Sunday, October 23, 2011

Virginia Fitzgerald: Natick, Mass.

Virginia Fitzgerald and  Lush
2009
57 x 24 x 24"
sculpture: fabric remnants, discarded clothing,
scrap wood, chicken wire, copper spool,
buttons, beads, embroidery floss;
100% found and discarded material used in the piece 


Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were the early influences on your work?

I was born in 1964 and grew up in Chicago, IL. When I was 11, we moved to a suburb of Chicago.  I was fortunate because my grandmother loved to take me to the
Art Institute of Chicago so I was exposed to magnificent art at a young age. I remember studying the Impressionists, having their bright colors and mark making pointed out to me.  I have vivid memories of standing mystified in front of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and wanting to dive into Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky Above Clouds IV; this 8ft x 24ft painting of endless clouds.  Lastly I remember searching out the plaster sculptures of George Segal.  As I got older I became a huge fan of Henri Matisse and the Fauves.  And in the past years I have become a contemporary art junkie, making many pilgrimages to NYC to see cutting edge shows in Chelsea galleries.  I have also lived in numerous cities with wonderful museums, L.A.; New York and now Boston.  I presently live in Natick, Massachusetts, with my two daughters. 


Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte
George Seurat
1884 – 1886
Image AIC website


Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965
Oil on canvas
Georgia O'Keeffe



Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where and what did you major in?

I showed interest and skill in art at an early age.  My high school art teacher encouraged me to take figure-drawing classes at the Art Institute during high school.  I then went to Kenyon College in Gambier, OH where I got a B.A. in Studio Art, with a concentration in Printmaking and Fibers. During my senior year I went to the Studio Art Center International, in Florence, Italy for a semester; where Kathy Knippel introduced me to batiking and soft sculpture.  After graduating, I continued to study art in the different places that I lived. It was in a painting class at the Danforth Museum School of Art, taught by Martha Oldham, that I really discovered that I was an artist; that I saw the world differently than other people and I interpreted it in my own unique way.




Clementine Dress
6”x4”x3”
clementine peels, thread and buttons
2007


At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?

As I alluded to above I really began to “own” being an artist around 2005. Before then I did many creative endeavors, ran businesses based on my art, but I never really thought of myself as an artist, more an artisan.  I had always LOVED art ~ looking at art, making art, reading about art.  And as far back as I can remember I was making things. It was after I had my two girls and I didn’t have as much free time that I realized that I missed being creative.  In fact I soon learned that making art, being creative, was a basic need of mine.  If I didn’t have an art project running through my head I got panicky and anxious.  It was during my show, Dreaming in Color, at the Round Room Gallery at the Danforth Museum that I got a taste of showing and selling my paintings, and I wanted more.   I had always wanted to be primarily an artist but after that show it felt more feasible.  It was a few years after that show that I started the ‘Dress Project’, and with this body of work I feel like an artist, I feel like a conduit to a larger vision and I am just a messenger.



Wedding Dress (Brenda’s dress) Wells Beach, ME
20x 26
Photograph of ephemeral dress, 2006



Red Alert Cocktail Dress
54”x30”x 30”
mixed media sculpture,
2006

What is your media?

 
I believe the answer to this question is: what isn’t my media?!? I work in many media: sculpture, fiber arts, performance work, painting and mixed-media collage.  I use many different materials, some traditional as well as non-traditional materials, such as VCR tape, plastic bottles and eggshells, seashells, rope and fibers and feathers and leaves.  I also love working with found objects or discarded trash.  I ran a wholesale business for 7 years making bottle cap jewelry and accessories ~ I used bottle caps as frames for my artwork which I then turned into jewelry and accessories.  I also incorporate recycled materials in my fiber piece, ‘insatiable’, I believe the uses of 'discarded' materials highlights one of the underlining themes in much of my work, which is to look beyond first impressions. I like my work to make the viewer stop and rethink an idea or material, like eggshells, that they might normally not look at or think about twice.  Hopefully, my work has invited them to see deeper than their initial ideas about issues, emotions as well as materials.


This Comes from Within
(full view) Size: 21 x 15 x 13 feet
room installation with wall mural, 8 foot high egg shell dress sculpture,
roofing tiles, black tulle, mirror mosaic, sheet metal,
crocheted yarn with beads, red velour, incense, egg shell lampshades
public installation at Medicine Wheel Productions, Boston, MA, Sept. - Oct., 2009


What is your current work about? 

 
As I mentioned above I have a few ‘projects’ that I am currently working on.  One is a body of work that I call creatures.  These are fiber pieces that I create using what I call ‘organic crocheting.  I start with a certain color of yarn and then add different yarns and beads as the piece demands.  The piece is completed when it feels like it has reached a critical mass.  One of the pieces which is part of my creatures is ‘insatiable’, an ever growing, crocheted piece made with yarn, twine, plastic trash bags, old campaigns signs, dog hair, anything that I can crochet that is in the green/brown family.  This piece is on-going, when ‘insatiable’ is exhibited I go to the gallery at certain times and add to the piece.  During these times people bring in different materials to add to the piece and some will even crochet on the piece themselves.  This piece recently received a Juror’s award at the national juried show, Green, at the Attleboro Arts Museum, Attleboro, MA. 




Insatiable


Another current project is part of my body of work, which I call the ‘Dress Project’.  This is a commissioned piece where I will use cards and letters that my client received when he lost his fiancé in the tragic events of 9/11.  This commission is a perfect fit with what I feel is the main theme behind the dress project ~ using the dress as a vessel that contains emotion and celebrates the spirit of man/womankind.  We are hoping to be able to help finance this project through the website Kickstarter


9/11 Dress






a page from the dress journal

Along with these pieces I am working on a project that I call the Daily dress journal.  This is a mixed media piece that I try to create on a daily basis, which is based upon materials that I come across during that day, with which I create a ‘collage’ that includes an origami dress.  I create these collages in a 5x8 moleskin sketchbook and at this moment I have 3 different books in the works.  I am also trying to document this project with a blog ~ http://dailydressproject.blogspot.com/.



photo of studio, cleaned up for open studios (it is normally not so neat!)
2010

What is your workspace like?
 
I have a wonderful studio space in Natick in the Winchell Building.  I am happy to be in this space as there are other artists with whom I can converse ~ Mary Spencer and David Lang.  It is also a large space, which can hold all the materials that I collect for my different projects!



How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

 
I am constantly in quest of community, people who share the same hunger for art that I have.  I go to many openings and art events to talk with artists. I am always interested in meeting different artists and hearing their experiences!!

Also this year I joined the
Fountain Street Fine Art Gallery in Framingham, MA, which I have found to be a very rewarding experience! Through this gallery I have made many profound artistic connections, one being Lisa Barthelson, with whom I had a two person show at the gallery.  We are kindred spirits. I also participate in the Natick Artist’s Open Studios, which has a very strong and supportive community.

I try to support my art colleagues by being available for emotional support during those times of extreme self-doubt.  I relish discussions of meaning, process and purpose.  I am also always willing to participate in communal art activities as well as try to be physically available for any colleague who may be preparing for, delivering and or breaking down an exhibit. I am a big believer in karma and hope to be able to help any artist trying to put their vision out into the world.



Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?


When I read ‘stuck’ I think artist block, which I fortuitously don’t usually struggle with, although I can get stuck on a particular piece.  Usually with any larger project I hit the place where it is not coming together and I want to ‘flee’.  I am becoming more aware of this pattern and realize that it is usually based on fear.  So when I am in this ‘scary’ place I usually look to my fellow artists to talk me through this phase.  I also will turn my attention to one of my other projects but with a heightened awareness that I am avoiding the real issue.  I try to acknowledge that whatever is baffling me is most likely a main issue of the piece and that I need to focus and figure out what is the next step.


Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?

One practice that I find INVALUABLE is that I keep a sketchbook with me at ALL times.  Since starting the dress project it is both sketchbook and journal – a place to work out ideas, to note artists and work that catches my attention, where I note poems or proses or quotes that touch me and other inspirational elements.  I also am constantly looking at art – either in galleries or museums, online or in books.  I have a ferocious hunger for all things art. Also having many different interests and project I believe in the long run supports my art practice, however at times I feel like it can overwhelm me.


Do you have other jobs other than making art? 

 
One of my main other ‘jobs’ than making art is being a mother to my two girls, ages 10 and 13.  Also this past Spring I was a long-term substitute art teacher at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA.  This was an amazing experience with wonderful students.  Both these ‘jobs’ feed my art although they also are exhausting.

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?

 
I am hoping to be a better businessperson in relationship to my art. Certain recent events have made it necessary for me to be more conscientious of generating income from my art.  So in 5 years I hope to be supporting myself and my girls with my art.  I also hope to be doing more funded, large scale installation work, similar to my installation that I created at Michael Dowling’s Medicine Wheel in the summer of 2009, called ‘this comes from within’.  That was a lifetime experience, which I would love to do again.

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?

 
Yes, my work will be exhibited in a few places in the upcoming months.
First, I will be exhibiting the work in-progress 9/11 dress when it is finished, the location TBA. 

Secondly, my Red Alert Cocktail dress will be shown along with the exhibit, In the Bag, at the Boston’s Children’s Museum.
In the Bag
: September 15 - November 27, 2011
A project that traces the beginnings of the movement to ban plastic bags and presents the growth of creative alternatives to plastic. Featuring a selection of colorful, reusable bags made from billboards, juice boxes, rice bags, and discarded plastic. The exhibition aims to introduce grass roots recycling movements sprouting up in small resourceful communities such as the Philippines, Cambodia, India and Central America. The exhibition also highlights the work of contemporary artists employing reusable processes and exploring the iconic and physical characteristics of plastic as a medium.

Insatiable’ is part of the exhibit, Form and Fantasy: A Contemporary Twist on Fiber Art at the Mystic Arts Center, Mystic, CT, where it received an award. The show will runs September 30 - November 12.  I will be teaching a workshop, in conjunction with the exhibit, about organic crocheting and creating your own creatures.

Lastly,  for the month of October, I will be featured in the Community Gallery at the
Attleboro Arts Museum, as well as participating in the Natick Artists Open Studios which are October 15 +  16, 2011;
 noon - 5 pm @ my studio at 25 Washington Ave.

You can see more of Virginia's work on her
website.

She also maintains two blogs: www.virginiafitzgerald.blogspot.com
on the daily dress project blog, Virginia dates her posts by the day the collage represents, so even though it seems like the posts are old, they are most likely posted more recently.

And you can visit her on Facebook.

Thank you, Virginia!

2 comments:

bones said...

I WAS making myself a perfectly delightful time, further exploring Breaking Open at Fountain Street Fine Art, playfully approaching hitherto undiscovered paintings and dresses, provisionally cataloging ones I’d gladly buy if only…. I leisurely stretched precious time into lazy thoughtful look, letting the frantic 21st Century do what it must outside. Amid the gallery’s ancient the timbers I wended through mansions within fabulous collages. I perused paintings and sculpture newly immigrated into FSFA’s four walls. Paintings on walls inside bespoke of complementary walls outside. Thus lulled I invited a perennial sadness - dresses, dresses, dresses. Members only. No boys allowed. Which I get and don’t begrudge. It’s also great to be a man. Yet I sensed that country forever outside my bounds. NEXT. What’s that? Into my hands I drew a journal. Therein dwells the artist’s inner amid the finished on display. Carefully I turned pages. Revealing one-off dresses fitting each one-off day. Backgrounds, contexts, papers, streamers, edges freed beyond the edge. I dragged fingers over fine textures feeling softened, feeling close. THEN. Then pages unfurled frank emotion. Then a heart cord just let go. Life hurts. It hurts and hurts and hurts and hurts. It’s just so hard. Once more stunned, once more recovered. Once more the dusty wind of loss. There’s no real heart that doesn't tumble. Thank stars for ARTISTS who poke me. Yes indeed thank stars for art

bones said...

I WAS making myself a perfectly delightful time, further exploring Breaking Open at Fountain Street Fine Art, playfully approaching hitherto undiscovered paintings and dresses, provisionally cataloging ones I’d gladly buy if only…. I leisurely stretched precious time into lazy thoughtful look, letting the frantic 21st Century do what it must outside. Amid the gallery’s ancient the timbers I wended through mansions within fabulous collages. I perused paintings and sculpture newly immigrated into FSFA’s four walls. Paintings on walls inside bespoke of complementary walls outside. Thus lulled I invited a perennial sadness - dresses, dresses, dresses. Members only. No boys allowed. Which I get and don’t begrudge. It’s also great to be a man. Yet I sensed that country forever outside my bounds. NEXT. What’s that? Into my hands I drew a journal. Therein dwells the artist’s inner amid the finished on display. Carefully I turned pages. Revealing one-off dresses fitting each one-off day. Backgrounds, contexts, papers, streamers, edges freed beyond the edge. I dragged fingers over fine textures feeling softened, feeling close. THEN. Then pages unfurled frank emotion. Then a heart cord just let go. Life hurts. It hurts and hurts and hurts and hurts. It’s just so hard. Once more stunned, once more recovered. Once more the dusty wind of loss. There’s no real heart that doesn't tumble. Thank stars for ARTISTS who poke me. Yes indeed thank stars for art