Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Look In Thy Glass

My handmade textile book Look in Thy Glass has found a permanent home at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  This is the 4th book in my series Love Sonnets, From Shakespeare to Baltimore.

Look in Thy Glass will be part of the upcoming exhibition DMV Color from November 4, 2019 through March 4, 2020.  So honored to be included in the dialogue about literature, art and women's history.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Surviving my Teen Years with Shakespeare

I became passionate about poetry in high school when I desperately needed guidance.  When I needed something to make sense of the chaos others called life.  There was no IG, no FB, no Internet, no cell phones, no "reach out and touch" when life quickly crumbled, leaving you alone with just the clothes on your back.

Earlier this year I revisited all 154 Shakespeare Sonnets and began making textile books inspired by them.  Here is Sonnet One -- Don't Get Twisted by the Bling of Youth.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Summer in Russia 2019

I spent the summer in Russia, exploring places I've only read about in books or got a glimpse on television.

This summer it was total immersion.  Living with locals in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and doing research for an upcoming project.  A dream come true.
One of the most beautiful places was The Winter Palace designed by architect Bartolomeo Rastelli for Tsarina Elizabeth in 1754.  Completed in 1762, the royal family stayed here only during the cold winter months.  The photo above is one of its opulent staircases - about 100 people could easily stand on it at one time and it wouldn't be too crowded.
My favorite place to see shows was at the historic Mariinsky Theatre.  During most of the soviet era, it was known as the Kirov Theatre, and some abroad still call it that today.   Since 1860, the theatre has been home to the Mariinsky Ballet and Mariinsky Opera.  The building was designed by architect Albert Kavos and completed in 1860.  Kavos also designed the other famous theatre house, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Absolutely stunning! It is at the Mariinsky Theatre that George Balanchine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Tamara Karsavina began their phenomenal careers.  Also artists Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Galina Ulanova, Irina Kolpakova, and Marina Semyonova trained and danced here.
The Church of Spilled Blood is so much bigger and majestic than any photograph I've ever seen.  Only up close and in person, can you see the intricate detailing of the exterior.  What was most impressive was the beautiful jewelers' enamel used to cover the 1,000 square meters (10,760 sq ft) surface of the five domes.  Absolutely stunning!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Smithsonian Libraries

It was so satisfying to visit the National Museum of African Art library on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 and see two of my textile artist's books in their permanent collection.
In 2016-17, I created twelve books during an experimental project at the museum's library.  I was given clothing and fabrics from their collection and transformed them into unique books.  My goal was to create functional and beautiful textile books without sacrificing the archival properties.

Finding the best archival-grade and durable adhesives, threads, and backings for the textiles took a lot time and experimentation.  Consulting with specialists at the Smithsonian and the Textile Museum about products and techniques was very helpful.
It was wonderful to be able to discuss the history of specific types of textiles: How they were made.  What dyes were used.  How they were worn.  When they were made.  Who made them.

Many thanks to my mentor, Janet Stanley and the many Smithsonian scholars and art historians for the opportunity and helpful feedback with the project.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Textile Collage Workshop, Part II

Sewing life stories

Library. A place where old and new stories sit on shelves.  A place where the quiet atmosphere allows one to collect her thoughts and reflect.  A place where books live and narratives from every continent can come alive.

When a library becomes a place to tell stories with new tools--needles and thread--Oh, what a beautiful creative process it becomes.
Some stories are born in the privacy of homes.  Some stories are born on trains and planes.  Some stories are born in cafes.  Ours came to life in a library.

What an interactive, exciting way to come together and share our narratives.  Share and preserve fond memories of the past. Create tangible objects that can be passed down the generations.

* Read my 2014 post about Storytelling On Fabric: https://suzannecoley.blogspot.com/2014/07/storytelling-on-fabric.html

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Textile Collage Workshops, Part I

Everyone has a voice, a vision, and a story.  

Some stories are easy to write.  Some stories are more complex and take more planning to bring to life.
Although I love writing stories on paper, I find that stories are more personal and have greater impact on fabric.
 Fabric is embedded with emotional codes and cultural symbols.
Fabric is versatile and images and messages can be stitched, glued, printed, embroidered, and painted on it.  I love teaching textile collage book workshops in the community and offering classes to people who are new to this type of storytelling.

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