Sunday, May 25, 2008

Frau Fiber works overtime!

So K,
I've given myself a third job. My position: AlternARTologist. My mission: Collect interesting projects + artists for study + discussion---emphasizing art as a place for alternative process + thinking. I'm not sure about the end purpose for this collection or what in/tangible form it may take, but maybe that's the point. (?) Maybe this is just another procrastination tactic? I'm certainly not getting paid. Well...

(Clock in)I went to see this little event hosted by the UIC's Gallery 400 At the Edge project. It was in an abandoned storefront in an old building on Western Ave. I was half expecting to feel immediately uncool--being there by myself surrounded by clicky art school kids--but instead walked into a humble workshop with only 3 guests, piles of scraps of fabric on the floor, and a small plate of triskets. It was the temporary workshop of Frau Fiber, CEO of KO Enterprises (KO= Knock Off, tag line: the labor behind the label). She is the alias for the artist behind the project, for which she worked over three weeks, working 12-hour days, to complete 5 sets of dress shirts + suits mimicking name brand garments (not made in the USA). Trying to really embody the labor-intensive often overlooked issues of the fashion industry, mass consumption, and America's exploitive overseas workforce, she re-created the scene in great detail. Frau worked in 2 ex-Union Halls and in the old garment district of Chicago. She filled out time cards and even docked herself pay (17 cents an hour) when she was late. She created patterns based on the original purchased clothes, and with one small non-industrial sewing machine made her "white collar uniforms." The show was actually a sale of the clothing, although the artist, a.k.a. Frau, confessed to me that she was 2 jackets away from completion, and after the "sale" would have to do some overtime to complete her task, "because that's what the real situation would be like." (I doubt the real situation involved taking a break to sip an adult beverage and snack on square waffled crackers, though. But I'm not criticizing!) She also priced these garments in relation to the time each one took to make by the hourly wages in Cambodia, Indonesia, etc., discovering that Germany is the highest paid for their American apparel. The shirt in the front (in the pic below) had a price tag of $84.
I love artists/art operating under the guise of legitimate business in order to critically examine larger social structures and problems. It was really interesting to hear her talk about the project, but there is more info on KO's website:

Welp, I met my quota for the week. I'm out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How public should public art be?

Dear K, 

First off, my apologies for my lack of blogging this week. Many things have happened - S and I went out of town for my favorite brother, A's "White Coat Ceremony" for med school. I felt so proud of my brother, as well as this started me thinking about two things:
                                       1. The symbolism for the color white. 
2.  Ideas surrounding public vs. private ceremonies. 
I've been (trying) to work on these white-on-white drawings and getting into the private ritual of it all. Things change when I talk about these publicly though.. more to come on those later. 

Speaking of fun and exciting, I am newly in charge of creating some public art for my school's campus. So the researcher in me has been hard at work! I'm looking to make something inexpensive but brightly colored and incorporating fun shapes to be installed in certain grassy areas on campus. (We also have to factor the possibility of hurricane-strength winds, ugh.) I'm excited about this opportunity to create a lasting impact, but still am not totally clear about which direction I want to take my students in. In my searching, I found this fun landscape/public art sculpture and these Tony Feher pieces. I love this simple idea, colored water in bulbous plastic bottles. Maybe it could take care of the endless water bottles I see on campus. Public art and clean up project? Any ideas???

I absolutely adore those overheard Felix Gonzalez-Torres comments. DOES he have a gigantic storage unit of candy? Hmm... 

Love and miss you, 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

beauty + loss

Sad news! Rauschenberg was def. a catalyst for postmodern critiques on beauty and a super significant figure in forging alternatives to Modernism. Gotta love him! And speaking of great loss, after taking my students to see the same ol' -isms of the 18 and 1900s, I wandered over to the contemp. rooms of the Art Institute. There was an exhibit of Felix Gonzalez-Torres work. These pathetic camera-phone pics don't quite do it justice, but the candies and golden curtain were shiny and reflective. Opening the curtain felt like I was entering a secret space (although I have been in this exact space many times before). Inside was a tour group of teens. They grabbed up the candy and posters (the plain white ones with the gray stripe) after the tour guide was through, and I overheard two seemingly poignant questions: 1. "what are we supposed to do with this paper now?" and 2. "does he have a huge storage space full of this candy, or does he buy a load of it everytime the piece shows?"

The pic at the top is from a scaffolding pole near the new construction of the Lamps of Elegance building by my house. And I do love you!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homage to Combines/Combinations

Hiya K!

I love love love all of your pics from your northern Florida trip home. Damn, I miss sweet tea! (I can't get it down here in south Florida, its a whole different kind of picnic). Glad you are getting back to your routines. I have a million new things on my list, with new semester and longer lectures.

In my procrastination today, I read that Robert Rauschenberg, one of my favorite artists ever, passed away in his Captiva, FL studio yesterday. Not only do I love the fact that he is so influential, yet still holes up on a remote island in S.W. Florida, but I have always loved his combinations. Some of his older silkscreens are what made me want to silkscreen in the first place, many moons ago when we had that fantastic printmaking class together. There is something so intriguing about all of those drippy layers.

Here's to Rauschenberg - his trash, his layers, his exuberant experimentation

With a little sadness,

p.s. Did you hear the story of the grad student going through HIS trash? Irony at its best. More on that story here:

Monday, May 12, 2008

grandmas, lions, and catfish!

Hiya K! I've been missing you, too! And anxiously trying to make time to blog. Thanks for posting all the calls for art. I took some pics of my mom's paintings and g-ma's crafty goods to send to the MOMMA project. And I'll spread the word on the other calls. I have loads of schoolwork to catch up on, but wanted to post these pics of Clark's Fish Camp in Jax, where we went for Mother's Day. It's a fish shack right on the inter coastal full of taxidermy animals and slow southern folk. They have a giant man built of sea sponges, a claw machine that grabs for live lobsters (instead of the usual stuffed animals), and a section on the menu for "those who like to live dangerously"---with things like snake and gator. I had all-you-can-eat fresh-from-the-water fried catfish and a never-ending glass of really sweet tea. It was just the Florida experience I needed!Love + miss!

6 x 6 by 2008

Dear K,

First of all.. I've been missing you! Our weekly chats until the end of the answering machine and blogs have been silent due to many factors (my end of semester craziness, your trip home, etc.). So, while you're gone, I'm apparently promoting the many shows, call for entries, and other things that I am interested in. While in grad school at VSW, I used to be pretty involved with Rochester Contemporary. While I no longer live there, many of my old colleagues are still involved with RoCo (fellow VSW alum Bleu Cease is now the Director) and they are having a call for work for their "6 x 6 by 2008" show.

It's simple.. send in everything and anything that is 6 x 6". Everything gets shown, and (hopefully) everything will get sold for $20. Enter and find out more guidelines here:

Submissions are due by May 23.. go get cracking. Hey, its only 6", why not? (and for a good cause)

Plus, I totally love their billboard adverts. A great way to go big on art.

Talk soon,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Book your Books, now!

Hiya K,

Hope you are having a great time with your family this's nice to think that we are in the same state for the weekend, even if it is on opposite sides! I took yesterday and today off from school, in order to have a moment of rest before the frantic summer semester. And now for a little promotion..

I'm on the Exhibition Committee for the 10th Biennial Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair and Conference in Silver Springs, Md this coming November. Appropriately timed with the historic political situation that we are in, we are looking for book arts artists from around the country to submit and display their bound ideas with the theme of "Democratic Organization." Straighten up your spine and apply!

Here is some additional information from the website:

"Are you trying to get your artists’ books out there to as wide an audience as possible, as inexpensively as possible? The10th Biennial Book Arts Fair and Conference is November 8-9, 2008, the weekend after the U.S. Presidential election, and in the spirit of democracy we are calling for you to take part! We want to exhibit your democratic multiples—the books you widely and cheaply disseminate—at our book fair. Participate in this experiment in democratic exhibitions. No jurors, no curators, just the books you make, straight from you, the artist."

Find more detailed information about this exciting event for bookmakers here:

(The above photo is one of my handmade books, "The Perfect Woman" - An edition of 5 handmade cyanotype and van dyke brown prints with embroidery)


Monday, May 5, 2008


Morning K - Happy Monday.

Its final exam week here and I'm procrastinating grading the stacks of exams on my desk. While daydreaming, I remembered the book that I spent all weekend reading on the beach - "Principles of Uncertainty" by Maira Jalmans. Her quirky illustrator style is sweet and spunky and a pleasure to read. These pinkish muffins remind me of my best girl, Sarah L's work. Sarah L is the hardest worker I know. A long way from our 9th grade art shows together where we served coffee and thought we were so cool, she has built quite a reputation as an illustrator, filmmaker and artist extraordinare. Her "Bake Sheets" of Toronto sweets and her "100 portraits" are my recent favorite projects, be sure to check them out. Recently, she just launched MOMMA - Museum of My Mother's Art. In honor of approaching Mother's Day, send in your photos and stories of your mother's or grandmothers artwork. I'm getting pictures of my Grandma's needlework, my Nana's paintings, and my mom's artwork together to send in. I love it!

Check out "Principles of Uncertainty" at your local library. (Top two images)

Check out Sarah L at: (illustration of her cutie house)

and MOMMA at: