I’ve been scrolling through my photos, looking for something to post about on social media, and I’ve got nothing. Lots happening in the studio, but nothing that’s ready to share. Scrolling back to August, I saw the Feminist to the Core show! Is it too soon for a year in review post, I wondered? It’s almost Thanksgiving, not even the end of the year, but one of my online artist groups is already having us do our thinking about the end of the year, tying up loose ends, and thinking about next year.
This year has been wonderfully full of my work in shows and a museum, of planning for big events in 2024, travel, residencies, and making art.
Travel and Time Cards
I traveled to Tennessee for a residency/group experience with the Kolaj Institute on making collage on the theme of folklore. I worked with the folktale Walissa the Wise. I had a residency by the lake with the Lakeside Inn Art Residency. The time cards project continued, and then expanded, including a workshop and pop up show at the One State Together in the Arts Conference. This year kicked off with a big, big show of the time cards at the Orland Park Public Library, where the timecards were in a large glass case and I got to assemble about 75 custom easels for the time cards, because no one, anywhere makes a ready to go easel that size. I passed the time cards baton to Jennie Johnston, who is now spearheading the Canadian project, Clocking in for Unpaid Labour.
Shows and more Shows!
While I’ve shown my art all over the country, and in England and Scotland, I was thrilled this year to have my art show in Chicago in galleries I’ve never been in before – salonb
with the Feminist to the Core
show, organized by Curators Gone Rogue, and in the window gallery at the Ignition Studio Project
While in 2022, I had the opportunity to show my art installation style, at the NIU Backspace Gallery and the Compassion Factory in Brookfield, Illinois, pinning the art to the walls; in July, I had a solo show mostly doilies with text on them at the Orland Park Public Library and because they use a gallery hook and wire system, I had to make all the doilies hangable with that kind of system. My solution was to stitch the doilies down to fabric-wrapped canvas. And did you know electric staple guns are a thing? I did not, but was thrilled to learn that, as I wrapped many canvases for that show, which was almost 43 linear feet!
Then those pieces were ready to go for the salonb Feminist to the Core show in August, which included 5 of the doilies with text on them.
In September, the Women Pulling on the Threads of Social Discourse
show opened at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee,
and I have a protest quilt in that show. It’s 40″ x 60″, which is just a terrific size and I’ll be continuing the series, with more protest quilts/banners that size. That show will be up through December 31, 2023, and is seriously, an amazing, powerful show. Go see it.
The mini gallery has been full and busy and was in the Terrain Biennial again this time around, with three shows, featuring Bryan Northup of Illinois, Jocelyn Matthewes of Tennesse, and Aparajita Jain Mahajan of Pune, India. That needs its own post, so expect that soon. Oh, and Terrain included a miniature Cows on Parade! More posts and videos of that coming soon!
Solo shows by Bryan Northup, Jocelyn Matthewes and Aparajita Jain Mahajan in the Terrain Biennial, 2023.
I also started teaching again after a break that was longer than expected – partly because of the pandemic. I’ve been a teaching artist since college. I started teaching in the continuing education department at my own college, while I was still a student. After decades of teaching, and teaching in a setting that was a bad fit, I burned out and needed a break. I tried other types of work, but came back to teaching. I’ve worked for years to be the best teacher I can be. I’ve taken an in-person training for teaching artists at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. I’m really into learning how to be effective and supportive.
It’s fun to be back to teaching, with a local not for profit, where I’m teaching quilting, garment sewing, shibori dyeing and papermaking. My students are a lot of fun. I’m enjoying their enthusiasm at discovering new techniques, their excitement as they show off their new shibori dyes they rinsed at home and brought back for show and tell.
I’m learning new things too. I took a workshop in natural dyeing at a nature center where no one in the class got any color on their fabric, no one. This was because we didn’t scour the fabric and we didn’t mordant the fabric. Well, I thought, I guess I know more about natural dyeing than I thought, I should try this at home. I started with making walnut ink, because the black walnuts were falling all around town. A friend has a tree in her yard and collected the hulls for us. More on that process in this post.
Now I’m “this close” to mixing up a vat of indigo. I took an online class, bought the indigo, the extra mix ins, and I have a new bucket with a lid. And a good dust mask, I’m ready. I’m also teaching four classes a week these days! While of course I wish the pandemic hadn’t happened, during the pandemic, all the waged work I’d been doing dried up. My kids didn’t need to be driven to activities all over the place. I had more time. More focused time for art. That was pretty amazing. I even went to a residency during the pandemic. It was an incredibly valuable time for establishing my studio art practice even more, without having to balance it with work. What a gift! Now I’m holding on to that, all the progress I made and new directions I started going in, during the pandemic, as I work to balance teaching, rather a lot, with keeping up a studio practice.
I’m doing okay! Looking forward to a bit of a holiday slow down on teaching, so I can catch up on some art I’m working on. I’m definitely in a head-down, working hard, learning new things phase, which is totally fine, and also, there’s nothing to show on social media. Ah! The pressure! I suppose I can do more throwbacks? Share the back catalog?
Next Year and Let’s Talk about Pie
So, what’s on for next year? The mini gallery has a big, in-person, group show, more on that later. Other than that big event, shows in the Angelica Kauffman Gallery in 2024 will be longer, and fewer. I love getting to know the artists, and also, I’ve been putting on shows every month, sometimes more than one show per month, for over 3 years. Time to slow it down a bit. The frenetic pace of keeping the Instagram algorithm fed is too exhausting. So if you’ve been thinking about a show you’d like to propose for the gallery, don’t wait! There will only be 6 shows next year and 2 or 3 of those are tentatively scheduled already!
A book I contributed an essay to comes out next year, around March or April. It’s called Give and Take and is from Demeter Press.
Weirdly, for me, I have no outstanding applications right now that I’m waiting to hear back on. I have no shows planned, other than the group mini gallery show. No juried group shows, no solo shows, no residencies, no nothing! The past two years have been so full, I’m ready to slow down, spend time in the studio, experiment, make a bunch of new stuff, and see what develops.
It will involve rust prints, natural dyes, quotes on doilies, protest quilts, and who knows what else? We’ll see.
P.S. Since it’s almost Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) would you like a pie recipe? This one from Pie Academy, a layered pumpkin pie, is really delicious twist on pumpkin pie. It’s three layers – chocolate pumpkin, regular pumpkin and sour cream. The main two layers are made from the same batter, you just divide it in half and add the chocolate to one half, so it’s not as much work as you might think! Here’s the recipe.
Another one I’m interested in is chocolate chess pie. How have I gone my whole life without ever eating a chocolate chess pie? Or a regular chess pie, for that matter? Did they go out of style? It looks wonderfully chocolatey, I’m going to give it a try! Here’s a recipe from the New York Times.
P.P.S. Since this is a year in review, I didn’t really talk about goals, partly because my main goals for 2024 are just to make art and have the big show of micro galleries, and also, I’d love to start traveling to teach again. I did that for years, traveling to teach weekend workshops in Indianapolis. I’ll be developing new traveling workshops, probably around creating custom fabrics and then making textile collages/quilts with them. If that sounds interesting, or if there are particular techniques you’d like to learn from me, please send a message or leave a comment! Thanks!
Monsters show at the Orland Park Public Library, collages by Elaine Luther. Above is “The Monster is the Patriarchy,” and below is “(No) Conformity.”
Whoops, I left this one out of the chronology and want to include it. This was for the “Monsters” group show at the Orland Park Public Library. This was in March 2023, and I really enjoyed this call for art, and made something I would never have made otherwise. There’s a blog post on it here.