Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's Time to Take Action

The Pennsylvania State Senate voted to pass a budget that provided ZERO money for the arts. It's archaic. Actually, now that I think about it, most ancient cultures did provide a venue and support for their artists. However, Pennsylvania in 2009 does not.

The fight is not over, though. Please take action. Watch and pass along this video produced by Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. If you do not live in Pennsylvania, check into the status of your own state's budget. Make sure to hold accountable your representatives. At this point, mine are not representing me. Are yours representing you?

Arts and Citizenship from Pittsburgh Filmmakers on Vimeo.

The Pennsylvania FY09-10 budget process is in full swing and state funding for arts and culture is in real jeopardy. I urge you, as a leader in the local cultural community, to take action. As you know, on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 the State Senate passed their version of the budget bill (SB 850) which eliminated funding for arts and culture. The House is still considering their version of the budget bill (HB 1416) which does include funding for both the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

The budget process is far from over. Revenue projections are down and the economic crisis still looms over us. As arts and culture advocates, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to insure a place for the PCA and PHMC in the FY09-10 budget. This is what you can do to help:

1) Contact your state legislators today. If you’ve already sent them a fax or email in the last few weeks, send them another one and follow it up with a phone call. Even though the State Senate has already passed their version of the budget bill, they can still assist us in the fight for arts and culture funding when the two budget bills are discussed in conference committee (likely in June).

2) Rally others to action. Ask your staff, board of directors, donors, funders and others associated with your organization to take immediate action on this issue. Distribute the call to action through your email lists, web site and social networking ventures. Engage your audiences through curtain speeches, program inserts, gallery cards and other means. Harrisburg needs to hear from more than just the employees of arts and cultural organizations.

3) Answer this two-question online survey about the impact that zero state funding for arts and culture would have on your organization. It is important for us to be able to tell the legislators, the press and anyone else who may be interested that policy makers are not just voting to eliminate state funding for arts and culture, but nonprofit organizations that benefit the larger community and the jobs of those they employ. (take the survey)

For facts and figures about the economic impact of the arts, samples of letters and testimony, tips for communicating with legislators and other information visit the Save Arts and Culture in Pennsylvania! page of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council website.

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW. Unless we keep up the pressure on the legislature, we may lose the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Please alert the Arts Council about any action you decide to take by sending an email to

Monday, May 25, 2009

May Featured Artist #2- Rise Nagin

What are the main materials and techniques you used in creating your art installation at the MF?
materials used for, "unwritten": silk organza, gouache and acrylic paint

The process for this installation was very much like making a painting. Techniques were very pared down and consisted of staining sheer organza with watercolor washes; then layering and draping the fabrics on the walls and inside of a closet with glass window. In addition, areas of the walls and closet interior were stained with gouache to make very subtle "markers".

What was the inspiration for using these materials and techniques?
The work was conceived as a response to the light and space in which it was installed. The light in the room is beautiful and very embracing. I considered the light itself one of the materials I was using. The textured, frosted glass panel on the closet door is another material in the piece. It is a conductor of light - translucent, as is silk organza -- these materials have a visual affinity. My intention was to use very economic means to draw attention to the qualities of light. Layers, veils and very subtle, glowing color are the vocabulary. The work exists inside the closet and outside in the room -- the viewer is drawn first to a soft silk scrim in the corner and tiny painted areas of the walls, then may see the image partly concealed behind the glass door -- he must open the door to see the entire image revealed. In addition to the quality of light in the room, I drew on my recollections of medieval churches in Amsterdamn and England -- on the interactions of space, light and iconographic traces one encounters in such places --- remnants of our attempts to visually articulate spiritual experience.

Here is my artist statement for the exhibition:
All buildings have an essential principle (spirit/character) that presents to those who enter and spend time there. The interior of 1414 Monterey Street invites one to linger, to pay attention.

In choosing a location for an installation, I wanted to develop a work in concert with the qualities of the house and the permanent collection: to follow the essential principle. What struck me was how each work in the collection relates intimately with the architecture, making use of some characteristic aspect of the room in which it is located. Subtle, economic, often beautiful installations wait to be discovered, emerging unexpectedly from the body of the building. The presence of the human hand is evident. Qualities of light and space that are taken for granted become central.

The second room of Alan Wexler’s Bed Sitting Room for an Artist in Residence is peaceful, flooded with light so beautiful it has presence. Time is suspended. Something shared but private, positive and embracing is sensed. unwritten employs the qualities of light, fabric and architecture to evoke the experience of this place.

What is an upcoming project you are working on?

I am currently working on a series of prints that I would like to develop into artist's books.

What is one artistic endeavor (exhibition, techniques to learn, etc...) that you would like to accomplish and have not yet?
I would like to continue to explore opportunities to make installations -- this is a relatively new endeavor that I find very exciting and from which I learn -- it expands the scope of what I think is possible. It is a different way of thinking and stretches me artistically.

I am also interested in learning more about how to use the web and digital photography, animation as an extension of the painting and prints I make.

Where can people find out more about you?

Here are some links to some more of Rise's work:

Rise Nagin photos

Youtube video

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Rise Nagin

May Featured Artist #1- Atticus Adams

Atticus Adams, Rise Nagin and myself were invited to create site specific art installations at the Gestures 12 show at the Mattress Factory- how cool!
So, the May Featured Artists are my fellow textile artists in the Gestures 12 show.

First, is Atticus Adams:

What are the main materials and techniques you used in creating your art installation at the MF?
I used coated and uncoated aluminum mesh along with monofilament, wire, grommets, and rubber. To make the forms I use a combination of unweaving, folding, twisting, pressing, and sewing.

What was the inspiration for using these materials and techniques?

I love the inherent beauty in these simple materials and that they allow me to create light and etherial work.

What is an upcoming project you are working on?
I'm working on a solo show titled "My Walden" for the Society of Contemporary Craft that will be exhibited next year.

What is one artistic endeavor (exhibition, techniques to learn, etc...) that you would like to accomplish and have not yet?
I would like to do some installations in an exterior environment - something very large!

Where can people find out more about you?
My website at

Monday, May 18, 2009

ReVamp your Wardrobe class!

I have been wanting to offer this class for awhile, so I am making it happen! Email me at with questions and to register.

ReVamp your Wardrobe!
using Japanese fabric dyeing techniques
with Textile Artist Amber Dawn Coppings

Why buy new clothes when you can revamp them? Save money and reinvent your wardrobe by dyeing your clothes using Japanese Shibori fabric dyeing methods.
Sewn Nui shibori and Folded Itajime shibori will be explored along with immersion, gradation and over-dyeing techniques. Shibori is a general term for hundreds of different traditional and contemporary fabric dyeing techniques that originated in communities in Japan. Imagine tie dye with geometric shapes, interesting details and a lot of innovation!

You choose which methods to use on your clothing. Low impact, eco-friendly fiber reactive dyes will be used with many colors available. Some color theory will be discussed to help you figure out the best colors to dye your clothes. Let me know any special color requests when you register- some can be accommodated.

When: June 27, 1pm-5pm
Where: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
$50/$45 for PCC and Fiberarts Guild members
All dyes, chemicals and preparation materials included in tuition fee.
Dye kits to use at home and silk scarves will also be available for an extra fee.
Cash, local check and Paypal are accepted. Payment is due upon registration to reserve your spot. A minimum number of students is required to run the class, maximum is 10 students. Full refunds will be given if the class does not run.

Email Amber at to register and for more information.

Important Details: Please bring up to 6 items of clothing/accessories that are made of 100% cotton, silk, rayon, or blends of those fabrics. Other blends are ok if they are less than 10% of another fabric. Number of items dyed in class will be determined by what everyone brings. Please bring plastic bags (grocery and/or gallon freezer bags) and a bucket with a lid (kitty litter buckets are ideal) to transport your items. Students will need to wash their dyed items at home.