Saturday, May 5, 2018

The end is near ... the end is today :)

I am sad to announce that  'A long distance relationship' at the Attleboro Arts museum, ends today, at 5PM!!! It has been quite a well received exhibit, and it offers much appreciated information about the Boston Marathon and running in general.  I am honored to have been involved with such a wonderful show.

The invitation to participate introduced me to the world of women running and the amazing history of the Boston Marathon.  At the bottom of this post you will find a number of books that I read while preparing for this show, and which I found really interesting!

Thank you Mim Fawcett, the musuem director,  and the wonderful staff at the Attleboro Arts Museum for including my work in this provacative and inspiring show.

'she rns ...' organic embroidery, beads and wire (2016)

My third piece that I submitted for this exhibit is one of my organic embroidery pieces, called 'she runs ...'  Here's is my thoughts about this piece.

At this year's Golden Globe, Oprah Winfrey told how life-changing it was to watch Sidney Poitier accept the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Award.  To see a black man celebrated on TV enlarged what this young black girl believed that she could accomplish in the world.   Many minorities speak of the importance of seeing themselves represented in successful and significant roles.  This was true for women's running.  As recent as the mid1960's, it was socially unaccepted for women to run. It was widely believed that it was dangerous for women to run, especially long distances; women didn't have the physical endurance, their uterus would be dislodged and fall out, running would prevent healthy pregnancies, women who ran would become unattractive, develop muscles and extensive body hair.
Men were making these assumptions and rules and many women believed them and repeated them.  In 1983 I was jogging in my hometown and I was flagged down by a neighbor, a younger woman whom I admired and who I believed was openminded about women's roles.  However she stopped me to warn me that running was dangerous, "women's organs are held up by spider webs and running can rip these webs."  I didn't stop jogging, however, her words haunted me.  My family was not athletic and I didn't know of many women athletes.
But fortunately there were many trailblazers in women running who were challegning these untruths;  Julia Chase who in 1961 at the age of 19 challenged the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)'s ban on women from competing officially in all U.S. road races;  Arlene Pieper, who in 1959, became the first American woman to run the 26.2 mile distance, finishing the Pike’s Peak Marathon in 9:16; Roberta 'Bobbi' Gibb, the first women to run the Boston Marathon in 1966 and Kathrine Switzer who brought much attention to women's running in 1967 as the press witnessed and photographed Switzer being physically accosted by marathon officials because she was running with an official number. These are just a small number of women who courageously challenged societal norms and broke rules.  Because of these trailblazers any woman, young or old, fast or slow, competitive or not, can lace up their running shoes and run.

"I hadn't intended to make a feminist statement," said Gibb. "I was running against the distance [not the men] and I was measuring myself with my own potential." http://www.marathonguide.com/history/olympicmarathons/chapter25.cfm


I wanted to share some of the wonderful reads that I discovered while doing research for my pieces for #alongdistancerelationship exhibit at @theattleboroartsmuseum. I truly fell down the rabbit hole of research & loved every page!! I started reading about the Boston Marathon & then moved to women running! If I was asked to recommend one I would say ‘the long run’ by Catriona Menzies-Pike, but all of these were informative & enjoyable. #bookrecommendations#bostonmarathon #researchjunkie #rabbithole#womenrunning #womenwhorun #kvswitzer#catrionamenziespike #thelongeun #ambyburfoot#billrodgers #rebekahgregory #survivor#bobbigibb #goodreads #ilovelibraries #
thank you & peace,
virginia

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

'for the love of ...' thank you Bobbi Gibb

Me and Christina Zwart who's piece, 'Fearless'
is a show stopper.  See photo below of Zwart
installing the piece. 
One of the biggest crowds to ever attend an opening reception at the museum, about 175-200, according to Director Mim Fawcett, did so Tuesday evening to check out Fawcett’s latest brainchild, “A Long Distance Relationship: The 26.2-Mile Journey. http://www.thesunchronicle.com/news/local_news/runners-high-attleboro-arts-museum-features-marathon-themed-art/article_4f7ea9b0-6155-5137-9804-0bd2055e4ac8.html
 The opening for 'A Long-Distance Relationship' was a success as noted in the Sun Chronicle's article, and I will concur.  The high spirits and festive energy of the evening were appropriate for the exhibition celebrating the many aspects of the Boston Marathon.  At the bottom of this post you can find the links to the numerous articles and reviews, as well as an excerpt from the Artscope article in which J. Fatima Martins talks about the different pieces from the exhibit in thematic duets.


It was an honor to see my newest sculpture, 'for the love of ...' (created for this exhibition) greeting all museum visitors at the entrance of the exhibit.  It was even a greater thrill to witness museum visitors reading my statement about the piece.

After doing much research about the marathon and particularly women in the Boston Marathon, I was greatly moved by Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon is 1966.  Besides the fact that she was a trailblazer and ran the marathon even though her application had been denied because 'women cannot run the distance of a marathon', it was her love of running and her passion for life that really captured my interest.  Here is the longer version of my artist statement about 'for the love of ...'



‘for the love of …’ was inspired by the spirit and courage of Roberta ‘Bobbi' Gibb; lawyer, neuroscientist, artist, single mother and the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966.  Not only has Bobbi Gibb been a trailblazer for women’s running and women’s rights but she has a love for life and a passion for life that needs to be celebrated. 
"I have always had a vision of a world where men and women can share all of life together in mutual respect, love and admiration; a world where we find health through exercise and through the appreciation of the spirit and beauty of the world and of each other; a world based on love and individual integrity, where we all have a chance to do what we most passionately love, to help others, and to become all we can become."http://runningpast.com/gibb_story.htm
Since Bobbi entered this world, in the elevator of the hospital, she has been on the move.  As a girl, she loved to move and to run, however, in the 1950's and 1960’s the expectations for women were to get married and start a family. As Bobbi approached adolescence, she saw her girlfriends stop running and playing:
“As soon as you became an adolescent, everything changed,” Gibb told Women in the World. “You started to become a woman and suddenly there were all these incredible constraints. I could see coming down the line that I was going to have to live in a box as a woman—literally, locked up in the house. We were expected to be housewives, and that’s all … We weren’t expected to have minds, and we weren’t expected to have bodies that ran.”“[Running] was sort of a spiritual thing, and I could get away from society and its rigid ideals,” she said. “It had nothing to do with sports. I knew nothing about the sporting world. I never stopped running when normal girls would stop running and settle down. I never became a normal girl.”https://womenintheworld.com/2015/04/20/the-incredible-story-of-bobbi-gibb-the-first-woman-to-run-the-boston-marathon/
In 1964 Bobbi’s father took her to see the Boston Marathon for the first time.  As a spectator, she felt a kinship with the runners.  She didn’t notice that it was only men running, what she saw were others who understood her love for running. Witnessing the marathon was a spiritual experience for Bobbi, one that she wanted to participate in. 
“I knew these people felt the same way I felt when I ran. I was reconnecting with some ancient potential almost lost in modern society, some deeply moving fundamental core of what it means to be human. And I felt that they were too--that we shared this bond.” Bobbi recalls.  Interview with Bobbi Gibb April 2011; http://www.billrodgersrunningcenter.com/inwibogi.html
After watching the marathon, Bobbi began to train and to test the distances that she could run.  One time she was running on the beach in Southern California and ended up running into Mexico.  She had no ID and her appearance caused some alarm among the border guards, they did not believe that this woman was just out for a run.  Fortunately, the confusion was soon resolved and Bobbi returned to North of the border.  Needless to say, Bobbi knew that she could run distances and at the beginning of 1966 she sent in her application for the Boston Marathon.  What she received in response to her application was a rejection, telling her that women were not physically capable of running marathon distances, that under the rules that governed amateur sports set out by the AAU, women were not allowed to run more than a mile and a half competitively. 
To Gibb, her rejection emphasized the ridiculousness of the situation,
"It was a catch 22; how can you prove you can do something if you’re not allowed to do it? If women could do this that was thought impossible, what else could women do? What else can people do that is thought impossible?” http://runningpast.com/gibb_story.htm
So even though her application was rejected, nevertheless, she persisted,  Bobbi decided to run the Boston Marathon. On marathon day, while waiting to run Bobbi hid in some forsythia bushes near the starting line because she was afraid of how people would respond if they discovered that she was a woman, fearful that she would be physically removed and/or arrested.  In 1966 many thought it was life-threatening for a woman to run anything longer than 1.5 miles, it was believed that a woman’s uterus would fall out harming a woman’s reproductive capabilities which were thought to be the main raison d'ĂȘtre for women, it was not proper for a woman to be seen exerting herself, it was not lady-like for women to sweat.  Bobbi knew that she would be threatening many societal norms for women.  But she felt like it was time to challenge these beliefs.  Also, Bobbi loved running and wanted everyone, men and women, to be able to experience the nirvana that she experiences when she runs, 
"It (running) came naturally to me. When I ran, all the stresses of the day disappeared. I felt like myself, like a bird flying, free and happy. I felt close to something spiritual, close to the mystery of being, you might say. I felt connected with the creative power of life. I feel most alive when I run. I feel the energy of the whole universe pouring through me and I feel grateful to be alive here on this planet in this world.” Interview with Bobbi Gibb April 2011; http://www.billrodgersrunningcenter.com/inwibogi.html
Bobbi ran and won the ‘unsanctioned’ women’s division of the Boston Marathon in 1966, 1967 and 1968.  After 1968 her energies and interest turned to her studies.  She applied to medical school and was denied because of her gender, but she wasn’t deterred she went to Law school.  Bobbi Gibb is a champion of women’s rights, her action on April 19, 1966, added fuel to the Women’s movement of the time which was challenging many of the restrictive beliefs that held women back from contributing to the world and discovering their authentic selves. Bobbi knew that she was making a political and social statement when she jumped into the marathon, and as much as she was happy to shatter many of the prejudices against women, she ran because she loved to run, she wanted to be part of this primitive fundamental experience of running en masse and she wanted to share this experience with women, half of the population.  
Thank you, Bobbi. 
from the official Boston Athletic Association’s website:    Pioneer Era of Women’s Participation 1. Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb (MA) 3:21:40http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/boston-marathon-history/race-summaries/1966-1970.aspx







THEMATIC DUETS: 
2. Abby Rovaldi’s “My 26.2 Miles,” composed of 20 etchings, and “Virginia Fitzgerald’s” rock tied ribbon dress installation, “Torqued and Tethered,” offer a conversation about struggle and endurance. To create the 20 dark etchings that depict her personal 26.2-mile marathon journey, Rovaldi attached a 5” x 9” zinc plate to the bottom of each of her shoes and walked 2.62 miles to create the aggressive lines necessary for printing. Fitzgerald’s beautiful cream colored ribbon dress in held to the floor with over two dozen found rocks of various sizes and weights arranged into a circle. This piece offers a puzzling shamanistic energy; it’s remarkably graceful and buoyant and yet contains a vexed tonality communicating a women’s struggle to break free from what’s holding her in place — she is twisting upward while fixed in place.
https://artscopemagazine.com/2018/04/thematic-duets-in-a-long-distance-relationship-the-26-2-mile-journey-at-attleboro-arts-museum/

In the News

NBC WJAR-TV previews the Attleboro Arts Museum’s “A “Long-Distance Relationship: The 26.2 Mile Journey”  – http://turnto10.com/news/local/attleboro-arts-museum-opens-boston-marathon-exhibit

Monday, April 9, 2018

a week full of art, poetry and midcentury treasures

    from the studio of virginia fitzgerald    
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MARK your CALENDARS ...

  • Tuesday, April 10th, 7-9pm. 
Opening Reception for 'A Long Distance Relationship' at the Attleboro Arts Museum, Attleboro Arts Museum,
86 Park St., Attleboro, MA 02703, 508.222.2644
This event will include a recognition ceremony that honors each exhibiting artist and exhibition partners. Free and open to all.
www.attleboroartsmuseum.org
  • Wednesday, April 11th:
CLOSING RECEPTION of "100 Extra Days"  6-8 PM
The Carney Gallery - Regis College
235 Wellesley Street, Weston, MA 02493

MORSE LIBRARY POETRY SLAM
Poetry SLAM! 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ TCAN

Slam is held at The Center for Arts,
14 Summer St., Natick, MA 01760
Experience the power of words in this multigenerational SLAM for beginners and seasoned performers where only the audience gets slammed.  Led by the dynamic Geof Hewitt at the historic  The Center for Arts in Natick the evening starts with participants of the Dr. Seuss group (those ages up to 15), then moves onto the Dickinson performers, ages 15 and up.  Prizes awarded to the top performer in each group
 Free to the general public
www.natickarts.org
  • Thursday, April 12th, 6- 8 PM.
1st RENEW Pop-up Trunk Show 
Contemporary Art, Mid-Century Antiques, Sustainable Fashion and Craft Brews together at Fountain Street!
@ Fountain Street Gallery
460C Harrison Avenue, Suite 2
Boston, Massachusetts 02118
www.fsfaboston.com
Taste Springdale by Jacks Abby‘s newest innovative barrel-aged ales and sour beers. www.springdalebeer.com

For more info. check out the links above or
send me an email:

va.fitzgerald (at) comcast.net

look forward to seeing you soon!
peace, Virginia

www.virginiafitzgerald.com
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Friday, April 6, 2018

'torqued & tethered . . . .' and a long distance relationship

'torqued & tethered . . . ' (2013) ribbons, chicken wire and rocks.

One of the pieces that I am exhibiting in Attleboro Arts Museum next exhibit, 'A long Distance  elationship' is 'torqued & tethered ...' and so I thought it was an appropriate time to share her story

I wanted to show this piece in this exhibit about the Boston Marathon because it reflects the story and experiences of women runners up until quite recently. In 1966 "for a grown woman to run in public was quite outside the social norm.” 1.
1.Interview with Bobbi Gibb April 2011; www.billrodgersrunningcenter.com/inwibogi.html
When Bobbi Gibb jumped out of the bushes to join the 500 men runners during the 1966 Boston Marathon, many thought it was life threatening for a woman to run anything longer than 1.5 miles. Bobbi hid in the bushes because she was afraid of how people would respond if they discovered that she was a woman, fearful that she would be physically removed and/or arrested.


'torqued & tethered ...' speaks to the limitations, expectations and restrictions placed on women which can stunt a woman's growth;  physically, mentally and spiritually, impeding them from reaching their full potential. This was true with women's running, especially long distance running, until trailblazers like Bobbi Gibbs, Sara Mae Berman, Kathrine Switzer and many more.



'torqued & tethered . . .' is the first of my dress sculpture where I played with the scale and shape of the dress. For this piece the bodice is stunted, emaciated, twisted and tortured. The sculpture hangs by only one of the shoulder straps, the other strap sags, defeated, exhausted. The way the bodice hangs the viewer can see in, under and through her; all is exposed. Being white, there is the suggestion of seeing bone.
'torqued & tethered . . . ' at "forever & after"
at the SSAC



The skirt of the dress is created by ribbons that hang from the bottom of the bodice. These ribbons strain against the rocks which have hold the ribbons to the floor; grounding her, repressing her, when all she really wants to do is to fly, to be free.
'torqued & tethered . . .' behind 'metamorphosis . . . '

This sculpture speaks to the omnipresent and destructive messages directed at young
girls/women, from the media (TV, movie, advertisements, ...), society, many religions and possibly family. The dress is white to implying the many cultural traditions where a girl or woman wears a white dress that represents purity, goodness, respectability and virtue. Usually a white dress is worn for baptisms, first communions, confirmations, debutante cotillions, some graduations and, and of course, a white dress is worn in a traditional wedding.
Lady Forrest 1876, Victorian style dress


'torqued and tethered . . . ', for me, represents an innocent young spirit/girl who has been pinned down by rules, expectations, dogma and traditions and who has twisted and tortured herself trying to free herself and just be who is authentically is; she just wants to soar!!!








Exhibition: April 10th – May 5th, 2018
Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 10th, 7-9pm. This event will include a recognition ceremony that honors each exhibiting artist and exhibition partners. Free and open to all.
Reservations are requested, but not required, by Friday, April 6th. 
Telephone: 508-222-2644 x10 or email office@attleboroartsmuseum.org 
thank you for your interest and peace,

va

Monday, April 2, 2018

SOS ... any suggestions for my #100DayProject?!??


It is that time of year again!?!? The100DayProject starts its 5th year tomorrow, and even though I am still in the throes of moving I must participate.

And I use the word 'must' for a few reasons. One is that I love participating in creative community challenges. Two, this is a perfect catalyst for me to unpack and find my paints and studio after this chaotic move. And lastly I choose 'must' because this desire comes from deep inside me which is how Elle Luna describes one's passions in her inspiring book:




I first read "the crossroads of should and must ...' in August 2016, after stumbling upon it and I devoured it and it has changed my creative life, or at least gave me a new perspective. 



My 'must' to do this year's 100 day project is so strong that I have numerous lists of possible projects that I'd LOVE to devote the next 100 days doing, such as:




100 days of ...

  • art blogging - posting here on my art blog, as I really want to get back in the habit of chronicling my creative journey.
  • SCRAPs: Seriously Creative Recycled Art Projects* this is my trademarked name I made for my bottle cap jewelry (decades ago) and I was thinking I would resurrect the name for 100 days of collage and working with scraps.  One thing this move showed me was that I LOVE scraps, scraps of paper, of fabric, of labels, of yarn.  This would be similar to my dailydress journal(see below), however or the 100 days of SCRAPs I wouldn't necessarily add a dress?!?! 
  • dailydresses - it almost feels too obvious, but I would love to create 100 days straight of dresses; ephemeral dresses, embroidered dresses, food dresses, sculptural dresses, painted dresses, collages?!? .... you get the idea.
  • visual gratitude - you know how gratitude is the best attitude?! I thought I'd create an image of something I was grateful for each day
'from the land of dragons ...'
  • food puns -  I have been considering rendering food quotes/puns, such as 'Olive you' with hand-lettering or using my understanding of the non-traditional material to create some interesting looking phrases.
      • 'from the land of dragons ...' since Scruffy past I haven't been walking as much so not wondering through my land of dragons ...
  • Virginia's kitchen knowledge - illustrations of helpful food facts, food prep and storage tips, recipes and whatnot.
  • my morning coffee - some kind of rendering of my morning cup of coffee 
  • 'Karoline Kitty who lives in the city' 100 drawings of the life and times of Karoline Kitty
  • Portraiture: I've learned from agent and teacher Lilla Rogers that a strong illustration portfolio shows that an illustrator can do faces!! 

OMG - the more I write this blog the more ideas I have ....
So I'm not sure how I am going to decide but I need to decide by tomorrow! if you have any thoughts I would LOVE to hear them as I am feeling pulled in many directions!! But one thing I know is that it can not take up too much time!! This project's goal is to be creative on a daily basis. And as much I as would LOVe to do all of this project and spend all day in my studio, I need to unpack! 


thank you & peace, 
va

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

we are approaching the starting line ....


Here in Massachusetts they celebrate 'Patriot's Day'. This was confusing for me when I moved to the Boston area.  I hadn't experienced a state-wide holiday, but there it was; banks were closed, schools were off and the library wasn't even open on this particular Monday in April.
I soon discovered that the Boston Marathon did take place on this day, so things were making some sense, but a state-wide holiday?!?!?

I had experienced marathons, when I lived on the upper West side and I was able to saunter over to Central Park and watch the non-elite runners finish the New York Marathon.  I was always emotional watching these runners cross the finish line after running through the five boroughs. 

My first year in the Boston area I lived in Newton and basically stumbled upon the Boston marathon.  I had put my girls in their stroller and headed toward the noise, not knowing I was going to a pinnacle point of the marathon, Heartbreak Hill. So once again I was witness to runners reaching deep at a very demanding part of the race, and again I was moved to tears by this raw expression of personal determination. 

Now the Boston Marathon is a more integral part of my life, although not to the extent of most Bostonians.  Again I am fortunate to live in one of the towns of which the race traverses; in fact I am again within walking distance of the course.  

Every year I try to join the festivities, I enjoy watching the pageantry and to be immersed in the energy of the event, but most of all I go to see and cheer on the runners.  I am always moved by the heart and spirit of each participant and in awe of their courage.

So when I was invited to contribute to the Attleboro Arts Museum's upcoming exhibit, "A Long-Distance Relationship, The 26.2 Mile Journey", I didn't hesitate to participate and to celebrate this Boston event. 

With the invitation came a list of aspects of the marathon that we artists could examine via our works: 
Enduring energy and resilience
The landscape and icons of the race route
Loyal and encouraging spectators
Product design (wheelchair, prosthetic, running shoes, gear, other)
The community of – and comradery between – runners
A Boston tradition since 1897
Hydration, nutrition, routines, training, injuries
The physical form of runners
Women join the Marathon
The Wheelchair Division
The profound impact of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings
Watertown, shelter-in-place, the vital first responders
Boston Strong
Other
With so many interesting and provocative themes, I had a hard time deciding but settled on, "Women join the Marathon" (if felt appropriate), and I began my brainstorming procedure - sketching ideas, surfing the internet and reading books. I have become obsessed with the subject and I have been shocked  by what I learned about women and the Boston marathon, women and marathons in general and women in long distance running!

When Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966, women were not officially allowed  to run anything longer than 800 meters.  yes you read that correctly! And the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) did not officially sanction a women's division of the Boston Marathon until 1972!! 

The subject of women joining the marathon reflects on much more then women in running, it casts its shadow on many issues and battles that women are still contesting today.

This exhibit and project has lead me to so many interesting books and so much information I need to assimilate that I plan to use this blog as a sounding board of sorts.

So stay tune and mark your calendars for this exhibit which will definitely be a winner ....
  

Friday, March 9, 2018

International Women's Day and hand-lettering

week 7 HOMwork


As I love to join in creative challenges I have jumped onto HomSweetHom's  wagon of weekly #HOMwork challenge, where each week we get an assignment to play with.
Now I signed up before I knew that I had to move in about a month, so I told myself that I would join in on the challenges once the dust had settled from my move ... HA!

Well a few weeks ago, week 7,  our assignment was:
Your assignment this week is to determine who your biggest hero is and why, then letter their name along with some of the reasons you look up to them.

This person could be someone who has made you feel like you can go after your dreams and achieve them, someone who has encouraged you along the way, or someone who has been an example to you of who and what you want to be. This person could be a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a family member, someone from a different era, or someone you've never even met.
the minute I read the assignment I knew who I would celebrate, but I put it aside because I was moving! I had also side-lined my annual postings for National Women's History Month because of moving! But when we here in Boston got a snow day yesterday and it was International Women's Day and I really do not!! like this whole moving thing, I decided I would treat myself by doing my week 7 assignment ... hand-letter my two heroes and just some of the reasons that these two women rock my world.

So in honor of International Women's Day, I wish to say thank you to my heroes, my two incredible daughters, Maya and Harriet.  You two amaze me daily. love, mom

peace & thank you,