ULLA STINA WIKANDER: EVERYTHING OLD MADE NEW AGAIN

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

Artist Ulla Stina Wikander uses cross stitch embroidery to create a new skin for everyday objects. Finding older, outdated technology, and furniture, she lines them with colorful embroidery that’s just as old (or older). “The cross-stitch designs I have collected for many years,” she explains, “and placing them in a new context allows them to change.”

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

via [My Modern Met]

Embroidered Vintage Rackets

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Well, our old tennis rackets are simply hanging out in boxes, pushed away into dark corners of our basement closets. Meanwhile, Cape Town-based designer and embroidery artist, Danielle Clough uses them to frame off vibrant embroidered flowers.   Her series, What a Racket features brightly colored wool flowers weaved between the delicate threading of old badminton and tennis rackets.

Rackets aren’t the only things she’s been embroidering, check out her website to see her other fiber art projects.

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Top 5 Art Shows of 2014

There was no polling of art aficionados, no pouring over magazines or newspaper reviews, and there’s definitely no big ballin’ art plays for likability listed below.  These shows made the list because I visited them more than once (that rarely ever happens) or my sensibilities were totally confounded by the creativity.  Shows that make that kind of impression can provide a year’s worth of conversational tidbits and a measure to which you might hold all others.  Aw, enough with that…these shows rocked my 2014.

Spring Break Art Show

It’s fun, fresh, and daring like newly graduated art school minds before they get crushed and compromised. This curator driven show, gets set up in an old schoolhouse during Armory Arts Week in New York. Yes, we know it’s technically an art fair. But the 2014 show, PublicPrivate won us over with installations that we talked up all-year-long.

Kara Walker: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s Installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn was a “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” The exhibit was mind-blowing – from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx-like woman, to the very unexpected nauseating smell of burnt sugar permeating the hot factory.

A photo posted by @hahamag on

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands

Swoon’s intricate wheat-paste portraits normally grace New York buildings, but for Motherlands she went large-scale, telling landscaped stories against a backdrop of dramatically blue washed walls in the Brooklyn Museum rotunda. The star of the show was the massive sculptural tree that nearly kissed the rotunda’s 72 foot high glass domed ceiling.

David Lynch: The Unified Field

Lynch’s grime aesthetics found solace at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), where he studied as an advanced painting student in 1967. The exhibit explored Lynch’s hybrid collection of works, displaying a delicate balance from disturbing narratives to richly descriptive lithographs. Unified Field is his world of opposites that he wanders in and out of at will.

Interhaven: The Works of Caitlin McCormack

McCormack’s sorted things in shadowboxes lay posed and gracefully still as if they once knew air – their layers of articulated overlapping crocheted beige string bones resembled the things they never were. The show’s curio layout carried a pleasantly haunting tone, but it was the lingering of McCormack’s stored memories seen through these tangible manifestations of contained dreams and nightmares that left me feeling domed under her bell jars.

*thank you to paperclips215 & Paradigm Gallery for the use of their Instagram Photos

In Exploration of Stewart Watson

by LeighKaren Labay

Stewart Watson is what you may call a “late bloomer.” After she got married and had a son, she finally gave a larger voice to her innate talent as an artist. Her art is 3-dimensional, combining the natural and the industrial. As you will see in the photos, her pieces are wonderfully whimsical, recalling a field of wildflowers or wild stalks of wheat. At the same time, there is a strictness of form, reminding one that industrialization has been superimposed upon nature, unfortunately. Ms. Watson is a great talent, and hopefully she will find the wide audience that she deserves.

HAHA MAG: Stewart, I know this question is so gauche, but your pieces are so unusual. What inspires you?

Stewart Watson: That’s a tough one, but here’s my artist statement; it may help round out where I am coming from with this most recent work -Potential Disasters and Other Family Matters.

The common conceptual thread woven through my work is a fascination with the point at which two things meet, thereby creating a third, entirely new event. Whether it is with feather-filled, upholstery fabric forms pinned to the wall by bowed steel armatures, or tense steel rods sprung between wall and floor, my interest lies in exploring how the slow, kinetic action of one, affects the other.

I construct three-dimensional drawings with steel rods that rely upon relationships with their surroundings. Developed through codes and natural genetic patterning I have created from my personal history, each rod represents a relationship. Some refer to specific genealogical lines that connect aunt to uncle or mother to son; others reflect relationships that develop through time and companionship. Both situations depend upon painted steel implements bolted to the wall holding it all together. The starting and ending points are ambiguous. They are simply a series of marks that link one point to another. Through decay, time, precariousness, humor, or some combination thereof, once the work leaves my hands, there is potential for slip, change, or collapse. I guide, direct, and balance elements, but once the installation is established, the resulting event is out of my control.

In my most recent series, Potential Disaster, each object is balanced, pinned, prodded, or propped in ways that accentuate the parlous nature of elements in space. Some seem to defy gravity, while others revel in its existence. Honesty in presentation and material remains conceptually vital to my work. There are no secret hangers or safety nets keeping the work from toppling over; the precariousness is real as is the potential for a kinetic event. Systematic dependency of materials without regard to origin or termination points is a fundamental aspect of each Potential Disaster. As with the results of genetic makeup, constant adjustments and concessions are made during construction to accommodate previous placement of elements, such that the installations often create unexpected compositions.

Through non-mechanical reproduction, multiples are created that are similar, but never the same. This phenomenon is crucial as evidence of the human hand and its imperfections in my process-oriented work. Sewing pillow forms with exposed seams emphasizes the industrial nature of their construction. The upholstery fabrics I have chosen are meant to evoke luxury and the perception of well-to-do living rooms or the opulence of a romantic costume classic. This is the ideal, not the reality of what I know; rather, it is a fabricated memory of my past. Lush fabrics have always lured me in with their shiny, gilded surfaces, and a decidedly false sense of wealth. By heaping the amorphous pillows together, I suggest both the comfort of a well-worn sofa and the relationships people have with things in their everyday lives. None of the objects or materials themselves are old or antiquated, yet I use them as contemporary signifiers of historical data.

This, and all of my work, is about time and decay; celebration and fear; balance and material; humor and family; mysteries and solutions; genetics and codes; pain and propping; dropping and arching; failing and succeeding. Looking forward is much like delving into history; it requires knowledge and an awareness of where I am right now in order to proceed. Genealogy and my family history continue to inform me as I reveal other generations of ancestors with every future construction. So much of what we are – as a family or species – is similar so that the tiny bit that makes us unique is what interests me.

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Stewart Watson, detail: Potential Disasters, upholstery fabric, goose feathers, steel, thread, 145″ x 60″ x 60″, 2010 

Stewart Watson, detail: Potential Disasters, upholstery fabric, goose feathers, steel, thread, 145" x 60" x 60", 2010
Stewart Watson, detail: Generator, steel, upholstery fabric, goose feathers, paint, 2010

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Stewart Watson, detail: Inheritance, upholstery fabric, raw wool, steel, thread, 96″ x 80″ x 80″, 2009

HM: Is there a reason why your work seems so inaccessible? Do you have your own website yet?

SW: My work is accessible, but not in a tangible way – by that I mean, it is not necessarily “ownable”. I make the work to be experienced, not as a means to a financial end. This has its own pitfalls, as museums and collectors have a hard time with my work, though they are getting more flexible with the idea of collecting an idea or experience. My website is still in progress – I have a lot more work to put up on it. The web address is www.jlswatson.com.

HM: Have you always been an artist? Did you start out doing art when you were young?

SW: I have always been artistic. From a very early age, I found drawing to be the most efficient and successful way for me to express myself. In fact, most of my school papers involved at least one drawing, if not many, in lieu of text.

Sculpture and installation came later – I realized that through specific materials, I could talk about things without as much storytelling as an image might give – letting the things the work is made of fill in the gaps, and perhaps ask more questions.

HM: Your pieces seem very industrial but natural at the same time. Is this intentional?

SW: Thanks – yes. I have worked with the juxtaposition of industrial processes and homemaker processes for a long time. There are very similar processes – sewing is not far from welding, yet they are perceived very differently.

I think my work has become even more so as a few years ago, I had a surgery to my spine that added titanium rods and bolts to my bones, and I know it has influenced how I make art both physically and emotionally.

HM: What is your favorite piece? Why?

SW: Wow – usually the newest piece, as it involves the most recent questions I needed answered and is the sum of all the previous works I’ve made. So, I guess it is sibling rivalries, 2010. It is the jumping-off point for some new works, and is also the culmination of my graduate work, though I am also very proud of generator 2010; working on that piece made me so happy.

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Stewart Wilson, Sibling Rivalries, goose feathers, Thanksgiving 2009 turkey feathers, upholstery fabric, steel, casters, thread, 150” x 72” x 84”, 2010

HM: How do you see yourself evolving as an artist? What is next for you?

SW: I am hoping to get to the next level – more museum shows, solo exhibitions, maybe even teach at the university level, but I’m not in as big a hurry as I was before my son came along. He’s 19 months old, and I sort of get the opportunity to revisit a few things I skipped over trying to get here.

I am curating some shows, have an upcoming exhibition in Pennsylvania, and am participating in a performance piece here in Baltimore. I am also working on some community art projects here in Baltimore. I will continue to run the gallery my friends and I started – Area 405 (www.area405.com). It is an all-volunteer run 6000+ square foot exhibition space.

And other than that, I’m just going to see what the universe has in store for me.