Live From Studio 109A

January 29, 2010 at 1:28 am (From Studio 109A)

Chelsea Amato wearing designer Kat Schamen's dress for Adopt-a-School at Couture for a Cause.

Two weeks ago, North Carolina State UniversityGraphic Design Student Chelsea Amato interviewed me for a class project. I met Chelsea at Couture for a Cause (she modeled for the Adopt a School garment). Later, she visited my studio during one of the First Friday Gallery Walks.

So for her project, Chelsea came to Artspace, video camera in hand, asked me questions and documented me working in my studio environment. Chelsea interviewed me for about an hour. One of her questions pertained to whether or not technology had a direct connection to people making or buying handmade goods. It was an interesting question, and considering Chelsea picked this portion of the interview  to edit into her final project, I assume my answer was equally as interesting.

My feeling is that technology has less to do with people making or buying handmade goods than the economy and overseas manufacturing practices. 

It is no secret that over the last year, the economy has receded and more and more people are out of work. I think unemployment has a direct connection to more and more people making handmade items. I can speak from personal experience, that my career as a professional artist began when my husband was out of work six years ago. He had more time to help me around the house and with the kids, which gave me time to launch my jewelry business. I also think that many people who have a “real job” and only pursue art as a hobby, might try to turn their craft into cash if they find themselves out of work.

I also think that there is more of an appreciation for buying handmade items due to questionable manufacturing practices, particularly overseas. Last month, The Ecology Center, a U.S. Consumer Group reported that a third of the most popular children’s toys in the United States contained harmful chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. I think consumers are more aware of the items that they bring into their homes and expose to their children and families, which has a direct connection to buying handmade.

So, below you will find Chelsea’s finished project and an excerpt from our interview. Hopefully, if I uploaded correctly, you will be able to see the video and take a peek inside Studio 109A. Special thanks to Chelsea for letting me post her project on the blog.


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The Makings of an Exhibition

January 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm (Artist Musings)

January is a busy month. Craft show applications are due. Exhibition proposals are due. In many ways, what an artist does in January, shapes the rest of the year. Earlier this month, I turned in applications for craft shows in April and May. Last week, I turned in an exhibition proposal for August. Next week, I am turning in a proposal for October.

Second Star to the Right

So, what makes an exhibition? For me, an exhibition starts with an idea. The current exhibition I am putting together has been bouncing around in my head for almost three years. For those of you who have followed my work, I started thinking about this exhibition while putting together my Beyond Neverland series in 2007. Beyond Neverland was inspired by J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan manuscripts. While researching J.M. Barrie images for the Beyond Neverland  series, I stumbled upon images from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The idea came to me to create a series of pieces inspired by Carroll’s classic characters, but since I had the copyright to some of Barrie’s images for five years, and that exhibition was going to be shown in several galleries through 2008, I put the “Wonderland” idea on hold.

What makes this current exhibition proposal different from Beyond Neverland is that sometimes my ideas are bigger than my abilities. One could argue that perhaps my ideas are bigger now because I am a better artist, I have more tools and skills in my arsenal, or I just have more resources. What makes Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland special is not only the characters Alice encounters, but also the Wonderland environment.  So, in order to bring Wonderland to life, I brought in reinforcements and asked two other Artspace artists, Emily Cash and Susan Parrish, to collaborate with me, making this exhibition a three-person show.

Last week I started working on the first piece in the Wonderland  series. I anticipate that like my Out of the Box exhibition, this series of pieces will take  months to put together. The current plan is to premier this exhibition in August, almost three years after I had the initial idea.    

For me, an exhibition begins with an idea. Bringing that idea to life involves months of experimenting and exploring new tools and techniques, pushing the “jewelry”” envelope, and in this case, as with Beyond Neverland, finding a new way to reinvent a classic.

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Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

January 16, 2010 at 4:10 am (Uncategorized)

It’s hard to blog about jewelry when not too far from our shores there is a tragedy unfolding. Today, Cornelia Carey, Executive Director of CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund), e-mailed the following:

“A new decade is upon us and it begins with the hard tragedy unfolding in Haiti. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families as well as those who are on the front lines of the relief efforts there. A number of you have written looking for suggestions about where to send contributions and aid. Our friends at Artist Trust in Seattle have put together this list of aid organizations helping in the relief efforts and this link to a New York Times article lists organizations providing aid. We will be back in touch with you if we have more suggestions to share with you. In the meantime, please find a way to help out in this dire situation and please hold those in Haiti in your heart.”

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) is committed to supporting the careers of craft artists throughout the United States. Through business and career-strengthening programs, emergency relief support, advocacy and research CERF helps professional craft artists strengthen and sustain their careers so that they can thrive and, thus, contribute to the quality of life in our communities.

In addition to the above links from CERF listing legitimate aid organizations, here are some additional aid organizations in the Raleigh/Durham area:

Hearts with Haiti
26 Horne Street, Raleigh
Taki Donovan
(919) 758-8085

 Hearts and Hands for Haiti
2013 Midwood Drive, Raleigh, NC 27604
(919) 755-1903

The Haiti Connection
206 New Bern Place, Raleigh, NC 27601
Bonnie Elam (919) 786-4478
(919) 417-4644 (cell)

Haiti Outreach Ministries
Bill Glass (207) 388- 2263,
Local Contact: Kathy Walmer, RN, MSN, CPNP
Executive Director
Family Health Ministries
2344 Operations Drive, Suite 201
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 382-5500
cell phone  (919) 368-6591

So, keep the people of Haiti in your hearts. I know after seeing the devastation that Hurricane Andrew brought upon my house and South Florida in 1992, that these kinds of disasters last longer than just a sound bite, and that long after the news crews clear out, the people of Haiti will need our support, most likely for years to come.

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From Studio 109A: New Work

January 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm (From Studio 109A)

Tomorrow night, January 8th, is First Friday in Downtown Raleigh. Artspace Studio109A,  and many of the other galleries will be open late. Artspace will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

My newest work features one of my favorite images, excerpts from a 1942 French arithmetic book originally used as a movie prop in the movie Chocolat that I transferred to clay and hand-formed into beads. I have used the book to create the Chocolat Lariat and a tile bracelet.

Last November I used the Chocolat book to create a piece to wear to the Artspace Gala. Come see the piece this Friday night.  I hope to see you there.

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