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November 10, 2015

 

I met with John Paradiso, Curator of Programing, at the 39th Street Gallery, in the Gateway Arts Center in Brentwood, MD, to begin my four-month Artist Residency.

     I applied for this because I just retired from teaching for 34 years, and coincidentally, my pet cat of 18 years just died. Everything that occupied my days—my mind, my energy, my imagination, my heart and—the litter box—disappeared in a puff of smoke. I felt as though I had just been let off a bus in a strange town without a clue of how to proceed. One does go through momentous changes in life—marriage, birth of children, divorce, death of loved ones—but this one feels like I'm nearing my "use by" date. So, I think it's time to reinvent myself.

     I spent the next few days moving in and meeting the artists whose studios adjoin the one John assigned to me. Vacuumed and mopped the floor (fiber artists may understand this, when surrounded by painters and sculptors), sanded and washed the paint splattered door cum saw horses provided as a makeshift table. Bought and assembled a couple of chairs. Then I brought in tools and materials, and three works I considered working on. I settled quickly on what I refer to as my retirement quilt. It's a large piece of muslin that I mounted on a board and presented at my retirement exhibition along with fabric markers which I invited visitors to draw on, promising that if they snapped a photo of their contribution and emailed it to me, I would then invite them to its exhibition.

 


 

     What was I thinking? As you can see, it's a hodge podge of doodles and well wishes from friends, family, students and random visitors. It sat on my studio wall for the five months before I applied for the Residency, and it became clear that I wasn't going to do anything with it unless I was publicly shamed into action.

     So I began adding some color and expanding on the silliness by adding smiley faces all over it, some random colored shapes, some gold lamé and heat transfering additional images:

 



Then I thought to stuff several of the images: