Wednesday, October 16, 2019

SDA Conference

I spent the summer at the Contextural Residency at AU-Arts in between various trips.  I was using the wonderful facilities to do some dyeing and silk screening, trying to find my way forward with a new body of work.  Sometimes I find a new piece comes together so easily and others are like birthing a baby and take a considerable amount of time coming together.  This body of work seems to be the latter.  So I am taking my time and "filling the well".

My trip recently to St Louis, Missouri was all about filling the well.  I attended the Surface Design Association's Conference "Beyond the Surface" in conjunction with Innovations in Textile.  There was a list of 38 exhibitions to take in, which was totally overwhelming.  As well as the textile exhibitions of course, St. Louis boasts  numerous museums and galleries.  Then there is the city itself, full of lovely old buildings and great restaurants' ranging from very expensive to an inexpensive steak place where you shouted your order to the guys behind the counter.  It was where I had my first taste of sweet potato pie.  The lady behind the counter was so incredulous that I had never had it, that she kept coming by our table to check out if I liked it or not.  She seemed very please when she saw that I had polished off the lot!

I was lucky to be spending time with 5 members of Articulation, so there was always someone to go visit galleries with.  The first place I went to was the St.Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. I have never seen the work of Andy Goldsworthy, so was very pleased to see his Stone Sea located outside the Art Museum.  I also saw a lot of contemporary work and particularly liked the work of Anselm Keifer

It was boiling hot, but we walked to the Kemper Art Museum next, where there was an exhibition by Ai WeiWei.  Wow, that made a huge impression on me.  One gallery was for his work on refugees both artwork and videos, which just blew me away; so powerful.  The piece below is made completely of lego.

This is a small part of a frieze named Odyssey depicting both current refugees as well as historical refugees with visual elements from ancient Greek and Egyptian art, and Japanese wood block prints.  All emphasizing the universal nature of migration.

This was a pillar made of vases, again depicting forced migration.

The next day we went to the Contemporary Art Museum and right next door was the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. I found the Pullizer the more interesting of the two with this piece, Joe by Richard Serra outside.  I had seen a lot of his other massive pieces at the Guggenheum in Bilbao.

I also really enjoyed the work of Susan Philipsz whose work is based on sound. We sat with this view, listening to Elizabethan ballads, while in the next room she has made sound with her fingers around the rim of glasses filled with water - each individual sound on individual LPs

SDA of course had a wonderful exhibition of extremely high quality work, definitely something to aspire to.  One of my favourites of the exhibition was this felted piece, it was such a simple shape, but so elegant - something to which I aspire.

The last night we went down to the Delmar Loop where we ate lunch at the BlueBerry Hill, which was an old haunt of Chuck Berry.  The current owner has masses of pictures on the wall of himself with an eclectic mixture of musicians old and new.  We really felt we were in a place full of history.

A sculpture of Chuck Berry along with stars in the sidewalk of all the famous people who had come from St. Louis - a surprising number in fact.

Our last day we spent in the Botanical gardens where there was quite a lot of Chihouli glass, some floating in ponds, another large one hanging from a ceiling at the entrance and then this one, that I particularly liked.

With my brain completely full, exhausted and definitely over eaten - I am looking forward to a snowy winter where I can digest all of the information and see if any of it informs my own work.

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