Friday, July 4, 2014

a day to celebrate freedom ? ?

Today is July 4th, Independence Day here in the states, a day we celebrate the freedoms we have?!?!?

Today I also learned about this tremendous project, Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge, by Mark Tuschman, that is looking for funding via Kickstarter and I wanted to share this with you, today, as it is about freedoms; freedom from abuse, repression, and giving women and girls some say in their lives.
Here is the link to the kickstarter site and the video explaining the project.  I was truly moved by the presentation and feel that this is a worthy cause to support.

Faces of Courage:

And I feel that it is importnat to highlight the plight of women and girls around the world as we here in the USA, had a wake up call for women's rights this week.

Today, in the Boston area, Mother Nature presented us with a much quieter and thoughtful holiday, as the threat and rains of Hurricane Arthur cancelled fireworks, town common concerts and parades.
This dampened and subdued acknowledgement of our country's birth feels apropos in the light of recent supreme court rulings and the fall out and discussion following said decision.

This week I feel as though women's rights and freedoms took a serious blow. The Hobby Lobby ruling by the Supreme Court has so many ramifications for Women's Rights that we really should be acknowledging this day with our own revolution.

But that is not happening, there are many women and political groups making statements and making stands, however the silence from the majority of women, and men as well, really unnerves me. There is an apathy in our country which should scare all of us.  The pervasive thought that our opinion really doesn't matter, that the big machinery of government will do what it will regardless of our opinions is alarming.

To emphasize the danger of such apathy let me quote a man you may have heard of:

“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
Also, this case involved the word, birth control, which is such a minefield of emotion and religious zeal that it clouds the waters of any clear discussion of the facts. I have watched as well educated people turn this subject into the dos and don't of unwanted pregnancies - NOT THE POINT!!!

I was hesitant to write a post about this ruling and my opinions because I was taught to tread lightly when it concerns politics. That having a strong opinion about a hot topic could alienate people and somehow have some nasty backlash effect.  But this decision has infuriated me and, at its core, it threatens the rights of my daughters and all women.  This ruling has opened the floodgates to more scrutiny and judgement about a woman's personal and private health choices by organizations, corporations and politicians that have no right to tell me what choices I make in regards to my body and my welfare! I needed to get on my soapbox.

If I remember correctly from my American history classes, in middle school and high school, that there 'should be' a separation of church and state.  As I learned it or as I understood this to means is that the government can not and should not tell us, its citizens, how and what to believe.  Granted this is mucky waters to begin with.

One of my main interests and concerns as a living, breathing woman and a mother of two brilliant daughters is that the government does NOT mess with or alter the rights of a woman to make her own personal health decisions according to HER body, her beliefs, her life style and her choices, PERIOD.

So on this fourth of July I hope that we all really take a moment and consider our freedoms and the freedoms of our fellow citizens.  Let us be able to look at the big picture and not through specific religious and economic and moral lens.

I will close with a quote from Mark Tuschman, author and photographer behind Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge:

thank you and peace ~

Sunday, June 1, 2014

art is my religion . . .

 . . .  and I am so fortunate to belong to a church which can count many artists as their members, and  that celebrates and supports artists of all kinds, and this weekend was a perfect example.  

photo by maureen gormley
On Saturday my church, the First Parish of Sherborn area church,  hosted their first Festival of the Arts.  The festival is a wonderful expansion of the beautiful annual tradition, Art in Bloom, where members of the church create floral arrangements based on or inspired by works of art done by the youth of the church.  Art in Bloom is always a treat but this year they added more, a special Performing Arts presentation that included 20-25 talented people ages 10 to ...... well, seniors! as well as an art exhibition of works by member artists, which included yours truly.  

As the theme of the show was 'rebirth' I decide to exhibit 'dear jeff . . . '  the story behind this sculpture adds to the piece and I realized that I haven't fuller described it on any of my different sites.  So here is a concise description of the inspiration behind the work.  
The story of 'dear jeff . . . '  
This dress is a commissioned sculpture for a man, Jeff,  who lost his fiancée in the events of 9/11/2001.  She had flown to New York early that morning to attend a business breakfast at the Windows of the World restaurant.  

On the 10 year anniversary of this tragedy Jeff felt that it was time to let go of his box of memories.  He contacted me and asked me if I could create something from his collection of letters and cards and remnants from the tragedy. I was honored to have been asked and accepted the task.

Jeff handed me a large box full of letters; notes between the couple during college, cards of encouragement for new jobs, the announcement about their engagement, articles about 9/11, the missing person flyers, and then an abundance of condolences cards, from friends, family, coworkers, communities and even strangers. These communiques played a huge role is Jeff's recovery; the power of a caring community.

When Jeff approached me, he didn't want a memorial of his fiancée and her death. He wanted a sculpture that would portray the importance of community, and the positive growth that can come through adversity, as well as a celebration of Amy's spirit.  The essence of this dress is similiar to the story of the phoenix, who rises  from the ashes renewed after apparent disaster or destruction.  peace

Along with 'dear jeff . . . ', I exhibited 'to have and to hold . . . ' which is always a crowd pleaser with its skirt made out of hundreds if not thousands white rubber gloves. And since this was more of an intimate venue I was able to let people truly experience all of the aspects of the sculpture,  this piece speaks to four out of the five senses; you see it, you can smell the latex/rubber gloves, you can touch it (when given permission from the artist :) and when it is being touched, one can hear it.  It is always a treat to give people, especially children, the chance to really interact with a work of art.

And to add to all this wonderful creativity, this past week the church received their new processional banner which I helped design.  I worked with Gage Heath from our church and once we created the design the lovely and talented Karen Holmgren from Standing on the Side of Love Stoles made our design come to life!!!  The new banner needed to have our message, 'we welcome all' and to represent our dedication to love, justice and service.

So I feel extremely blessed to belong to a church with such a strong artistic community, and one which not only celebrates artists and us creative type, this church/community celebrate everyone, which is a practice I wish more people would adopt.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

the birds fly again!!!!

U 2 can make one of these!!!

I am so excited to announce that once again I will be creating an installation of birds!!!  birds of blessings!!!

I have been asked by the Common Street Community Church in Natick to lead the community in creating these 'birds of blessing' to fly in the church's sanctuary.

We are kicking off this wonderful project, tomorrow at the Natick Earth Day.  I will be manning the bird table starting at 11am by the church on the common.  

This is a project was designed so anyone and everyone can participate, and participate either a lot or just a bit. The workshop will run from 11-3pm.  I will be there with bird and wing templates, endless materials to cover the birds.

But for those who can't join us tomorrow, here are instructions to make your own birds, and keep an eye on this blog and my facebook page as I will be announcing other workshops and opportunities to make a bird of blessing.
But for those who can't stop by tomorrow,
 here are the instructions  . . . . 

This link should take you to a PDF which hopefully is the correct size (first time posting a PDF online :) ~ the body fits on an 81/2x11 piece of paper - regular printer paper.  
Once you get the template print it and cut it out.
examples of different types of recycled cardboard
 Use any cardboard that you have around the house. Just not too thick so that it is hard to cut. 
Position template on cardboard 
Then hold template in place, trace and then cut out
cardboard bird and template
 Now here is the FUN part - look around the house and through your recycling to find paper with which you will cover your bird.  Look for interesting texture, type and/or graphics.  For this project I plan to use a more limited palette ~
  black, white, grayscream and browns 
so keep that in mind when hunting.  Below are pictures of examples of materials.
The inside of security envelope - wonderful patterns!!
bl/wht maps
pages from old white pages, the comics, magazines or sheet music.  Also I went to the dump and found old cookbooks, poetry books and nursery rhymes, giving their pages one more life.
Whatever paper you choose you will use it to 'paper mache' around your bird's body. This will give the bird a little more strength and cover any graphics that maybe on the cardboard.  This will also give the birds a consistent look when they are together.
Whatever paper you pick tear it into small pieces. so whatever is on the paper becomes more of a pattern than readable text.
For paper mache you need a thin paste - I recommend either the traditional paste of flour and water with a little salt or wallpaper paste or a white glue like Elmer's watered down.  This is not an exact science, find a consistency that you are comfortable to work with.  Just not too watery or the paper will not stick. 
You will want to cover your work space - here I used a cut open brown paper bag.
Now you can attach the pieces, covering the entire bird
For curves and corners, like the tail, you can cut the paper and fold it over in sections.
Arrows (hopefully u can see them:) point to places that I cut into the paper
then fold sections over.
The phonebook pages had these page marker which I cut out and added to the bird as graphic accents.
Once your bird is entirely covered you can hang it to dry. If you can't hang it just let it dry flat but turn it occasionally so that is does not stick to paper - you can lay the wet bird on aluminum or wax paper.
If the cardboard you use has folds . . 
Reinforce the folds with smaller flat pieces of cardboard on both sides of fold.  Staple the pieces over the fold. 
You will be covering the birds with paper mache so the bumps and staples won't show and the bird will be more stronger.  Once reinforced, paper mache away!!! 
Now for the Wings . . . .

The wings are made from white paper or brown paper - old envelopes, misprinted computer paper, old homework sheet or the inside of a brown paper bag.  You would like one of the sides of the paper to be  plain - because this is where you will put your mark!!!  
make your wing 3" - 31/2" wide.  The length can wary according to your paper but it would be good to be at least 10" long. (You can get a set of wings out of one piece of 81/2" x 11" paper.)
When you start to put your poetry/blessing onto the wing - leave about 3" blank at the top of the wing. 
Here I copied an Emily Dickerson poem with a black pen.

What you put on the wings is up to you.  These birds will be carrying  blessings, prayers and words of the heart. The wings are a place where your creative self can take flight, the sky is the limit!!!
After writing the poem I trimmed the bottom of the wing to suggest flight.
At this point if you want them to be part of the installation you can mail your bird bodies and or wings (please do not fold them) to Ian @ Common Street Community Church 
13 Common Street, Natick, MA 01760 or me at my studio:  
Birds of Blessings, Virginia Fitzgerald, 25 Washington Ave., Natick, MA 01760

If you wanted to make one to have in our home or studio or office I will show you the last steps.
you need 2 wings, the same size and you will trim the bottoms as I did in this photo.
then line them up together with the text facing each other

insert the top of the bird body in between the wings, so the underside of the wings is showing. 
you don't want to go to far into the bird's body, just enough so that the wings will attached to the body.
make sure that the wings are lined up - this will  ensure that when you staple on the wings that you will be stapling both wings
Take your staple from the bottom of the bird body and staple the wings.  You will need a regular stapler into which you can fit the bird's body, not a small one.
you want to staple both sides of the wings - front and back with one staple if possible.
I use three staples to attach entire wings.
You attached the wings with them straight up from the body of the bird so when you set the bird upright the wings will arc down, giving a sense of flight. 
Now you can hang it anyway you wish.  Because of the design of the wings, they will flutter in a breeze, so keep that in mind when you are deciding where to put it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Last Day to see 'flirt, the installation'

'flirt, the installation' at mother brook art, dedham
"Flirt" ends TODAY!!!!! Hours 12-6, 123 High St. Dedham

'flirt, the installation' on location at mother brook
This exhibit at the Mother Brook Arts and Community Center in Dedham seems too short even with the added two week extension due to popular demand :)  

But as the saying goes . . . all good thing must come to an end . . . 

Curators Martha Wakefield and and Jeanne Williamson did an amazing  job collecting a beautiful array of art ~ from Michael Seif's exquisite photos (click here to see more of his work) to Merill Comeau's  fiber pieces (click here for more) to meticulous drawings, vibrant paints, intriguing altered envelopes and so much more (see bottom of post for the full list of artists). 
I was so honored to be ask to create an installation for the exhibit and so thrilled about how it turned out. 'flirt, the installation' works perfect in its designated space, the landing on the stairwell in this beautiful old-school  building!
It was quite a pleasure working with the curators and the executive director, Jean Ford Webb. And I adored working in the space! 

I was one of those kids who loved school and especially loved buying school supplies, so working in this old school gave me a comforting feeling, with its large windows, beautiful wood floors, large chalkboards.  
I really regret that schools aren't built like this anymore, so much natural light!! However I am so relieved that this school was converted into an art center in lieu of being razed!! Many people echoed that sentiment during the opening and artist talk.
As it always is I am sad to break down the show, and even a bit more with 'flirt, the installation as she was created for this spot.  But I do I know in my heart that she will fly again! 

However!!!  if u can today, go see this piece in its original home, picture don't do her justice! 
Happy Friday!! Xxxx

Flirt features the work of 14 contemporary artists of international, national and regional renown working in a diverse mix of media and conceptual framework: Patty Chang and David Kelley, Merill Comeau, Christiane Corcelle, Virginia Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Kostojohn, Danielle LaPointe, Judith Monteferrante, Robin Reynolds, Michael Seif, Iris Sonnenschein, Martha Wakefield, Jeanne Williamson, and Wendy Young.
The show was curated by Martha Wakefield and Jeanne Williamson.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Natick artist Virginia Fitzgerald discusses her work Feb. 27

Today's article from the Metrowest Daily News ~

Mixed-media artist Virginia Fitzgerald will discuss her recent work Thursday, Feb. 27 at Baldwin Hill Arts & Framing in Natick.
From 6 to 8 p.m., she will demonstrate and discuss her ongoing Dress Project while continuing to create her current sculpture, “insatiable.’’
(click above link to see entire article )

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