Walking Through the Forest

First of all, my apologies for my unsuccessful attempts to post while traveling. My original plan was to have posts all set before I left but technical issues and the need for a last-minute change of service threw that plan out the window. And getting decent internet at hotels is nothing one can depend on! But I will make it up to you this month, I promise.

Now that almost all of you have seen the myriad of photos from the Into the Forest installation that attendees to the opening and talk posted this past week, I invite you to spend some time virtually walking through it. This is a walkthrough of the gallery and installation, from stepping through the front door to wandering from tree to tree, wall to wall, and corner to corner. I apologize that I am no expert videographer and trying to fluidly skirt around the artwork and step unobtrusively through the attendees created a few moments of spinning and diving that might leave some sensitive individuals momentarily dizzy. But all in all, I am thrilled to have captured some of the feel of walking through our polymer forest that night.

In other news … the latest issue of The Polymer Arts, Winter 2017 – Line, has arrived! Digital issues were sent in the wee hours (3 am EST) on Saturday so if you are expecting a digital copy and haven’t seen it, check your spam/junk folder as that is where the errant access emails often land. If you need help, write my assistant Sydney at connect(at)thepolymerarts.com or, if you get this by email, just respond to this email.

Print editions were at the post office as of Thursday so if you are expecting one in print, depending on how far you are from northern Idaho, you will be seeing the new issue in your mailbox in 5-15 business days from then.

If you need to start or renew a subscription or buy the single issue, you can do so at www.thepolymerarts.com/Subscribe.html

Heading Into the Forest

I am heading Into the Forest in November! The huge installation project put together by Laura Tabakman, Julie Eakes and Emily Squires Levine will be a monumental event for the polymer art community and I, for one, can’t imagine missing this. It is being installed into a gallery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania with a gallery opening and party on November 10th followed by a Saturday forum on related topics. Coming down off the high I got being around so many amazing folks at Synergy in August, I am looking forward to a little creative recharge in November along with getting to see the work of 300+ polymer artists, all in one huge piece of global art.

So first … if you are interested in attending as well, you can jump over to the website and get all the details right here. I would love to see you and meet you there!

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The anticipation of this event has put me in the mood for forest-inspired work. Of course. So I rooted around the internet and found some amazing stuff to share with you this week. Here you see a very curious and delicately beautiful pendant inspired by both the flora and the fauna of the forest. The artist, Alina Sanina, started working in clay eight years ago as a curious teen but now, with a degree in art education behind her, she continues to sculpt and create a wide range of fantastical but rather realistic pieces.

I found this piece to be an eye-catcher at first glance because of its contrast between a skull, representing death, and the green and floral details of Spring foliage that top it off. But if you examine it for a minute, you’ll notice that the skull is not all a skull. The deer has live-looking eyes and fully fleshed-out ears. The contrast of life and death is within the deer head, not just the skull and vegetation here. It looks to me like a little representation of the cycle of life in a forest setting.

I have long been interested in societal views of life and death and how different cultures and even individuals work out how to handle the fact that these complete opposite states co-exist and are an understood, if not readily accepted, part of the cycle of life. I don’t know if that is what Alina had in mind when creating this but there are definitely metaphors on those subjects that one can discuss in regards to this little piece.

Whether you turn away or are intrigued by such difficult subject matter, I think you will want to see more of the beautiful work Alina creates. You can do so in her Etsy shop and on Instagram.

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Memories for a Lifetime

 

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I know I showed you a bit of the sample “Into the Forest” installation last week, but I didn’t get in this mosaic created by Julie Eakes for the exhibition that will be installed in November. I think Julie gets the prize for the most intense and biggest piece to go into the installation. I uploaded a fairly large image of this so if you click on the photo, it should open up in a browser window and you can zoom in to see all the individual canes that make up the idyllic scene.

I wish you could zoom in on the screens you see here in the main assembly room as Ellen Prophater presented her talk on mokume gane. Oh, the secrets and the great tips and tricks she gave away during this talk! This kind of thing was happening all over and made the price of this event well worth it on that basis alone. The friendships and conversations, however, they make it priceless.

If you didn’t get to make Synergy and haven’t been to any major events lately or ever, keep them in mind. Save up your pennies and plan to get that time off from work for the next big event you can possibly work into your schedule. They are each an experience you’ll keep with you all life long.

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Into the Trees

Ivana brozkova Into the ForestLife got a little rougher this week for the Bray clan although we are a strong and resilient bunch and just get stronger for having gone through the trials put before us. Nonetheless, we need a respite too and I have been immensely grateful that I am so lucky as to have a retreat of sorts in my own backyard. Here we are surrounded by trees beyond which is a presently green open space and hills. Below we have the soft burble of the creek as it skips along and the calming, consistent splash of three little waterfalls and the fish that play in the pond just outside my studio door. I have no idea how we managed to find, much less come to live in, such a place in this part of California but I am grateful every day. Especially lately.

I was doing a check in on the Into the Forest project page on Facebook and saw Connie Clark had posted a link to an interesting article on “forest bathing“. I had never heard the term but I am very familiar with the recharging that one gets from being out among trees and in the natural world in general. That is part of the reason I thought the “Into the Forest” project would be so interesting. Have you ever noticed just how prevalent the inspiration of nature is in art, even by artists who live in densely urban settings? We have an inherent connection to nature that draws us to it. It is no less important than community and feeling that one belongs. That is what I see as the heart and purpose of a project like this–connecting to things that make us feel whole and fulfilled, including nature, community, expression and connecting with others, in this case, our fellow polymer artists and the people who will come and see this monumental project. How often do we have the opportunity to be part of something that does all that?

The image here is Ivana Brozova‘s contribution to the project which the organizers shared last week. Her pods are wonderful in her jewelry art but I can only imagine how magical they will look hanging in this fantastical forest of ours. You can see my post about her pod jewelry from last year here.

There is still time to participate in this project but the deadline of May 2nd is quickly approaching. Even if you just create some crazy polymer grass, you will have helped make this dream that much more wonderful. Polymer artists from all over the world are participating. The list thus far includes work from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and in the USA, artists living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia have pitched in. For more information on the project, see the information listed on this FAQ page.

Weekly Inspiration Challenge: Get out into the trees! Just go out and soak it up, recharge, let inspiration just wash over you then go back to your work table and, without thinking too much about it, start creating pieces that translate how it made you feel or what you saw. Consider making 10 or more of certain items and send it off to the Into the Forest project.

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Into the Forest

13576637_10154283234709491_7192967860885552779_oOkay, so this might just be a week of announcements but they are exciting announcements, let me tell you.

During her general assembly presentation at Eurosynergy, Laura Tabakman spoke about her projects, many of which are huge undertakings involving installations of her work and the work of others in anything from organic floor compositions in a gallery to entire bridges yarn bombed by the whole of the local community. So it wasn’t a complete surprise that she has a very ambitious project up her sleeve right now. The difference is that this project can include you!

Laura paired up with the very organized and motivated Emily Squires Levine to work on a project inspired by their time under the aspens in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Living here, I completely get what got their creative juices flowing. I am constantly amazed by the color, variety and just stunning beauty of the mountains here. I honestly have yet to find a place in the world I think is more beautiful than the scenery here. Laura and Emily were similarly impressed and started working out an idea for a large Rocky Mountain forest inspired installation. Later on they got Julie Eakes on board and between the three of them the seeds of the “Into the Forest” project was born. And just hours before Laura’s presentation, the threesome set up a Facebook page to help facilitate what is certainly to be an immense and fascinating project.

So what is “Into the Forest”? The image here is their first assembly based on the project idea and here is their description:

“An international collaboration of polymer artists and enthusiasts inspired by the high altitude aspen groves in the Rocky Mountains, “Into the Forest” is an evolving mixed media international installation organized by collaborating artists Laura Tabakman, Emily Squires Levine and Julie Eakes. Imagine yourself in a forest. On the ground beneath a canopy of branches and leaves, unexpected life exists. Look closely, be amazed at the variety of these organic forms. Be a part of our Forest and help it flourish! Create pieces which will form its life elements. We will combine them into living colonies of varying shapes, colors and sizes. We are looking for 1000s of elements, created by our international polymer community, to inhabit our Forest.”

To get involved, request an invitation to the “Into the Forest” Facebook group. There are already over 150 polymer artists and enthusiasts that have pledged to help. I know I’m excited. Jump over to the Facebook page to get more information and follow the project on Instagram (intotheforest17).

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Here’s a simple one … join the project! Make one element a day or at least every other day, to send off to the project. I started on leaves on the weekend and ideas for lichen and other creeping color. We have until April 4th of 2017 which, making one little simple piece a day means you could have a couple hundred to contribute by April!

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