Monday, August 26, 2019

April Martin: Harbour Front Centre of Craft and Design Vitrines, Toronto

To Lips velvet, brass, porcelain, mirror 2019 by April Martin
April Martin's reflections on the creation of her work in the exhibition Magical Material Thinking June 8 - mid October 2019 make up the text in this post.  Photos:  Brian Medina.  

The six vitrines push out of the wall into the hallway and transform it from a place of making (studios) to made (galleries). I thought about them as their own worlds, next to one another but with completely different atmospheres. All of them feel hot to me, but different kinds of hot. I like imagining opening a kiln in the middle of a firing and seeing the glaze move in ways you do not get to witness.
Romance Portal brass, wax  2019 by April Martin
My work is about energy. Embedded unseen, perhaps alive.  My titles come from the people I love in my life and there are many.  I will never not have enough information to sort through or manifest into shapes and these are the ones I made at the end of May, 2019.  

In regard to Romance Portal, somewhere in my thinking I became obsessed with the idea of a giant wax chandelier.  I also thought about the lost wax process of sculpture and how it veils the fact that the metallic positives we see actually grew out of a suspended moment in wax.  I encouraged my first ceramics class to make the tiniest fixings for a Barbie banquet because working small with clay teaches you how your hands react to the wet/dry phenomenon that is ceramics. 

I made the tiny beeswax candles on my stove.  
Ideal Solution pewter, cobalt carbonate fired to quartz inversion, earthenware 2019 by April Martin

My main concern with using pewter (especially salvaged) was that there was a potential for lead content but through research I learned that antimony is now present in pewter as a replacement for lead.  Antimony was used in kohl, as a way to darken the eye. 

I was looking for a solution to keep the ceramic standing up and pewter became 
my ideal solution, a low fired heavy metal to balance the face I saw in the clay.  Knowing that embedded in its metallic shine is a chemical that has been used to blacken eyes for beauty, it felt fitting for me to insert cobalt experiments here, as that black area was achieved unintentionally.

I think it’s such a privilege to be able to show work, and it’s always so much work to get to the actual showing part, that when you’re in the thick of the install, editing is absolutely key.  It’s so hard to keep that part of yourself sharp.  
Brightening Visibly copper, wool, carbon fiber 2018 by April Martin
This vitrine looks the most like the inside of a kiln.  It’s lined with thin copper and the constructed plant floats inside, its leaves are copper on one side, wool on the other.   It unfolds and peels open towards the bottom and the copper becomes more exposed.  Brighter.  

The most recent example of my dad exclaiming his personal idiom (the title for this piece) was when a thrift store near our family cottage was discovered.  “April just found out there is a Salvation Army in the closest town?! ... Brightening Visibly!” 

“Brightening Visibly!” is a poetic reaction to how smiles take over the shape of one’s face.  Is a smile bright?  It’s definitely a form of communication, often the simplest way to answer a question, and also a more animal response, it beats your brain and tongue to the words that may actually not fit with this visible sheen. 
Rising Libra fired and unfired cobalt carbonate, clay 2019 by April Martin
I am a Libra rising. 
Rising Libra sounds hotter though. This is a simple structure but the work it’s doing is the most palpable. It’s balancing and it’s fragile and if it fell and broke there would be pink and blue dust everywhere and it would be annoying to clean up but that’s kind of the worst of it.
Snek Out neon, earthenware, unfired cobalt carbonate 2019 by April Martin
Opiomancy. Telling the future by snake trails
Lara who lives in LA but is Dutch helped me with the title.  We were talking about Snakes, Snacks, Sneks and Slung. I like that snek isn’t really an English word, it’s some form of sneaking and snucking and again it feels like a movement that comes from inside.   
To Lips velvet, brass, porcelain, mirror 2019 by April Martin (detail)
It was spring and I had tulips in my house.
My niece whispered “little bit of romance” to me across my parents dining room table on my birthday. 

More about this exhibition on Judy's Journal.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Yayoi Kusama

self portrait  1950
oil on canvas  34 x 34 cm
Yayoi Kusama
It was extraordinary for a woman from a small town in Japanese hinterland to achieve the degree of artistic attention that Yayoi Kusama had at such a young age.  She described her early, compulsive art making as a refuge from the frought familial relationships she had.  She also said that her art was a retreat from her own psychological symptoms.  For Kusama, productivity is crucial to her mental health.  This post is about her early work made when she was 23 - 30 years old.
Island No. 7 1953
watercolour and pastel on paper  30.5 x 26.5 cm
Yayoi Kusama


"I am pursuing art in order to correct the disability which began in my childhood."  Y.K..
Dots on the Sun  1953
watercolour and pastel on paper 25 x 26 cm
Yayoi Kusama
She was born March 22, 1929, the youngest of 4 children.  Her family raised seeds in nurseries, and then on December 7, 1941, when she was 12 years old, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and her country was at war.  She had to go work in a parachute and military uniform factory.

She experimented early with materials and technique and set out to teach herself western style oil painting.
no. 8 H.A.P. 1956
oastel, gouache, acrylic on paper  58.4 x 45.7 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In March 1952, she turned 23, and had her first solo exhibition in her home village of Matsumoto.  It consisted of 250 pieces, and then she mounted a second one 7 months later, also in Matsumuoto.  She was noticed and offered an exhibition in Tokyo.   She had three more exhibitions over the next 13 months in Tokyo.
Her face, like Warhol's, is inseparable from her work.
No. White A.Z. 1958-59  (detail)
oil on canvas  210 x 414 cm
Yayoi Kusama
"For art like mine, art that does battle at the border of life and death, questioning what we are and what it means to live and die, Japan is too small, too servile, too feudalistic, too scornful of women.  My art needs a more unlimited freedom and a wider world.  "  Yayoi Kasuma
No. B White 1959  detail
oil on canvas  226 c 298 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In 1959 she moved to the USA to escape  the masculine and deeply conservative Japan of the 1950's.  Then in 1973, she went back home.
Infinity Nets (white) 1959  detail
oil on canvas  131 x 117.5 cm
Yayoi Kusama
While in New York City,  (October of 1959) she organized her own solo show at the 10th st co-operative gallery.  It was of her white monochrome canvases, the infinity net paintings.
No. T.W.3 1961  detail
oil on canvas  174 x 125 cm
Yayoi Kusama
Before websites.  Before blogs
She did it herself.
She was an avid self-publicists.  A writer of manifestos.
Accumulation No. 1  1962 
sewn and stuffed fabric, paint, fringe on chair frame, 121 x 121 x 121 cm
Yayoi Kusama
In the early 60's, she covered sofas and chairs with stuffed phallic protuberances.
This re-invention of her art, was unexpected and gained her publicity.
Accumulation  1963 
sewn and stuffed fabric, wood chair frame, paint  90 x 97.8 x 88.9 cm
  Yayoi Kusama
In the 1970's she began to write her autobiography.  She says her work is linked to the hallucinatory episodes from her childhood.  For many critics, her mental health is one of the most fascinating aspects of her career.
self obliteration no. 2   1967
watercolour, pen, pastel, photocollage on paper  40 x 50 cm 
Yayoi Kusama
In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale.
Yayoi Kusama continued to show new work alongside much younger artists in the biennial and triennial circuit international art scene.  She lives in Tokyo today, and has a team of dedicated assistants.   She continues to exhibit to even wider acclaim each year.  Her new installations are based on the Infinity Mirrors that she began making in 1966.

Text in this post is derived from the introduction to the Tate Modern's catalogue for Kusama's 2012 exhibition written by Frances Morris.  The images are also from that book.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

April Martin new work : Three recent exhibitions 2017-2018

Recent MFA graduate from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (sculpture, 2016), April Martin is an interdisciplinary artist who works with sun, wind, water, salt, copper and time.  In November and December of 2017 she exhibited in Chicago in two separate exhibitions, and in January 2018, she installed a solo exhibition in Sudbury, northern Ontario Canada.

Above is Blue Print, copper verdigris on stitched muslin
from the exhibition entitled Mounting Tension at ACRE PROJECTS, Chicago.
April was inspired to respond to the terrazzo floor in ACRE projects.
The three vessels above are entitled Like a Lake
bisqued earthware filled with miracle gro and water
and in front of them is
Live Wire 
copper, l.e.d.s and lithium batteries
The miracle gro seeps into the body of the vessels and onto the floor so that  Like a Lake becomes a visual example of the effects of time .

Also in Chicago, at Roots and Culture, Martin exhibited three more sculptures and collaborated to make a video with Ruby T.
I Lived On Air 
pieced linen textile

In this constructed  textile the artist used a code to record the variety of beds that she slept in during 2017, when she took part in five separate month-long residencies in the USA and Europe.
The striped fabric was cut, flipped, angled, and pieced back together in a variety of ways to represent the people with whom, and the places where, she was tucked in.
A line from The Waves (above)
copper and ladder tape
A slightly narrower (and shinier) variation on the copper blind sculpture that April created for her MFA in 2016. (here), it is remarkably affected by the slightest change of light and air movement.
Pair of Jugs
glazed stoneware.

Challenging herself with a nearly impossible kiln firing, these two sets of vessels have inter-laced handles, as if two female friends are arm in arm. 
April studied at McGill University (BA 2009) and Concordia (BFA 2014) in Montreal and the third exhibition in this post brings several sculptures inspired by the old factories in that city together with brand-new textile and paper collages that she created at Women's Studio Workshop in upstate New York in 2017.  To construct the factories, the artist made moulds from tin cans, drinking straws and PVC pipe and then cast them with thin clay slip to make components which were assembled into playful sculptures and fired in the kiln. 
She also constructed custom metal plinths for each of the sculptures.   The twelve sculptures in the exhbition are each untitled, two are shown above with the textile and monoprint collage, Airy.
Also included in this exhibition (entitled Effloresence) are three hand-built sculptures.
Above is Pink Hill., ceramic.
Copper is a constant material in all three of April's exhibitions.  The factory sculptures were glazed with copper oxide (and also cobalt and iron oxides) and some are displayed on sheets of copper.  In the middle of the above photo is Montreal (hand built ceramic) with Windy, mono-print with textile collage above.
The sculptures were fired twice.  Once for forming the base and then again to fix the oxide glazes.  Martin won an award from Concordia for this body of work.
The largest scupture in the exhibition is entitled Royal Mountain, referring to the famous mountain in the city of Montreal, Mount Royal.  Hand built from thin pieces of clay, it was a technical feat to have it succeed in the kiln.  Behind the sculpture is a glimpse of Breezy, a monopint approximately 32" x 40" with textile collage (2017).

April Martin

April Martin is a sculptor from North Ontario. Her work embraces the scale of shared living, breathing, heating, melting. She holds a BA from McGill University and a BFA from Concordia in Montreal. In 2016 she completed her MFA in Sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a recipient of The International Sculpture Centre’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award as well as the Legacy Grant from Women’s Studio Workshop (New York). She has installed outdoor works in Humboldt Park (Chicago) and Franconia Sculpture Park (Minnesota). Recently she has participated in residencies at AZ West (California), Teton Art Lab (Wyoming) and Emergency (Switzerland), exhibited work at Roots & Culture (Chicago) and performed at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). 
(above text from Acre press release)

exhibition with Ruby T.   Moving through walls and Floors at Roots and Culture - Chicago
exhibition with Courtney Mackedanz and Erica Raberg   Mounting Tension at Acre - Chicago
and a solo exhibition    Effloresence at The Northern Artist Gallery - Sudbury 

April Martin is our daughter.
In the spring of 2017, she and Jordan Rosenow collaborated to make this 34 foot sculpture that is installed in Franconia Sculpture park in Minnesota entitled 'we move still.  steel and fabric

Friday, November 3, 2017

Britta Marakatt -Labba

This post is an introduction to Britta Marakatt Labba's incredible embroidered wool on linen tapestry about the history of the Sami people in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland.  In Finland, the area that these people live in is called Lapland.
The entire embroidery is 24 metres long and can be read in either direction.
The artist speaks here about each of the panels.  She speaks about the Goddess mythology that is so important to this culture.  You will also find images at the same link for the entire panel.  
The tapestry was shown at Documenta 14 in Kassel Germany in October 2017. 
I humbly write this to encourage readers to go to Beatrijs Sterk's post on the Textile Forum blog.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Colleen Heslin

girl friday 2016 colleen heslin dye on linen
Colleen Heslin's exhibition Needles and Pins
McMichael Canadian Art Collection Gallery  June 4 2016 - February 20 2017
organized by the Esker Foundation in Calgary
curator Naomi Potter
girl friday detail colleen heslin
sewn paintings
constructed colour fields
false start 2016 colleen heslin dye on linen
Colleen Heslin won the 2013 RBC Canadian Painting Prize
earth be earth 2015 colleen heslin dye on linen
Colour field paintings or modern quilts?
A Jack Bush solo exhibition runs concurrently at the McMichael
earth be earth detail colleen heslin
Art equals craft, Craft equals art.
The importance and meaning of materials
monochrome 2016 colleen heslin dye on  linen
 Colleen Heslin soaks fabric in dye, and then skillfully cuts and pieces these striking compositions.
They 'resonate with the tension of material and gestural complexity.'  (wall text)
dash 2015 colleen heslin ink and dye on cotton and linen
The work in this exhibition is recent, most from 2016.
Those from 2015 give more evidence about her mark making process.
She allows the fabrics that she stains with dye or ink to dry naturally, and then responds to the marks left behind without her hand touching them.
Not paintings then.
dash 2015 colleen heslin detail
Yet the viewer feels touched.
This artist is exploring and using cloth as a language and cloth is intimate.
counterpose 2015 colleen heslin ink and dye on cotton and linen
 We understand cloth.
log cabin 2016 colleen heslin dye on canvas
Cloth is like the human body.
It's malleable.
runaay 2016 colleen heslin dye on canvas
Most of the pieces are human scale.
The cloth is pulled around stretcher bars. 
seafoam 2016 colleen heslin dye on canvas
Not quilts then.