The Encaustic Chaos of Scott James Vanidestine

Yesterday, a friend and I went walking around downtown Champaign, Illinois. While we were out, we stopped by the Indigo Co-Op Art Gallery to look around. Right now, the gallery is showing the work of Scott James Vanidestine. There aren’t very many pieces, but what it there is well worth going to see. The best pieces are his encaustic paintings. According to his website:

Encaustic is the ancient art of painting with molten wax and pigment. … Pollen in the beeswax gives the encaustic a glowing yellow under tone and a distinctive fragrance. The encaustic medium is versatile enough to allow for fine etching and sgraffito (similar to techniques used in printmaking and drawing) or rough carving (sculpture and relief). Each layer of encaustic is fused to the previous layer using a propane torch. The encaustic can be quickly melted down or carefully built up. Various techniques create depth and texture. The surfaces can be scraped or chiseled away and layered on top of to construct a topography with complex visual and metaphorical history.

I want to applaud him for using locally produced beeswax. Supporting local businesses is fantastic. 🙂 Now, I’ve never seen an encaustic painting before this. When I first saw it, it looked very thick and shiny. It reminded me of ceramic glaze. His paintings are very thick and textured.. very aggressive.

This photo really does not do it justice...

At first glance, all these circular shapes gave me the feeling that I was looking into a microscope. As I looked closer, I could see slashes in the wood and wax, like he sliced into it with a knife or a screwdriver. Up close, the color of the exposed wood, the splashes of red, the texture… made me feel like I was looking into flesh and blood.. some of it charred, some of it gouged and mutilated.. one patch in particular reminded me of road rash, with little bits of gravel embedded into the skin. What I saw, what I felt when I looked at this painting, was pain, anger… I could almost hear screams and cries coming from within. Yet, as I stepped away and looked at it again from a distance, I could see more turquoise hues over powering the red that smacked me in the face up close. Almost serene.. I was utterly fascinated. I had to have stared at it this one painting for the better part of half an hour, from various angles and distances.

It’s a shame a missed the opening reception. I would have liked to have met the artist and asked him what went through his mind as he worked. However, Indigo will be displaying Mr. Vanidestine’s work through March 7th. I foresee myself going back to stare some more.

Becoming Integrated – Making Sense of Branding and Teh Internets

Today, I have finally taken steps to integrate this blog with my Etsy shop. I admit, I intended to do this a year ago and I have a lot to learn about how best to use the technology available to me. My boyfriend is light years ahead of me in this arena (he sometimes calls me a luddite, in a loving way, of course). However, today, I’ve finally pushed myself to start trying to use all of these tools, and I’m kind of proud of myself.

What I’ve changed/ am changing:

  • I’ve officially changed the name of my Etsy shop from Aikifox Creations to A’Cloth the World to connect the two together. This also meant having to play around on Gimp and create a new banner.
  • I’ve created an official Facebook page, linking to both this blog and the shop. I’ve also added a “Like” button so you’ll be able to become a fan on Facebook. As I have more items to list in the shop, I may provide useful coupon codes within this blog or on the Facebook page, so keep a lookout.
  • I’ll also be connecting my Etsy to Facebook and possibly Twitter. I’ve already started using #acloththeworld on Twitter.

Perhaps these aren’t major changes, but they’re a big deal for me 🙂

Donated Treasures

During the day, I work for a second had store. Working at a second hand store, I am always getting to see interesting items that people donate (like a really cool antique spinning wheel). Sometimes I get to see some not so interesting items (like nasty, cruddy underwear – ewww). I like looking at the clothes that come through. I like to note little nuances in style, in piecing – I especially love looking at clothes that others have altered from their original state as well as other home made goodies. Some months ago, we got in what was quite possibly the coolest thing I have seen to date. Someone crocheted a giant dragon from garbage bags. I was on break when a co-worker came to show me, and I happened to have my camera in my purse that day.

Reality: Ideas Come Faster Than Production

For all the ideas I have and the want to work on these myriad projects I have, it always seems that I’m just never able to get as many things accomplished as I’d like to. I see all of these gorgeous patterns in books and online (I recently obtained a copy of Austentatious Crochet by Melissa Horozewski as a birthday gift) and want to make them. But then, I have all of these original ideas I want to produce – and the energy and general impact I feel when I am around my brilliant artists friends makes me feel as though my time would be better spent creating original masterpieces, and this sometimes makes me feel guilty for constructing anything, gorgeous as it is, that follows a pattern.

The truth is, I can imagine all of these wonderful ideas much faster than I can actually create them. This is why I have started using an Idea Book or Craft Journal. A friend of mine gave me this mostly blank sketch pad that she wasn’t using. After it sat on my shelf for awhile, I finally pulled it out one evening to try to sort out some thoughts that had been swirling through my head. It is worth noting that while art is indeed very therapeutic and can be a way to work through your problems and express yourself, I have found that textile arts just don’t lend themselves as easily to the rush of passion or the chaos of plunging into inner turmoil/ depression… and I can’t paint or draw for beans. The Idea Book is nice because, like a journal, it allows me to work through any issues I may be having in life.. but using it as a medium for artistic design, I am also able to sketch, doodle, play with color schemes and tack swatches of fabric or yarn into the book as well.

As well as not letting me forget ideas, the Idea Book also allows me to process emotions...

The possibilities are really endless. In the current digital world, it’s a nice reprieve to shut everything down and just let the pen flow how it wants to.

Eventually, I will get around to making all of these things that I want to, and perhaps, these ideas will evolve into something better by the time I get around to them. Something I have had to make myself accept: There is no shame in working at your own pace. Just because I see this friend or some other person seeming to crank out dozens of items in a week, does not mean that I have to. We all have different demands on our lives – work, relationships, other hobbies, etc. Creating art is an individual experience and should never become more of a burden than a joy.

Longing to be a Western Bollywood Heroine

I got to see Agneepath this afternoon at a local art theater. It was amazing to see it on a big screen, in a packed house. I love the energy of the audience, the way everyone claps and cheers when the Hero comes on the screen. I’m still riding the high. I love Indian Cinema. I love the music, the culture, the clothes… It is a wish of mine to one day visit India.

A good friend and I awaiting last summer's showing of "Ready".

While Hindi films have gained a fairly large fan base in the US over the last few years (at least, I know a good number of people familiar with the term “Bollywood”, even if they’ve never seen a single movie.), I often find myself being curiously asked about my interest by Indians I encounter. Today, during intermission, I was asked by 3 people sitting near me how I was enjoying the film, if I’d seen a Hindi film before, if I was able to follow the story well. I never mind answering, I love the conversations that tend to follow – in this case it was a short discussion about how South Indian films are often remade in Hindi and it’s typically the Hindi versions that get the recognition in the US. (There’s fodder for a whole other post that I won’t go into here.)

Last time I went to see a Hindi film in the theater, I went with some friends, and I dressed in a salwar kurta and jeans. Admittedly, I felt self-conscious and wondered if my choice in attire was being well or ill received, or if I was over-thinking it. I couldn’t help but think about the words of a TA (Teacher’s Assistant) I had in college, and I still think about them. One day, in class, he read to us a poem he’d written entitled “I am not a dot”, after which he went on to talk about cultural appropriation and we had a discussion about whether it’s ok to take elements from another’s culture, how different aspects of cultures are appropriated, dynamics of power and so on. (It was actually quite interesting and enlightening.. I still have it recorded, but sadly, I need a new micro-cassette player to access it.) I also distinctly remember Madonna being mentioned, and, while these things never really have a “right answer”, I remember his distaste for the way she wore mehndi, and the way she talked about yoga. These discussions are a large part of why I’ve never donned a bindi, even as I have become more infatuated with Indian fashion and design.

I know, mirror pictures are garish. I had no other choice... really.

Despite seeing numerous positive blogs and videos and generally having been told by friends that I look good and can pull it off, my mind somehow always wanders back to the issue of appropriation. I start to dance around when I hear the tabla, and then I hear George Carlin saying, “…stick to your … polkas and waltzes, and that repulsive country line dancing shit that you do.” I get carried away in the magic of a Hindi film song, and as I close my eyes and begin to imagine myself as a heroine, sometimes I see myself merge gracefully like Heather Graham in The Guru, other times, I think I clash like Rachel Shelley in Lagaan.

 

Additional Reading:

How to be a white girl in Indian clothes – http://jacquelinecieslak.com/?p=1327

Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation? – http://www.the-nri.com/index.php/2010/05/whats-wrong-with-white-women-wearing-sari/

Recommended Movies (just a few, or this list would never end!):

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Ghajini (There’s a Hindi version and a Tamil version, I like both)

Kites

3 Idiots

Veer Zaara