Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Artist in Residence Mindy Sue Wittock

Our new Fibers Artist in Residence, Mindy Sue Wittock, received a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in 2004 and an MFA at Arizona State University in 2008. Walk into her studio at Grand Center and you'll find it coated in candy-like goodness!

"Treats like cupcakes, candies, and pastries are naturally related to human emotion. They are brought to birthdays, weddings, and to close friends who just went through a trying time; they are tied to celebrations and comfort. A delicious confection can make us feel elated, if only for a minute, it’s a minutes of pure sweetness."

How many years have you been a fibers artist?
I started working in fibers as an undergraduate student in 2002 and have continued my research and exploration with the medium into the present day. I really enjoy creating objects with stitching and stuffing and embellishing.

Describe the work you are making or hope to make during your time at CA:
I am working on an installation that Hello Kitty would want to hang out in. A space that is reminiscent of a cross between Munchkin Land and Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Sweet and edible looking, with large bush like structures and hanging smelling good pieces!

What inspires your work?
My inspiration comes from vintage cookbooks and Martha Stewart, as well as from fictitious icons such as Willy Wonka, Mary Poppins and Hello Kitty. I think a lot about what made me happy as a child when I make my artwork, and the imaginary games I played with my best friend and brother and sister.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Artist in Residence Gwen Oulman-Brennan

We recently ushered in three new Artists in Residence at our Grand Center location! Ceramicist Rachel Akin, Fibers Artist Mindy Sue Wittock and Metals Artist Gwen Oulman-Brennan.

Gwen Oulman-Brennan earned a BFA at the University of Iowa in painting in 1998. After moving to St. Louis she studied Painting at Fontbonne University where she earned an MFA in 2006. As the subject of Gwen’s work became less about the imagery and increasingly more about the materials she was using in her paintings she began to explore small metalwork. Her painting materials ranged from concrete and metal to silk and glycerin. Her instructors at Craft Alliance opened the door to working with metal which inspired her to apply to graduate school to further study Jewelry + Metalsmithing. Gwen completed her masters degree at the Rhode Island School of Design in the spring of 2009.

Some of her recent work explores the act of breathing. Some of her pieces inflate by breathing into them, others explore the aesthetics of the air-flow in and out of our bodies. We recently did a quick interview with her!

How many years have you been a metals artist?
I can't remember a time that I wasn't a maker. I have moved and continue to move between 2D and 3D mediums. It was more than fifteen years ago that I took my first jewelry and metals class, a lost wax casting course. Over the years I came to think of myself primarily as a painter. It was five years ago as I was finishing my MFA in Painting that I noticed my interests shifting away from the imagery and towards the materials. It was around this time that I began taking classes at Craft Alliance. These classes would eventually lead to me to return to school to study jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design. A metal artist , maybe only for the last three years but my work is informed by a lifetime of making and material exploration.

Describe the work you are making or hope to make during your time at Craft Alliance:
While in Rhode Island my work focused on breath. I focused on making visual the intimate and communal act of taking air into our bodies and releasing it. The concept I start with is really just that - a starting place - a way to ground my work- parameters in which to create around.

In these first few weeks at Craft Alliance I have begun a new exploration - one of a kind knots and tangles. The pieces I have begun are carvings of shoes strings in bone. I plan to spend these next few months exploring knots through materials like stone, metal, and bone.

I am also continuing a small production line of jewelry that I designed highlighting the facets of a gemstone. By making wax impressions of gemstones I've created "settings" of the absent stone.

What inspires your work?
I am inspired by the everyday and familiar. By exploring an idea over time and through a variety of materials I discover unexpected and new connections that continue to fuel my work. It is these material discoveries and synthesizing of ideas that continue to inspire me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Interview with Kahlil Irving

Recent high school graduate Kahlil Irving has spent 3 years as part of our Crafting-A-Future program at Craft Alliance. He will be attending Kansas City Art Institute this fall with a full ride scholarship. We are so proud of his accomplishments!

How did you get involved in Crafting-A-Future?
Well, I got involved in Crafting-A-future when Leslie Silverstein came to my high school to put up a mural the students created in some of the upper-level art classes. I was told to apply and then on I have been participating in the program.

What do you love the most about working with clay?
Working with clay is like anything else I have come in contact with, something I need to evaluate and become comfortable with. I have realized through practice I can become better or more knowledgeable about something and clay is amazingly responsive to my practice to the amount of time I have put into learning about it. The response and results that I get are the reasons why I enjoying working with the material.

Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from what I see around me. It comes from what I see and feel everyday. My past and the world's past are my biggest influences. Like ancient ceramics from Asia, the studio artists in the Craft Alliance clay studio, and artists/potters that I meet.

What was the best part of being in the Crafting-A-Future program?
The best part of participating in Crafting-A-Future is all of the opportunities I have gotten. The pot sales, volunteering, meeting many different people, all contribute to the great experience I have had.

Do you have any advice for any up and coming Artists?
My advice isnt just to young artists, its to anyone and everyone that will listen and try to understand it. The world we live in is larger than we know. Deep mental and emotional realms exist. If there is anything anyone can do is see all that they can see and try to make the best of every oppurtunity they get to do whats best for themselves and others. Follow your heart and reason with your mind, life will all unfold.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Craft Alliance Gala was ARTrageous!

"Best Gala Ever!" "So Much Fun!" These were just some of the enthusiastic comments overheard during our ARTrageous Gala on Friday night. We honored Emerson and their generous support of our Mural Arts Program and David Charak, whose generosity enables us to inspire and engage people through contemporary craft. All proceeds will benefit Craft Alliance’s education, exhibition and community outreach programs.

The evening began with cocktails and our silent auction. We had so many amazing artists donate artwork!

We had a fashion show featuring local designer Michael Drummond's line The Exquisite Corpse! So many fabulous outfits walked down the runway!

Special Guest Auctioneer Julius Hunter lead this year's Live Auction featuring trips to New York City, Cabo San Luca and a Once-in-a-Lifetime Dutch adventure for two! We also auctioned off artwork including a one of a kind charm necklace made by Craft Alliance artists!

Student Kahlil Irving spoke about his time at Craft Alliance and his work in the Crafting-A-Future program. Afterward we had a dutch style auction and raised over $11,000 in scholarships for the CAF program!

After dinner we ended the night with a wonderful After Party with loads of dancing! It was a fabulous success! We thank everyone that came to show their support for Craft Alliance. For more photos from our Gala visit our Facebook Page!