A new home

I Need a Third Eye sold this week. It was whisked away to its new home after its trip to New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Cohen's have a beautiful home full of great art. It is an honor to be included in their collection. 

I Need a Third Eye, Paula Kovarik, 45" x 45"

This piece actually put me on a new path in my practice.

It taught me that nothing is precious, all things belong and chaos can have an underlying order.

See a post about its construction here

Georgia on my mind

Fallout, detail, Paula Kovarik

I have a few pieces in an exhibit at the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning in Duluth, Georgia for the next couple of months. I think about those pieces out there on their own, holding their own among peers. How will the visitors take in the breadth of the show? How will my pieces fit in? 

If you are in Georgia, take a little time to check out the show. There are works by myself as well as Kevin Curry, Valerie S. Goodwin, Jess Jones, Joyce Watkins King and Macey Ley — All artists working in fiber. What could be better than that?

Into the Nature: Cycles, Habitats & Elements of Place

Curated by Angela Nichols

May 22 – July 28, 2018
Hudgens Center for Art and Learning
6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Building 300
Duluth, GA 30097
Exhibition Reception: Saturday, June 2

The selected works examine beauty, rhythm, conflict and topography; how the natural world is impacted by man and how human existence makes marks on the world. 

Here are some detail shots of the works I have at the show.  

Disrupting the disruptors

Woodcutface_PaulaKovarik.jpg

One month. That's what it took to do the piece I just finished. It is part of series I hope to complete in 2018. All of the pieces start with the fabric I created at the Steamroller Printing class I took last fall. It was a comfort zone challenge. Drawing an image, cutting it into wood, inking the wood and pulling a HUGE print via a steamroller.  More about that here and  here.

My practice is about the inside coming out. I deconstruct and reconstruct what is comfortable and what is not. So these faces and beasts make sense to me this month. They are a short circuit to the anxiety I feel.

If my thoughts had a soundtrack it would be played in a minor key.

I have a solo show at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens in Memphis right now. It showcases my work over the past ten years. Seeing them all hanging together made me focus on their similarities and their differences. There are a number of them that show the deep-rooted concern I feel about the environment, our government and the welfare of the people in the world. So it is with no surprise to me that this cartoon-ish print that started in fun ended up with a dark undertone. Here is the front of this piece called Disruptors:

Disruptors, front, Paula Kovarik

And, here is the darkness in the back.

Disruptors, back, Paula Kovarik

And here is the next piece I will tackle. It is actually a quilt top that I created for the print.

Under that quilt top is an inked board with the images I carved into it. After layering the quilt top with paper, felt and some particle board the steamroller passes over the sandwich to create the printed fabric.

Here are some close-ups of the fabric after it was printed. The back seems more interesting to me because of the ragged nature of the seams. I may work from that side to create the next piece in this series.

The Dark Side

I stitch all day on the front side of my quilts. The journey from idea to final is often full of surprises. I look for that in each piece like finding a needle among pins.

These blocky forms cry out for some textural details.

So when I started this piece, now called Disruptors, my focus was on the front. The images are strong geometric shapes with details that look like animals or confused beings.  My challenge is to bridge the blocky forms with line work that makes sense. 

I'm always looking for ways to bridge differences. I ask myself these questions:

  • How does one fabric, color or texture relate to the next?
  • Where are the direction lines in the composition?
  • What would texture do to make this piece stronger?
  • Where can I add an element of continuity without sacrificing the chaos that I am going for?
Bridging gives structure, action and depth.

I started here by outlining the blocky shapes with a bright orange thread. Then did some ricochet stitching in the white areas of the piece. By ricochet I mean that I travel across a space until I hit an imaginary barrier than pivot and do the same until I hit another. It's like a ping pong ball bouncing in an empty room. The texture often ends up being an assemblage of triangles. Those complement the triangles in my print. Each character in this stage has a unique personality. So I decided to use a different texture in each element. Easy right? The variety of the shapes and textures added to a sense of chaos and disruption and the orange thread pumped up the drama. I thought I had it.

The textural differences in each character adds depth to the piece.

And then I turned the piece over to clean up any loose threads.

 Disruptors, back side, Paula Kovarik

Disruptors, back side, Paula Kovarik

Oh my. Hello stranger. where have you been these past two weeks? 

Disruptors, back detail. Paula Kovarik

This is the back side of the second image in this post. I'm loving that orange/yellow line.

There are always two sides to every stitched story.  I am entranced by this one. I am even willing to sacrifice the front to continue on the back. I'm not sure what this side is telling me but I will continue to build on it before I end this journey. Perhaps the message will emerge.

ends and beginnings

I emptied my thread ends box today. It held the threads that didn't get used on a piece this year. These threads were active players without a field to play in. They came into existence at the end of thoughts rather than the beginnings. They got snipped off and thrown to the side after trying hard to be part of the team. There are a lot of them.

I've grown used to not being satisfied with each and every work that I create. Like these thread ends some work just doesn't work. The process of creating has become more important to me than the finishing up. For each work that gets finished I estimate that there are two or three pieces that get thrown under the table. Thus, I have fallen in love with my rotary cutter, it facilitates my cut-up-and-rework frame of mind. I am beginning to see a signature style in all of the work. I am drawn to black. I like surprises and there is an undertow of anxiety in all of them.

Cut-up-and-rework pieces

I named the work I finished: Aquifer, Beast, Chaos Ensues, Focus on Something Else, Glyphs, I Need a Third Eye, Ladder to Elsewhere, Looking for the Pattern that Connects, Signals, Thugs, Unglued, and Unmapped.

Some finished pieces

And now I am working on a piece called Ship of Fools.

Ship of Fools work in progress

2018 will be filled with new challenges: a one man show at a local art museum, a proposal to a local venue for a juried show in Memphis, several teaching positions and days and days of continuing my work. It's those last items that I look forward to the most. They provide a silence and thoughtfulness that fills me up.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope to meet some of you this year in workshops. Check out the listings at the right for dates and locations.

May your studio be filled with inspiration and your days full of mystery and wonder.