Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Gets Your Mojo Working?

For some people, it's a swap. For others, it's a gift occasion. Everybody has something that gets the wheels turning in their head and the creative energy flowing in their hands.

Catch by Donna Kallner
Some of my favorite pieces were the result of exhibition calls. Earlier this year, I did work for a looping show, and I made a vessel for a show in the Amana Colonies. But most of my time is spent developing ideas for classes -- classes like the Mojo Vessels workshop I taught last fall in Columbia, Missouri. Just in the nick of time, I finished two pieces for Re:Interpretations '10: More MOjo Magic. The show is up now in the Alcove at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery in Columbia.

This is the 14th year the Columbia Weavers & Spinners Guild has done Re:Interpretations. The series began after a workshop with Jane Sauer, where she challenged them to create artwork inspired by workshop activities, and gave them a year to complete the work and plan the exhibition. Last year when I taught for the guild, I saw their display of work from the previous year (a memory book/box workshop with Sandy Webster). This year, they're learning some exciting new things in a workshop with Kim Eichler Messmer and they've reinterpreted what they learned in my workshop on surface design and constructed vessel techniques.

When they asked to include my work in the show, I kicked around a bunch of ideas and did some sampling. Here's what I ended up doing.

Vocabulary and Dialect by Donna Kallner
In my workshops, I often suggest that students work on two or more pieces at a time, using different approaches to see how the story changes in the telling. So for Re:Interpretations, I made two vessels.

Dialect by Donna Kallner (open)
Both pieces are made from the winding-path shape you see in the image above. Both pieces are made from layers of fabric. Even layers that are hidden from view are marked with paint, dye and stitching. It's a kind of shorthand that represents all the paths that intersect in a workshop, all the stories told, all the lives that become connected.

Vocabulary by Donna Kallner
Vocabulary celebrates the ways learning and language helps shape our views of the world. The more fluently we can combine elements, the more confident we are in choosing how we want them to fit together. In this piece, the winding path shape became mountain-like to represent the love of challenges shared by this group of artists.

Dialect celebrates the way a common language is transformed into distinct forms. On the flip side of the path-shaped piece pictured above, you might see the shape of a hand, a recurrent theme in my work. I've asked the other artists in this show to take turns using their own hands to change the form of this piece throughout the exhibition.

Dialect by Donna Kallner (the flip side, open)
Here are a few of the forms the piece took while it was still with me.

Dialect by Donna Kallner (View A)
Dialect by Donna Kallner (View B)
Dialect by Donna Kallner (View C)
Dialect by Donna Kallner (View D)
This winding path of silk and thread will become whatever this group of artists makes of it as each pair of hands translates a shape into a form. Each re-interpretation represents two voices, two stories, and many more possibilities.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to collaborate with such an inspiring group of artists. I hope to be able to share images of their work in the show soon.

In the meantime, what gets your mojo working?

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