Tag Archives: art

Folk Art

Today, touring the Hickory Museum of Art’s Southern Contemporary Folk Art exhibit, I decided that folk art is my favorite flavor.

Two reasons.

First: if I don’t like it, no biggie. Someone was just sitting in their backyard, had a funky inspiration, goofed around for a while with some different materials, colors, forms.  I can get on board with that. Though that particular piece may not be my cup of tea, I can still respect them as a creative individual.

A “real artist,” on the other hand, is not allowed to produce things I don’t like and get paid handsomely for it. They don’t get to have all this respect and fame when that “thing” they churned out is a bit of moronic rubbish. I’ll not stand for it!

Since my only choice is to hold them in the most foul and begrudging contempt, then the whole thing ends up getting ugly.

A folk artist, being a far more humble creature, can get away with anything.

And if I do happen to like what the folk artist has produced, then I can stand back and marvel. Wow, a regular person like me created this artistic miracle, this shining proof of the greatness of the human spirit, this indisputable evidence of the vision we are all capable of.

If a “real artist” pulls off the same stunt, I’m like, well yeah, you’re supposed to be making good art, whaddya want… a medal?

 

I cannot be held responsible for the content of this post.  Mostly because it is a treatise on a subjective subject that is beyond the stifling rules of objectivity which state that one must give everything a fair shake and argue one’s point logically and not just whip out flagrant opinions willy-nilly.  On the subject of art, I reserve the right to will and nill to my little heart’s desire.

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New release of a brilliant movie

One of my favorite writers and directors, Sembène Ousmane, about whom I have previously posted when he passed away last year, directed a movie called “Camp de Thiaroye” which is coming out on DVD on November 11th.  I am so excited that I even pre-ordered it.

Normally I wouldn’t shamelessly plug something, I’m a fairly mellow consumer, but to most people, African cinema is so obscure that I feel like if speak up, there might be a couple more people in the world that know they have another choice besides a Hollywood flick for their entertainment.

There are a lot of reasons that these movies stay obscure.  People don’t like subtitles.  Non-Hollywood movies tend to move slower and so spectators used to rapid-fire action can’t sit still ’til the end.  These movies aren’t widely available (I haven’t checked Netflix) but you have to know someone to borrow them from or else order your own copy through Amazon (definitely worth owning!) The budget that an African director works with is so much smaller than what is available for a Hollywood film that the movie’s set, costumes and such sometimes seem amateurish compared to what spectators are used to.  And sometimes, people don’t want to view a new perspective of the world in a movie, they just want the same rehashed plotline with more cleavage and a bigger explosion.

But there is so much that the average American doesn’t know about the history of the world.  Did you know in the 1880’s the big European nations got together for the “Berlin Conference” and agreed who got which part of Africa, so that they didn’t waste their energy fighting each other over parcels but could focus their efforts on suppressing (that is a nice word for killing and enslaving) the indigenous African populations?  Did you know that many African nations got their independence in the 1960’s, but that Europe and the US essentially maintained control over the countries through puppet dictatorships (which Sembène shows clearly at the beginning of his movie “Xala”)?

The movie coming out in a couple of weeks, called “Camp de Thiaroye,” tells another important, and true, story, that of the soldiers from Senegal who fought alongside French soldiers against the Nazis.  The movie exposes what happened when the Senegalese soldiers returned home and were “rewarded” by the French.

I can’t say much else without spoiling the movie.  I wish I could hold a screening in my living room and invite everyone.  I feel it is so important for us to get outside our comfort zones and our narrow points of view and see the world through totally new eyes.  Sembène achieves this result, plus entertaining us, making us laugh, endearing us to characters, and amazing us with things we’ve never seen before.  Making us think and realize a new truth are just the icing.

If you somehow get a chance to see it, I highly recommend this movie.

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Quilting

Sherrieh reminds me of one of the hobbies I love so much and how I’d love to take it further, into the realms of appliqué…

All the quilts I’ve done thus far have been simple cut-and-piece-together quilt tops.

This is the first quilt I ever did, specially for the handsome gentleman in the photo (my eldest son) when he was 3.  A friend helped me with it, and I blame her for the massive error (don’t you just love how I take responsibility for my own mistakes!)  The big green squares are supposed to be the darker leafy material and vice versa.  I tried to make it look like “I meant to do that” by quilting some designs into some of the squares: a heart, a sword, a star…  But despite the grand foul-up, I was hooked on quilting.

This was my second.  The colors are kind of loud, but that’s how I like to do baby quilts.  (That’s the baby it was for in the picture, five years later!)  Babies don’t like to look at pastels, in my opinion.  They’d rather see some obnoxiously contrasting crazy colors… really seems to perk up their interest.

Talk about obnoxious… and massive errors.  This was my brilliant idea to use up a bunch of scraps I had.  There are pieces from three other quilts I’d made, bits from a little hand bag I’d made, plus scraps of one of my daughter’s old dresses, and the backing is an old sheet.  This is supposed to be the pattern “Tumbling Blocks” but I was not careful enough about matching the light and dark bits so the effect is quite diluted.  To add to its dark history, there’s the fact that I sobbed hysterically while sewing the long strips of hexagons together because they just wouldn’t match up right.  Hours and hours of sobbing.  So, needless to say, this isn’t one of my favorites.  Luckily it is not the special baby blanket of anyone and gets to be used by overnight guests, who never know of its pathetic history.

This next one is a pattern called “Ocean Waves” that I wanted to try for so long.  I was finally talked into doing it for my oldest daughter (and BY my oldest daughter, coincidentally!)  The thing about quilting that amazing me is the optical illusion aspect, wherein one takes simple shapes, cuts them out of different colors and puts them together so that they come alive, like this quilt that almost seems to move like swelling waves, though all the shapes have flat edges and corners:

This next quilt is called “Window Pane” and I thought I was terribly clever using the cloudy sky for the view out the window.  It was for my nephew, and I especially love the blue flames, first of all because of the contrast/wild color theory I mentioned before, but also because his parents think they are all wild and crazy, so I knew they would dig it.  What was kind of amazing to me was that I managed to do the whole thing by hand, since I’d sold my machine before we left Oregon.  Usually I piece together the quilt top, add the edging, and sometimes do the actual quilting by machine.  But every single stitch in here was by hand.  (I’m still tired.)

Then there’s the one that’s on my bed as we speak, the one I started two years ago for my husband and I and just finished up before we made our last move a couple of months ago.  I wanted to have something fresh and meaningful to start our new life here.  I made it simple, huge, warm, bright, using some scraps from the past and some brand new material, just like I want our marriage to be.

 And that’s what it’s all about for me, a blanket to celebrate something, a lasting reminder to a dear one that someone loves them enough to go to a heck of a lot of trouble, or if you make it for yourself, then a constant reminder that life is worth living and making more beautiful with careful crafting by your own hands.

 I know we all have different ways of showing our love and devotion… quilting happens to be one of mine.

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