Michelle holding my first attempt

For the past couple of months I have been working on a series of disc shape  papers for an installation piece. My hope is that it will be part of Art in The Atrium's (ATA) 20th Anniversary Exhibit. Being held this coming January at the Morris Museum, in Morristown, New Jersey...

For months these large white disc have been floating in my head as a sort of  "What if?" ...What if I poured pulp in a way that mimics the snowflakes I made as a child. What if, I could construct a pour mold that would allow me to make them as large or small as I wanted. ...What if, I used the raw silk thread gifted to me in Turkey this past summer at a Persian Rug School and Gallery.....

5'1/2" sheet hanging at a window with light passing threw
My first attempt turned out to be 4' in diameter. Once dried and assembled (see Michelle is holding it above). From there the sizes very from about 10" in diameter, to my largest one to date, about 5 1/2' (right, which I am currently beading with sequins).

I am excited about this work for many reasons. First because it is a good solid start to an idea I have had for awhile.... Also because, as I am figuring out the mechanics of the process, I see potential for further exploration... Most of all however, I am excited about the installation itself.

For years I have exhibited in the Atrium Show. New Jerseys oldest Exhibit  featuring art by African Americans. ...Always there seems to be this unspoken, and sometimes spoken, pressure to produce "African American art" that resembles something you can attach to the genre. Meaning baring some visual connection to traditionally recognizable Black themes.

This year however the curators and I (I work on the Board of ATA) have been having a dialogue about the importance of highlighting the fact that the show is about art made by African American rather than "African American Art"

....Creating art that contains abstracted or non objective images is a struggle in any art community. Even more so for artists of African American descent. It is an age old struggle that began almost as soon as my African ancestors unwillingly touched North American shores. Social and political solidarity were a necessary part of survival and validation. Sometimes the only means of propelling forward an oppressed community.

"The struggle continues" I was told. ....I grew up with those words firmly planted in my head, and even if they weren't. I saw them affirmed daily in media and the streets around me of the 1960s-70s. So the question is, am I freer today than I was then?

ATA's featured artist for the 20th Anniversary show is Norman Lewis, one of America's most important artist of the 20th-century - who happened to be of African descent. Norman, like many artists in all cultures, started out painting portraits before finally finding his own voice in abstract expressionism... He struggled against the same demand that I struggle with today. Though more imperatively, since he created right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement...

Persian Rug School in Kuşadası, Turkey

WHY? Am I creating this installation. Because. I am allowing myself the freedom to imagine. To dream. To celebrate the random order of nature which I find so fascinating. The ordered  chaos of it all. But there is continuity there too. The bolt of silk threads given to me by the Turkish Gallery owner, is not much difference than the silk I sheared for myself last winter to create my FEMMA Series.... I can't believe traveling half way around the world a year later to gather more silk threads was a coincident...

Somehow my snowflakes are bringing me back full circle to the Golden Thread idea of the Femma Series, and a quote by American poet William Stafford, which says:
 "There's a thread you follow [your entire life]. It goes among things that change. But it doesn't change... While you hold it you can't get lost...." 

...What do I want you to experience when you view this work? I hope the mirrors will cause light to dance around you. I hope my small attempt at random order fills you with the kind of peace you get from watching the sun set or snowflakes fall. I hope most of all, you will just enjoy the forms as I do. For themselves. Not needing them to represent some tangible message....

Thanks Jan. You were right. It was just good to write about what I am doing.....

Art In The Atrium, Inc. Presents

January 12 - March 12, 2012
Morris Museum

Art In The Atrium Inc. |

Morris Museum | 6 Normandy Heights Road | Morristown, NJ 07960
Phone: 973.971.3700 |  | E-mail us:

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate you sharing this...the late author Octavia Butler also explored the concept of thread in her early writings...I think you're on to something!

    Your artistic brilliance lights the path!

    All the best,