Sunday, June 17, 2012

French Knitting and Wearable Geometry Workshop with...

2011 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize for small metals winner

Dates & Times: Saturday & Sunday, June 23 & 24, 10 am to 4 pm 

Mixing metals with textile techniques, Riley fashions uniquely elegant jewelry. Using thin, lightweight silver and nylon coated steel wire as "fiber," she forms small line segments to make geometric shapes and then builds the shapes into three-dimensional forms that are lightweight, flexible and adapt to the wearer. Geometric shapes were chosen as the foundation because they are simple, basic and elementary, but can be expounded on to produce multidimensional forms. Each form acts like a link to interconnect with other forms; creating an even larger volumetric structure. Riley will teach her wearable geometry and also a form of knitting, known as spool knitting, corking, French knitting or tomboy knitting, that is done on a spool and nails to create a spiral knit woven cord. On Saturday, students will be introduced to both methods, and on Sunday, they will transform one of Saturday’s exercises into a finished piece of jewelry. This workshop combines geometry with fiber and metalsmithing techniques, and welcomes mathematicians along with fiber and metal artists. 

Tuition: $200, Materials Fee: $75 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meet a Maker at SCC

When you think of Pittsburgh and Steel a couple things immediately come to mind, not necessarily in this order:
Andrew Carnegie
Dirty Steel Plants
The Wrath of Andrew Carnegie by Alternate Histories
FlashDance....what a feeling indeed. 
But Pittsburgh steel isn't what it used to be and that is where we come in. 

Blacksmithing: An Iron-troduction on June 13, 5:30-7 pm

With Chris Holt & John Steel, of Steel Welding & the Pittsburgh Area Artist-Blacksmiths Association
Join us for an educational evening about the age-old craft of blacksmithing, beginning with a presentation on creative trends in decorative ironwork. Learn to identify good ironwork, how to care for rusted iron, and about choices for railings and gates. See and feel the difference between mass-produced and finely crafted work. Tuition is $60 and includes a hand-forged dinner bell to sweeten the experience.

For more information or to register, e-mail Sherrard Bostwick or call 412.261.7003, x25. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mr. Imagination

By Janet McCall, Executive Director of Contemporary Craft (SCC)

The art community has lost a gentle giant, and SCC has lost a dear friend. Gregory Warmack, the self-taught artist known as Mr. Imagination, was called “one of the supreme practitioners of visionary art” in the world by American Visionary Art Museum founder/director Rebecca Huffberger. “Mr. I” died at age 64 this week, apparently from a spider bite that resulted in pneumonia.

Mr. Imagination in SCC's Studio's
Mr. Imagination’s life epitomized the way in which the human spirit can triumph over adversity to become a powerful positive force in the world. Born into poverty in Chicago, he was shot during a street robbery in the late 1970s, resulting in a near-death vision in which he was told he should dedicate his life to art. When he recovered from the shooting, he set about becoming an artist who could bring healing to the world. When his brother died in 2001, he felt the need for a fresh start and moved to Bethlehem, PA, where thrived there for several years. He travelled to many communities during this period, doing residencies to create public sculpture gardens with hundreds of young people, whose lives he touched. Three years ago when his Bethlehem studio burned to the ground, destroying his art, his belongings and beloved dog, he moved to Atlanta to be with friends and to heal. Soon he had put down roots, and started again. “Even though I lost lots of things,” he said, “I still have my gift.”

In November 2002 SCC featured Mr. Imagination in a one-person, mind-blowing exhibitionthat remains one of my all-time favorite shows. His art was very accessible, yet substantive. The gallery walls were painted a deep red, his favorite color, and the gallery was stuffed to the brim with his vibrant and expressive art —furniture, installations, and sculpture — all of it obsessively covered in bottle-caps and found objects. The centerpiece of the exhibition was a giant throne on which visitors were encouraged to sit. He explained that felt that everyone deserved to feel important and that sitting on a throne made it possible to savor that experience.

A guest sitting in the Mr. I Throne during his exhibition here at SCC
I was fortunate to host Mr. I as a guest at my home for several days. Hanging out with Mr. Imagination took me back to my childhood, and that state of innocence, spontaneity, and possibility, where the entire world was an art studio and the most mundane object could be transformed into something magical. The morning after his exhibition opening, as he headed out for a walk in my neighborhood, he noticed a few scraps of wood in the garbage waiting to be picked up at the curb. Delighted, he gathered them up, disappeared into our basement shop, and within an hour, came upstairs to present us with a small sculpture he had made as a gift.

For Mr. I, creating art was all about expressing love and making people feel special. Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed beyond measure but you deeply touched us all.