Monday, March 30, 2009

Writing with Thread Exhibit: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities

Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities opens at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM on May, 15, 2009 and runs through August 16, 2009.

"Writing with Thread explores the meanings associated with the production and use of indigenous clothing. In societies without written languages, traditions and customs are orally passed from generation to generation. However, the textile arts, largely practiced by women, provide tangible evidence of a group's history, myths, and legends. The signs and patterns woven or embroidered in their clothing are often replicated in the accompanying silver ornaments made by men. Together, the textiles and silver ornaments, as complements to their oral traditions, record and transmit ideas and concepts that are important for the preservation and reconstruction of the identities of their makers and users. The exhibition, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date, will showcase costumes from the Miao, Yi, Dong, Tujia, Shui, Zhuang, Dai, Buyi, Yao, Wa, and Zang. The needlework and silverwork of each ethnic group show variations in their myths of origin and heroic combats, communal memories, and wish fulfillment."

Many of the people whose work is shown did not have a written language and used their embroidery to record important historical events - they serve as visual records.

This is one of the world's most outstanding collections of costumes from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century that were worn by 31 of Southwest China's 56 minority ethnic groups and includes 500 examples of rare and historically significant clothing, jewelry and silver ornaments.

The exhibition is documented and accompanied by a 320-page illustrated catalogue.
For more information, contact the Museum of International Folk Art:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Textile Sculpture - Part 3: Nick Cave, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Lisa Lichtenfels

Our exploration of textile sculpture continues with the art of three more exceptional artists

Nick Cave Art in Motion – Nick Cave is chair of Fashion Design at the School of Art Institute in Chicago. His art has been described as an exploration of “…when textiles meet modern dance…” His creations are transformative in that any indication of the age, gender or ethnicity of the wearer is stripped away, thereby protecting the wearer from prejudice based on any of those characteristics.” Nick Cave’s Soundsuits are fabulous creations made of thrift store finds, twigs, plastic bags, discarded thcotchkes, and just about anything else that strikes his fancy…Often, Cave’s Soundsuits are assembled by a multigenerational, multicultural group of volunteers in his Chicago neighborhood.”
Xenobia Bailey has written an extensive article about Nick Cave and has many pictures of his work on her blog

United States Artists (2006 Toby Devan Lewis Fellow)

a) Nick Cave by Greg Cook
b) Nick Cave by Sasha Lee – Note: scroll down ¼ of page past a lot of blank space

YouTube Videos:
a) Nick Cave Sound Suits – 5 ½ minutes
b) Nick Cave – Art in Motion – 1 minute 49 seconds

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson – “Aminah's artistic vocabulary consists of a combination of the skills she learned in art school and those passed down to her by her family. Her father taught her to make hogmawg, her word for a sculptural material used in both two- and three-dimensional work.

The button and needle work she learned from her mother are evident in her rag paintings and RagGonNons, her word for complex works of art that can come in many forms but often include buttons, men's neckties, and other found objects.”
Xenobia Bailey has written an extensive article about Aminah Robinson and her
work on her blog. Many pictures are included:

Lisa Lichtenfels – Figurative Sculpture-Realism in Fabric – Lisa “…creates startlingly realistic sculptures with a wide variety of subject matter, including fantasy, myth, humor, and portraiture. The individual figures range from less than 5 inches to life-sized figures of over 5 feet tall. She also does large environmental installations with many characters.”
The Art of Lisa Lichtenfels – many images including Lisa’s explanations of the

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Estate and Legacy Planning for Artists

For those of us who are over 60, how we and our art will be remembered becomes increasingly important with each passing year. Our own demise is not a pleasant topic to consider, but we have to face the reality that at some point we are actually going to die - and when that occurs, what then will happen to our life's work? Its within our control if we make plans. Following are sites with great information on this subject that is written specifically to address the concerns and the needs of artists.

A Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning - A post to the blog about this valuable resource was made in September of 2007. However, changes in the applicable state and federal tax laws and the copyright law have made it necessary for them to publish an update to certain chapters in Part II and the Appendices.

2008 Supplement Update


Where There is a Will: Estate Planning for Artists - "This document looks at the range of options available to visual artists in dealing with their work during their lifetime, and information about making a will so that an artist's art work legacy is dealt with according to his/her wishes after death. "Where There's a Will" answers questions and gives guidance about when to seek expert advice and from whom."

NOTE: This is written for Australian artists, however a lot of the information is pertinent for artists living in other countries; for example, there is a section on why you should make an inventory of your artwork.

Leaving a Legacy: Donating Quilts to Museums - Andi Reynolds - she writes: "For many quilters and quilt collectors, quilting is about legacy, whether warm generational memories or mysterious auction finds. Because most quilters create their quilts for family, friends or charity, you might wonder how quilts end up in museums. Although donations from well-known collectors make the quilt world news, most museums build their collections as individual donors give one or two quilts to preserve their own legacies. Where do you come in?"

This article gives information about museum acquisition policies; how to make a donation; how the condition, significance and provenance of the quilt(s) will impact the museum's decision about accepting the donation; and legal and tax considerations.
NOTE: URL has changed. New URL is:

Leaving Your Artistic Legacy - Craig Lucas - This is his 2008 commencement address to graduates of the Boston University College of Fine Arts

Checklist for Planning Your Art Estate

Estate Planning For Artists: Let Professionals Manage the Art

SENIOR ARTISTS INITIATIVE - "The purpose of the Senior Artists Initiative is to assist senior artists in understanding the need for, and processes involved in, organizing their life's work, and to develop programs that provide recognition for senior artists." This organization has made available the following articles that deal specifically with the issues of what artists need to know about estate planning.

Estate Planning for Artists - "Estate planning should not be considered a process impossible to understand and not worth the time spent. Much can be achieved with a few hours of work. The result will be that the burden on the next generation will be greatly lessened and the taxes imposed at death may be substantially reduced."

What Will Happen to Your Art After You Die? - "Many things can happen to the art after the artist’s death, depending upon how well the artist has planned for this event."

Plan Ahead - "What can artists do when they are alive? Organize, Edit, and Disperse = PLAN"

Approaching Museums - "The following items may be of interest to the artist who wishes to interact with a museum with thoughts of placing works into its permanent collection, either through purchase, gift, or bequest."

Where there's a will, there may be a Monet: Artists can safeguard their legacy with savy estate planning - “When an artist dies, the inheritor has to either decide to throw it all away, or try to sell it – which is difficult – or give it to nonprofit organizations,”

What do Inheritors do with Art Work? - "Most artists are very resistant to sorting through their work in order to decide what to keep, what to throw away, what to give to institutions. This creates a dilemma after an artist’s death, as it leaves painful decisions about the distribution of the work to the spouses, family members, or executors. Failure to sort through and distribute works during an artist’s lifetime has resulted in work being stored for years; large numbers of the work going on the market and selling for very little; or the work just disintegrating in a damp, too hot or too cold basement or attic."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Free Museum Admission

Museums on Us - If you have a Bank of America check, ATM or credit card, on the first weekend of every month you can receive free general admission to any one of 70+ museums nationwide (note: special exhibitions, ticketed shows and fundraising events are excluded).

Participating museums are located in the following states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington.

You can even sign up to receive reminder emails.

For full details on this promotion:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Textile Sculpture - Part 2: El Anatsui, Takashi Horisaki, Loren Schwerd

The work of El Anatsui, Takashi Horisaki and Loren Schwerd was recently exhited in New Orleans as part of Prospect 1, the largest international biennial of contemporary art ever organized in the USA - it was housed in over 2 dozen venues (including musuems, galleries, historic buildings and other sites)throughout the city.

EL ANATSUI– is a Ghanian artist who creates monumental and stunning sculptural works of “Women’s Cloth” by sewing thousands of aluminum bottle caps together with copper wire. The above photo was taken at the Prospect 1 installation by Dorothy Moye.

Of El Anatsui's work, Holland Cotter of the New York Times wrote (November 2005): “In Mr. Anatsui's hands, it is a shining, new kind of cloth, permeable but indestructible. It is a universal repository of names of infinite extension. Glinting and shimmering, it reflects an African essence of three interchangeable parts always in motion: memory, reality, determination.”

Interview with El Anatsui by Alisa LaGamma, Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - you can listen to a podcast or read the transcript

October Gallery Photos - stunning

El Anatsui: Gawu Photo Tour – Once you’ve clicked the PhotoTour link, make sure to maximize the page size for some stunning close-up views.

El Anatsui: Gawu Artworks – listen to podcasts of El Anatsui discussing three of the artworks in the exhibit

TAKASHI HORISAKI – does “…sculptural exploration of surfaces and the histories contained within their layers…" He created "fabric" out of latex and paint and used it to recreate the semblance of a Katrina destroyed home. On his website are links to a lot of information about the installation including: his blog documentation of the creation process; images of the work in progress; the link to a Times-Picayune article about it; and links to images of other works and installations.


LOREN SCHWERD – the artist states: “Mourning Portrait began as a series of memorials to the communities of New Orleans that were devastated by the flooding which followed Hurricane Katrina. These commemorative objects are made from human hair extensions of the type commonly used by African-American women that the artist found outside The St Claude Beauty Supply. The portraits draw on the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tradition of hairwork, in which family members or artisans would fashion the hair of the deceased into intricate jewelry and other objects as symbols of death and rebirth. Working from her own photographs, Schwerd creates metal armatures that act as frameworks for weaving the hair into portraits of the vacant houses of the Ninth Ward neighborhood. By documenting private homes Schwerd venerates the city’s losses, both individual and collective. Hair acts as the central metaphor to evoke a sense of profound intimacy and absence, and speaks to the racial politics that have paralyzed the city’s recovery effort.”
Textile Sculpture - Part 1