Friday, February 26, 2016

Inside the Studio with Erin Prais-Hintz

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to encourage you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries. And here are the results from last week!

Congratulations to Andrea PorterYou have won of a $20 gift certificate to Humblebeads. Please email Heather Powers to claim your prize.


Hello Art Bead Peeps!
It seems that I neglected to post my Perfect Pairings from Wednesday...oops. Sorry about that! Some things were happening behind the scenes this week and I am just starting to make my way back to the surface. Anyway... here is who I would have picked... had I been on the ball...

Nan Smith created these cool component with the strong geometric patterns in mind from the challenge art. The colors are strong, the shape is long and lean and I love that they are not quite the same but yet so very much together. 

Please check out Nan's work at her blog:

Check back here on Leap Day for our February monthly challenge recap. Get those entries in! We are giving away some great prizes this month!

So what have I been up to lately? If I am honest and looking around my studio, there doesn't seem to be much going on. But then I have to remember that the January-February-March time in my life almost always seems that way. I like to call it my 'fallow' season. A time for planting seeds and making the soil just right for new ideas to poke through. 
Chinese Ornamental Chilli Sprouting from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Sam-Cat, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
In 2010 I had my one and only solo art exhibit at the Gallery Q in Stevens Point. Of course, it wasn't truly solo, as I crafted it to be a collaborative effort between me, seven Q artists and 13 bead artists from around the world. I have often thought of doing something again, but could never find the right time, nor an abundance of open space in my life to make that happen.

But I had an idea for an art exhibit that I had been gnawing on for about two years... in January at our monthly members meeting I realized that the time was finally right. With an open spot on the calendar for September/October 2016, I took a deep breath and put my idea forward. 

Not only were the other artists happy to have me step in to fill that spot, there were several intrigued enough by my prospectus that they have indicated they want to play along with me. So now I have another collaborative art exhibit in the works and all my focus and energies are being funneled into this project.

The last time, (and I started about the same time for an August/September show) it took a lot of planning with artists, occupying the better part of the spring with the real bulk of the work happening in June and July. But with the way my life is these days, I know I cannot wait that long. So I am hoping to start with a calendar of ideas that I need to work on each month so that I am moving in the right direction. 

I am the worst sort of planner. I don't do calendars all that well. And I only get things done at the last minute. I don't want to be that way, yet I always have been. I am trying (somewhat unsuccessfully I might add) to be more proactive. But still, things keep popping up in my way.... like my daughter's dance performances in the April, complete with me making 10 year dancer necklaces (as is the tradition) and three necklaces for the director to wear this year (instead of just one), along with a host of fundraising elements for the show week... my son's high school graduation is looming at the end of May, complete with a Project Grad party where I have taken on the task of preparing the Senior DVD/Video with pictures of each kid from the past 18 years, and planning a party that we will host at our home to send him off to UW-Madison this fall... traveling to Florida to chaperone the dancers as they are guest performers in a show plus a dance intensive, and the following weekend traveling to Madison for a pre-collegiate dance invitational, both in mid-June... and that is just to mention a few things looming between now and then (not to mention work, baseball, my mom, the book club I joined in January, etc, etc, etc)... so I best get that calendar made up and try to stick to it! Okay. I know we are all busy, but I honestly don't know how I will do it. I just know that will. I have to. And now that I have told you, I know you will help hold me accountable, too! ;-)

So I am sure you are wondering what the theme is for the show... the theme is also the title:

Beauty in the Broken Places

It all started with this article I found about the ancient art of kintsugi, or the Japanese art of golden joinery. This article and artful video about embracing damage and seeing the beauty in the brokenness lead me down a rabbit hole of possibility...including this video.

The idea of kintsugi is that these flaws, these cracks are emblazoned with gold. It is the joining of the shards that makes the piece stronger in those broken places. It is about transformation. Cracks show the history, tell the story. The beauty in each of us is evident in the wounds that we all have. Celebrating our broken history, showing off our scars rather than trying to hide them...this is what makes the broken beautiful in a new way.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”
~ Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

From my exploration of kintsugi or kintsukuroi, I stumbled on wabi-sabi. The characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Impermanence and imperfection. From there I started thinking of the healing power of art. I don't want the art created for this exhibit to be a literal translation of any of these concepts (I am not going to go out and break bowls only to repair them). I want it to be multi-layered and something that will make people really stop and think. 
“Non-Japanese Makers may not realize it, but we practice this philosophy when we see a broken object’s potential, when we upcycle, when we repurpose, when we reincarnate an object that would otherwise likely be thrown away.” 
~MAKE magazine
Ideally, there will be pieces representing different media: jewelry, mosaic, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, ceramics, assemblage, upcycling, etc. And I have about a half dozen Q artists who will be lending their own artistic voices to my vision.

An additional feature that I want in the show is ekphrastic poetry written about the art and on the theme. ("An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art." Thanks, Wikipedia!) I had an accomplished Wisconsin poet in mind for this. I contacted her and she is intrigued and totally on board. Yea!

My thought is to have an artist "talkback" on the opening reception where we can discuss our art and how we translated the theme, what our process is and how art has the power to heal us and bring us together.

Ideally, I would like to have a few workshops/classes related to the theme and the art hosted by myself and some of the other artists. This is a great way to reach out to more patrons and draw them into our processes. I plan to teach at least one class on making personal mantra jewelry and also one on making small personal shrines. I would love to see what the other artists might come up with. If it works with my poet, I would love to have a workshop on writing ekphrastic poetry based on the art. 
"Art is a wound turned into light." 
~ Georges Braque
There are a lot of themes that overlap and intertwine in this idea... forgiveness, healing, apologizing, brokenness... trauma that is repressed but not erased... how our faults, our flaws make us who we are... aging to perfection... repurposing old things to give them new life.... turning a negative into a transformed and luminous positive... rising from the ashes of despair, doubt, sadness to a new light... embracing our wounds, our cracks to make them the most beautiful part of us... telling the stories of the scars.

I want to explore the merging of these ancient Japanese concepts and interpret them in new ways. I want to broaden the scope of this show to include as many different perspectives as possible; hence, a collaborative show open to any Q artists. I want to focus on the transformative nature of art…how art has a powerful role in healing. I want to include a message component, with ekphrastic and other poetry written on the subjects presented and messages embedded in the art. I want to provide more intimate settings to expand on the artwork (process, technique, etc) and connect to our patrons about the theme as it relates to our own work, while also providing opportunities for helping others to find their own creative interpretations of the theme.

For my own art, I plan to do a mixture of things. Jewelry, obviously. Some that will include upcycled treasures, crusty finishes, visible cracks. I have been re-learning my soldering iron, gathering copper of all sorts, seeking new polymer clay techniques. If I have time, I will add some illustrated word art that features messages of hope. But I am most excited to be taking my Tesori Tesserae mixed media mosaics in a whole new direction. New shape. New textures. In the end I don't know that it will look anything like what I have been doing.

Perhaps this show will

Detail from the 10"x10" mixed media polymer clay mosaic "Today I am Wise" for the show "New Beginnings at Gallery Q Artists' Cooperative, January 2016
I have been reading books and devouring images of alternative art surfaces, mixed media techniques, discovering ways to coerce patina to bloom. I am embracing the messages that I want to impart with each piece and allowing their truth to settle in my soul so that I can have it peek through in the final pieces. I am looking at the mess that is my studio with new eyes, seeing the treasure like never before. I have been trolling thrift shops, hardware stores and my own personal stash. I have been amassing a lot of materials, supplies, and tools that on the surface seem like an incredibly chaotic and eclectic lot with no connections whatsoever. Now it is up to me to find the common thread, to make ready for the bursting forth of creative energy that is bound to come.

I wonder what these tiny vintage watch crystals will become...

Did I mention I only have about six months to get it all done? To fill up the gallery space. To plan the workshops. To rally the other artists. To market the show and encourage people to sign up for classes. So if I you don't hear much from me, you will know why. I will be making peace with the broken parts and letting the cracks bring forth the light.

So now the real work begins.
I have an extra pendant for the March Simple Truth component of the month (Totally behind on February but ahead of March! I can't show it here because it is still February, but trust me, you will love it!). I will send it to one lucky reader for an answer to this question...
How has art healed you?

I look forward to reading your answers!


Jess Green said...

Your show sounds really super amazing! Wish I was in the area and could come see!

I suffer quite badly with anxiety and depression - art is a great way of dealing with it, a couple of hours wire-wrapping a day helps keep the blues at bay :D

Mary @ said...

Have fun creating for your showing.

Julie Bray said...

That was a beautiful post, I enjoyed reading it. Don't take on too much, are you sure you need to do ALL those things?

I am still trying to find the time to make some Fabulous Facets, I have watched your DVD more than once....made all the trips to Michaels and the scrap booking store for the goodies... now to clear a space and start..

How to describe how art heals. Most importantly it keeps me from getting myself into all kinds of hot water by keeping me occupied on my own solitary journey. No dwelling on the past as it provides me with a focus and makes me feel hopeful about the future...

Alice said...

Several years ago the job I loved so much was no longer after it closed.
So there I was at home in a small town that had not much in the way of work.
Long story short I met a lady that made jewelry and took me under her wing.
I love all types of art because of her.

Heather Powers said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing the progress of your show. What a beautiful theme and I know you will rise to the challenge.

Nan Smith said...

What a beautiful post about that Japanese concept .I love what you've written and you amaze me with what you do and will do. Your ideas for the gallery sound wonderful especially the artists talking about their work. I will definitely be exploring this idea of healing the broken pieces. I love all things Japanese !
Thank you,Erin, for featuring my earrings in the perfect pairings post...I'm thrilled with your description of them. You have such a gift for words!

Ann Schroeder said...

I love all the thought behind your show! I hope you share lots of photos. I live a lot inside my head and tend to overthink. When I'm creating, it allows me to be in the moment. It feels so serene!

beadrecipes said...

I wish I lived nearby so I could see your show, it sounds fantastic! As for the question, well, making jewellery gave me something to do that wasn't focused solely on the care and welfare of my family when I was home with child number 3. Without it, I think I'd be even more of a FB addict than I am right now (and probably addicted to bad daytime television too LOL).

Divya N said...

Making jewelry is what has helped me deal with my ortho - neuro related pain. Whenever I am depressed or sad or angry I turn to jewelry and find that it soothes me. It has also helped me gain recognition, acceptance and boosted my confidence many a times. Thanks a lot for sharing the Kintsugi video

Kathy Lindemer said...

Best wishes for your show! I look forward to hearing more about it. Please share!

Making art is calming for me. Creating pushes extraneous thoughts from my mind. I also enjoy yoga for some of the same reasons.

Shelley Graham Turner said...

Excited for you Erin. You always have the coolest ideas. I know you will not only succeed but will have an outstanding exhibit! Keep us in the loop.

Leona said...

Wow Erin! Love the theme you have chosen - it is a theme I have played with recently as well. It is a wonderful area of exploration and discovery. And you sound really pumped by it. I would add a quote: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in" Leonard Cohen. Creating allows me to bring my imagination to life.

thecolorofdreams said...

Oh, how I would love to attend your show. I know it will be great! I think that making things has always made me a better person. I used to craft with my Mom when she made items to sell for charity at the church. It has always helped me through the hard times when I worry about things. Art does seem to make the cracks get stronger.

Karen M said...

Please be sure to share your journey to the show! I too wish I were in the neighborhood so I could enjoy the exhibit. Good luck!!'

Art has provided me with so much. The courage to try new things and to overcome challenges. The realization that I have skills and talent beyond that of my professional career. The ability to open my heart to kind words, beautiful pictures or even a precious little bead. It's a wonderful adventure!!! I admire you and all artists here and thank you for sharing your ideas and dreams.