In many countries, the winter months celebrate light. Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, celebrates the victory of light over darkness and hope over despair. The candlelight of the Jewish menorah reminds believers during Hanukkah of God’s ability to provide in periods of lack. The ancient Germanic and Nordic people marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, with the Yule festival. A Yule log was lit to mark the rebirth of the sun and the life it provided. This practice was adopted by Christians to celebrate the birth of the Jesus. In all of these celebrations, light reflects hope.
Visual art often reflects what is most important to people. At KMAC’s Winter Family Fun Day, we invite families to light up the season with art. The winter holidays are a wonderful time to laugh, create, and share. Family art making is a great way to do all three. But it is also a practical way to practice creative decision-making, problem solving, and cooperation. Designing a pattern, selecting colors, and sharing work are all necessary steps for creating a work of art your family will always remember.
This is also a season of reflection. There are many individuals who spend the holiday season without family. For them, making art is one activity that can bring joy. KMAC wants to provide the joy of art to young people at YMCA SafePlace Services. We are asking every family who attends KMAC Winter Family Fun Day to bring at least one new art supply to be donated to SafePlace. Imagine the sparkles of joy that can be created with new sketch books, drawing pencils, colored pencils, markers, paints, and brushes. We hope you will spend part of this holiday season with KMAC lighting up the season with art.
Winter Family Fun Day will be held on December 5 from 11am-4pm in the KMAC satellite space and pop-up shop, 611 West Main Street. RSVP on Facebook here!
The interoperability of Louisville—a boast for best city for jobs and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: We are a full-bodied movement—restaurants, life quality, home uniqueness, neighborhood simplicity, city art, brilliant theatre, healthcare metropolis, UPS hub to the world, and 16,000 job openings … good ones.
Another reason why Kentucky boasts Louisville as one of the best U.S. cities for jobs is our cultural “reachings”, our budding artistry ….
Recently, I went to a most unexpected glorious celebration of the human element—one of triumph and dedication, one depicting the loneliness of an artist in their creation of the soul, knowing they could bend and create something out of a material that was never meant for or discovered for such a thing as a “wearable.” The art of the heart was worth the suffering to get from the soul and into the crafted pleat of a skirt, the still of a sleeve, the lift of a collar, the bead of a shoe. But these were no ordinary sleeves, or skirts, ruffles or shoes.
This was #KMACCouture 2015— a fashion show fundraiser for the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, a title not worthy enough for the display of creative freedom that I witnessed as art lived in the embodiment of the dress, the construction of materials that were never meant to glide along the mellifluous elegance of the human curve or press into the sensuous skin.
The audience was us, the women of Louisville (and a few brave and stylish men). The “us” was gorgeous, clad in the clash of white, the din of expectation, a sea of lightness, airy like we were a pillowed cloud and whatever was coming through the curtain was going to float.
And float it did. The show started; it was a fashion show unlike any I had seen before.
Angst was in the tulle, hope in the sleeveless, bare of the vulnerable arm. Every cloak had a story, every piece a design the eye simply couldn’t get enough of. Details as exquisite in the front as they were in the back. Art from such unexpected mediums worn because they could be. Art reflected in the embodiment of the dress. The greatest expression of self.
The art of canvas, the harshness and lack of dexterity in the material and yet with truffles and waves molded into an elegance that became a most decorous evening gown; one that would find the party in the evening and could possibly dismantle into enough of a tent that if a young hangover got old, warmth and forbearance could be found in the heat of the bundle.
A gown made of broken teacups, time owned in a past era interwoven, sitting on the ledge of fabric, like they might on the edge of a cupboard shelf, but polished, vibrant and used.
Elegant beauty reminiscent of the 17th century English dress made out of duct tape. A Cinderella gown made of mini-marathon medal ribbons, of no value except to the individual who flees through 13.2 miles, but collectively make an invaluable moment.
A skirt made of matches.
A ball gown of mop heads, plucked from cores, flipped, dismantled, dyed into elegant threads along the husk of cardboard which carried the slight frame of the model, whisking her down the dusty path, a shine of elegance, its full skirt never forgetting where it came from and where it was going.
Centuries of style replete in silent materials of the day to day but repositioned to power up this glorious night in the city of many jobs and endless hope.
Every piece with worth, the eye of appeal. And then it was over and I knew I had seen more than a fashion show, but an exhibit of artistry that moved, flowed and flourished down the path of must. Because an artist, for we all are in our own capacity of depth, must be, or an artist dies. We must try, even if the piece fails because there is peace in the piece of attempt and then we try again. And that is good.
We are a city capturing the artistry of self where one can be unbridled in the brilliance of simply being.
Dianne H. Timmering is the Vice President of Spirituality and Legislative Affairs for Signature HealthCARE. For more information about KMAC Couture, visit kmacmuseum.org.
Docents are one of the best assets to museums. They volunteer their time to learn in-depth about exhibitions and then share their learned knowledge with visitors on guided tours. They field questions and comments about art, the process of art, and who it is making art in order to aide patrons to a better understanding of something that can be intimidating. It’s a stimulating exchange of ideas and insight between guide and guest.
KMAC recently revived the docent program and we welcome Dana Moore and Gretchen Treitz Brown to the team of dedicated museum volunteers. The current exhibition The New Art of the Loom is their second exhibition giving guided tours. They also guide school field trip tours. Docent tours are available every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 3pm. Simply meet at KMAC’s front reception desk. There is no added fee for the guided tour.
We asked Dana and Gretchen to give us a few observations about being a docent and how they came to volunteer at KMAC.
Gretchen Treitz Brown
“As a docent, I provide tours to facilitate a rewarding museum experience. I love to help the viewer connect with a piece. I feel privileged to receive the training from KMAC curators and educators. At KMAC, there is a rich and diverse audience; my experience has been with local, national, and international visitors. My conversations with visitors bring out more and different ways to view things–visitors and docents can interact and learn from each other. Each time I give a tour, I notice something new. Something magical happens when a visitor takes the time to contemplate a detail I might point out. I tend to talk about my favorite pieces, however, it has been so valuable to learn about an unfamiliar artist or process. Besides the continuous training process, I enjoy the additional reading and studying about each exhibit. I can answer questions, thus offering a more satisfying experience. My interactions with a piece are heightened when visitors share their insights, whether students or adults. Because I have a significant commitment to the visual arts, it has been a joy to attend curator tours, lectures, exhibition openings, orientation, and on-going training.”
Dana Moore “I first became aware of KMAC when my son was small and he participated in Winter Break workshops and Summer Art Camp. I have participated in several hands-on workshops and even worked with metal in a session taught by Craig Kaviar.
I’ve always had an interest in art since childhood and love the process that goes into creating an artwork. My family loves to travel and museums are always on our list of places to visit.
I am a retired Speech Language Pathologist who worked primarily in the public schools. Volunteering as a Docent will still let me show students the process and creative thought that goes into a work of art. I like listening to the KMAC staff and always look forward to learning and seeing new exhibits.”
If you’re passionate about art and love to share this excitement with others, consider becoming a KMAC docent. Email Dane at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Scientists have proven the positive health benefits we receive when we journal or create art to express our life experiences, so the museum presents the perfect opportunity for the community to do both. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, in partnership with The Little Loomhouse, present Weaving A Community With Our Stories, an interactive weaving project designed to initiate the discovery of personal stories that bind us together in hope and healing as a community. This project is in conjunction with the current exhibition The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and is open to the Louisville community and museum visitors until January 25, 2015.
KMAC contacted local community organizations (Neighborhood House, Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Gilda’s Club, Youth Detention Services, ESL Newcomer’s Academy, The Healing Place, JCTC ESL Students and others) and asked the people they serve to create story cloths to be used as the warp or first layer of the community tapestry. Participants received hand-dyed blank story cloths upon which they wrote their personal stories through prose, poetry or drawings. The warp consists of 100 story cloths that are interwoven on a large standing loom built by YouthBuild Louisville and installed in the second floor gallery of the Museum.
KMAC Educator, Sarah McCartt-Jackson, said, “the Museum has made and enriched connections with many organizations and voices that otherwise might be unheard, marginalized, or misunderstood.” Mrs. McCartt-Jackson helped in facilitating the students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC), which provide a great example of these powerful stories:
“Coming to America is a big dream for many people but living is different reality.”
“The languages of the world wake me up every day! I love the sea. I am snow. My name is your name. I believe in music. One world, many voices”
“My name is Mohamed. I was born in Somalia and grown up in Kenya. Came to America in the age of 19 years. My English was very bad. Coming to the United States was very good opportunity for my family and I. The reason I go to school today is to get my social work degree!”
The Weft Phase of the project is crafted by weaving in additional story cloths from Museum visitors, which continues throughout The New Art of the Loom exhibit (January 25). Blank story cloths are available and located in the second floor gallery.
The Little Loomhouse
The mission of the Little Loomhouse is to promote the Lou Tate landmark home and center for textile art and education as a cultural destination through preservation of the three historic cabins and education of textile folk art for all ages. The Little Loomhouse is owned and operated by the Lou Tate Foundation.
KMAC Current Exhibition
The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and Looming Local: Contemporary Kentucky Tapestry feature artists who explore a broad range of themes from cultural identity and formalism to storytelling and history through the labor-intensive process of weaving.
Artists from 16 countries currently fill our two main galleries with over two-dozen loom woven works. Shown in conjunction with the traveling exhibit The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry, KMAC has organized Looming Local as a response to some of the issues raised by the international artists. The works on view range in size and content from the large 8 ½ x 11 foot tapestry Porter with Bicycle: Espagne et Portugal by South African artist William Kentridge to the small, intricate and colorful weavings by Kentucky artist Tori Kleinert.
The New Art of the Loom consists of contemporary tapestries that connect with the large, ambitious, narrative works that dominated artistic production in early Modern Europe. These early tapestries functioned as a decorative way to display a coat of arms, relay a familiar story or to illustrate scenes of victorious battles, but they also provided warmth, covering the walls of large drafty castles. After falling out of favor due to growing feminine and domestic undertones the tapestry was revived by British art activist William Morris in the late 19th century, making weaving fundamental to a burgeoning international design movement that promoted artisanship and hand-made activity.
Looming Local takes a peek at the immediate surroundings of the museum to show how four artists are exploring similar issues as their international counterparts and taking the weaving tradition into the more creative, expressionistic contemporary art form that it is today. Both exhibits combined communicate a broad range of materials, methods and multiple weaving processes. The four artists represented in the local show, though rooted in a loom based practice, are markedly different from their peers in technique and composition.
Dobree Adams creates loom woven works that capture the landscape in a manner intended to evoke the intermediate or transitional states that are associated with Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual and meditative qualities that imbue her work connect well with other artists on show in the museum who deal similarly with nature, particularly with the tapestry “Without Notice” by the Japanese artist Miyuki Tatsumi. Adams and Tatsumi are both drawn to the calmness of nature, but also to its power to change and dominate our lives in mysterious ways and without warning.
Tori Kleinert’s small format works, though diminutive in size, are big in meaning and content. They pack in loads of bold color and act as deeply personal explorations of ideas and emotions often connected to the history of female craft activity. She refers to the figures in her work as ancestors or semblances, an evocation of the spirits who live on informing the work of contemporary tapestry artists from around the world. Kleinert’s Terroristic Semblance from 2003/2004 commemorates the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001.
A sharp use of color adds intensity to her subject matter and relates to New Art of the Loom artist Christine Altona’s work, also from 2004. Based on an article in the Boston Globe about alleged child abuse, Altona created this particular tapestry as a tribute to the children who have been abused in the Roman Catholic Church. Several red cardinal hats are placed at the top of the work above a knotted red circle, suggesting the strong and powerful looking down on the weak bound together in struggle. The blue represents the earth and the prevalence of this transgression around the world.
Arturo Sandoval is an art professor at the University of Kentucky and a well-known weaver from the region. His sole work in the show is part of a long running series that looks at American democracy and one of the most potent symbols of our culture, the American flag. Sandoval conceived the State of the Union series in order to work through personal issues related to his time serving in the Vietnam War. His desire to create a political art series was to commemorate the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost their lives in battle. The newspaper headlines and magazine images that are woven into this series were initially collected from 1980-1984. He has since continued the series as way to further express his feelings toward the recent war in Iraq.
The most divergent work away from any form of traditional tapestry seen in either the local or international exhibit comes from Looming Local artist Philis Alvic from Lexington, KY. Her recent work consists of assembling remnants of older tapestries into fabric constructions, which she refers to as Portals. In this ongoing series of works, suggestive of windows, doors, and curtains, she intends to communicate the ideas of transition, passage, and change. Through the technique of fabric collage and drapery these works move into the more three-dimensional space of wall sculpture.
As Alvic digs through her own personal archive incorporating material from previous work she evokes the idea of the artist entering a metaphorical portal, passing from one era of creativity and production into another. In this particular series of works Alvic is weaving together remnants as well as personal histories. There are a number of transitional concepts related to creative growth and change that could be applied to this series. The idea of the portal as a signifier for moving from one period of life into another is an important factor in the life of every artist. It can often be a struggle to shift focus and enter new unknown territory, but it can also be a time when an individual artist develops greater clarity and confidence in their work.
It seems kind of fitting that on Election Day, KMAC’s Education Studio launched the inaugural use of a hi-tech tool that will help in teaching to the masses. Through the generous donations of the KMAC Board of Directors, the Education Department was able to purchase a much-needed document camera and projector. The Elmo TT-12i Interactive Document Camera System allows museum educators to demonstrate more complex art skills from a central demo table without having to spend valuable time demonstrating to each individual table. As we know, field trips are on a very strict schedule and educators must balance the tour, instruction, and make time carefully. Oh, and don’t forget about lunch! The Elmo, with its cute name and conjuring of that well known red Muppet, also has a built-in microphone and recording ability so the Ed team can prepare instruction videos in advance.
Additionally, the Education Department was able to purchase a IN114a XGA 3000 Lumen DLP Projection System in order to use the document camera and to show videos, Power Point presentations, and interactive websites to enhance the art curriculum. In ode to our forefathers, here’s to Life , Liberty and the pursuit of Art.
KMAC APPROVES THIS MESSAGE.
A Special Thank You to Kat Lewis, Daniel Maye, Elizabeth Mays, and Mary Stone for their generous donations.
I grew up in West Louisville. I dreamed of raising my family in the beautiful homes surrounding Chickasaw Park and Shawnee Park. I admired the African-American doctors, lawyers, and teachers who were the anchors of our community. I played with the children of my father’s friends, who, like my father, worked in Louisville’s numerous factories. Our parents hadn’t finished college, but the factory jobs they held at General Electric, Phillip Morris, Ford, DuPont, and Brown-Forman paid for the comfortable homes in thriving communities.
My life’s journey took me away from Louisville for almost two decades. Upon my return, the thriving neighborhoods of my youth had transformed into something unfamiliar. Small pockets of prosperity clung to the remnants of a thriving past. Abandoned and vacant properties seemed to be the norm. Entire blocks were marred with the blackened eyes of boarded over homes. They were more than a community eyesore. They negatively impacted the emotional and physical health of a community. The hopelessness associated with boarded up homes can lead to irresponsible choices. The worst of these choices leads to violence. The numerous teddy bear shrines dotting West Louisville serve as proof to this point.
I became concerned about the overabundance of vacant and abandoned properties in West Louisville. I had once lived in Chicago, a city known for its remarkable public art, and there I saw artists transform vacant spaces into inspiring community works of art. I felt public art could be a vehicle for change and growth in West Louisville too.
A friend, who assisted me in transforming a vacant apartment building in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood into an artistic symbol of hope, heard of Mayor Greg Fischer’s Lots of Possibility Competition. Mayor Fischer was asking residents to submit creative ideas for reusing four lots owned by the city’s Landbank Authority. I founded the West Louisville Women’s Coalition (WLWC) with the help of KMAC board member Chenoweth Allen and local entrepreneur Robin Bray and submitted a proposal. WLWC is a diverse group of nine Louisville women with a mission to create and sustain artistic, peaceful spaces in West Louisville. Our Lots of Possibility proposal would transform a small vacant lot into a Meditation Labyrinth formed from hundreds of bricks painted with inspirational messages from the residents and community supporters of West Louisville. The Meditation Labyrinth was selected as one of the four winners in the competition. Shortly after the announcement, I started my new position at KMAC as an Art Educator and after hearing about the project, KMAC became a Peaceful Partner and provided an artist to assist with the project. After hundreds of volunteer hours, the Meditation Labyrinth, which will be named the Peace Labyrinth, is finally complete.
The Peace Labyrinth will be dedicated, Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The lot is located at 3831 Hale Ave, Louisville, KY 40216. The dedication will include a performance by the River City Drum Corps, a message from Mayor Greg Fischer, and a candlelit inaugural peace walk through the labyrinth. This is a free event and open to the public. This dedication ceremony marks the completion of the first step in transforming a vacant lot into an intergenerational community space for peace. It will host monthly peace walks, quarterly visual art activities, and other community programming.