Improvisational Exploration: Louisiana Crafts Guild Member Exhibition
by Ange Riehl and Mary Attwood
As artists, we work intuitively, but with intention and in collaboration we find opportunities to encourage each other’s explorations. We seem to approach our works in much the same manner with the pieces often leading the decision or direction taken.
In our most recent work, we leaned into the process – practice, experimentation, failure, and discovery – as the inspiration rather than envisioning a final product. These exploration pieces became the end game. Inspiration comes from all we see and take in; it always has.
In this recent work, we allowed ourselves to be carried away, inspired moment by moment, finding comfort and freedom in breaking from traditional applications and practices, seeking instead to allow exploration and improvisation to take over.
About the Artists
When I went to college, I started in Architecture and soon realized, in doing models, that I really appreciated producing on a small scale.
At the time I was also taking a Metals & Jewelry class with my professor Dickie Wagner. The realization that I could create complex pieces on a small scale was a life-changing experience. That class really made me see things differently ..it’s like I woke up and my vision was better! Detail became so important to me…a small thing could make a big statement. I am still enjoying this process.
There is a lot of improvisation in seeking out interesting objects…I rarely look for something specific, I just know it when I see it. Occasionally, I am led by words early in the process and a title emerges leading to my design choices, but other times it might be a bronze statue of a fawn that was a random curiosity atop an old desk.
I make the piece around the find, other times…it’s an ingredient. I have things I’ve found years ago that are still waiting for the right home! I do have an odd collection!
Connecting the assemblage is often the biggest challenge. To find the right thing to couple odd pieces together is a blast! So….do you recognize any of these parts? If so..thank you!
I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana and am a wife and mother and my mother’s only child. I was educated at USL and earned a degree in Art Education and have been a High School Art teacher for 31 years. As a Mixed Media artist, I work with a multitude of materials, techniques and approaches and as always it’s the inquiry and investigation stages that I find so satisfying.
My mom fostered a love of fabrics in me. It took me a while to recognize its value in my pursuit of art making, but I finally did. My experimentation with fabrics and fibers has led me to create surfaces rich in textural complexity and offers me endless possibilities as a media.
I have been playing with layering plastic netting onto cotton fabrics, melting the plastic onto the fabric then “collaging” with wool roving, tinsel, netting and threads. I find the inclusion of the plastic creates a web or gridlike pattern that offers compositional order in an area otherwise rather chaotic and its transparency offers depth and dimension. I take this “new fabric” and machine quilt it using free-motion drawing/sewing to further complicate the surface.
This improvisational exploration is my intuitive approach allowing me to break rules of traditional fabric use and is a path I intend to explore further.
All in all, the freedom of a technique based experience that I can then explore and expand upon instead of following a pattern, is the same to me as mixing my own palette of paint colors. Sure, there is more room for failure, but isn’t it in failure that we learn the most?
- Curator: Jaik Faulk