Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Buy Gifts AND Make a Difference

This Christmas, why not buy gifts AND make a difference? One great website to visit is Ten Thousand Villages, one of the world's largest fair trade organizations. Artisans in 38 different countries handcraft jewelry, furniture, clothing, and other items, in impoverished places where they wouldn't be employed otherwise. And each item tells the story of the person or group it came from. Here are some great and inexpensive gift ideas I found:

Multi Strand Cuff Bracelet from India
Cut Metal Tree of Life from Haiti
Back Scrubber Kit from Ecuador
Blue Art Deco Bracelet from Guatemala
Condiment Jars in Basket from Vietnam

Reversible Silk Scarf from India
Recycled Foil Mosaic Bag from Bangladesh
Leaf and Bamboo Journal from Indonesia
Hammock Chair from Nicaragua
Elephants Puzzle from Sri Lanka
Leather Stick Drum from Kenya
Geometric Rose Pendant from West Bank
Reverse Painted Jewelry Chest from Peru

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sky Water Leaves Grass Art Exhibit

Heidi Lingamfelter & Winter Rusiloski: Sky Water Leaves Grass at Mokah Art Gallery
December 2, 2009- January 2, 2010

Although winter is setting in outside, the walls of Mokah Art Gallery are bursting with color and life. This newest exhibit features two female artists, Heidi Lingamfelter and Winter Rusiloski. Both artists’ work centers on nature, however, each uses a distinct approach with the subject matter.

Fallen Magnolia by Heidi Lingamfelter
Heidi Lingamfelter uses collagraphs to capture the essence of nature in a tangible work of art. She appreciates the simple beauty of the outdoors and loves collaborating with nature,
“Nature is the constant and I am the engineer,” says Lingamfelter.
Lingamfelter collects samples of the outside world, puts them on a press with colorful ink, and then turns the old fashioned crank to create a stunning piece of art. The result is a calming, meditative experience. Instead of using art to shock or push an agenda, Lingamfelter tries to recreate a moment, a simple scene of nature the observer can relate with.
Lingamfelter’s love of texture is apparent in each piece she creates. On the press plate, the ink seeps into the grooves between the grass, bark, or stones. As a result, each collagraph has a unique pattern and texture. Lingamfelter admits to her tactile obsession. She has always been very active and enjoys the physicality of the artistic process- going outside and collecting pieces of nature, then lifting the heavy machinery to create her images. In contrast, she often uses smooth brush strokes to paint the backgrounds for her collagraphs. The combination of lively textures and calming natural elements produce introspective pieces of artwork.
Father: The Machine by Winter Rusiloski

Winter Rusiloski needed a challenge. Having grown up in an artistic family, she was familiar with most basic art forms. After doing mostly abstract paintings, Rusiloski decided she wanted to branch out a little. During a trip to the Canadian border, she was overcome by the beautiful symmetry of the horizon. The connection between the lake and the sky was captivating. Afterwards, Rusiloski decided to take pictures of these images to use in her artwork.
At first taking pictures of found objects, Rusiloski then asked family members to send her images of the surrounding land in Pennsylvania. The quaint farms, haystacks, and trees provided inspiration for her abstract paintings. She challenged herself to match the colors in the pictures, and to continue the images with abstract lines and forms. Rusiloski works to unite the photographs and the abstract images, to cause them to integrate together seamlessly. As a result, her pieces are vibrant patches of color with hidden images of landscapes and nature.
Both Lingamfelter and Rusiloski use the outdoors as a springboard to create a unique outlook on nature. Their distinct approaches of collagraphs and abstract paintings form visual representations of natural elements. Although each piece is distinctive to its maker, the overall result is a colorful and textural experience.
Heidi Lingamfelter & Winter Rusiloski: Sky Water Leaves Grass is on view at Mokah Art Gallery through January 2, 2010.

* art review written for Dallas Art News

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Discovery in the Woods

I love visiting our relatives in East Texas. As soon as we get close, I start relaxing and feel at home. My mom inherited some land there, and on holidays, we all take the bumpy ride through the woods. Eventually my parents want to build a house on the land, but right now there aren't roads, and it's overgrown and wild. Which I happen to love, by the way. When I'm in the middle of the tall trees, all I can hear is the wind rustling the leaves. It is the closest thing to heaven I can imagine.

So after Thanksgiving, my family went to visit the land again. It's been colder in Texas this year (it even snowed yesterday!), and the maple trees were bursting with color. Berries, walnuts, and pine cones covered the ground, among the overgrown grasses and weeds. It was a lovely mess.

I went exploring in one section of trees and discovered two old glass jars half buried in the ground. One was small, but the other was larger and filled with plants. As I looked closer, I noticed the jar had a fern growing inside of it, and the soil and moss had plugged up the opening, creating a terrarium right there in the woods! It was strange, because there were no ferns anywhere else to be found outside- just in that old one gallon glass jar. I was so excited about this curious finding, in the middle of nowhere. I carried around my prize while the kids tried to skip stones in the pond.

I was a little hesitant to clean the jar, fearing that some small creature might have taken up residence. But I finally did it this afternoon, and now it looks lovely. So I have my first terrarium, discovered in the woods of my future inheritance. A nice little surprise ending to a great Thanksgiving!

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