Installing MMMM in NYC…

Thank you Flickr!!

Thank you Flickr!!

When I walked into the Cathedral St. John the Divine earlier this September, I was there to install a giant installation for the exhibition “The Value of Water”, and had never been to the site before….quite nerve-wracking and almost a little absurd for an installation that is all about taking on the shape of its environment. And, I wouldn’t be able to install it myself.   I had been using measurements (some of them contradictory) cobbled together by several people, some dark low-res pictures, and a very simplified floor plan to try to create a plan for something that I usually created painstakingly with my own hands on-site to fit the exact shape of things.  Thank the heavens for the hundreds of tourist photos of the Cathedral on Flickr, it was only through pouring over those that I could even begin to grasp what was going on in all the soaring heights and gigantic arches and wings, bays and arches, and arches!

Armed with my little detailed plans, having worked them out with the crocheting in my studio back in Seattle, I was nervous — what if the measurements were wrong…there was no time or space or crocheting to recreate or adjust things as I usually did because the installation was going to be 65 feet off the ground and done by riggers; I couldn’t  just go up and tweak something.  But after a few minutes of talking over the plans with Daniel from Sapsis Rigging, I knew everything was going to be fine.  Like every other art installer/preparator I have ever met, he was nonchalantly unflappable, nothing dramatic….and just said “no problem”.

Once when we had some glitch, he said something like “that’s a little hard, but hard is no big deal” and then went on to talk about some crazy thing they had to do for Sting when he performed at the Cathedral!

It ended up being one of the easier installations I’ve ever put up, and very fun to get to climb up into the little spiraling staircase and tiny corredors the run up inside the Cathedral.  Paul got to do a lot of fun stuff, I am a bit afraid of heights, at least at 65 feet.

little staircase to the balconies, quite dark without the flash...

little staircase to the balconies, quite dark without the flash...

tiny little hallway in the dark...

tiny little hallway in the dark...

Daniel in the Genie, 40 feet up

Daniel in the Genie, 40 feet up

Paul beginning to stretch the crocheting open...

Paul beginning to stretch the crocheting open...

And we even had plenty of time to crank out more crocheted ropes during lunch at the Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street.  When you’re working hard, giant creme puffs count as lunch….

Now…time to go through and edit all the images of the final installation, and the beautiful images of the other work in the show….more to come documenting the MMMM installation in NYC.

And you can still support this project traveling to NYC through my Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to cover some of the shortfalls from time off from work, materials, shipping and travel expenses. Just 8 days left to raise $770 to fund this project, and every $5 helps!  Thank you so much, more images to come!

MMMM River comes down in Atlanta tomorrow….

Bye-bye Agnes Scott College….

Curator Lisa Alembik is a saint for taking down my installation without  me…..

Next, it returns home to Seattle for a little urban installation at Ohge Ltd. Gallery here in Seattle, which I believe opens on January 23rd…..and I just realized I’ll need to make more ropes, oh my!  Watch out for a crochet party coming soon!!

More images from the fun in Atlanta here

The Performance is upon us! 7/16/09 at 6:30 pm

rehearsing

rehearsing

Thursday July 16th, 2009 at 6:30 pm  Mater Matrix Mother and Medium will reach its performative culmination with a site-specific performance by Seattle-based and internationally-recognized choreographer/dancer Zoe Scofield, with music for clarinet and megaphone created and performed by musician/composer Morgan Henderson .

 

Come join in this one-time experience at the Pond at Camp Long in West Seattle, 5200 35th Ave. SW.  

 

The Performance, created by collaboration between myself, Zoe Scofield and Morgan Henderson is a hushed reflection on the subtle dynamics of the Forest embedded in the urban environment, at once organic as it is artificial.  All three artists, in our own way, having responded to the quirky overgrown tranquility of Camp Long’s little pond, invite you to sit for a short time in quiet observation of the rhythms of this unusual site, heightening your focus through sound, movement, breath and site-responsive installation.

 

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium began with the creation of a 200 ft.- long fiber river, created in part through a series of over 30 community events all over Seattle, where I taught anyone willing to learn, how to crochet.  I then took the fiber “pools” into the forest of Camp Long and spent nearly six weeks on a ladder crocheting the river into the trees, flowing from 25 feet up in the tree canopy to nearly touching the forest floor.

 

The River, made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny moments and movements of individual citizens, integrated, linked together and interwoven into the natural environment, will itself embed Zoe Scofield in an exploration of how we ourselves are both literal and metaphoric manifestations of the living essence of water.  Our experience of water is both one of ultimate intimacy and also of civic structure.  This artwork, a unique blend of community engagement and personal inquiry, site-embedded installation and performance, embodies the ancient human practice of acknowledging our own physicality rooted in the cycles of water and how this forms the very foundation of human community.  Water, both mundane and miraculous, mirrors the everyday meeting of strangers and the tiny moments that begin to bond us together.

 

Please consider bringing a blanket to sit on during the performance but lawn chairs will obstruct others’ view.  Come enjoy some tranquility! 

 

This project is part of three temporary public art projects in the Water Calling series, and are commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) 1% for Art funds. The projects reflect SPU’s management of the complete cycle of hydrology for Seattle’s water resources from drinking water through drainage, and Restore Our Waters, the city’s initiative to protect and restore Seattle’s urban waterways.

 

The Arts | Art and conversation flow from hands and heart of artist Mandy Greer | Seattle Times News

72 backlit pool
A great article in the Seattle Times!  Thank you to all the people who are coming to visit the park because of it!

The Arts | Art and conversation flow from hands and heart of artist Mandy Greer | Seattle Times News.

Crocheting into the Woods!

I have been chomping at the bit to begin the process of installing this giant river form into the woods at Camp Long, so am excited to say I have started.  It’s a slow laborious process, like putting together a giant puzzle….but it’s really fun!

72 pauls net  And going to take me the full month with my hands full time in the woods.  I have so much I wish I could post on this blog, but it will actually have to wait until I get the majority of the river into the trees.  Like, I saw a giant owl the other day in Camp Long.  A Giant, chilling, mythology-making creature staring at me with dark black eyes like she could eat me if she felt like it…..it was amazing!

Inspiration for MMMM at Columbia City Gallery: Another performer collaboration and another crochet event

This Saturday May 30th from 5-8pm at the Columbia City Gallery , I have work in a group show called “5280; Ten Artists Living Within a Mile of the Gallery”.  I’ll be showing a little bit of inspiration for MMMM — another product of a collaboration with an incredible performer. Last summer and fall, I collaborated with the luminous performance artist, Haruko Nishimura.

the Slug Princess

the Slug Princess

 

dusk at Smoke Farm

dusk at Smoke Farm

 Together we created a hybridized mythological creature, the Slug Princess — an arion slug goddess —  with my work as the lumbering undulating skin and Haruko’s work with Butoh as the mercurial spirit of this creature of appetite.  We then worked with filmmaker Ian Lucero to create a short film called “The Silvering Path”, shot at Smoke Farm in Arlington Washington.

 

filming

filming

 

 It was an intensely inspiring experience for me, watching my work, shredded fibers and yarns crocheted and beaded, pulsing and lumbering through tall grasses, twisting around rocks, picking up dirt, moisture and life.  

 

little creature on my creature

little creature on my creature

I believe the three of us together created something really beautiful and unsettling, and I wanted more.  More collaboration, and more of seeing fiber breath to life, not just because it was wrapped around a body, but because it rubbed and caressed the natural environment.  I knew I wanted to do work that didn’t just use the natural environment as a site for action, but would become entwined, enmeshed with all the processes, however minute, of the environment.  I wanted to push my work with a performer further away from “costume” & literally interweave the body into the landscape using stones, trees and flowing water interacting with changing fabric. I wanted to explore using the environment as material not simply backdrop, to create an installation that is in & changed by the elements.  

an early sketch

an early sketch

Then this SPU project came up, and of course those desires and ideas from the Silvering Path directly inspired what I am trying to accomplish now with MMMM and the interaction with the landscape at Camp Long.  So, at the Columbia City Gallery I’ll be showing the slug wearable element as well as these giant magic crocheted cabbages from the film.  It’s a group show celebrating 10 years of the Gallery, as well as celebrating this little hub of artists down here in the south end.  More about “The Silvering Path”…

And the Gallery has also generously offered to host a crochet event on Thursday June 11 from 6-8 pm, so you can come crochet,see the show,  catch dinner at Tutta Bella and head to a movie at Columbia Cinema.  Columbia City has it all!!  The Columbia City Gallery is at 4864 Rainier Ave S | Seattle WA 98118 | 206.760.9843

“5,280” runs from May 27 – July 5th, 2009

Ten yards of silk…..

I dyed 10 yards of silk today.  If I could eat china silk, I would….it is so beautiful and easily takes on the exact color of blue I want for the wearable element, a sky Hindu-ish color, like the walls of Silence Heart Nest restaurant.  Peaceful, holy, dream-like.  Thank you, silk.  I dried it in the sun on my rosemary bush, and am hoping it will still smell so good by the time Zoe gets to wear it.  In the next several days, 10 yards will be gobbled up in giant crocheted ruffles.  Crocheting is a bit ruthless about using up materials…

 

a bit of sky fell down

a bit of sky fell down

Valuing Process over Product: West Seattle Library

very special yarn

very special yarn

It was a quiet day at the West Seattle Library a few weeks ago, which gave me some insight into what it means to really value process over product.

Robin with her yarn

Robin with her yarn

Robin stopped by with several balls of wool she had spun and dyed just for the project!  How incredibly lucky I feel to get to work with this stuff, and I’m giving a ball to my husband Paul Margolis for a new ‘crocheted second skin’ project he’s working on.  Robin and I worked and talked for four hours about the pleasure of figuring things out and making things ourselves (and the many uses of Youtube for the autodidact), from roasting coffee in her backyard, to butter making, tatting and making cheese.  It was a conversation I probably wouldn’t have had if 15 people had showed up, and I really don’t know if I would have ever met Robin if it weren’t for this aspect of this project,  to create a space for people to come together, work with our hands and allow the slow and meandering flow of conversation to happen.  It’s not about some preconceived notion of what dialogue or discourse about art should be, or even community.  I have to begin with why on earth I’m there, how this piece came to be, what it is about for me the artist, and then something just begins to happen, sometimes slow, sometimes hard.  And then, like making butter (really), it turns to something harmonious.   The process has opened me up more to taking people as they are, and allowing this work about creating conversation to mean a little something different each time.  DSC_0179 Meeting Robin also  gave me the opportunity to get a bit more earnest about this project being about ‘process’  rather than ‘product’.  Admittedly, I am a person with a drive and a particular amount of ambition — it’s just how I have been able to get things done  — and there is a certain part to ambition that views things in numbers, and ‘how many’.  Is the project a success if I don’t have hundreds of hundreds of people participating?  The last three weeks of meeting many, many people, and the huge spectrum of interactions from 2 minutes of describing the project in a coffee shop, to sitting and talking with a stranger for four hours — this stranger giving up four hours of their time to contribute to something I deeply care about — has made me come to understand that I also have to accept the process of making this River as it unfolds, rather than what ambition might have wanted.  One person showing up at an event allows for a different sort of interaction, just as important as feeling like a lot of people have made space in their lives to join this project.  Community is a word used to describe a group, but that group forms around the tiny moments of connection that happen between 2 people at a time.  I feel much more energized, moving around the city, more appreciative of the small moments of this project.

Robin's yarn in a system of pools

Robin's yarn in a system of pools