Monday, September 13, 2010

Catching Up

check out the finger
Two weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to New York to take a class with the amazingly talented and inspiring Judy Wilkenfeld. Judy creates the most beautiful and thought provoking handmade books I have ever seen. Her tomes have no written narrative but tell compelling stories, just the same.  Each piece she creates is a unique work of art that resonates deeply with the viewer.

 Judy is from Australia, and when heard that she was coming to the US, I could not pass up the opportunity to take her class.  
 For two days we sat on the wrap-around porch of the Homestead, Sallieanne McClelland’s home and creative space, learning Judy’s technique to create an accordion book. She creates books with layers and layers of texture imbued with symbolism and then add a dash of mysticism and magic. More than the techniques of putting the structure together, and how to use specific products and tools to get the result you want, I gleamed a sense of spiritualism from her books, seeing many of the up close and in person for the first time. The book Charlotte O Charlotte that she created to teach this particular book structure was designed around the folk story of Frozen Charlotte and consequently the dolls that were manufactured at the turn of the century.
assembling the pages

After Judy imparted her knowledge of book making to us, and gave us the tools and inspiration to create our own stories she set us to task. Each participant created something, unique and personal that could be a foundation or template that could be further built upon.

The two fun-filled days were packed with many great suggestions, one in particular I will not forget, concerning cutting book board with a proper metal ruler.  That weekend left me very inspired and  motivated to get to work.

I am still working through my ideas about Captain Ahab and his wife. The book I started in Judy’s class is about him and his young bride. I, of course, have been working on this theme in my work for almost a year, since I read Ahab’s Wife by Sena Naslund.  I guess I am just not ready to let go of it. Must be there is something for me to figure out, some ghost I need to set free. At any rate, I left the class with an almost completed piece and all the tools and momentum to finish it. I think it is remarkable the energy, traveling and taking part in a course like this, can help to lift my creative spirits and propel me forward.

Thanks Judy! It was so worth the trip!
On my way down to the class, I stopped at the home and studio of one of my old friends, Nick Gamma. Nick and I go all the way back to the 80’s, driving around Long Island, making trouble with some other equally nutty personalities with very unorthodox haircuts and battered leather jackets. Ah… that was the past… we are far more sophisticated and refined now.  

set up @ Nick's
 At least Nick is. Since he graduated from FIT in the late 80s, he has propelled himself forward into an amazing career in graphic art and design. He is 20 year veteran in the entertainment industry working with some of the industries top photographers.  He has directed close to 100 photo shoots for some of the leading musicians and entertainers.  Tapping in to his own creative roots, Nick has been developing his own art through photography.  He brings out a very unique and striking beauty from his subjects. It can be something as simple as a building or a tree but way he manipulates the light and draws you into the frame is what is so very special about his work. So when I was thinking about getting press shots taken for the press kit I am putting together, I wondered if he would entertain the idea of shooting me. God knows, I am not the easiest subject to photograph. I don’t smile for the camera. Nope, you’re lucky if you get a smirk out of me.  I am too self conscious about the whole thing. So when he said yes, I almost fell off my chair. 

Taking photos of me in the dark reaches of my basement, where I work on my art in the utility room, wasn’t really an option to me. And not nearly as glamorous as going down to Trumbull, Connecticut where he lives. Plus, it was on the way to my class, so that was that. It was decided! We would shoot in his neighborhood. No “Where Women Create” studio shots for me. Sorry Somerset, maybe next time.

We had a great time, catching up and going through the whole process. Nick invested so much time thinking about the back grounds, scouting the locations, setting up the shots. We spent the entire day working in the studio and on location. The result is some incredible photos that I am extremely pleased with. Not only will the serve the purpose of good printable press shots, but they are stunning and artistic. Credit completely due to man behind the lens.



Artsnark said...

Wonderful post. The class & books sound amazing! Moby Dick is one of my favorite books & Ahab's wife stayed with me for quite a while too -ahh great minds & all that ;)

Seriously tho -I always love visiting your creations & would love post a tour of your basement.I like showing the real workspaces, not just the magazine-pretty ones

Cool portrait by the way.

Jodi Ohl said...

I think your basement or Nick's studio is perfect way to 'edgify' (new word) those type of magazines--you're the perfect person to personify a real life studio! Love the head shot with frame he got of you!

The book class sounds wonderful, glad you not only learned a wonderful process, it sounds like you were inspired spiritually as well. Who could ask for more? :)

glimmering prize said...

I also cut the side of my finger off with a very new Exacto knife- small price to pay

Unknown said...

The photo is wonderful! I love the steamer trunk with drawers behind your head - just full of the next projects. Serious works, given your subject matter, and your image is very 3D creating a strong midground. Kudos to both artists!