Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feature on Erin Cork, Collaboration Partner

This is the 3rd in a series of posts on the people I worked with for the exhibit Collaboration:  Reaping and Sewing.  I met Erin Cork in 2006 when she was in grad school.  She came to my home studio to learn about my natural methods of coloring cloth.   Her graduate professor, Laura Strand, head of textiles at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville had asked if I’d be willing to share my organic printing methods with Erin.  (Laura is also one of my collaboration partners who I’ll be writing about in a future post.)  Erin and I quickly bonded and worked together for 2 summers    experimenting with composted and solar dyed fabrics with natural materials.   I was just starting my transition to rusting then and so we both experimented with that process too.  Although it wasn’t a formal arrangement I certainly considered Erin my student and I have treasured the friendship she has offered in return.

Erin recycled bed sheets for this early composting experiment.  The larger piece used walnuts hulls, banana peels, turmeric spice.  Fabric was then covered with plastic and sealed up for several weeks, then picked up and cured for a time before laundering.  
A number of bundles were solar dyed on the roof of my house.  We attempted to document what we were doing.  I don't know about Erin, but I know I wasn't very successful in keeping numbers and notes with the fabrics after they were washed.    This is one of Erin's bundles before it was sealed up in aluminum foil and ziplock for the process.
Erin created some wearables with the composted fabric she did at my house.  This skirt was exhibited at Main Street Gallery in Edwardsville.  If you look closely, you can see the yellow flowers of the bedsheet.
Erin’s work with tongue in cheek crochet installations of domesticated doilies and felt for her thesis exhibition and a 2009 Innovations in Textiles show at Fontbonne University greatly impressed me--and they are a hoot to boot.  You can see images of her thesis show on her website.  When I began formulating my plan to become involved with Innovations 2011, the idea of a teacher student collaboration seemed perfect.  

Erin Cork 2011, Collaboration with Erin Vigneau Dimick
Erin was my first recruit.  Then I learned she was moving to Virginia and getting married!  Suffice it to say, this year has been a busy one for her.  Starting a new teaching job; commuting home occasionally for wedding planning; making her own wedding dress which was embellished with hand crocheted and beaded elements; AND working on three complex pieces involving felt for the collaboration in addition to squeezing in meetings with our group—sometimes in person, sometimes on SKYPE—would be enough to send anyone over the edge.  But Erin handled it all with aplomb.   And she was a radiant bride!

The first piece Erin started for the collaboration involved this weaving by Laura Strand into which she integrated both needle and wet felted elements.  A detail is below.  Look closely at the wall tag and you'll notice a little red dot indicating a sale.  The buyer was none other than Marci Rae McDade!  Marci is former editor of the now defunct FiberArts Magazine, but as of January 2012 will be the new editor at Surface Design Journal.  I'll tell you about Marci's visit to our exhibit in a future post.

Erin created a third piece for the show, but my own photograph of the piece does not do it justice.  I promise you'll see all the work eventually.

To complete this post I contacted Erin who was kind enough to answer some questions about her art.

What possession do you most cherish?
There is something that William Morris said that I try to live by in regards to my possessions - "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." The usefulness of objects to me is not only that it is something functional, but also is it an object that holds some kind of memory as well. An object's usefulness could be as a memory trigger. Many of my possession are cherished because they belonged to someone else before me. In particular, I have many things that belong to my grandmother, in many ways I think of these objects as a way to stay connected to the original owner. I think one of my most recent acquisitions is probably my most cherished possession, my wedding ring. Not only does it function as a symbol of my marital relationship, it also was my great grandmother's wedding ring.
Erin Cork 2011, Detail of collaboration with Laura Strand
What is the source of your creativity? How much is from within? How much comes from outside sources?

I derive a great deal of inspiration from everyday events. Domestic life and the natural world spur my ideas. The way that I manipulate real occurrences comes from within. Combining two things (nature and domestic culture) that aren’t integrated in reality is where my internal creativity comes into play. I use creative thinking exercises to exhaust all possible options for a piece. Then I have a long list of ideas to choose from.

Thanks Erin!  

Look for upcoming posts about Erin Vigneau Dimick and Laura Strand.  The posts featuring Nina Ganci and Jo Stealey can be found here and here.

Eventually, the entire collaboration show will be documented, but that takes time, so I hope you'll be patient.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fabric for a dress part 3--working in the dark

By the light of my headlamp (with a swarm of teeny gnats accompanying me wherever I went) I finished wrapping this piece--6 feet of pipe, 4 yards of dupioni, 10 layers, and 62 yards of hemp string, no bugs swallowed--in about 2 and half hours. 
String removed, but still on the pipe this morning.  Looks dramatic, but you'll see the final color is much more subdued.  Big diff between wet and dry.

I took some pics before washing, but there was no appreciable color shift with this piece.  Results below.

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