably in the fall of 2009. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to also make a connection at Convergence in 2010 (we’re hoping for Albuquerque!) and perhaps show the work and repeat the workshops a third time. Our next challenge is to secure venues and find some grants to support our travel and teaching.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Piedra Lumbre

I grew up in New Mexico, and have spent many happy years since leaving for college living there and visiting. I now live just north of the Colorado border near Blanca, CO, but the red rocks and the blue skies of New Mexico call me back over and over. Last week I made a trip to Ghost Ranch--a place of many happy childhood memories. Now I go there to hang weaving, mostly through Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. The Piedra Lumbre (the name for the area around Ghost Ranch which means valley of shining stone) is most certainly one of the most stunning places I have ever had the privelege of spending time. It is really indescribable--the blue sky, multiple colors of red and yellow rocks, the blue reservoir, the sagebrush, Georga O'Keefe's famous Pedernal mountain... and then there is Ghost Ranch, that oasis of green alfalfa and friendly people. Anyway, I went to Ghost Ranch's Piedra Lumbre center to hang a new set of weavings there. One of them was my newest piece, This Time I Dance II. The new piece was a further exploration of ideas from This Time I Dance (see prior post) and used the same colorways.

In my experience, when hanging weaving shows in New Mexico, the weavings all get laid on the floor as they are chosen to put on the walls. This is always difficult for me. After all, I spent many hours making that piece of art which is now in danger of being stepped on and is undoubtedly picking up fuzz and dirt from the old carpet it is lying on. But my friend Conni ( convinced me to take a deep breath and let it go, and indeed, the show was hung without incident. If you visit the show (it hangs from now until July 6th), you'll notice the wide variety of art hanging there. They are not pieces I would probably group together, but it is an interesting representation of work being done in northern New Mexico fiber arts. So if you're going through northern NM any time soon, stop and visit. Ghost Ranch is always worth the time, and the weaving shows there are always something to see.

Memories of Utah--Weaving inspiration

My partner and I spent 5 days in Utah last month with my extended family, some friends, and 5 assorted dogs (fortunately only 2 of them were ours). The weather was beautiful and the amazing canyons of Butler Wash and Comb Ridge near Bluff were just as fabulous as ever. If it weren't for the rainstorm and the clay puddle my tent was sitting in the morning we were to leave, I might still be there.

I especially enjoyed the rock formations on this trip. The striations in the rock and the colors that swirled around each other reminded me of weaving. The tactile aspect of the various rocks and the walls of the cliff dwellings were interesting to me and brought to mind my love of the tactile nature of fiber and weaving. Touch is so important to experience. Can we allow this when we're making art also? There were many remnants of cliff dwellings in those canyons. I marveled at the way the rocks were stacked and placed decoratively in places. I could feel the grooves fingers had made in the mud used for mortar so many years ago.