Recycled Art Education

Vertical angle of Rain Rug

As you can see, there is progress on the Rain Rug. In the last two weeks, my luck has held out and the various thrift stores have had a variety of sheets in good colors to add to my paintbox. Greens, purple, pink. Maybe we can have a sheet tearing party one of these days in the backyard!

Another, very important event, that will raise money for Art Education outreach in Ypsi, Ann Arbor, and Westland, is a “Studio Workshop” series on creative re-use at FLY Art Center in downtown Ypsi (see the map below!) on July 6 and July 13 at 2:00 pm.  There are other classes and open studio opportunities as well.  It’s a fun thing to do on a summer Saturday, so come on down!

Latest up cycled t-shirt back Tetrahedron floppy rag bag prototype.

The first workshop will feature instructions about how to re-mix a tee-shirt from baggy dad-shirt into fashionable fitted cuteness. It will give students (adults are welcome too!) an opportunity to learn the basics of crochet, and then to work up to the second workshop which will show how to make a small rag-rug project, most likely a coaster or a placemat, but advanced students might try a bag or basket.

I’ve been volunteering with FLY for a little while now, (only 2 events, but who’s counting!) and really enjoy their mission. They go into schools mostly armed with every-day objects and help kids harness their creativity by letting them loose with a theme or problem to solve at the “art buffet” with their cafeteria trays to select their supplies. The students are free to follow the direction or make something new, and always with the support of FLY staff and volunteers.


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Peace for Gezi Park

Kissing in Taksim Square

Last Sunday afternoon, after the Eco Ride, I participated in a local event to support and share more information about what’s going on in Turkey since 31 May, 2013. The above is one of two stained-glass-collages (and accompanying stencils) that I made to highlight some of the iconic photographs that came out of the protests. If you are in the area, you can like the organization page on Facebook.  If you aren’t local, it is still an interesting page as they review both Turkish and international press and provide some translations and summaries of articles you wouldn’t otherwise see.

At first I did not want to directly illustrate any of the violent responses because by showing violent reactions in a beautiful way, it in some way romanticizes that violence. The first drawing that I did was of a couple kissing next to some burning rubble. The love of individuals becoming apparent even in the context of the flames of conflict. Taking artistic liberty, I turned the flames into the leaves of the trees that must now be re-planted in Gezi Park.

Kissing in Taksim Square
Seeing choreographed blood and explosions in movies can be exciting, though real blood and real destruction, even from animals killed by the side of the road is disturbing. Part of the reason that works of film are exciting is because they are not real. Things don’t happen that way, and we know it. Many of the photos of the violence that has been going on in Taksim Square have been graphic and disempowering. Turning them into stained glass would not show solidarity, it would romanticize the ugliest parts of the goings-on.

What changed my mind was this photograph.

We cannot see the face of the woman in the original. She could be you, she could be me. She stands, ready to face the impending impact with arms wide as if she is going to hug the water. Powerful like the Nike of Samothrace.  Nike, for those who haven’t studied as much art history refers to a personification of Athena as goddess of victory in battle. Unlike some other images, that I won’t post, it does not show the moment when she falls, but rather the moment when her peace faces down the violent onslaught of water.

Nike of Samothrace (Louvre Official Catalog)

In my version of the image, I made the area surrounding the woman lighter and more green than the rest, hoping to show that out of this moment perhaps new green space and a hard look at the political problems that Turkey faces will grow up. Perhaps this small act of resistance will be a first step into the victory of non-violent protest, spurring political action against corruption.

For the protestors in Turkey

Bracelets for Ecoride

Photo of 2 Bracelets

Next Sunday, the 23 of June, is the forty-first annual EcoRide. It has a couple of different loops for local bicyclists that stop at a variety of eco-conscious area sites. Ann Arbor is rife with ecologically conscious farmers, recycling and re-use places, etc, so the EcoRide only stops at a few, but it is nevertheless a fun day.

This year, I’ll be participating in their new pop-up art gallery event in Riverside Park (the ANN ARBOR one, not the Ypsi one), bringing along my rag rug (and maybe some little things) and sharing my skills as a fiber artist to raise awareness about sustainability. Just like the now slightly tarnished “Live Strong” bracelet, participants will be invited to make their own recycled t-shirt bracelets, titled, reCYCLE bracelets. Hopefully it will not only be fun for the young riders, but will inspire others to share what they know about recycling.


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Here’s a video I made for the Ecology Center so they can promote the EcoRide.

In addition, my mother will be at the Leslie Science Center in the Project Grow Garden there. She makes recycled garden sculptures that can be used as trellises, light trees, or scarecrows as well as looking really cool.

Recycled Planter with pink flowers

060:365 Gracie on a Summer Evening

060:365 Gracie on a Summer Evening

Here’s a pic from last summer of Gracie surreptitiously pretending to take a bath after chasing a squirrel who dashed away too fast for him to catch. He looked up as if to say, “See, I’m just taking a bath!” Typical feline nonchalance.

Again this is that new recycled toned paper from Strathmore. I’m a big fan of paper that isn’t white, especially with pastels. It has a glow about it that doesn’t come through with white paper, and it makes you look at hue, tone, and color differently. This tan doesn’t hit you over the head, but sets a nice neutral background for achieving that glow. And as you might have guessed, I love environmentally conscious products. Although it doesn’t have as high a percentage of recycled content as some papers, it still has 30%!

Say goodnight Gracie!

This is the Instagram photo that the drawing is based on. Although I like to draw from life, I’m feeling nostalgic for warmer weather. We are still covered under several inches of snow, and though it’s pretty, it’s also wet, cold, and hazardous. Hopefully March will be kinder than February!

059:365 Swoosh

059:365 Swoosh
This is the other color of the new Strathmore recycled sketch in toned paper. Tan.

It’s just a nice color, but I wanted to use more neutral colors. By this point, even with the few drawings that you’ve seen so far, you probably know that I love bright colors though, and I couldn’t resist putting in a spattering of yellow.

This morning I woke up plenty early. I should have done the drawing then. Instead, I worked on some knitting projects. So this drawing is just play, not something in particular.

Even so, I like it. It’s dynamics and color, but the toned paper lets me feel like I can leave some paper-texture showing, creating some depth to the colors.

Tomorrow I think I’ll do a Gracie drawing on this paper. Orange and brown and green on this paper should be nice!