Artist Date: Hopkins Center for the Arts – March 17, 2018

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“Waterscape I” by Denise Presnell-Weidner

I visited Hopkins Center for the Arts three times over the past week: once for an art class, another time for an Empty Bowls fundraiser, and finally to reexamine just one piece of artwork that caught my eye. Though hundreds of other pieces lined the halls as part of The North Show: Arts in Harmony, “Waterscape I” captured my curiosity and compelled my return to the exhibit. Here’s why…

Technique: Layers
Waterscape I” looks like a lot of the abstract and expressionist pieces I tend to like: full of color and reminiscent of the natural world. But I knew there was something special about this piece, a different level of dimensionality. After further study, I figured it out: it was essentially two pieces of art, one layered on top of the other. On the bottom? Linen colored from corner to corner with the rich hues of oil pastel. On the top? A solid sheet of clear plexiglass painted with flecks of orange and blue complementing the scene below.

Artist: Denise Presnell-Weidner
This is the artist who created “Waterscape I” (and earned third place honors in the North Show’s Mixed Media category, by the way). My Google search revealed that Presnell-Weidner is an art professor who recently retired from Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wis. After viewing more of her work online, I was pleased to learn that she’s having a solo exhibition in Hopkins next winter!

Assignment: “Tapestry”
As I continue to dabble in “contemplative collage,” the concept of “tapestry” has been playing on the edges of my mind. To be more specific, I’ve been dwelling on the kind of metaphorical tapestry as described in Corrie Ten Boom’s famous poem “Life Is But a Weaving.” Now I know exactly how I plan to tackle this notion of tapestry in my art: by employing some layers just as Presnell-Weidner did with “Waterscape I”—I look forward to depicting the “upper” and “underside” of God’s “canvas” using a method similar to hers. With yet another new idea on my list, my assignments are really starting to pile up—I hope to share more finished products soon!

Empty Bowls & Blackout Poems

In my continued quest to claim the identity of “artist,” the past few days have provided a couple more opportunities to discover and grow and imagine…

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“Emergence” (2017) & “Sensory Sampler” (2018) from Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls
It’s my absolutely favorite fundraiser: Empty Bowls. No matter the amount of their donations, all guests receive all-you-can-eat soup and bread provided by local restaurants and other food-savvy organizations (my favorite soup from this year’s menu came from a nearby nursing home), but the best prize for each person there is a handmade bowl to take home! Middle and high school students, churches, professional artisans, and citizens of all talents and backgrounds contribute to the supply. The whole effort benefits local food shelves.

For the past two years, I have attended Empty Bowls with my friend Judy. It was by her inspiration that I turned my attention toward the more unusual and less conventional bowls. Of all the bowls I’ve collected from the event over the years, these pieces mean the most to me and seem to embody so much personality.

I’ve also taken to naming the bowls I bring home: “Emergence” (2017) by R.W. and “Sensory Sampler” (2018) by Olivia. This year’s find is glazed in a beautiful turquoise color, plus I like Olivia’s experimentation with a different texture on each side of the bowl: brick pattern, fish scales, basket weave, and diamond shapes. As for “Emergence,” I admire it and its mysterious maker so much that I was compelled to write a poem last year:

Emergence
By Barbara Farland
I imagine a sitting, zitty, and somber teen
Resigned to the day’s assignment
To sculpt a bowl from clump of clay

Young fingers coil
Thumbs tug and nudge
The damp media into resemblance of prescribed form

Lumpy sides
Lopsided bottom
Endear me to it
So obviously amateur and thoughtless and rushed

Now as mine
I name it

Emergence

Its rough sides reach up in jagged uncertain stretches
Reminiscent of the awkwardness of its maker
Ever oblivious to my appreciation
And prayers for his soul
His sense of contribution
His eventual awakening
And emergence of spirit

Empty Bowls events are held all over the United States. Find one near you to eat good soup, to support a great cause, and to see and take home some phenomenal art!

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Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon & my own blackout poem “Mission”

Blackout Poems
A couple weeks ago, I shared my appreciation for Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. On Wednesday, I picked up his book Newspaper Blackout from the library and read it from front to back in less than an hour. It’s a super quick and super fun read!

Here’s how the gist of the book is described on the back cover: “Armed with a daily newspaper and a permanent marker, he constructs through deconstruction—eliminating the words he doesn’t need to create a new art form: Newspaper Blackout poetry.”

Through this deconstructive method, Kleon came up with a variety of free-verse poems that are sometimes lovely, sometimes humorous, and always clever. But they’re so much more than the words—each piece is also an interesting work of visual art.

I was reminded that I already tried this approach of “poetry-writing meets art-making” through the “28 to Make” class on CreativeLive.com (see photo for my creation of “Mission”). But after reading Kleon’s book, I’m itching to make a little more blackout poetry of my own, but instead of newspaper clippings, I think I’m going to go the altered-book route. Now if I could only find that cool little purple book I bought a few years ago for this very purpose!

Any weekend plans? Mine will include another date with my husband, this time with our taking in the “Crazy About Collages” class at Hopkins Center for the Arts. More on that later!