Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crowbonics: The Scroll

detailed view (c) 



by Karen R. Davis (Karoda)

Louisville, Kentucky


40.5 inches x18 inches

whole cloth with laminated sheer.

hand-dyed cotton; medium weight stabilizer; wool batting; Jacquard cotton; rayon , cotton, and metallic threads; polyester sheer; paper, textile medium; fusible web.

After hearing a 2008 NPR segment on the intelligence of Crows, I became captivated by the rich black birds and wanted to rescue them from their oftentimes less than favored status.  My intent to represent the American Crow for this exhibit was further shored up by the sadness of the absence of information on James Audubon’s mother which I surmised was due to her race, class, and gender.  I even went so far as to project Audubon’s love for birds and being in the wilderness as a spiritual restlessness caused by not knowing her.

Crowbonics: The Scroll is the first of what will be 3 pieces depicting the culture of Crows.  The Crows are the marginalized birds with their own values and ways in the world.  Those not privy to them, often see but do not understand. To the Crow, it doesn’t matter; they carry on, surviving and making their presence known through their distinguished song.





There were 5 starts to the Crow piece before this became the one that felt completely right.  It would not have been possible without attending the Paper Lamination workshop at the Crow Barn last month.


I will not have time to photograph the full size until its return, but the detailed image is a good representation of the entire piece.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Crowbonics 2

Lucky for me, my washing machine went out and yesterday I went to my parent's house to do a couple of loads of laundry and thus had an extended time period at The Basement Workshop!!  I auditioned fabrics for what will become Crowbonics 1.  It will include one of the laminated fabrics created at the Crow Barn.  I found the perfect medium gray fabric and I'm thinking about doing a little bit of discharge on it to get some subtle colour change and movement behind the laminated sheer.  Discharging is a technique I personally do not want to use much to avoid health risk.  Jacquard's discharge paste is my tool of choice whenever I do.  And up to this point I've only used it to experiement with and then used it to create a design on a 1/4 yard of fabric.  I've seen a colour remover by Ritz but have not experimented with it to know anything about it.  I'm needing to remove just a little colour without any hard edges in order for the gray fabric to work for me.

I also spent some time quilting the piece shown at the top of this previous post.  There is still 2/3 of it left to quilt but as B.B. King sings "better not look down...just keep it moving".  One day I'll look up and have a plethora of quilts I love and will not know what to do with!

Here are 3 more laminated pieces that I did while on retreat...pieces that I hope will become focal pieces in the Crowbonics series.  (I have at least 3 series that are on going and just flow in and out of them depending on where my mind and heart are and what my body can handle.  If you create series work, how do you go about it?)


 Please keep in mind that these are all in process or experiments and not viewed at completed.


Yesterday I started burning into the piece below which is where the white shows through.  The white is from the lid of the scanner.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010



Building #2, Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Complex

Even though Claire and Leslie were not present for the workshop, I find working with the processes highly transformative.  The week at the Crow Barn made me come to a decisive decision to turn The Beauty of Holiness Studio at Mellwood into a wet work studio.  I was leaning that way by way of wanting to try wet and nuno felting.  It didn't take long for me to move my dye supplies and accessories there. 

Yesterday I had a stretch of time that I spent at the studio and my goal was to work on the "crow" piece but I couldn't find the laminated pieces I did and was  for certain they were there.  After tracing my steps they turned up at Valerie's house where I had taken them to show her what I worked on.  I could have sworn that I had put them back in the car and my fear was that I had lost them out of the car in the moving of supplies.  I was close to heartbroken and panic when Val returned my call and said they were there!!!  My aim is to pick them up today.

Here are 2 of the fabrics I did while at the Crow Barn:


This is a side view of the piece.  Corrected view is 90 degrees left.  I'm calling the series Crowbonics.  I was going to call it The Secret Language of Crows but I challenged myself to find another word, a created word, that expressed my intentions.  I selected the Crow not only because I'm enamored with their intelligence, but also Crows represent cultures of people who are not centered in the mainstream.  The people can function on their own terms and/or seek/struggle to lessen disenfranchisement by the mainstream and/or people who attempt to balance the dualities of their own defined culture with co-existence in a mainstream/pop culture.   This way I include Audubon's mother, an African French woman of mixed race.  The piece has to be completed and in Henderson, Kentucky by the 28th of this month. 

Here is another partial view of a laminated piece:


Dark clouds, thunder, wind, and rain are going on.  Fine, if I'm not compelled to be out...but I must do what I must do. On second thought, I'm going to wait it out!  May the angels cover us all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sanctuaries, Volcanoes, Crows, and Friends

Is your studio or creative space also your sanctuary?  Mine is to the degree that its a place to be with my one thoughts and feelings without judgements and comparisons.  Even when there are others in the space with me, most of the time, I am the most I ever am comfortable.  In a similar vein, I feel this way at the Crow Barn for all of the two times I've been there. 

On the 18th of last month I arose from bed to pack my clothes for a week at the Crow Barn to take a long-awaited workshop with Leslie Morgan and Claire Benn.  A quick check of my email that morning made the distant monstrous cloud of an erupting volcano I didn't even know existed personal.  Leslie and Claire couldn't get out of the UK!  Short of throwing myself off my balcony, I managed to pull myself together, holster up the tatas, and drive to Columbus for the week. 

Mezzie, who was there with me in '08, was appointed as point-woman and organizer in lieu.  She did a excellent job that kept us readily supplied and moving forward.  Claire sent instructions via email and called in twice a day to the group to check our progress and offer feedback for any questions we had.  A husband of another participant took photos of our progress on that Wednesday with his super duper camera and emailed the images to Claire in order for us to have a productive 1:1 telephone conference with Claire that Thursday. 

Overall, it was a situation beyond anyone's control and everyone that came in for the workshop had the best attitude to make the week flow as best as best could be.  I'm so glad I forged ahead and didn't go over the balcony.  I left there with with a new beginnings for the American Crow piece for the Audubon exhibit.  Its a piece that I feel is reflective of the idea I wanted to express.

Here are some photos taken on the last day.  I was packed up by then so photos of my own work are forthcoming.  Know that the pieces you see aren't anything close to finished pieces but all are in-process at one stage or another.

DSCN1068 DSCN1073 DSCN1072 DSCN1077 DSCN1076 DSCN1071  The last image is of Super Cordial Courteous Carol.  She was there in '08 also and we ended up as roommates this time.  It was a little scary to room with someone who didn't know me and love me as a friend prior to sharing a hotel room but we had a great balance going on and it turned out well.

What almost became my undoing while in Columbus was all the technical problems I experienced with my oxygen.  It was one thing after another which was the primary reason I left on Friday.  Claire managed to get a flight out of the UK that scheduled her to arrive Friday evening.  For those that were able to stay from week #1 she was holding a Saturday class at the Barn.  Leslie made it in on Sunday I think and week #2 went well from what my friend Valerie phoned to tell me.  I did get to say hello to them individually via Val's phone.  Leslie and Claire are two of the most dynamic women I have ever met in ANY arena!  If you love processes as much as you love the outcome and if you love learning HOW to self-evaluate your work by developing and sharpening your eyes, and if you love creative energy-giving banter, then I suggest you seriously consider enrolling in a workshop with the two of them!