Monday, November 18, 2013

My Father's Stuff III

     In two previous posts, here and here, I shared about the significance of November 18th, and the week leading up to it.  In keeping with that established tradition, below is third installment of "My Father's Stuff"*, selected from a full body of work created this summer on location in Vermont and Massachusetts and hung as part of the annual art trail here.  Photos follow the artist statement. Click any image for a larger view. Enjoy!


 
My Father’s Stuff
Redemption

This is the third installment of work begun in 2010 to sort and process the deeper spiritual truths of my father’s death from lung cancer several years ago.  While the first two installments addressed the hard realities of my father’s diagnosis and passing, and my own transformation as I walked that timeline of events, this new installment finds me on the other side of that grief.   Now seen emerging is a complex foundation of redemptive peace intermingling with authentic joy, and new sense of self.  True self.  And the honest recognition that these new pieces, and this new self, could not be if not for my father’s passing.  That’s not to say his death had to be for me to arrive here at this place of understanding, but more to acknowledge that when we willingly, and ofttimes precariously, walk the road we unexpectedly find ourselves on, releasing and becoming as we go, we will indeed journey forward and quite possibly find ourselves living the truth of beauty from the ashes. 

Pam Lacey
November, 2013


Exhale Into Peace
rust-transfer dyed muslin
2013




Seeing From The Inside Out
rust-transfer dyed muslin
2013




Come To The River
rust-transfer dyed muslin
2013



  

Joy Moves
rust-transfer dyed muslin
2013

 

About The Artist

Pam Lacey is a self-taught artist currently working in fiber, metal clay and glass to convey experiential messages centered on transformation.  Just as heat, friction, fusion and most recently, oxidation are necessary to transform and merge her chosen media into finished work, so it is with life and the necessary heat, friction, fusion and oxidation that transforms all of us from who we are to who we will become.  Sometimes organic and spontaneous, sometimes intentional and planned, the end result of transformation shares the message of the transformed.

All works are for sale.


* This body of work was made possible by The Connecticut Office of The Arts via an Artist Fellowship grant for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.  Forty-six Connecticut artists were selected from a total of 331 applicants in the visual art categories of Craft, New Media, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/Installation and Works on Paper.  My work was one of seven chosen for a fellowship grant in the Craft category and the only fellowship recipient for the city where I live.  The single review criterion is artistic merit.

This fellowship award helped make it possible for me to go deeper with the process to create more complex and informed work, and continue to work on location  outdoors in Vermont and Massachusetts during the summer months of 2013.


 






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Since I last posted...

...so much has happened! Including receiving an Artist Fellowship AND as part of that honor, being invited to participate in an exhibition called "Loss|Gain" currently up and on display with the Connecticut Office of the Arts through November 1! Click the image below for more information.

     A special reception is happening tomorrow and I'll be back to share more about that, the exhibition, an upcoming magazine article, a solo exhibition earlier this year and all the new pieces I've been working on.

    One of the pieces I have on display at Loss|Gain is a 10 ft by 12 ft piece called "That Was Then, This is Now".  Yes, you read that right... 10 FEET by 12 FEET! :-) In the meantime, some folks have asked about pictures of my work.  So until I get my new work posted, this post here shows some of the work I submitted with my grant application.   And you can always like my Facebook page to hear about the latest happenings on my journey as an artist.

     Happy Creating!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Accidental Art






Friday, August 31, 2012

Follow The Leader

 
     I have the good fortune of being able to wake up to this each morning for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow.  For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to come here and just unplug for at least a week, even from technology, as much as I can manage.  In that time of stillness and no obligations and freedom from the busy-ness of life, I can truly “hear”.  And each and every time I've listened, I have been blessed with inspiration, direction and certainty. 
     I’m particularly excited for this year’s respite and what I might find myself listening to.  To say that I have been on an amazing journey with God since January would be, well, an understatement.  By “amazing”, I don’t mean pain-free or easy or non-stop joy for that matter, but truly amazing just the same.  A big phase of that journey culminated with what I can best describe as a miraculous encounter with God in early July - a supernatural “marker” of sorts – and His way of letting me know the really hard work of this year’s journey was complete and now He would be moving me into the time of breakthrough He had promised He’d give me, if I took the journey with Him.
     Since that encounter, I’ve had sort of this heightened sense of awareness within my relationship with God.  At the same time, He has been challenging me to simply act in faith – without hesitation - whenever He asks me to do something.  Now that's been interesting, not to mention exciting and eye-opening as well.  The more I listen and then act in faith, the more He speaks – or perhaps it’s really the more I listen and act in faith, the more I can hear what He’s saying.  
     Not everything He has asked me to do has made sense. Sure, hearing “Take that $20 with you because someone is going to need it” as I’m headed out to walk my pooch, and then indeed, someone really did need it, that’s sort of logical, right? And actually kind of mild compared to some of the other things He has requested. I mean when God wakes you out of a sound sleep, and it's still dark out, to tell you to email someone  about going to the endocrinologist or to “Feed my lambs”, the normal reaction would be something like “Um…really?”   Now, my reaction is "Okay!" and to act in faith.  It’s really been kind of cool to experience all this.  Do I know why He asks me to do these things? Nope.  Do I do them anyway? You betcha. In fact, writing this post today is what He instructed in response to a simple question in my morning prayers.
     Isaiah 55:8-11 tells us that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  And that just as the rain and snow come down from Heaven and don't return without first watering the earth to make it bud and flourish, so is it for His word that goes out. "It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and the purpose for which I sent it."  So even though sometimes I might not understand what God is asking me to do or why He wants me to share what He is saying, I can know that there is purpose in it.  And based on experience, blessings have always followed doing what He asks.
     I’ve mentioned in other posts that as an artist, when I’ve allowed myself to be led during the creative process, the best results always come forward.  So wouldn’t it stand to reason that if I allow myself to be led now – in this broader, more encompassing way - the best results would come also forward?  In faith, I say yes.
    So off I go for some respite and breathing and listening.  Perfectly timed according to His plan I imagine.  God has already had me do some “prep and organizing” to get ready for  what He has planned for after, this time away.  What's interesting is that what He's had me act on to prepare, is something I asked for confirmation about way back in May, after receiving an artist's grant (more on that in a future post).  No confirmation came then - in fact, it was pretty much a no.  But through a really interesting series of "do just this"  over the last few weeks, He's lead me right into that confirmation, and with an entirely new creative perspective and process.  What an adventure! 
     There’s something about this time of year that always feels like a launching to me.  And this year in particular, I’m ready to go where He leads, and acting in faith, step right into the breakthrough He’s promised.


Friday, November 18, 2011

My Father's Stuff II

     This same day last year, I shared my experience in emotionally transforming the anniversary week of my dad's passing, which happened to coincide with an Open Studios event here.  Throughout the summer, I continued work on My Father's Stuff and for this year's Open Studios this past weekend, I installed five of the new pieces. As an artist and Christian, I am always amazed and humbled and grateful when I experience God's presence in the process.  I remarked to a friend just last night that I can tell when I'm only "making something" and when I'm truly experiencing His grace.  These pieces, the time spent working on them, being engaged with them, was grace abundant.  And I have the wonderful privilege of knowing the worship they contain and embrace, every time I look at them.
     Below is my artist statement and photographs of the work installed. (Apologies for the big orange date stamp on all the photos.  Oops!)



My Father’s Stuff
Unfinished Works

Though each of these pieces represents a static moment in time, they are in fact the culmination of many moments that transpired in the event of my father’s diagnosis with lung cancer and eventual passing one mid-November afternoon. They continue “My Father’s Stuff”, a body of work I started last year* to sort and process the deeper spiritual and personal truths of my father’s death.  They were created using rusted objects he left behind. Destined for the trash heap, instead these tangible bits and pieces of his life were gathered and collected and used to not only transfer marks to fabric, but also to imprint the remaining bits of message each object possessed.  Collectively, all those marks come together in raw form to tell a story.

And so it is true with each of us. Ever changing, ever evolving, we too are unfinished works, a kind of continuous moments collective. Building upon each experience, we move forward with a new understanding that becomes our reality, if only for a millisecond, until the next bit or piece comes into focus and plays into that understanding.  And when it does, we collect it up into who we are and continue on.  Until the time comes when our gathering here is done, the last bit is collected and dropped into place and we are finished. Our time is complete and our story can be told.

Pam Lacey
November, 2011

* See case display for a portion of the 2010 exhibition and an explanation of “My Father’s Stuff”.







Upheaval of Emotional Kinesis
unbleached muslin, rust-transfer dyed
2011




Escape To Personal Geographies
unbleached muslin, rust-transfer dyed 
2011



The Dismantling
drapery interlining, rust-transfer dyed
2011




Dancing with Emerging Awareness
unbleached muslin, rust-transfer dyed 
2011




The Great Good-Bye Usher
unbleached muslin, rust-transfer dyed
2011



[Case Display]
Portion of 2010 exhibition/



About The Artist

Pam Lacey is a self-taught artist currently working in fiber, metal clay and glass to convey experiential messages centered on transformation.  Just as heat, friction, fusion and most recently, oxidation are necessary to transform and merge her chosen media into finished work, so it is with life and the necessary heat, friction, fusion and oxidation that transforms all of us from who we are to who we will become.  Sometimes organic and spontaneous, sometimes intentional and planned, the end result of transformation shares the message of the transformed.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Other Artists Say - Jane Dunnewold

"Who would have thought that making could change a life?  But making changed my life.  At loose ends for the first twenty years of my adult life, making became my daily practice.  Studio time is a creative gift we give ourselves, but it is also a meditation that can take us deep into ourselves, and if we are determined and rigorous, out the other side to balance and mental health.  That's what making has done for me."


Jane Dunnewold  


                                            

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Father's Stuff






     For seven years now,  I've referred to this as the "the week".  The week that starts with my father's birthday and ends with the anniversary of his passing.  You see, his birthday is November 10th.  In 2002, on my birthday, November 15th, I got the call to "come home". And on November 18th, with my mom and siblings gathered around his hospital bed, my dad lost his short battle with mesothelioma, a type of environmentally-caused lung cancer (and yes, I realize it's actually eight days, but it's still a week when you're living it.)
     In the Bible, seven is a rather pivotal number.  God created the world and on the seventh day, He rested. When the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho seven times, the city walls came down.  Seven is used throughout Revelation, the final book of the Bible.   When asked how many times we should forgive another, "Seven times, Lord?"  Jesus replied, "Seventy times seven!"  And in Deuteronomy, every seventh year is considered a Sabbath year.  Slaves were set free, debts were cancelled, it was a year of release.  It would seem that seven in the Bible reflects a sense of completion, a work finished, a type of perfection accomplished, a resulting freedom.  
     Last year was the seventh anniversary of my dad's passing.  So this year, the eighth year, I decided I would look at "the week" a little differently.  On November 10th, I intentionally began a new fiber piece that would honor my dad. The fiber base, allowed to be free and flowing in shape, was made by wet-felting Tunis wool, both lamb (the lower portion) and adult (the top portion).  Tunis was the kind of sheep my dad raised.  The squares were cut from fabric dyed using scrap metal and a mortar tub found among my dad's treasures in his barn.  On the morning of the 13th, likely right about the time my dad's body was beginning to develop complications from his lung cancer, I hung the piece and created the hall exhibit outside my apartment for an Open Studios event taking place that day.  On the 15th, as I left my apartment to head out to enjoy and celebrate my birthday, I was able to step right into the exhibit and in that moment, lovingly remember my dad and what a special and generous man he was.  And today, on November 18th, the anniversary of my dad's passing, I am completing "the week" by sharing this post on my blog.  
     Below is the exhibit that honors my dad and the statement I wrote to go with it.  So ends "the week", born again into a new perspective.
     
     Dad, this one's for you.  I love you.






                               My Father's Stuff:
                                               Rebirth

             Lamb and adult Tunis wool, muslin, flannel.
                                               Wet-felted, embossed, 
                                     rust-transfer dyed, cut, sewn.

                                                      November, 2010



What I really wanted to do was cast an old beehive of my dad’s in glass.  But the overwhelming weight of my constant struggle with limited, and often non-existent resources, pushed me in another direction.

I was in the barn and as I turned from examining the old beehive being stored there, I spied a box on the floor of rusty odds and ends.  Bolts, nails, things I didn’t have a name for.  I was inexplicably drawn to them. No idea of why or for what or how come, but they were part of my father’s stuff and so I was curious. I squatted down and picked through the box, selecting some of the most rusty.  I had heard about rust-transfer dyeing and so maybe I could do something with these.  I looked over my shoulder at the old beehive as I started down the stairs to head out.  A glance back to take another look at something exciting to create in the future.  And in my hand, old and discarded bits of what was now, passed.  Maybe.

An interesting challenge for this piece came when I had to push myself to tear apart what turned out to be intriguing and actually, quite lovely, pieces of rust-transfer dyed fabrics.  They seemed so whole and finished all on their own.  Though I knew they weren’t, still I clung to the first three samples for several months before moving on to create a larger amount of rusted yardage.

Those nondescript and random pieces of rusty metal are all that were used to color the fabric. In tearing them apart, I was able to see a new whole, all the while not losing sight of the original. That process of constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing brought me a sense of peace, hope and healing. What might have been considered the end instead was the beginning.  What might have been discarded was instead reborn. 

My father passed away on November 18, 2002. Suffice it to say, in my own personal process of deconstructing and reconstructing, this piece has been a long time coming. It is just one of what I expect will become a body of work. But just as with my father’s stuff, those original pieces of rusted metal have not been lost for the end result, and what was born original in me hasn’t been either. My father is gone and yet he remains. The original will always be rooted throughout my journey, always present in the always evolving, ever-new whole.

And that cast glass beehive is still out in front of me, encouraging the journey.

Pam Lacey
November, 2010

Dedicated to my father.

E. Eugene Lacey
November 10, 1931 – November 18, 2002

Beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend. Entrepreneur, animal lover, avid gardener, Tunis sheep farmer.  Caring, generous soul.


                               

                         






                                                                                                                My Father's Stuff:  Testimony
                                                                                                                     Muslin, rust-transfer dyed
                                                                                                                                                   2010






Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Past Is Present



     It was an interesting comment actually.  "So this is what you're doing now?"   I wasn't really sure what she meant.  "Now" as in "not what you were doing before", "now" as in "wow, I love where your work is going" or "now" as in "you're not doing jewelry anymore?"  A hint of disapproval, I'm not sure.  More likely a misunderstanding that an artist doesn't work in a particular medium now, an artist works in that particular medium always.  It's the message that's being shared that determines how an artist shares it.  But the medium, the skills, the talent, the respect for the process, is always there inside, at the ready, for whenever the artist chooses to bring it forward.
     At least that's my perspective, and I probably enjoy that point of view because I work in several media, sometimes individually, sometimes collectively, but always based on what I'm trying to say.  My sketch book is filled with message after message after message, each conveyed according to how I want, or perhaps need, to express it.  And sometimes, it's with materials I have no idea how to work with or of a scale I can't even fathom how to bring to life.  But they're all there, page after page, waiting to be created and developed into final form.
     Her comment did make me take pause though, and inventory.  My jewelry came out of a time when I had nothing more than a small table to work on, dictated by the amount of space available to work in.  A time when I yearned to work larger and with more color, and I knew my heart was pulling me in that direction, but I couldn't go there yet, for a variety of reasons.  And so jewelry and I became great friends as I created one-of-a-kind pieces, with an urban rustic feel, organic and precise all at the same time.  And not a minute of it was wasted, nor has any of it been left in the past.  The problem-solving, the exploration of components, textures and patinas, the level of precision I chose for my work,  the transformation that occurred from metal clay to finished piece - it's all still "now".  Still within me and ready at an inspired moment's notice to come forward and be part of any given piece of work, should the message dictate.  
     It was wonderful to intentionally review all the photographs and remember what was going on in my life at the time and how it influenced the final result.   Quite like reading a journal in my own language.  So, in keeping with the intent of this blog, I thought I'd share some of my favorite pieces.   They are after all, part of my journey, treasures and communicators in their own right.  


[Group shot.  Larger images follow.]





     

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Other Artists Say - Thomas Mann

     "Sometimes," he says, "when I'm working at night, which is often the case, I'll stop whatever one-of-a-kind-piece I am working on and just start on something for a friend or family member or just for myself.  Then it's hobby time.  My hobby is making things and my job, my career, is making things!  Sometimes I'll put a model airplane together or an electronic kit.  To me, building a model plane is the same as making jewelry or designing a sculpture.  Cooking is the same as making jewelry, especially sushi.  Working on my sailboat is like making jewelry.  I love what I do.  I love making things.  It's what I'm here for."


  Thomas Mann

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Exploring Shelter - Stone Wall Under Hedge Cuff

       
      Stone Wall Under Hedge Cuff

                               By my choice to adorn I draw you in, 
                                                         and keep you out.

                               Merino wool roving, immersion dyed, 
                                       wet-felted, resist formed, over dyed.          
                                       Photograph by Douglas Foulke


   
     When I started exploring the concept of shelter, I knew part of the journey would take me to my jewelry roots.  How could it not?  Every day that we make a choice of what to wear and what accessories to include, we are essentially choosing our shelter for the day, our dressing and statement for the world we expect to encounter.  Sometimes this shelter is intended to speak to us as much as it is to those that will see us, say, when we wear our powerful bold prints on a day when our footing might be less than confident.  Or when we select our "just browsing" outfit for an afternoon of shopping that's really a need to escape and not be intruded upon.    And of course, when we're at home and no one else is around, we might seek to put on our comfort clothes, while enjoying comfort food in the comfort of our own space.
     I've often wondered if one really wants a barometer of what's happening in the economy, the best place to look might be at what clothes and accessories are selling best.   Not based on what people can afford, but based on what they need to convey.  What we convey in the shelter of our clothing surely trumps what we can afford and if we can't afford a particular item, we look for something we can that will convey the same message.  I've wondered this in the same way I've wondered...with all the gorgeous, amazing incredible colors we could wear, what is being "said" when the most popular color is black (or the new blacks of brown, gray, dark blue, etc.)?  Sure, I get it's easy and it goes with everything, but it also says something.  
     So what are you wearing today?  Are you wearing "leave me alone" or "come close"?  "I'm on top of the world" or "stuck in the valley"?  "I'm powerful, confident and talented" or "I'm ordinary with not much to offer"?  The shelter of our clothing - and our jewelry - does indeed send a message.  What's yours?



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Exploring Shelter - Boxed In



                                        Boxed In

                                                   Beliefs can seem so safe, 
                               until they limit us right into nowhere.


                           Merino wool roving, Corridale wool roving, 
          wet felted, immersion dyed, needle felted, blocked.
                                          Photograph by Douglas Foulke



     It's amazing how powerful beliefs can be.  We come into the world without a single belief and from our very first day on this side of the womb, we begin to organize our own personal structure of beliefs.  One by one we gather them up, stacking, sorting and assimilating them into what becomes a sort of shelter by which we assess how to move in the world.  Our beliefs become the walls which we live within, guided by what we think (or need) to be true.
     Of course, some beliefs are born out of necessity.  Beliefs tied to physical well-being for example.  But it's not long before we move beyond building those basic survival beliefs and shift into collecting beliefs that might not be in our own best interest.  Beliefs based on another's opinion of us, opinions that seep into our being and become our own without our even realizing it.  Beliefs about what we choose to do or pursue. Beliefs about how far we can reach and what success could be ours.  Beliefs that reinforce the perspective that you are okay right where you are and there's no need to try and become anything more.  And while these beliefs seem to fit right in between our necessary beliefs, as if mortar between bricks, there comes a point where those beliefs no longer fit and in fact, have limited us into shortening our reach, being less and feeling comfortable with staying put.  
     Probably one of the scariest points to come to in one's life is to realize the very shelter we've created to survive and navigate the world is also the very thing that inhibits our growth and blocks our path.  The understanding that we've created a shelter that's so easy to retreat to day after day and yet, nearly impossible to get out of, or so it would seem.  The realization that some tearing down and rebuilding is the only way we'll truly be able to see ourselves again, for the light to shine on the truth of who we are, and get us to where we were meant to be right along.  For some this might mean taking a sledgehammer, knocking apart every brick of limiting beliefs and standing a bit raw and naked in the world for a while until we find our way. For others it might mean taking out one limiting belief at a time and replacing it with a healthier, more balanced perspective.  And for others, doing something that falls somewhere in between.
          Perhaps how we get out of that shelter isn't important, but what is more important, is that we do.   Some will choose never to look up and out of their shelter of limiting beliefs, never dare to seek the truth and instead will choose to remain boxed in right where they are.  But the same source that gave us "Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you" also provided "the truth shall set you free."  So perhaps the starting point to changing those beliefs that limit us into nowhere, that prevent freedom from our self-imposed shelter, is simply a willingness to first look up, out and beyond them, and embrace the truth of what we find.  

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Visual Artists in Connecticut - Check this out!!!

I went to the first of three "Taking Care of Business: Career Strategies for Visual Artists" workshops presented by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism in early March and it was FABULOUS!!!  There's another one tomorrow and if not for a schedule conflict, I'd definitely be there. The third and final workshop "Taking Care of Business: Marketing & Promotion" is coming up on May 1st and it looks just as fantastic as the others!  Registration is open NOW and space is limited, so if you're interested, I recommend registering early.  More details and info about registering can be found here.

Enjoy!

p.s.  If you've never visited the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism site before, be sure to check out the Art In Public Spaces Program, CCT Visual Artist Image Bank  and Artist Fellowships.  All are great opportunities for Connecticut visual artists!  You can also find CCT on Facebook.