Posts Tagged ‘NCMA’

花見・Hana mi/Flower viewing

March 25, 2015
closing in on Art in Bloom

closing in on Art in Bloom

The NC Museum of Art opened its doors to 花見・Hana mi/Flower Viewing with Art in Bloom last weekend. It was a grand welcome to spring. Read Dana Watson’s description and photos of the event. You’ll see what I mean.

inspired by Aaron Douglas' Harriett Tubman

inspired by Aaron Douglas’ Harriett Tubman

I spent a part of two days walking through the exhibit. It brought a fresh perspective to the collection, seeing pieces I hadn’t seen or remembered from previous visits. More explorations are in order, I suspect.

Lenten Roses

Lenten Roses

Another place for flower viewing was the NC Governor’s Mansion. I visited there with my sister and friends. The gardens there are just getting started, but their raised beds were an inspiration.

raised beds - Governor's mansion

raised beds – Governor’s mansion

It warmed up just enough this week, making it possible to put some small napkin or hankie sized pieces on the line. These are still in process and look forward to seeing the results.


linen napkins in indigo

There should be some reflection of the season in them.

other scenes

August 7, 2014
Rodin garden

Rodin garden – a welcome

Did someone say “Welcome to my world?”  Maybe… a “dip” in that incredibly refreshing environment was needed – a place that took me to another place, even if it was for a moment. I suspect that’s why it’s there.


The lush bamboo greens, darting blue dragonflies (and a butterfly) hovering above the pink and salmon blooms, floating on a deep blue black reflecting pool brought some relief from the morning’s heat and humidity.


This week has mostly been devoted to prepping for upcoming workshops in West Jefferson (next week) and tending to some planning for next year. It has felt a bit non-stop, so the museum visit was a welcome break.

Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast - Ludholf Backhuysen - circa 1700-1705

Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast – Ludholf Backhuysen – circa 1700-1705 (NCMA collection)

A new source of inspiration was the museum library, so made a point of exploring the stacks, then moved on to the galleries where I explored 16th and 17th century painting by the Dutch. That was inspired by a recent book club read, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton – sometimes challenging because of the vivid and brutally honest descriptions about events, personalities and their actions in the development of those early trade routes, particularly the Dutch & English East India Companies. I learned a good deal, it’s well-written, but more than my imagination needed at times. It doesn’t need saying that all too often history is glossed over or romanticized.  This was not romantic.

an iron trunk also in the NCMA collection

an iron trunk also in the NCMA collection

I’m reading a lot of history these days, following different paths, but it seems to be where the indigo is taking me, on different journeys – herbs, spices, dyes…they have their stories.


Next week, as I mentioned earlier, Janine LeBlanc and I will be presenting indigo and shibori in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a few days. I’m looking forward to a different landscape – a different scene.

sunny with thunder

June 13, 2014

Actually, it finally manifests in a soaking storm. Even though, it has been possible to put a few things in the vat and on the line. Today was not the case though.

As my son is home for a brief visit, we headed to the museum to see Estampas de la raza /Prints for the People. This was my second visit and could be back for more as there is so much to be considered from a cultural and historical perspective, just for starters.

My son mentioned Artemio Rodriguez, so I paid attention to his work this time around and later looked through a book containing nothing but his prints – strong and thought provoking.  We also viewed Raúl Colón’s enchanting illustrations which also presented some of the same ideas, similar perspectives, but a different approach.

linen in indigo

linen in indigo

Through the week, though, the focus has been on dyeing the above piece of linen that will serve as a canvas for a piece I think of as an “ensō.”  The dominant motif is circular.  It’s of Gunma silk that has had the sericin removed. At this point it needs to be stretched over the linen.

detail view - not so deep, but it's a reflective dyestuff

detail view – not so deep, but it’s a reflective dyestuff

Reaching that depth of hue has really been the “chase” this week. The above photo shows it much lighter than it really is. Still, the process may be continuing into next week.

手で・te de ・by hand

手で・te de ・by hand

May’s first event, Herbfest, sparked an older idea I return to from time to time – exploring aspects of my “other” language.

Coming up next week, I’ll be spending an evening with Twisted Threads presenting a discussion and encounter with indigo (and shibori).  Then over the weekend, time will be spent in a studio at the NC Museum of Art presenting a 2 day workshop on the same topic.

the day begins

January 9, 2014

Jan8I’d like to begin on a positive note, in spite of the challenges that some of my nearest and dearest have already been presented with so early in this year. It’s deeply affecting, but when I see the clarity of the moon after days of thick clouds and cold, then see the sun rise the next morning, I feel promise.


So…the day begins. Over the last few days, I’ve been viewing Michel Garcia’s Natural Dye Workshop and am intrigued. I’ve “played” with some of his ideas previously, but seeing him work and hearing his explanations was invaluable, inspiring and exciting (and now I want to work in the garden!).

Explorations in silk, especially that Gunma silk are ongoing, slow. The time I’ve been able to give to the one large piece I’ve started is piecemeal. I get to it when I can, but here’s a peek:

There’s a long way to go.  I’m inching along.

The horse is another image I’m considering, it’s the Year of the Horse, after all. It’s still very much in progress. I have some thoughts about it – something playful  to start off the year.


Preps are also ongoing for the February event at the Art Museum (NCMA).
I’m rereading Balfour-Paul’s Indigo, so full of history, facts about the plant, the dye, documented with beautiful illustrations. Revisiting it has been a pleasure.

Indigo_237_296_c1 There will be a hands-on dye experience or engagement after the book discussion and I am looking forward to giving that presenation.  Further details are on the Events page.

So, there’s much to grow on in the year, explorations and workshops are “afoot” and there will be more to come as they reveal themselves. The very best to my readers in this New Year.

Musubu/むすぶ – to tie or wrap up

December 19, 2013

It feels like a good many things are being tied or wrapped up – not just gifts.  The year is winding down, nature seems mostly at rest (unless you’re in the south), things are being quickly drawn to a conclusion.  That also means, if there are plans for the year ahead, they are quickly being finalized.  At least, that seems to be the case for some things, and with me, to a degree.

Plans for workshops are being finalized, which means promise in the new year – something to look forward to.  The only thing “on paper” that I can mention at the moment is the “demo” or very mini-workshop offered as part of the NCMA book club discussion of Jenny Balfour-Paul’s book, Indigo.  It will give the participants a chance to not only experience the color but the dye – to see how it works, which (I hope) will explain the love for and mystique surrounding.  My “vats” will also participate.



In the kitchen:  Long ago, luck and good health were often at the top of things desired when looking into a new year.   They still are, and I’ve just recently learned that around or on the Winter Solstice, it’s recommended that one eat pumpkin, squash or a vegetable in that family (actually they may be a fruit…). It’s known as 冬至カボチャ/どうじかぼちゃ/douji kabocha or winter solstice squash. I made up an early pot of soup recently and savored the aroma and taste of herbs, apples and butternut squash.


In the Studio: Explorations with this gummed silk are moving slowly and deliberately.  This particular sample is in itajime and instead of dyeing it, it was put through a degumming process.  So, the exposed (“frosty”) areas drew up tightly creating a different texture and dynamic.

As I said earlier, the material is precious, so I’m taking my time with it.   I have so many more questions about this silk and its implications.

There’s no need to rush things and we’re in a “particular” season now!

not a car person

December 7, 2013

Blue PorscheI truly am not a car person, but the color works.  Come to think of it, there is something about that form, the shape….No, I am not a car person.

However, I did get a small glimpse into ‘that’ world or culture recently.  I read The Lost Spyder (C. S. Michael) for the museum book club and that also meant that I should probably follow up and see the exhibit.  I might actually see a Spyder or something similar.  So, I did just that over Thanksgiving weekend with my son.

Spyder 550 Prototype

Spyder 550 Prototype

Yes, of course it was fun – absolutely!  The book was also the same and then the discussion at the book group – lively, entertaining, but lots to be considered within the topic.

There’s much more there than meets the eye.  People are also passionate about the car.  I get it.  I really do – but, you know the deal.

some time out

July 7, 2013


Perhaps a little low-key, quiet break is what was called for. I was hoping to be more productive over this holiday – perhaps a few more experiments in that rich Cochineal red.   I wanted to work with cotton this time round.  What I didn’t realize was the time it would take to prepare the cloth before the final dyeing – several days or perhaps a week or more, depending on the weather. We’ve had a lot of rain lately. So, as usual, I need to be patient and pace things.

In the meantime, at a friend’s recommendation I finally made it to the Nasher to see Wangechi Mutu’s Fantastic Journey. Needless to say, it’s a provocative exhibit, the images are powerful and beyond unsettling at times (of course and for a reason).

I’m barely scratching the surface here, but finding connections in some of the books I’m currently reading: Cold Running Creek – Zelda Lockhart, Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States – continuing with my “American” education – always learning.

Later in the day some japoniserie beckoned at the NCMA  – a collection on loan from the Chrysler Museum (Norfolk) – a tour was offered and went to investigate this collection.  After the brief tour, there was time to “really look” at these paintings.


Lefebvre’s Une Japonaise (The Language of the Fan) was probably a draw for most of us and a pastel-colored Cassatt. Moving to a different gallery,  Milton Avery’s Blue Landscape made for a very satisfying ending to the gallery visit.

a touch of blue

June 2, 2013


It’s been a quiet but ideal week for the indigo vat and dyer.  The day and evening temps have been just right with some gentle breezes. The focus has mostly been on a custom order for one who loves not just the color blue, but more specifically indigo – definitely a customer to my liking.

Early in the week though, I dropped by the museum to pick up a ticket to the book club .  Under discussion is Emma Donoghue’s Room.  We will, in some way, make a connection to one of our current exhibitions:  Dwelling:  Interiors by Page H. Laughlin and Pamela Pecchio. 


Both artists examine the home or “domestic interiors” but with different lenses – Pecchio through photography and Laughlin through paint.  I’d like to step into some of the images and explore their environments, others seem so familiar and there are probably a few that I’m not so sure about.  That’s fine too.  They’ve given me something to consider within my own walls.

Outside of these things. I also spent some time playing, practicing and considering the complexities and wonders of itajime shibori.  It’s never as straightforward as it looks,  The classic patterns present like a puzzle or kaleidoscope. The “solutions” seem always just out of reach…written in that magical language (日本語).  Sometimes I find a hint and it’s enough to go on, but sometimes it’s a mystery.

2940A A few phrases tickling the  brain this week:

藍の濃度 – あいの のどう・ai no nodou – concentration of the indigo (vat)

藍の浸透 – あいの しんどう・ai no shindou – it’s saturation (on the cloth)

Possibly an old and familiar word “たたむ” also means to fold (probably cloth).

 At least, this is my understanding of the message.


January 8, 2013

Giorgio Morandi: Still Life of Bottles and Pitcher, 1946, MFA Boston

Viewing a still-life

Quiets the eyes, mind and heart.

Ah!  A Morandi!

It’s following me…

October 22, 2012

A w/o A: Boro futon cover
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

So it seems. It probably isn’t the case, but it does turn up frequently in other places, when or where I least expect it. It probably has more to do with the fact that I’m sensitized to the color now and I’m more aware of it. Indigo.

At any rate, this is the piece that attracted or spoke to me far more than any other this weekend. I spent Saturday going through a few exhibits at the NC Museum of Art, including the prints of Edvard Munch.  I’d recently read Sue Prideaux’s biography of Munch, so felt like I could approach his work with more clarity and appreciation.

I ran into this one, though – the Boro Futon cover at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, in the Art Without Artists exhibit showing currently. It’s an eclectic collection of pieces, well worth taking some time with. There’s a lot to consider, like this piece. I could have spent the entire afternoon with it.  There were others that attracted for one reason or another, but this was “the one.”  I don’t have to say why, do I?

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