6 years

12/12 was my 6 year anniversary blogging here on Visual Influence! It seems unreal to me how much has happened since then and how much I’ve learned. Going from starting an art blog when I was in college about art, images, thoughts, etc. that influenced me — on through to some amazing experiences, a lot of ups and downs, and heck I even brought a new human being into this world. She will be 3 in April. Time really goes by too fast. So precious.

But what I want to do now is re-cap 2013. Let me just say that it was a bi-polar kind of year. The first 6 months I was in some sort of deadlock. Completely blocked. I couldn’t make art…I don’t know what I was doing. Lots of struggle….nothing would come together. I usually don’t stay “down” for that long so it was hard. I was starting to work on my new studio space but wasn’t sure about it….

THEN! The opportunity came up to do it all. Not only a studio, why, let’s open a storefront too. Let’s make it everything about everything you want it to be. Okay!

That was in July — I started putting it all together and I was in GO MODE.

On November 1st I opened Pinky’s Boutique. Studio, gallery, shop, cabinet of curiosities….it is what it is and you just have to come in and see. I’m there! We have a zillion projects going on at once and some amazing art and handmade goods for sale. It’s a bit dirty. I should probably vacuum. I have some vintage and antiques thrown in the mix. Interesting….

Now toward the end of the year I always get a bit depressed because I’m a raging perfectionist and I tend to think about all of the things I DIDN’T do compared to what I’ve ACCOMPLISHED. I didn’t make much notable art this year — although I came up with a great concept for a series — INHABIT A CLOUD.

Here’s the statement for you art world folks:

Inhabit a Cloud is a series of imagined portraits of ancient goddess-legends and dwelling places. The imagery is created intuitively as I embroider, slowly, by hand. A search for identity developing from myth. Ultimately revealing Self as I navigate the network of feminine power, searching for belonging and place. I don’t question. I follow the line where it leads – stitching a primordial connection.

And the actual work:

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Yes you might have seen a couple of those pieces before. But they make so much more SENSE as part of this series. The two portraits are the only NEW real embroideries I’ve done this year. The entire year! WTF?

So obviously my New Years resolution is to STITCH FOR SERIOUS more. I have a few things coming up, which is great. I need the pressure.

What comes first, the idea or the stitching? I’m not quite sure and I hope I never figure it out. Spontaneity is my BFF.

Happy 2014 everybody!


current brainstate

The thoughts in my brain feel like the little ball bouncing around in a pinball machine. I bounce around everyday from action to action such as — get my kids to school, then inventory, then email, project with the 2.5 yr old, then stitching, list an item for sale online, talk to a customer in the shop, change a diaper, clean, eat when I remember, read something, cook something, make something….all the time thinking and thinking and it can feel like I never have the time to just sit down and focus on one thing. Or even think about one thing for as long as I would like to. I possibly miss college and having that kid free time to sit in a library or quiet studio. I’m trying so hard to create a place and a life but this takes a lot of patience and sacrifice. And when you’re a perfectionist than you have these little panic moments of despair. The bottom line — I’m trying to focus more on making the best art possible. And yes making and selling other things factor in there too because my kids need to eat but really this doesn’t take anything away from the real art, now does it.

DSC_0142in progress — Oshun Ibu Yumu

So what happens is things/places/people keep coming up in my head over and over and I feel that these things must be the most important and deserve special attention.

Like Rick Beerhorst for example. Go read this and listen to this all you artists out there and you will be glad you did.

Now, I’m going to go do a kid’s thanksgiving craft workshop…



“A woman of Thessaly in ancient Greece, Caenis was brutally raped by the sea god Poseidon. Furious and humiliated, she appealed to the gods of Olympus for revenge: transform her, she begged, into an invulnerable man so that she might maim and murder the sex that had injured her. Her wish having been granted, she became a great hero named Caeneus, unstoppable on the battlefield, fierce and destructive. When she died a heroic death, she resumed her female body and original name, and enjoyed a hero’s welcome in the afterlife.” (Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines, p. 77)

This is the first of a new series of embroidered portraits of goddesses, heroines, and legends.

a new technique…

I’m loving this. Cross stitch with yarn on reclaimed pegboard. I did a sign for my new shop, Pinky’s Boutique, to try it out. I kept thinking, “Wow, acrylic yarn is good for something besides yarnbombing!” and “This is WAY better than doing my dishes right now”. While I was stitching this, my toddler was sitting on my lap at times, saying, “You made this? Cute! That’s very cute!” and playing with yarn scraps – “I do this too!” Yay!


Unfortunately, the idea of cross stitching on pegboard goes into the category of “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?” — so simple yet genius. I saw it today on this blog.

That being said, I’m not going to feel bad about working with this technique because it has probably been done by somebody else besides the author of the blog I saw this morning. And I don’t want to Google it because every time I do that I end up paralyzed. So, I’m just going to do my own thing. I definitely like the possibilities of this technique and I will be exploring it further. I’ve been wanting to make larger pieces lately so this is a great way to stitch bigger!

Today I’m going to cut up a bunch of pegboard and start creating some imagery!

Motherhood: Snapshots & Sanctuaries

After almost two years of struggling with my new direction after ending The Eclipse Gallery (oh yeah, and having that baby and stuff), I am coming back home not only physically (we just bought a house 30 minutes from where I grew up) but online to Visual Influence — my first art blog which will turn FIVE on December 12th.

One thing I am extremely happy about is that after about two years of creating embroideries as art, I am definitely comfortable that fiber is my medium and always will be. From a museum-quality standpoint, I am most happy with my current series Motherhood: Snapshots & Sanctuaries.

The Sewing Studio (Snapshot), hand embroidery/photography, 8″ x 10″

Twin Caves (Sanctuary), hand embroidery, 14″

The contrast between the dark and often jaded Snapshots and the bright hope and idealism of the Sanctuaries serves as a metaphor for the complicated relationship between mother and child. Snapshots are everyday photos of friends and family, strangers, still lifes, and sometimes myself. Hand-embroidering the surface highlights truisms and contradictions often occurring in the daily lives of moms. The Sanctuaries describe imagined places of escape and solitude. When feeling trapped in my domestic role, I daydream of visiting these utopian and ethereal destinations. It is here that I am able to rediscover my true self that is lost, at times, as I put the needs of my family before my own needs, ambitions, and desires.

This work is about dismantling stereotypes surrounding the terms ‘maker’ and ‘mother’ and questioning what it means to be both. I use hand-embroidery to highlight the struggle of balance that mothers often face — raising issues of identity, domesticity, and societal expectations. Using the slow skill of traditional stitching connects me with mothers/makers of the past who have passed down their knowledge of needlework and motherhood. My method depends heavily on my drawing abilities, as the work is embroidered freehand. My process is highly intuitive and unabashedly feminine – relying on my intuition, subconscious, and emotions to discern the content of the piece, and to guide my hand.

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Curating: The Milkweed Project & Other Flawless Fibers

I’m in love with my current show at The Eclipse Gallery, if I do say so myself. Fiber art is near and dear to my heart, thanks to Alison Gates, who was my textiles professor in college at UWGB. She really introduced me to the whole craft as art concept and taught me how to knit, felt, and weave, among other things! I am so excited to now have three pieces by Alison in this exhibition. I think her work is so interesting. You can also find her work right now in The American Dream: A Juxtaposition, at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.


Alison Gates, Neither Created Nor Destroyed

So as I was taking these textile/fiber classes in college, I was also working at the Lawton Gallery at UWGB as part of my Gallery/Museum Practices major — and what exhibition did I help install but Craftivism: Reclaiming Craft & Creating Community, which was guest curated by Faythe Levine. Needless to say that show heightened my awareness of the growing DIY/Indie Craft culture and inspired me even more to explore the intersection between art, craft, and handmade design.

Last year I was contacted by Shan Bryan-Hansen, who told me about her Milkweed Project and I was blown away. I had already curated shows that included collaborative, fiber-based art installations by Jennifer Marsh, so I was excited to see that an area artist/curator was working on a similar type of project. The result is beautiful! Over 100 artists from over 30 countries contributed to this artwork. Image below:

Another artist that I had wanted to include in an exhibition for awhile was Jennifer Hunold. Her embroidery style is unique and fresh. Make sure to check out her Be Nice project, where she prints her embroidery pieces into pamphlets that are distributed. The below piece is included in this exhibition and is part of her newest Be Nice series – Guide to Farting and Pooping.


Other artists in the show are Mindy Sue Wittock, Kari Hinrichs, Chris Vuco, Julie Guilette, Stephanie Gritzmaker, Vicki Brower, and Pat Fitzpatrick.

This show runs though February 28, so if you are in the Northeast Wisconsin area, make sure to stop by, check out the show, and say hello! Directions and hours can be found on the gallery’s website.

View all the photos of this exhibition on my Flickr.


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