Decay, Disintegration, Distortion

Charity Janisse recently posted a picture of rusted metal on Twitter, which got me thinking about decay. I realized that I tend to focus on themes of vitality in my work and working on the flip side could be interesting.

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Flame taken by Charity Janisse and posted in this online article.

 

Then Lorie McCown came and gave a talk about her work to my quilt guild. She uses a lot of textiles in her work with frayed edges. Boy did she get me thinking about disintegration (as well as making your mark). You can find some great detail shots of her work on her Instagram account here.

And I’ve been talking to people who do computerized generative art. I think it was Anders Hoff who got me thinking about distortion when he posted these.

 

So, when I found myself with a week with one kid who was going to be gone from 9-4:30 every day, I jumped on the chance to work on a series of 5 panels which I dubbed “Obsessive Stitching 1-5”.  My initial idea was to work with all over patterns, as I had done in the Trajectory: Escape Velocity initial and final panels, but after two days of that, I got bored.

Here is day 1 and day 2.

 

I had hoped that the above finished panel would be more buckled (as it was promising to do below and like the panel from day 1), but it smoothed itself out in one dimension, while warping the shape!

Day 3. Here’s what happens when I do the same thing over and over. I have to change it up. This one needs more quilting, but I wasn’t able to finish it in one day.

 

Day 4 I decided to go back to the all over pattern and not worry about distorting the fabric. I was focused more on accentuating the pattern that the dye had created and adding texture. I used two metallic threads (black and red) in one needle (one eye, not two). Here is the result. It’s very subtle. I am quite pleased with how this turned out and think I might add some beads before I call it completely done.

By Day 5, I was exhausted, had run out of food, and had other things to attend to, so I only had a couple hours in the studio. I decided if I worked small(er), I might be able to get something substantial done. Initially I was going to make coccolithophores in space, but that seemed too daunting by Friday afternoon, so I switched to jellies instead. This picture is a bit of a cheat because I only made three jellies the first day. Also, the tweet is misleading. There are 12 jellies on that panel.

All in all, I have to say it was an interesting week. I rarely get concentrated time like that to work, and certainly never 5 days in a row. Working only with hand dyed panels felt very different to me. It is certainly a way to more easily incorporate organic patterns into my work. I also don’t usually focus on the stitching. That has typically been a way to just hold the thing together and add color. Using stitching as way to get to texture was very satisfying, especially as I think of my work more and more as 3d.

I look forward to playing more with stitching and themes of decay, disintegration, and distortion.

 

Primordial Soup: Phase II of Trajectory: Escape Velocity

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Last month I brought you the Big Bang. The next phase in my story is a little quieter, but equally as dramatic. Primordial Soup is where elements appear and combine and DNA pops out! The DNA is made of wire and beads and really does stand out from the quilt base. All the crystals represent different elements and some molecules. I lost count of how many crystals I used, but I’m pretty sure it’s over 400.

The Riches of Twitter

Twitter has brought me unimagined riches: new friends (got to meet quite a few at SfN14 last year); little gifts in the mail (lapsang souchang infused goat cajeta, alpaca fibers for felting); great #sciart in my life new mushroom coasters laser engraved by Julie Himes and a felted hat adorned by a jellyfish to warm my noggin); and opportunities to have conversations about science, art, and everything in between.

When the #sciart tweet storm was announced, I felt a bit shy about participating. On Sunday, I tentatively tweeted my first few tweets for the #sciart tweet storm organized by the Symbiartic blog team: Kalliopi Monoyios (@eyeforscience), Katie McKissick (@beatricebiology) and Glendon Mellow (@FlyingTrilobite). I had no idea what riches it would bring.

On Monday morning, I saw a tweet by Stewart Barker of a fungal invasion. It was so beautiful. And my kids had a snow day. I thought, ah ha, I’m going to see if I can capture this in felt.

My attempt did not fully resemble Barker’s infestation, but I was pleased with it. When I reported back, he told me that he had seen other fungal infestations resembling my felt, which really made my day.

Monday night, I got talking with someone about starting a new hashtag idea. That work is still in process, but I’m hoping we can roll it out next week. I love collaborating!

Yesterday morning, I wrote up the previous blog post in an attempt to get my three images done for the day. Five minutes after I posted, Chris Woolston from Nature Magazine called and wanted to know if he could use an image of one of my quilts for an online article about the #sciart tweet storm. I was really confused and didn’t think he could possibly mean one of the one’s I’d just posted, but yes, that was what he was talking about. Talk about serendipity!  (Find the article here, with lovely sciart from three other artists as well!)

I love the #sciart community because of the investigative spirit and willingness to collaborate. I’m invigorated by it. If there is a question to be pursued, that is exciting to me. Ultimately, I think #sciart is about communication. I appreciate being part of the conversation and I can’t wait to see what else comes out of the #sciart hurricane! I hope it takes a long time to die down.

Neuron collection: 3 new neuron quilts

Last fall I made a little purple neuron which caught the eye of Jennifer Wells (aka Jenthulu) on Twitter. After SfN14, she asked me if I would make her a new one as well as another one like Dancing, but in different colors.

Even though the request had been for a purple neuron, I got distracted and made a grey neuron highlighted with green flashes. For me, it is reminiscent of the micrographs with GFP (green flourescent protein).  Then I went and made the purple one, using different fabrics on the back as I had done before. I wanted it to feel fresh and as I said on Twitter last week, I’m not interested in reproducibility of results. I am constantly tweaking.

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Grey neuron quilt about 6X9 inches with metallic green flashes

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Purple neuron, dancing on a black background

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“Electricity” A green and pink neuron interact on a field of blue. Size is approximately 20in wide by 18in tall.

Then I set to work on the pair of interacting neurons. I wanted to try something different, so I used foil for the flashing synapses instead of angelina and where the connection was farthest, I added beads in the hopes of conveying the idea of little bits of information crossing (this is more along the lines of artificial intelligence, really, but I’m a fan of scifi too).

Initially I wasn’t sure how the different colors would play out.  I thought the red-pink background I’d made before with black neurons would be the only way to showcase them properly, but with a little time, I was able to figure out another solution. It was good to stretch outside my preconceived notions!

The Skeleton and The Skin: Annet Couwenberg

The Skeleton and The Skin

Annet Couwenberg is a fiber artist whose art work is based on the concept of clothing as a metaphor for examining the precarious balance between the body/skeleton and the outer membrane/skin.

Dr. Lynne Parenti studies the comparative anatomy and distribution of tropical freshwater and coastal marine fishes mainly from Southeast Asia.

Annet and Lynne worked together during the summer of 2014 for a unique Fellowship experience studying the Division of Fishes’ collections through the lenses of both art and science.

Annet Couwenberg's Puff #2, made of laser cut buckram and wood

Annet Couwenberg’s Puff #2, made of laser cut buckram and wood

Last week I got an email with this description from my fiber arts guild email list. Gosh, it was right up my alley. I had to go. So, I traipsed into DC, ice and puddles notwithstanding, and listened to what they had to say.

Couwenberg has no formal science education (beyond your usual secondary ed, I assume). She’s got two degrees in fiber and a background in fashion design, but has long been interested in the relationship between the skeleton and the skin. We saw corset inspired art, for instance. But listening to her talk about her fellowship at the Smithsonian was great.

She really dove into the rich source material on so many levels. Not only was she inspired by how the fish looked, but she was looking at histograms (slides of tissue) and manipulating those and then creating art based on those.

Couwenberg works with a variety of materials. I was particularly taken with her laser cut pieces. Some pieces are lacey, others are stacked (layers and layers (HEY NEURO PEEPS, think about this for those stacked images you guys get — juicy stuff, am I right?)).

Origami is a rich source of inspiration for her too. She had all this folded buckram which was pretty neat (laser cut dots to help with the folds!). And yet, she holds she’s not a sculptor but a fiber artist.

I was struck by a couple thing she talked about. At least twice she talked about how it’s about the process for her. This is how she learns. Finally, someone else like me! I asked her if she could have learned science in this way, might she have been a scientist? She agreed it might have happened.

Someone asked if the technology allowed her to do things she wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Her answer was interesting to me because she talked about how it didn’t make things easier, but I also have to wonder, if like me, she’s drawn to trying new techniques to help create her art, seeing the possibilities in them.

Dr Lynn Parenti was her science partner and this woman studies fish. I asked at one point if the difference between a scientist and an artist was that the scientist takes things apart while the artist makes things. I think fundamentally, at least in the sciart community, a lot of us are asking the same questions, but approaching from a different viewpoint. The goal is still to learn and communicate and educate.

It seems what Parenti got out of the partnership was the idea to take slides of a coelacanth brain and 3D image it!! How cool is that?

Finally, someone else asked Couwenberg if she thought about working with exoskeletons and exploring that relationship. The answer? She was just starting to do that!

Very exciting work. I’m so glad I went. So, what do you think? Would love to chat about it.

Now On SquareUp Marketplace

Early this year I made an Etsy account and then found out that last year, Etsy had changed their policies so that vendors could outsource labor. I don’t know all the history behind it, but I went in to it believing that it favored small vendors. After I found out about that policy, I held off on listing anything anywhere. I wasn’t established on Etsy and I was focused on producing work for the Society of Neuroscience convention.

I recently discovered that I could list items on SquareUp’s Marketplace, so that’s where you can find my work to purchase online. I have changed the webpage to reflect this and the link will take you to my page on SquareUp’s Marketplace.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask! I now have a contact form in the “about me” page or you can email me at artcollisions at gmail dot com.

Not too late to buy an original Artcollisions’ artwork

Now that my two shows of the season are over, your opportunity to acquire one of my pieces in person is gone, but thanks to the internet, you can still get one or more through the magic of electrons.

I’m going to list all the available pieces here, under a cut.  At the moment, I do not have an online store setup, but I can easily email an invoice.

I have edited the post to include dimensions and prices. If you click on a small picture, it will take you to a bigger one.

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Online Advent Calendars

‘Tis the season for Advent Calendars. I used to buy my kids one (cheap) Advent calendar with terrible chocolate in it that they would then fight over who got the miniscule tidbit. After a few years of this, I quit cold turkey. Probably because I forgot to buy one. This is where the internet comes in.

I think it was two years ago that we found the Royal Institute’s Advent Calendar. Alas, they are not doing one this year. They have a mini-series Things To Do With Stuff instead. I have not checked it out yet.

So, for actual Advent calendars, I found a chemistry one, a geology one, a general science one (that is not the RI), and a British Sign Language one.

Compound Chemistry (Explorations of Everyday Chemical Compounds)is focusing on chemicals found in Christmas related things. Find the 2014 Chemistry Advent Calendar here.

The Geological Society of London has their Advent Calendar here.

Cosmic Genome has different short videos for each day, in the style of RI’s past Advent Calendars, but I can’t speak to thematics. I think they are just generally science themed. Find the Cosmic Genome Advent Calendar here.

I cannot recommend the BSL Advent Calendar because it makes my browser crash. Every time. 😦

So, what good Advent Calendars have you found online? I would love some cartoony ones. Or art ones. Throw your links my way and I’ll update the entry.

Pictures of the quilts from SfN14

I have put all pictures of the quilts I had at SfN14 into a Picasa Gallery which you can also find in the Quilt Galleries link at the top of the page.  Many of these are still available, so please ask if you are interested! If you did not make it to the convention, many of these were not posted here before.

The only quilt which did not make it into this gallery (yet) is Synaptic Coral, which I’m including as thumbnail in this post.

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And please, if you have thoughts from SfN14 or neuroscience related thoughts or links you want to share, let me know. I love to talk about this stuff!