The World of Frida part 1

 The colors of the Chinese embroidered silk applique (crane and dragon) Frida used to adorn her red leather boots. (acrylics)

The colors of the Chinese embroidered silk applique (crane and dragon) Frida used to adorn her red leather boots. (acrylics)

In March of this year I began work on a submission for The World of Frida juried exhibition at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California. The show, which runs from July 8th through September 16th, celebrates the culture, style, and persona of the highly-influential artist Frida Kahlo. Along with juried and invitational artists' works, the show features a national, traveling photography exhibit titled Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray that makes a stop in Walnut Creek after traveling across North America.(organized by the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions).

 Nickolas Muray,  Frida on White Bench, New York  (detail), 1939. Courtesy of the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and the Bedford Gallery.

Nickolas Muray, Frida on White Bench, New York (detail), 1939. Courtesy of the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and the Bedford Gallery.

My research for this project began online. I scoured art sites and the like but was left uninspired, so I visited the Berkeley Public Library and came across this gem: Frida by Ishiuchi, a collection of riveting, intimate photographs taken in 2011 by highly-acclaimed Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako. The photographs were of Frida’s personal belongings, wardrobe, and medical apparatus hidden from the public for fifty years following her death. I was immediately hooked!

 Drawing inspiration from Ishiuchi's photograph of Frida's red leather platform boot to create my color palette to represent the main elements photographed.

Drawing inspiration from Ishiuchi's photograph of Frida's red leather platform boot to create my color palette to represent the main elements photographed.

The image that captivated me most was that of Frida’s brilliant-red leather boot and cuff with prosthetic leg. This literal extension of Frida stands majestic in spite of the disability it represents. The longer I studied the photograph the stronger my connection to Frida became and the more compelled I felt to elevate the importance that Frida placed on costume and color as a means to shape her own narrative; fighting valiantly to not let her disability define her. 

 I used varying gauges of annealed wire to create the structure of Frida's boot with leather cuff and prosthetic leg. And just as Frida did, I wired two tiny jingle bells to the "laces".

I used varying gauges of annealed wire to create the structure of Frida's boot with leather cuff and prosthetic leg. And just as Frida did, I wired two tiny jingle bells to the "laces".

I used wire to capture the firmness of Frida’s convictions and the physicality of the elements. I imagined myself marching alongside her as I shaped varying thickness of wire into lace openings, leather ties, contours of the raised heel, and the Chinese embroidered silk applique. I even attached two tiny jingle bells, just as Frida did, to announce her arrival on walkabouts. I paired this with a ribbon of soft canvas color swatches: the warm browns of the leather cuff, the pale fleshy colors of the prosthesis, the bright red hues of the boot, the brownish black of the sole, and the vivid threads of the Chinese crane and dragon embroidered silk applique.

 I sewed soft, painted canvas swatches to the background canvas using 34 gauge annealed wire. The swatches represent the colors depicted in Ishiuchi's photograph.

I sewed soft, painted canvas swatches to the background canvas using 34 gauge annealed wire. The swatches represent the colors depicted in Ishiuchi's photograph.

In late April I learned my piece, "Adorned Boot", had been selected for the exhibition by jurors Lisa Congdon, fine artist, illustrator and author, and Rebecca Gomez, Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, TX. I am deeply grateful to these ladies and the Bedford Gallery for this opportunity to participate in this special exhibition and for the promise of befriending more artists in this community.  Thank you!

 Finished artwork: "Adorned Boot" - 20.5" x 20.5" x 1.75" frame with acrylic glazing, canvas, acrylics, annealed wire (varying gauges), and jingle bells.

Finished artwork: "Adorned Boot" - 20.5" x 20.5" x 1.75" frame with acrylic glazing, canvas, acrylics, annealed wire (varying gauges), and jingle bells.

 

life for me before Berkeley

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Today I've been working on a long-overdue revamp on my Web site and updating my About page was at the top of the list. Part of what needed updating was writing a more official artist's bio as well as augmenting my CV with some very important information. 

This update also meant I needed to shorten the narrative of my life story. I couldn't quite bring myself to delete the content, so I've placed here in case someone asks me for it. 


My life before Berkeley

Some of you knew me as @weatheredsilo. In 2010 I started a blog and opened an Etsy shop under that name. Studio time was far from steady but I somehow managed to produce a handful of oil paintings on canvases that I handcrafted from salvaged hardwoods and eco-friendly textiles. I also sold paintings and limited-edition giclées of my Dust Bowl Glimpses series depicting the resilience of families displaced by the Dust Bowl. During this time I amassed a fantastic online community of kindred spirits, many of whom I consider close friends today. I also had the great honor of contributing an art tutorial on Poppytalk. I consider myself a very lucky woman. 

I earned a degree in Business Administration, Marketing in 1990 and began my career working at a boutique advertising and public relations firm in Denver. From there I held various positions at a magnet manufacturing company in Castle Rock where I oversaw national advertising campaigns, led an in-house sales team, assisted with new product development, and traveled extensively across the U.S. to consumer products trade shows. Following a move to Seattle in 1995, I was instrumental in building a marketing communications and pr department and led product marketing management teams for a healthcare software company. From there I helped build the marketing department of an internet start-up that sold dental supplies.  

In 2000 I put my career on hold to start a family--this involved two unforgettable journeys to China. My family and I moved back to Colorado in 2003 where we literally built our own home on 35 acres near my husband's grandfather's farm. The allure of the Pacific Northwest drew us back to Seattle in 2006 and I began clocking volunteer hours in classrooms and on auction teams at my daughter's schools. I also proudly supported my daughters as they earned junior black belts in Kenpo Karate--a 4-year journey! In 2008 my husband co-founded Full Slate from our home office where I occasionally helped with social media and often referred to myself as a 'start-up widow'. In 2009 I helped my sister recuperate from surgery and chemotherapy, and in 2012 I became my mom's primary caregiver following a sharp decline in her health

 

our return to China

Earlier this summer my family and I spent three unforgettable weeks trekking across China. We visited seven cities in all: Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Jinjiang, Shanghai, Guilin, and Hong Kong. Summer is just coming to a close and already I'm dreaming of going back!

The trip was part sightseeing and part homecoming for our daughters who were born in China. The last time we visited was 2004 when we adopted our youngest from Jinjiang, Fujian Province, and before that, 2002 when we adopted our oldest from Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

 Beijing - Touring the Forbidden City with my family alongside thousands of other visitors. Behind us stands the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) -- the throne hall of Ming and Qing emperors.

Beijing - Touring the Forbidden City with my family alongside thousands of other visitors. Behind us stands the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) -- the throne hall of Ming and Qing emperors.

For years we'd talked about returning to China with the girls -- it was never a question of if but rather when. Thankfully this was the year we could finally pull together the funds and resources to make the trip a reality. If you or someone you know is looking to schedule a Heritage Trip, we highly recommend the organization we worked with: Red Thread Tours & Services.

Over the past fourteen years we've celebrated the culture and customs of China and both girls are learning Mandarin as just one way to honor their heritage. Needless to say, both daughters were eager to get this Summer's trip underway.

 Xi'an - Early morning light shining on some of the nearly 8000 life-size terra cotta soldiers commissioned by Qin Shi Huang, China's First Emperor and founder of the Qin Dynasty, to protect him in the afterlife. The soldiers were discovered in 1974 (I was six years old).

Xi'an - Early morning light shining on some of the nearly 8000 life-size terra cotta soldiers commissioned by Qin Shi Huang, China's First Emperor and founder of the Qin Dynasty, to protect him in the afterlife. The soldiers were discovered in 1974 (I was six years old).

From an early age both girls were aware of how our family was lovingly formed through adoption. We've shared their adoption stories countless times, answering questions and reliving memories through storytelling, old photographs, and keepsakes such as the outfits each wore when they were handed to us by the orphanage nannies. 

 Chengdu - Hibiscus, the city flower. 

Chengdu - Hibiscus, the city flower. 

As for the trip itself, I have SO much to share. We are still "unpacking" the memories and impact of this trip. I may never be able to fully articulate the full meaning, but one thing's for sure: the trip exceeded our expectations and left us feeling incredibly honored and grateful to have made new friends in our travel group and reconnect with/meet new connections at each of the girls' orphanages. Both girls' orphanage directors and staff were thrilled to have had the opportunity to see the girls in their teenage years and learn that they have not forgotten their birthplace but rather embraced it's people and treasures. 

In the coming weeks I hope to share more memories from the trip through blog posts and art. I'm still struggling with how much detail to share publicly, especially when it comes to the actual orphanage visits, but I trust that it will all work out in due time. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

 Guilin - Guilin Tea Research Institute, the only organic tea farm in the Guanxi Province. Majestic limestone mountains in the background.

Guilin - Guilin Tea Research Institute, the only organic tea farm in the Guanxi Province. Majestic limestone mountains in the background.