Alice Levinson

Blogging after installing KINDRED

Child’s play aka a day in the studio

As I write this, my work fills the walls of the Featured Artist room in the gallery, as KINDRED takes its turn on exhibit. It is a wonderful feeling to look about that room and see the results of months of labor finally completed and ‘breathing’ in the light and air. The visual conversation is lively, warmed by the glow from Pringle Teetor’s blown glassworks.

———-But that was yesterday, today is a new day in the studio and time to begin again——-


Balnk Wall AL

I enter the studio and am faced with this, a blank composing wall, my blank canvas. The challenge of starting anew makes this my most difficult day in the studio. A journal offers notes, scribbled musings, quotations, clippings, gestural doodles. I sift through them looking for a thread of thought, a prick of curiosity, hoping for the ‘stroke of genius’ that never comes. I look to my ever-present corner of perennials  for visual stimulation.

inspiration point AL Some thematic thoughts are beginning to perk. I open the closet door and viola !!  The shelves overflow. Color, pattern, and texture delight my eye, invite my touch, and engage the creative muse. The process begins. The synergy between journaled musings and the visual array of the cloth yield a theme, visual motifs, a palette. A creative intention begins to take form. I reach for the cloth and the magic begins. The fabric is cut or torn and pieces are mixed and melded as I begin to assemble my work. Layer by layer the piece grows.

Stash AL It takes considerable effort to stay open and responsive to the ‘voice’ of the cloth, ‘listening’ with my hands as well as my eyes.   Placed around the studio are reminders: “NO RISK, NO ART”, “CREATIVE WORK = CHILD’S PLAY”. Most children are natural artists, engaging with their environment in a free, non-judging, creative manner. For me the key is to honor process and allow myself to respond freely, intuitively to the materials. Focusing on process rather than product, I find the wall is no longer blank.

Work Table ALThe next new work is underway.

Next comes experimentation, balanced with critical review and re-direction. The freedom of composing with pinned cloth elements which are easily shifted facilitates the work.

Pinned AL My IPad has become a key tool, documenting the process and allowing me to consider stitch-work compositional options with ease. Taking the piece to completion will take weeks. Working as I do, mostly with small bits of cloth that gradually are melded together. Stitching each section effects the tactile tone and integrity of the piece as a whole. As each section is incorporated to the growing ‘whole’, a layer of stitch-work ensues to further meld the elements together. The process is one of continual reflection, accommodation, and response from composition through execution. Layer upon layer of cloth elements, layer upon layer of stitch-work to make an integral whole. Then, finally, a moment when the piece is done. The piece is complete. People often ask, “How do you know when it’s finished?” My response, “Just listen.”

Enter softly AL


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