Friday, August 17, 2012

Artists Statements for our joint exhbit (click on page tab above for details)

Ronald “Upfromsumdirt” Davis

Digital Collage is my primary medium but I also do illustrations and paintings.  I start with hand drawings using a digital tablet and found images that are further manipulated in digital software.  My work has appeared in galleries, museums, coffee houses and juke joints in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. In 2009 I was a Kentucky Al Smith grant award winner.  As a creative person, I am inspired to create a visual fantasy that expresses an African American narrative and mythology.  I call what I do Abstrack Africana, a fluid aesthetic where technology, science, history, mythology and art merge and co-mingle. 

I gain inspiration from everywhere. However, music and the written word have the greatest influences on me.  Sun Ra, Chinua Achebe and George Clinton have inspired my artistic work just as much as Pedro Bell, Romare Bearden and Emory Douglas.  I hear a riff by Charles Mingus and I ask myself, “How can I make that into art?  How can I reshape the images generated by it into poetic verse?”  This is my obsession.

Additionally, I am the art and poetry editor for Mythium Literary Journal ( and co-owner of Wild Fig Bookstore in Lexington, Kentucky.

 Karen “Karoda” Davis

With the soul of a poet, I create mixed media art quilts that are heavily process oriented.  Starting with white cloth that receives color via dyes/paints and according to the visual idea, the cloth will undergo various surface design treatments, such as, screen printing, wax resist, stamping, over-dyeing and/or hand writing. The designed cloth then in turn becomes raw material for whole cloth or pieced quilts that receive stitching, embroidery and/or hand beading.  The finished pieces are for hanging or framing.  I am just as comfortable in a hardware store and grocery store and waste can, as I am in a fabric store when scouring for studio materials.

I am mostly interested in the processes of creating as a way to explore my sense of freedom and limitations and as a way to connect to a larger sense of community. Chitlin’ Circuit is the name of my studio.  It is located in the Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center.  My blog,, is one of the earliest known blogs documenting processes and ideas by an African American art quilter as referenced in This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers Bible Quilts and Other Pieces by Kyra Hicks.

Showing work alongside Upfromsumdirt, my brother, has been a dream of mind since I began my visual art journey in 2004.  We are both products of Louisville’s public schools and the West End of Louisville.

We hope you enjoy the mix of art produced by both our hands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feeling the pinch in the shoe

The weather has been wonderful for the last 2 the 80s, low humidity, partially cloudy blue sky.  It was just a bit challenging to stay the course...was wishing for an outside studio today.

Today in the studio was more and the same...hand quilting, stabilizing a quilt that was attached to rag paper, layering another top.  Me sustaining this kind of focus for months at a time has become like squeezing a size 9 foot into a size 8 shoe.

Material Remains(c) 2012
This is the quilt mounted on rag paper and foamcore.  I know this was started about 18 months ago.  I placed it in my front window.  I still need to figure out how to attach wire for hanging.

This is the hand quilting followed by the next quilt to go under the needle.
 Only 1 side edge remains to be quilted.  It will need some serious blocking before I square it up.
3 sunflowers.
When Nysha was here in June he showed me his pocket size journal that he carries with him at all times for the purpose of doodling.  My journals are larger and I haven't made it even a monthly practice of late.  I thought the small size would be more forgiving when it was neglected and easy to do a small page without a lot of preparation and forethought.  I took the last 30 minutes in the studio to add color to some previous line drawings.  My attempt at taking my size 9 foot out of the size 8 shoe.
The journal is 5.5"x3.5"....a photo-collage of the small pages.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I've always said there is knowing, and there is Knowing...actually many levels of knowing.  In preparations for the exhibit in September, I've learned some things:

1. For collaborative exhibits make sure everyone has in and has ownership.
2. In estimating time to prepare, figure it up and then double it.
3. In estimating cost, figure it up and then double it.
4. Know the gallery and clarify what work is un/acceptable.
5. got to love 'em.
6. I'm not ready for a solo exhibit.

There may be more lessons to come before it is over, but these 6 bits I've taken to heart and soul.

August has been all about hand and machine quilting.  I haven't been able to use the summer for any dyeing or breakdown printing or any surface design of cloth at all.

Minor but significant challenges have centered around how to hang a few pieces that are mounted to rag paper without running up the cost.  Joann's gave me an estimate on one for 110 dollars and that was without glass and with the 50% off.  I have come up with 3 other options but haven't settled on any of them.
Material Remains(c) hanging on the line in my studio

The gallery for Ron and me is owned by a religious organization and they prohibit nudity.  I knew that going in but my idea of nudity varies from what gets defined as nudity.  Here I am thinking "nudes" as the man/woman splayed full frontal for all to see.  Here is one of Ron's pieces that was eliminated.  One that I love a lot and just didn't figure in my equation of nudity.
Untitled by Ronald "UPfromsumdirt" Davis 

I'm going to offer it along with another one of his pieces that is more like a cartoon drawing which was also eliminated to The Kore Gallery.  It might be too radical for The Kore also, but I have a relationship with the gallery and I'm going to present Ron's work for their voting procedure.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Moving right along...

If left to my own inclinations I really believe I could become a studio hermit.  Having a chronic disability has made me hyper aware of what is going on with my body and making art is an on-going conversation between my mind, body, and spirit along the lines of what I can and can't do.  Pushing myself releases endorphin (or some other feel good body chemical) and I'm on a natural high.  I hate to pull myself away from my studio when this is occurring but sometimes I must.  I did complete the quilting on the above piece pinned to the design board and before I left I chose the threads for it's companion shown below.  More of my hieroglyphs... 

I can't wait to get back there! but other fun does call :)


First of all, I'm not a movie goer...movies in the theater aren't that compelling to me and I prefer watching them in the comfort of my own place.  So when I go to the movies, I'm looking for more than just a "good" movie.  I'm wanting gripping, intense, take my breath suspension and immersion into a story and characters that put me inside the movie.  Sorta like a Toni Morrison novel but in film.  Beasts of the Southern Wild did it for me!  I'm living with this movie inside my head since seeing it on Saturday.  The story, the characters and the actors who portrayed them are fresh and vibrant, but the story! It is difficult for me to come out and just say "it is a movie about such and such"...the story is not simple and their lives are not simple and the cinematography is similar to an IMAX is pulls you inside the scene and is right there in your face.  There is a community of people living off a coast in an area called The Bathtub...its about how they survive and the choices they make and the love they have for one another and the land...the lessons of life are not about judging but taking life head on and winning no matter what comes.  It revolves around a family of a father and his young daughter and the tenacious spirit of love they have for one another.

There are only 3 other movies that I can think of at the moment that got inside of me like this one...Crash, Daughters of the Dust, and Bamboozled.  Oh Brother Where Art Thou and The Color Purple I can re-watch (I seldom re-watch) over and over because of the story line that and genius script.  So I'm telling you to go to the Beasts of the Southern Wild website and check the calendar to see when it will open in your area.  It is worth a 2 hour drive to see!

Now, what have I been up to in the studio?  Still plugging right along.  I took yesterday off to stay in and rest but today I completed the quilting on one piece and made progress on this one...

This is one is set in a custom built wood frame. It is on a wood frame canvas and is permanently set in the custom frame...this is the 2nd small piece finished this way and I think it sets them off well.

the side view...

the back view...I need to attach eye-screws and hanging wire and it will be ready for the wall.

I'll get back into the studio tomorrow because I got to "BEAST IT!!!!!!!!!!!!"