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Inspiration can come from unexpected places. Sometimes you need to go looking for it; a museum, a class, a walk in the woods or a vacation. Everyday interactions can also stir creative tangents. I never thought adopting a puppy would lead to any new art. But life is full of happy surprises, if you are open to them.
My work will be there too.
The backdrop was my childhood neighborhood. 555 Gallery operates in the former Detroit Police Department Third Precinct station. Hard to revisit the streets where I experienced hundreds of firsts, and not take time to reflect.
Across Vernor Highway on Standish St. is Topor’s Pickles, my first factory job. Where I worked a few weeks one summer. Further down the street is Clark Park where I first tried ice skating. The Bowen Branch Biblioteca where I did my first research paper, using the Readers Digest Guide to periodicals. The YMCA where our neighbor Audrey took me and her son Joey for our first swimming lessons.
The workshop is a hands on experience. Some of the first challenges involve figuring out what can be cast. I decide to try 2 driftwood pieces and a glazed clay mask I made a few years ago.
The first steps involve measuring and cutting wood to make flasks (boxes) to hold the mold material. The clay face required making a wax cast first, to avoid any chance damaging the original in the mold making process. Rachel Wolski, Carbon Arts Operations VP, teaches me how to make a quick silicon mold to cast a wax.
This the first time I can remember, needing to shake sand out of my shoes at the end of the day, and not having been to a beach. Two types of sand are used in the are used in the casting process. The first is a “parting”, foundry/greensand which creates a bed for your artwork and a method to establish a dividing line for the mold.
The second is a fine silica sand, which had to carefully mixed with a two-part epoxy that works as a bonding agent to solidify the sand. Once cured the packed sand creates a hard mold.
The two driftwood pieces were able to be cast together in one flask.
Casey Westbrook one of the artists leading our workshop, designed the cupolas and iron pour of a sculpture for the Matthew Barney film “KHU”. It was filmed in Detroit in 2010. He helps me with these next steps. Amazing how heavy my mold has become.
The day of the pour is exciting and quite spectacular to watch.
Here’s my piece being poured. Photo credit here goes to my husband David Carson.
Thank you to Kat Delph, Rachel Wolski, Casey Westbrook and the rest of the Carbon Arts crew for making this all possible. I will be busy working to clean up and patina my pieces. Here’s what they look like now. Love that they were cast from recycle iron bath tubs from Detroit.
Our goal may be the same but our connections to Ukraine are different. My father emigrated from Western Ukraine when he was 19. I have visited there 3 times. The first during Soviet times. Irina Bondarenko is from Kyiv. Her father was protesting in Maidan during the winter. Irene Mokra is from Lviv and also has family who remain in Ukraine.
In February the relatively peaceful demonstrations ended when police began to clash with the protestors. Police began to fire guns with both rubber bullets and then live ammunition. The death toll is estimated to over be 100 (the Heavenly Hundred), with thousands injured, and almost two hundred missing.
Irina could sit still no longer. She sent out plea for help. The email read: “Many of you have heard about dramatic events that have shaken Ukraine. A new hope for democratic development has been born as a result of a three-month standoff on Maidan in Kyiv. Many Ukrainian artists came to the square to be with the people, to play music, to paint and photograph, to give to the movement a voice that does not need translation. They feel that the artist cannot stand aside in this struggle. We too would like to help that cause, and support the people who had enough courage to come to Maidan, risking their safety and the welfare of their families. After the tragic events of February 18-20 we also want to support the families of those who were brutally killed by armed forces. We decided to organize a charity art sale to provide a humanitarian aid to the people who revolted against tyranny”. Irene and I were the first to answer her call.
I didn’t hesitate to think. My Ukrainian heritage has been part of who I am since I was a child. I remember a day in elementary school in the 1960’s. We were celebrating diversity (they didn’t call it that back then). When it was my turn to share my ethnic background, the other children laughed and teased “you made that up.” I went home and asked my dad; “Are you sure we aren’t Polish, German, Irish, or Mexican, like my other friends. ” My father said; “No, you are Ukrainian. Never be ashamed of who you are.”
Acknowledging these ethnic ties does not mean diminishing others who are different. I grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Southwest Detroit. I didn’t have any Ukrainian friends. I learned to be proud of who I am, yet appreciate my multicultural environment.
Irina has a gift for making Pottery and takes classes at the Pottery Guild.
I am a Narrative Sculptor using clay and reclaimed objects to convey a story or a mood. Currently I am focused on exhibited and selling work in Michigan; River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, Dancing Dog Gallery in Ann Arbor, Black Door Galley in Tecumseh, and the Riverside Arts Center Gallery Gift shop all sell my work.
Irene is skilled at painting and drawing. She attends a figure drawing class in the AAWA space on Jackson Road.
Today I am proud to be a part of a generous community of artists who have all joined us by donating their art for our sale to benefit those injured in the wintery protests on Maidan in Ukraine. We have over 70 artists who have agreed to have their work sold for $50 or less, to help this cause.
Please join us on Saturday, April 26, 2-6:30 at 4844 Jackson road in Ann Arbor, MI. Our sale is being sponsored by UNWLA (Ukrainian National Women’s League of America) and WCA-MI (Women’s Caucus For Art).
When I think about Detroit it is difficult for me to separate my past from its’ future. Growing up in the ethnically diverse Southwest Detroit, I had a childhood filled with adventure, danger and wild imagination. The neighborhood school playground was gravel and glass. Any fall there resulted in painfully picking pebbles and broken glass from your wound, before cleaning your scrape. I lived through riots and renaissance. There has always been a duality to the city of both death and resurrection. It is the best of times and the worst of times. I believe today more than ever it is the tale of two cities. The piece above illustrates some of those feelings it’s available at the Rivers’s Edge.
The River’s Edge Gallery is currently featuring “Between Heaven and Earth,” an exhibition featuring Birgit Huttemann-Holz, encaustic paintings and Tom Szmrecsanyi, ceramic sculpture, October 5- November 30, 2013. The Opening is tonight 7-11PM.
Being in a coastal town; I inhale the sea air, the breezes splash me, the taste of salt lingers on my lips, while waves wash me with their rhythmic lullabies. The experience is simultaneously invigorating and calming. I don’t want to leave.
I am grateful for the opportunity to exhibit my artwork in these four galleries. From the soon to open Dancing Dog Gallery, which is looking for support on Kickstarter, to River’s Edge Gallery celebrating 30 years of showcasing Detroit area artists.
All four of these galleries are spaces vital to their downtown communities. I’d like to give a special thanks to the gallery founders and directors who have helped to support and influence me as an artist, as I continue to emerge. Thank you; Matruka Sherman, Susan Amstutz, Dee Overly, Patt Slack and Jeremy Hansen.