Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I recently returned from a trip to Cuba.  We went on our own this time, visiting an artist friend in Trinidad, a city in the south of the island.

You can see a video of my trip here. 

But what I wanted to do today is share some pictures of the process of compositing my collages.  I spent a morning on the patio of the Casa where we stayed, spreading out all of my fabrics, found objecs, papers, etc etc, and creating several compositions that I could later stitch.

I thought it would be fun for a reader to play “I spy” to discern what was the change each time, and why it was important.

Here we go!

Click on the image to see the captions.  The final piece is at the end. See how much the stitching adds to the image!

Vintage Cuba

Martha Ressler, Vintage Cuba,

Here is another smaller one. Click on the image to see the caption.

We recently returned from a vacation in the Caribbean. It was a cruise on a Viking ocean going ship.  They have recently added ocean cruises to their well known line up of river cruises.

I didn’t know if I’d like it. 900 plus people sounded like a lot for a ship, but that turned out to be “small” in comparison to the companies that pack in 5000 plus! And — I was hesitant about the “cruise” format — to breeze in and out of an island in one day — what can you get to know about it?

It turns out, quite a bit.

There were plenty of folks who came for the sun and sand, and that’s all.

But there were also a number of us who cared about history and culture as well.

The included shore excursions were led by knowledgeable guides who gave us a thorough overview, including history and economy. For one thing, all of these islands are dependent on trade and imported food. Many are really too rocky and mountainous to do much farming. Some, if they don’t have resident monkeys, raise and export bananas. Some have virtually no agriculture at all — tourism has taken over so competely.

There was a great variety of shore excursions to chose from, and a resident historian and a biologist who we got to know, and attended their lectures.

Here is Darius Etienne, artist from Dominica, whose studio we visited — a highlight of the whole trip.

Another art-related highlight was a visit to Caribella Batiks, at Romney Manor in St. Kitts. I used pieces of their batiks for the rest of the little quilts I made on the trip.

 

We walked in the Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico:

And through Old Town in San Juan during a festival and visited sugar mill ruins.

 

Hurricane damage was evident on most islands. Some from Maria and some from Irma.  There were many roofs torn off and not replaced yet, and much re-building.

 

We walked on the deserted beach in Loquillo, Puerto Rico, visited the oldest Synagogue in the Americas, and a museum in Antiqua, including the history of sugar and slavery.

Here are a few more of my art quilts.  I made 15 in total! (that includes 3 which are not yet finished.)

 

I’m finally getting around to blogging my 2019 art resolutions.  Hey, it’s still January, right?  That’s not so bad.

First, I’m going to make 2019 my the year of Instagram. I’ve learned just enough from listening to the blog Artists Helping Artists by Leslie Saeta to get me psyched.

screenshot instagram martha ressler

I plan to post every day: morning and/or evening. Search out more hashtags I want to follow, and through them, find other artists I like to follow.  So far #fabriccollage, #slowstitching, #artquilt, #foundobjectart and several similar are ones I’m paying attention to.

I try to stay on Instagram after I’ve posted to “like,” comment etc. for at least 15 minutes.  I understand that there is an algorithm that helps you if you do that. I don’t have a definite goal in mind for the number of followers I would like to have, but I do want to grow my presence there.

Do you have suggestions for me?  And — do please follow instagram.com/martharessler.

I want to continue making art quilts using found objects, but only when/ if it makes sense to do so.  I think I got off track a couple of years ago, incorporating them when it didn’t quite make artistic sense.

Birds Bees and Beyond.jpg

I’m pleased with the “Incorporating Found Objects in Art Quilts” class I gave, as well as my current, ongoing Beginning Art Quilters class here in my studio. So I want to plan at least 2 more of those during the year.

I’m intrigued by a stitching art called boro.  It’s a Japanese form of embroidery related to Sashiko. If I understand correctly, Sashiko uses orderly white thread stitches on indigo, and boro comes from mending process. I am more interested in adapting these, as part of the slow stitching movement, making small fabric compositions.  They may or may not turn out to be completed art quilts. But first I need to learn what they are and are not.

I want to try to create some sculptural forms using art quilts.  I have some ideas  .  .  . stay tuned on that score.

From the Farmhouse Junk Drawer.jpg

Travel this year will be focused on Cuba and the Caribbean, so I aim to create a body of work coming out of those experiences. I aim to dig below the surface in our Caribbean travel. Beyond the sunshine and sandy beaches is a history forged in blood from sugar and slavery.

I’ll continue my active work with local art organizations, including Art Plus Gallery, the cooperative gallery in West Reading of which I am part.

And – the garden will call to me come spring. There will be weeds to pull, natives to plant, and birds to watch.

I started using found objects in my art quilts when I was living in Pittsburgh. I lived, worked and had my studio in an old industrial area called Lawrenceville, which inspired much of my artwork. The streets were a source of interesting detritus, which I had the idea of sewing into the quilts.  Here is an example: Walking Sketches, 20 x 20″, 2013.

walking sketches 20 x 20 lo res.jpg

When I moved to the country (Berks County in eastern PA) in 2014, I hesitantly continued to use them in rural landscapes. In the Morning I Am So Tall, 2014, is an example. I was blending the found objects with the values and colors in the piece, but I found it an uneasy alliance. The detritus didn’t come from those locations, and I was never sure the idea was working.

Still, I was and am attracted to the concept of the pieces representing an “archeological thumbprint” — markings made by humans as we traversed the world.

In the Morning I am So Tall small

I stopped using them in the rural landscapes last year. This is Red Roof, Purple Sky, 16 x 20″, 2018.

purple sky red roof lo res.jpg

I still was able to draw upon the “archeological thumbprint idea” thru incorporation of old lace, and sometimes papers — things that did come from this geographical area.

One piece that worked well was “Wild Turkey Parade,” where the found objects became turkeys parading through our meadow. Here is a detail of Wild Turkey Parade 1, 2015.

Wild Turkey Parade 1 detail lo res

The found objects still call to me.  My collection has built back up, after I got rid of most things last year.

They found their place in the Eastern Europe in Stitches series I did last year, as we travelled through that area. Visits to flea markets were a great source. Here is Secrets of Prague, 5 x 7″ 2018.

Secrets of Prague lo res

I became enamored of used postage stamps in particular. I often looked up the story behind a person or historical reference. Thus the tiny quilts encased worlds within worlds — secret histories to explore.

Here is Nicolaus, Karl and George, three unlikely postage stamps companions. 5 x 7″, 2018.

 

Nicolaus Karl and George lo res

Just recently I’ve returned to an earlier idea of creating little birds and other creatures from the found objects in the quilts. Here is Krazy Kat, 5 x 7″ inspired by a Walmart hanger that I didn’t really mean to bring home!

Krazy Kat

For 2019 I want to continue using them, both in created creatures, and in little quilts that represent a place or idea.

My stock is building back up! Here’s what I brought home just yesterday. So, stay tuned!

Found objects 1 3 19

I’m not sure where I first saw the work of Kurt Schwitters.  The Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice?  The Cleveland Museum of Art? But I was drawn to it immediately.

The back story of these collages are compelling. He was an early 20th century German artist from Hanover, who like many of his generation, was turned upside down by the devastation of The Great War.

He explained,”In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready…. Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz. It was like a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been.”

He picked up scraps from the streets and made art with it.

A group of art quilt artists organized by Sandra Lauterbach and Sandra Poteet is showing at our second venue: Vision Gallery in Chandler, AZ, Nov. 8 – Jan. 5, 2019.  The opening reception is Saturday Nov. 17, 4-6 PM.

The piece I have in this show is called Celebrating the Destruction of Apartheid. On a visit to South Africa I was thrilled by this lighthearted moment. In front of the High Court Annex in Capetown, where South African had to report annually to be registered as one of 7 “races”, today anyone is free to sit on this “whites only” bench. Apartheid is where it belongs — in the ashcan of history.celebrating the destruction of apartheid small

If you are in the neighborhood of Chandler, AZ, please visit this important show, where 31 fiber artists remind us that THIS thing should not be forgotten . They offer hope, a tender need to call out to the world to remember the precious things in life.

I’ve just completed new work in the Eastern Europe in Stitches series. I’m getting ready to hang a show of the complete body of work at Judy’s on Cherry in Reading on Monday.  The reception will be Thursday, November 15, 5-7 PM. The show is called Doubletake East, because my husband Jay Ressler will also show his work from our trip to Eastern Europe. Contrast and compare!

Peoples violin

Of the stamps from DDR (East Germany), one says Musikinstrumente der Volker. Musical instruments of the people. Are they any differents from the others I wonder?

Martha Ressler, “People’s Violin,” 8 x 10 framed.  Art Quilt, hand stitched with found objects and stamps from Germany.

relativity framed 8 x 10

An image of Albert Einstein from the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall. He lived in Berlin for many years until he left for the United States in 1933 when Hitler came to power.

Martha Ressler, “Relativity,” 8 x 10 framed. Art Quilt, drawn and hand stitched with found objects and stamps from Germany and the US.

mystery figure framed 8 x 10

A mysterious hooded and winged figure, painted on the Berlin Wall. Who is it? Part of Eastern Europe in Stitches series.

Martha Ressler, “Mystery Figure,”  8 x 10 framed. Art Quilt, drawn and hand stitched with found objects and stamps from Germany.

tear down this wall fraed 8 x 10

An image from the remaining pieces of the Berlin wall captures the exuberant feeling of freedom in 1990.

Martha Ressler, “Tear Down this Wall,”  8 x 10 framed. Art Quilt, drawn and hand stitched with found objects and stamps from Germany.

raise a glass framed 8 x 10

Most of Germany’s wine is produced in the Western part of the country, except for the Saxony region, along the Elbe River, near Dresden. I particularly enjoyed the Golden Reisling!

Martha Ressler, “Raise a Glass.” 8 x 10 framed. Art Quilt, hand stitched with found objects  from Germany (and Cuba and Czech Republic).