Saturday, March 14, 2015

Musings of A Textile Tragic
Textile Tasters from My Workshops
March, 2015 - Issue 117

Art Essay (TFF Column)

Co-Editor: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The largest selling textile magazine in Australasia is Textile Fibre Forum (TFF). I am the co-editor of the magazine (its founder - Janet de Boer - being the other co-editor). Hence I have created a column within the magazine titled – Musings of a Textile Tragic. This column will appear on this blogspot together with a link and contents page of each new issue of the quarterly magazine once it is available from magazine outlets and on the ArtWear Publications website.

Front Cover of TFF (March, 2015 - Issue 117).

For your convenience, I have listed links to other Musings articles:
Musings of a Textile Tragic
Co-Editor of TFF
Of Fires and Flooding Rain
Lost in Translation
Venusian Men
The Artwork of Youth
Be Brave, The Rest Will Follow

Contents Page of TFF - March 2015 Edition(Issue Number 117)

Musings of A Textile Tragic - Textile Tasters From My Workshops
I have given numerous workshops throughout Australia, Europe and North America. Some were hosted by Janet de Boer and Glenys Mann, others by organizations such as the Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association (ATSADA) and the Surface Design Association (SDA), some by businesses such as Zijdelings and Art Quill & Co. and others by small community groups such Stitching and Beyond in Tasmania and the ACT Textile Arts Association in Canberra and others in art galleries. My workshops range in duration - one to five days - and in levels - from novice through to Master classes. My workshop participants have ranged in ages from their mid teens to octogenarians. Although women have dominated my classes there have been a sprinkling of men who have been brave to weather such a sexist environment!

Most tutors develop their own style of teaching. Mine is simple being largely based on Piaget’s theory of pedagogical development. He claims there are four stages that we all travel through in our quest to learn. The first stage is what is called the reflexive stage. This is the stage where we need to mimic someone else’s art marks. Remember those old movies in which you would see an artist painstakingly mimic a master painter’s artwork in a museum. This is then the reflexive stage.

The second stage is the pre-operational stage. Here artistic thought is no longer restricted to immediate perceptual events; that is, you need a representation in your immediate reach in order to ape it. Artistic thought is now representational (symbolic) and artistic behaviour can be played out in one’s mind rather than only in a real physical event (i.e. only via your hands as you mimic a work). This stage is still restricted in that reverse engineering is a difficult chore for the person to do. For example, they see a finished ArtCloth work by another artist but they are still unable to perceive what techniques, materials and implements were used to create the work.

The third stage is the concrete operational stage. Here the artist has evolved logical operations, but these operations are only useful to the artist in solving artistic problems involving (real, observable) objects and events. Therefore if the artist was presented with clear instructions - without demonstrations and constant problem solving by their tutor - their progress would be severely curtailed.

The last stage is the formal stage. Here the artist is able to construct an intention, commandeer the skill set necessary to implement the intention, evaluate objectively the progress of the work and whether it conforms to the original intention and if not - modify either the original intention or the skill set and outcomes in order to create a unique and interesting body of work.

What I do to plan a workshop is more difficult. I give my students copious notes with clear behavioural objectives (i.e. what a student should achieve after each project has been completed). Of course I am there to guide students through every project (some need more guidance than others). Moreover, the order of projects are of paramount importance since the order of the projects assist in developing from basic skills to more layered and complex skills as well as to drive the students through the four stages of cognitive development.

A very important aspect of all workshops is to create an atmosphere of wanting to learn, wanting to share knowledge and wanting to exchange experiences. The atmospherics is so important. I am always amazed how generous workshop participants are to each other in sharing their equipment to sharing acquired knowledge (e.g. “This is how she did it”).

I have often learnt from my students since they do not leave their life experiences at the door when they enter my workshop, rather they bring these experiences with them. The formal thinking projects (and I don’t mean strict but rather capable of developing abstract ideas) are the fun part for me. How often did I say to myself - “Heck. What an amazing idea!” Learning from your students is definitely a very important benefit of being a tutor. So please let me share some of the textile tasters from them. It is a delight for me to re-visit them. The only problem is that due to space limitations I could only show a few of these workshop outputs.

All photos below by Marie-Therese Wisniowski unless otherwise stated.

Section View of Jeannie Henrys’ hand printed textile length. Photo courtesy Jeannie Henry.

Detail view of Jeannie Henrys’ hand printed textile length.

Cover Image Details: Artist Jeannie Henry attended my ‘Image Dreamings: Basic Screen Printing’ class and created exciting multiple layers of complex imagery after the class when she returned to her studio. The printed textile started as a piece of 100 cm x 90 cm white broadcloth. Screen printed and stenciled sun and moon images were printed randomly over the fabric in blended green and blue fabric paint. A hand cut stencil of a hibiscus was overprinted randomly in reds and greens. Smaller screen printed images of a hibiscus were then overprinted in green creating additional layers of depth to the piece. She enhanced some of the hibiscus petal shapes by hand painting them with red fabric paint. Lastly, to unify the piece she hand painted the remaining white fabric background with yellow fabric paint.

The following images show student works from some of my ‘In Pursuit of ArtCloth’ series of workshops.

Merody Buglar, Deconstructed and polychromatic screen printing.

Gail McDonald, Improvisational screen printing.

Maz Beeston, Improvisational screen printing.

Philippa Leask, Disperse dye and transfer printing.

Trisha Smith, Disperse dye and transfer printing.

Kelcie Bryant-Duguid, Disperse dye and transfer printing.

Barbara McLennan, Disperse dye and transfer printing.

Judi Crawford, Disperse dye and transfer printing.

Trish Newham, Complex Cloth: layered printing approaches.

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