Iron Spine Aloft

Iron Spine Aloft billowing on the front lawn of the Rye Arts Center
A few blog posts back, I spoke about seeing plastic trash flapping in the trees along the roads in my travels. I have reinterpreted that imagery by creating a public art installation, made from plastic, that is gracing the front lawn of the Rye Arts Center, strung between two trees. Iron Spine Aloft can be seen as you drive by the arts center until the end of April. Feel free to stop in and enjoy it up close. Make time to go inside and see Fiber Now: Textile Artists on the Cutting Edge, in which five of my pieces are presented alongside the works of eleven other talented fiber artists. Do email me, if you're in the neighborhood. Perhaps I'll be able to meet you there and we can talk art, stitching, texture, recycling and the circle of life. You can also join me for two BYOB workshops that I'll be teaching on March 21st and 28th.

I am hoping to continue creating large-scale public art installations created from repurposed plastic. I am working on a series of proposals to further this endeavor. Raising public awareness about the excess of single use plastic in our society and the problems of litter in our environment are at the forefront of my art practice. If you know of an institution to which you think I can submit such a proposal, please let me know. I welcome your input.

I have posted a few videos of the installation on Instagram and Facebook for your viewing pleasure. I'll be posting more in the near future, as well as a more substantial video detailing the creation of Iron Spine Aloft from start to finish, which I will post on my YouTube channel when completed.

Iron Spine Aloft detail


Iron Spine Aloft detail


deep in art in the depths of winter

Work in progress - Home Portrait © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Home portrait work in progress
February has been a busy month so far and promises to continue to be so. I am simultaneously working on two projects in the studio. They could not be more different from each other.

One project is a home portrait for a sweet family with a brand new daughter. I am loving incorporating her hospital hat, onesie and sheet music of special songs into an image of their home. I am taking time to thoughtfully hand stitch all the pieces in place, making sure all the right details are included.


I am furiously stitching on my Bernina sewing machine for my other project: the installation for the Rye Arts Center exhibit in March. I have pieces of plastic bags and various sheeting all stitched together; I am about half way through stitching the outlines of the fire escape on them. After that, I will piece all the sections together. I'll likely spend a few days cutting out the negative spaces between the outlines. I am still figuring out the logistics of hanging the piece in it's outdoor space, between two trees.


Making sure to keep my inspiration tank full, I was recently on a photo safari in NYC. And while I was quite busy trying to get good shots of buildings, rusty bridge undercarriages, and sidewalk cracks, I could not help but notice plastic litter in leafless trees. I abhor litter of any kind, but it's especially plastic litter that makes me want to weep. For goodness sakes, if you can't recycle it, is it so hard to put it into a garbage container? To carry it just a few more feet to the trashcan on the corner? Ok, rant over.


Here's the interesting thought... as much as I despise seeing plastic trash flapping in the wind on trees, I am also inspired by it. Is that crazy? I don't think so. I think that the installation that I am working on right now is partly inspired by the plastic bags I have seen caught in tree branches along highways. In my case, the plastic that will be waving amongst trees is obviously not trash. It is quite intentional. I can't wait until you see it!
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine Installation detail © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine installation detail

going big, bigger and BIG!

portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation is being weather tested!

The first month of the new year is only half way done, but my calendar is already filled with plans for the start of 2019.

First on my agenda is ArtShow:Bedford starting January 25th. It's a wonderful, small show in the picturesque town of Bedford NY, now in its 46th year. All proceeds from the show go to local charities supporting a wide range of services. 

In March I am delighted to be participating in Fiber Now: Artists on the Cutting Edge presented by the Rye Arts Center in Rye, NY. In conjunction with the exhibit I will be teaching a Stitching+Embroidery workshop on March 21st and 28th. As part of the exhibit I've also been invited to create a large installation −more than 15 feet across− on the front lawn of the center. The installation will help raise public awareness of plastic pollution crisis we’re facing, while enabling me to repurpose plastic into my art. I believe this installation for the Rye Arts Center is a perfect fit for my art practice. 

At the moment I am rifling through my stash and pulling out the biggest, sturdiest pieces of plastic that I have to start assembling the substrate. I’m conducting weathering tests for the plastic and my stitching. I took a portion of the Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation and hung it on my deck to see how it holds up to the wind and weather for the next month or two. This experiment will inform some of the design and construction choices I’ll have to make going forward.

pattern for the installation to be is laid out on the floor taking up all the space!

another shot of the weather test from Iron Spine/Urban Edge


detail of a City Sketch ©Natalya Khorover Aikens 2018

Hello friends!

At the end of this month, I would be delighted to greet you in booth V-08/09 at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY. September 29th and 30th, 10AM to 5PM, rain or shine.
 
The exhibit was just ranked as the #2 Fine Art and Design Show in the entire United States by Sunshine Artist Magazine, August 2018. The #2 Rank, based on sales reported by exhibitors to Sunshine Artist, is a spectacular jump from the previous #46 position! This is THE show for sophisticated art lovers expecting to find top quality work available to purchase!

I will be bringing brand new series of stitched collages that I am calling City Sketches. And, of course, a collection of your favorite urban subjects - fire escapes, bridges, and graffiti - will also be on hand.

In addition to presenting my artwork, I will be directing a collaborative art piece created with reclaimed and repurposed materials, a portion of which will be brought in by community members. Visitors will apply layers of plastic to the outline of the Armonk Outdoor Art Show tree logo. After the show, I will finish the artwork with my signature stitching and it will be installed at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk.

thoughtfully repurposed

If my solo exhibit had a title, it would be Thoughtfully Repurposed.

But it doesn't have an official title, and as it's coming down on Friday, I thought it was time to share a few photos. Those of you who were able to see it, I sincerely appreciate that you came, your kind words mean so much to me! Those of you who are too far to come, I appreciate all your well wishes also. Thank you.

art and seed pods at the entrance

Iron Spine 6XL makes it's debut surrounded by older relatives

Rhetoric with Iron Vessels: Reclaim Love and Iron Vessel: Enough

The top portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

another view of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

a small portion of the bottom of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

Full view: Iron Spine/Urban Edge

a visitor from the insect kingdom

food matching art/art matching food

viewer matching art

artist with art (Iron Spine/Urban Edge)
What a whirlwind summer!

texture addict

So a texture addict walks into a gallery...... and has to keep her hands in her pockets so that she doesn't fondle the million dollar artworks.....

Guess who is the texture addict! Yup. Yours truly.

The gallery? Gagosian. The exhibit? Anselm Kiefer.

Gigantic, monumental artworks. Canvases with trees, terra cotta, and rebar. Oh, and molten lead. Poured onto the canvas and peeled back. Yes. Oh and water colors and artist books. Many, many gigantic artist books. Go see for yourself until September 1st.



The other gallery is Tibor de Nagy. An exhibit of works by Medrie MacPhee. Very different kind of texture, much quieter. I think I was still under the influence of Anselm when I saw these works. I didn't think much of them. But thinking about them and looking at my photos, I like them more and more. Perhaps they also appeal to me because she uses garment parts as design elements in her paintings. Very simple on the canvas, yet complex and map like.


And just to let you know that I was paying attention as I walked the streets and not just gabbing with Nathalie, here's the best graffiti of the day. Somewhere on the Lower East Side.

And my new favorite and most refreshing drink on a sweltering NYC summer day - beet and lemon shrub from Russ and Daughters! YUM! Gotta make some!

Quilt National visit redux

It's nearly a month since I have returned from a whirlwind trip to Athens, Ohio for the opening weekend of Quilt National 2017. What a fun weekend it was! My friend Gail was my copilot as we let Waze guide us along the roads of NJ, PA, MD, WV and OH. The routes were all very scenic, but we had no time to stop for pictures, we had a destination to get to!

I have to say that as much as it was a thrill to see my art hanging in this prestigious exhibit, it was even more of a thrill to commune with all the artists who were there!

There's nothing better than hanging out with fellow creative souls. Sharing ideas, techniques, trials and tribulations and just basking in each others company. I was delighted to meet all the artists that I could, and wished every single one could have attended!

Here's the gallery view with my piece, Iron Spine 5XL hanging between work by Paula Kovarik and Kit Vincent, and then followed by Amy Meissner and Kerri Green

Here's moi talking about my work.... apparently I talk with my hands....
The powers that be took videos of the two minute talks that each artist gave about their work and when those videos become available I will gladly share where they can be seen. I always find public speaking rather nerve-wracking, but I was told that I spoke well and made sense. What more could I ask for?

Upon my return home, there was a lovely surprise in the mail - SDA magazine wrote a bit about the exhibit and used my art to illustrate it! So cool!
I'm still reliving bits and pieces of conversations that took place. So much to consider and enjoy remembering!

Rauschenberg and I

Grand Black Tie Sperm Glut by Robert Rauschenberg

If you're in NYC or visiting soon, don't miss Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends exhibit at the MoMA. It's up till mid September thankfully!

As I wandered through this exhibition with my friend Nathalie, I felt more and more empowered. So odd. Usually I feel inspired by an exhibit. But this time I felt empowered! What the heck?

After some pondering I realized that it's because of the materials! Yes materials. Rauschenberg's and mine. I loved peering into each of his pieces on display and figuring out what he used where. I found cardboard and fabric of course. But also plastic! Plastic bags and balloons. And I must say that they still looked good after all these years, one was from 1961! I have heard that his work is a conservators nightmare, so I am being much more careful with mine. All my materials are archival, except for the plastic. But the plastic is indestructible as we all know....

And now that you see Rauschenberg's street signs above, I can make another connection. Perhaps an obnoxious one on my part.... but I've made some street sign art myself. Mine are a bit more delicate though... and a lot smaller! Stitched on plastic of course. And made completely by my hands.
Bump © Natalya Aikens
Other Side © Natalya Aikens

Crosswalk © Natalya Aikens

Dip © Natalya Aikens

No Turning Back © Natalya Aikens

One Way Or Another © Natalya Aikens
I've updated my website with new work including three of the pieces above. The other three were already there. There is still more new art to add, so check back every few days as I'll be adding a few on a regular schedule. And for everyones convenience, I'm adding PayPal buttons as I go.
Thank you!!

shadow play take 2.. or 3 or 4..

I love the shadows. Especially shadows that artwork makes. In the last few weeks I have been able to experience such shadows in abundance. MoMA, The Dairy Barn, Kennedy Museum of Art. How lucky am I? Here are a few of my favorites:
edge of a wall hanging by Cecilia Joe at KMA

edge of an art quilt by Danette Pratt at The Dairy Barn

bronze shadow makers by Dorothy Dehner at MoMA

bit of a wall hanging by Lenore Tawney at MoMA

wired orb shadows by Ruth Asawa at MoMA

corner of an art quilt by Sara Impey at The Dairy Barn

corner of a wall hanging by Sheila Hicks at MoMA

edge of an art quilt by Shulamit Liss at The Dairy Barn

floor shadow of an art quilt by Sue Benner at The Dairy Barn
Hope you have enjoyed these shadows as much as I did. I think I might make some art that makes shadows also soon....

shadow play

Sometimes, and only sometimes, I get frustrated with the pace of my art making. Just like anyone else I occasionally like the joy of instant gratification. And I can't have it with my techniques. Which is what I love about them.

What is really helpful in times like these is an infusion of inspiration. And I just happened upon such an infusion this Saturday. Thank goodness I managed to carve out time out of a busy day! I came back invigorated and ready to work!

If you are in NY tristate area and can carve out some time this week - go see what I saw! Browngrotta Arts is having their 30th (!) anniversary exhibition for 10 days only, which means it's closing April 30th.

I loved all the art that I saw, but I was truly fascinated by the shadows some of the art made. So I share with you a few photos of art closeups and a few of the shadows they made.
Southern Crossing Six by Kiyomi Iwata

Fuhkyoh by Tsuruko Tanikawa

Folded Form I by Jin Sook So

Lucent by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Relief by Jane Balsgaard

Fog Break by Mary Giles

Cactus by Tamiko Kawata

Retournement en cours I by Stephanie Jacques

Tube Waves by Marianne Kemp

Tunnel of Remembrance by Lilla Kulka
Run! Don't walk to see this exhibition! (yes I bought the catalogue!)

something different

My friend Jane always challenges me. She's very good at it. Come to think of it... I think she might be responsible for planting the seed for all my 3D artworks.

And here's the latest one. Jane provided the wood block, as she's good with power tools also. And I covered the wood block with my art. I repurposed some older work that no longer felt right, used up some scraps from other pieces, added a ton of hand stitches. I'm pretty proud of what came to be. It's kind of raw and different and mine at the same time.

Urban Tower (three views) Natalya Aikens © 2016

Urban Tower Natalya Aikens © 2016 





By the way, you can see Urban Tower at the Nest Arts Factory until November 15th.

details

They say it's all in the details. And the details are what I have been focusing on in the last week or so.
Over the summer I have been preparing for the Armonk Outdoor Art Show. I have created ten new small artworks, five new medium artworks and have wired for hanging several large artworks which have been created over the last two or so years. I created a banner, participated in a preview exhibition, figured out booth logistics and I'm almost ready! Now I have to make labels and lists and decide on the display. This is the first time that I will be participating in such a show, so perhaps next time the prep will be be easier.

Here are a few enticing details so that you get a taste of what I've been up to.
edge painting is a bit like cake frosting


can you tell there have been a lot of edges to paint?








Full reveal is coming up soon! And if you're in the NY tri-state area, I hope to see September 24th and 25th!

inspiration infusion

After many months of postponing, I finally carved out time to go see the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. It closes September 5th, so run, don't walk and see it! It's beautifully put together of course.

Pictures of all the splendor are all over the internet. Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are overflowing. So just a few closeups of my favorite textures here and some lovely shadows for your enjoyment. I feel rejuvenated and inspired by all this creativity and can't wait to get back to my stitching!
Iris van Herpen is the star of this exhibit! What an inventive designer! This is black cotton twill hand painted with grey and purple polyurethane resin and iron filings, and then hand sculpted with magnets!
These dresses by Nicolas Ghesquiere are made from celluloid sequins cut into strips by lasers and glued onto tulle, and then hand spray painted after shaping the fabric.
I love the shadows this dress made (costume really). It a dress by Gareth Pugh and it is made from plastic straws, each hand cut and attached individually.
Here's the full creation, see why I think of it more as a costume? It's like some strange bird!
This is the clear straw version of the dress. I love the chevron like pattern that the cuts of the straws create.
This is a close up of a dress by Karl Lagerfeld for the House of Chanel. It is black duck feathers mixed with cellophane.
This is a Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton dress. The flowers are laser cut plastic sewn onto white polyester organdy embroidered with machine made broderie anglaise flowers.
I love the shadow of that skirt combined with the dress form shadow.
This is a close up of the duck dress by Hussein Chalayan. It's pale pink polyester tulle hand gathered and sculpted into tufts. Hussein was inspired by the way in which mountains are formed by erosion and tectonic forces.
I adored the shadows formed by this jacket made from hand cut and hand pieced white leather by John Galliano for the House of Dior. 
This was a truly inspired design by the genius of Issey Miyake. It's custom software-rendered pattern, heat pressed on black recycled polyester, heat stamped with gold metallic foil. This is the start.
Then it unfolds like this.
And is worn like this!
a close up of the gold foil 
And lastly, the only photo I shared on Instagram in my complete overwhelm... It is a close up of another Iris van Herpen dress, this one is hand embroidered with clear thermoformed laser cut acrylic and hand joined with clear silicone connectors.
Here's an article worth reading from the New York Times about the exhibit. I hope the exhibit travels to be seen in other cities!

architecturally fitting

I am delighted to have another exhibit opportunity this summer with a group show "Diverse" at the law offices of Ashenfelter, Slous, McDonough and Trefenen in Montclair, NJ. It is a wonderful industrial office space that is a perfect fit for the City Lines series from my portfolio.

Here are a few pictures of the exhibit. The opening reception is past, but of you'd like to see the exhibit and you're not a client at ASM&T, contact me and I'll be happy to show you around.

Architectural Fragments and Urban Perspective
Sunrise and Specular Reflection
Specular Reflection and Architectural Fragments
Sunrise
Home Portraits (on loan) and three different fire escapes

Next up - lot's and lot's of hand stitching! Progress report coming up soon!

Hanging with Horace

I have the pleasure of exhibiting my art in a lovely historic house which used to belong to Horace Greeley, who was the former editor to the New York Tribune among his other accomplishments. This exhibit is part of a town wide endeavor by the Northern Westchester Artists Guild. It'll be up the entire month of June, so please do pay a visit if you're in the neighborhood.

I am considering myself very lucky to have this exhibit venue as my architecturally inspired pieces are a perfect fit. I have hung most of my City Love Affair series in the two story home. The City Love Affair is my affair with St. Petersburg, Russia, and the romantic architecture fits right in here.

Here a few pictures of my pieces spread out among the historical displays on the first floor:






Upstairs is a whole lovely blue gallery which is now filled with all the large pieces in this series. It is like having a little retrospective!





Hopefully I'll see some pictures from the opening reception soon, but meanwhile here's the artist in situ..

planning

The last two days have been spent planning. Planning what? Art of course!

I am delighted to share that I have been juried into the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY. It has been around for 55 years! One of the most prestigious shows in my neck of the woods. Can you tell I'm excited? It'll take place on September 24th and 25th, so I have plenty of time to get ready.

I have several large pieces that I already know that I'll be exhibiting. They are the ones I was juried in with. But I would like to have a variety of smaller pieces on hand also and that's what I've been planning. It'll be a busy summer in the studio!

I started the planning part with organizing my inspiration photos. Usually when I upload my photos from the camera or phone I immediately put them into albums for easy reference later. Well.... I am ashamed to admit that I have really slacked off on that task.... So today I organized them into albums.


I did a bit of editing and narrowed my choices down to about 20 that speak to me right now.


Then I narrowed my choices even more and opened them up in Photoshop for a closer look. My first two mini-series of works will based on fire escapes and water towers.


Now I'll play with them in Photoshop - cropping and figuring out the composition. Once I have that decided on, I'll dig into my materials and start making some serious choices. Right now I think that they will all be on backgrounds created from re-purposed plastics and the images will be hand-stitched with various threads. Stay tuned!

busy busy...

There is so much going in the month of June! I touched upon some of these things in my May newsletter, but I better mention it here too...

First, tomorrow we (Vivien Zepf, Kristin La Flamme, Deborah Boschert, Robin Ferrier and moi) are hanging our exhibit at Etui Fiber Arts Gallery in Larchmont, NY. It'll be ready for viewing starting tomorrow afternoon and please join us for an artist talk on Sunday June 14th from 2 to 4PM. I finished two new artworks for this exhibit, one was shared in the previous blog post and another I don't even have time to photograph. So you'll just have to see it in real life first. And I'm not the only one with brand new work in this show!

Second, this Thursday June 4th is the opening night of Art Around Town. It is the exhibit of NWAG artists paired up with generous Chappaqua, NY merchants. It'll be going on until June 29th, but please join us on Thursday from 5:30 to 8P for the opening reception. My artwork will be displayed at ICD Contemporary Jewelry at 75 S. Greeley Ave.

Third, this Friday June 5th is another opening for another NWAG exhibit! This one is at the Martin Stankiewicz Gallery in Tarrytown, NY. The opening is from 5:30 to 9PM. My work will be exhibited along with several other local Westchester artists.

Fouth, June 5th is the opening day for Her Stitches, an exhibit at the Croton Free Library in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. It'll be featuring a selection of women’s needlework, combining historical and contemporary examples. My work will be part of the contemporary examples as will be the work of my fellow FANE stitchers.

I hope to see some of you at a few of these lovely events! And so to not leave you without a picture in this blog post, here's an in progress shot of the piece I didn't have time to photograph. Come by to see it at Etui in Larchmont!
Luminous, a detail in progress...

afterglow

If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, then you have already seen my latest artwork. I am delighted to share it here now.

In my previous blog post I shared the progress of this piece. Now I will share the details of the finished artwork. I thread-sketched the lower portion with the buildings and the street, and hand-stitched the sky. I was inspired by own photograph of a street scene in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was just after sunset and the sky was still glowing orange, threatening clouds just started floating across the sky, the street lights went on....and everything glowed.
irregular hand stitches in the clouds
thread snippets in the lights
city meets sky
pavement
Afterglow © Natalya Aikens 2015
Most textile art is hard to photograph and this piece presented an extra challenge due to the shiny plastic and the sheer chiffon. So really, you'll just have to come see it in person!

Afterglow will be a part of a group exhibit with my circle of art friends (Kristin LaFlamme, Vivien Zepf, Deborah Boschert and Robin Ferrier) at the Etui Fiber Arts Gallery in Larchmont, NY from June 2nd to June 30th. Hope you will be able to join us for an artist reception on Sunday, June 14th from 2 to 4PM.

in progress...

I have been hard at work in my studio. In June my art will be a part of a five person exhibit, I'll have more info to share soon. Meanwhile here are a few pictures to show my progress on the piece for that exhibit. The inspiration for this piece is nighttime in St. Petersburg, Russia....looks like I am heading back to my heritage for inspiration once again!
My base is a square piece of vintage linen, perhaps a small tablecloth in it's former life
I layered brightly colored plastic bags on and basted with small stitches in yellow thread
This is what it looked like after I finished basting
Then I thread-sketched buildings on clear plastic. I was trying to be really sketchy!
Here they are on top of the bright plastic, I did use a bit of gray for the pavement
A close up
Then I started layering navy lace scraps over the plastic. These will suggest night time clouds
Here's my night sky in progress, some navy silk chiffon was involved
Now I'll be basting the lace pieces and adding some hand stitching
My goal is to have this piece ready to share in it's full glory in my May newsletter which will be out mid month. Stay tuned!

framed

I totally adore the ladies in my local fiber arts group. I don't get to see them regularly due my kids schedules, so I really cherish the meetings that I do get to attend, and the exhibits that we put on together.

And we do have a wonderful new exhibit coming up in May at the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac NY. We have been exhibiting in their lovely third floor gallery for so many years now that it feels like home. Please join us for the opening reception of "We've Been Framed" on May 10th from 2 to 4PM. Everyone had to create an artwork that would fit into a frame. All frames where painted the same navy color to unify all the artwork. I had a preview at a meeting recently and it is a wonderful variety of styles, techniques and imagery!

Here's my work for this exhibit. I inadvertently seem to have gone back to St. Pete Lace series and created this piece using thermofax screens on color catcher sheets and thread painting. The screen printed imagery is from my photographs of many many wrought iron railings of St. Petersburg, Russia and the eloquent words of Alexander Pushkin. And the thread painted man is an Atlant who holds up the entrance to the Hermitage.
head...
legs...
torso...
Atlant Spb 3 © Natalya Aikens 2015
Hope to see many local friends at the exhibit! Thank you!