These photos were taken at my painter friend Lucy MacGillis‘ house in Umbria, next door to Tuscany, where she owns a grove of olive trees. I was fortunate to arrive at harvest time in November 2012, and got to see the whole process from start to finish. To see black & white photos taken with a medium format, twin lens reflex film camera, check out my photo website at sophiadleestudios.zenfolio.com. Enjoy!
It has been a busy five weeks here at MICA in Baltimore at the MAAE low-residency program. I’m so grateful for all that I have learned, and looking forward to next week’s Thesis talks and our grad show in the gallery. I’m just posting a few images here so you can see what I’ve been working on! Thanks for looking! 🙂
I’m excited to be showing some of the work that I completed while at MICA this past summer. I’m enrolled in their Master of Arts in Art Education program (MAAE), which is a low-residency graduate program for people like me who are teachers and prefer to do online work or work in the summer. I was in Baltimore for six weeks, attending classes M-F, 9-5, and learning about teaching and making art. Each person in the program had their own, large studio and a studio mentor who pushed us to move past our own expectations of ourselves and make work that was authentic and fresh.
Normally I work with photography in various forms, but this summer I wanted to take a step away from it and work with new materials. Wood grain has always inspired me because I love lines and patterns, especially topographic maps and fingerprints. For me there is a visual connection between these patterns and the way time and life progresses: outward/inward, one thing affecting another in a never-ending reverberation. When I first arrived at my studio in Baltimore, I wanted to explore imagery from Polish folklore and craft work, which is why the rooster/chicken showed up along the way. I also owned chickens when I was seven living in Great Barrington, MA…they were my pets because I was not allowed to have a dog in the house. When I was a little girl, my mom would read me a bedtime story that involved a large tree with a hole in it, where progressively larger animals came to live until the whole tree fell down. Somehow these memories and images swirled together and connected in my imagination.
About four years ago, I started including a grid-like pattern of squares in my paintings, if for no other reason than to have a way to start a painting if I was feeling uninspired. At MICA, I created a large, blank grid, much like a calendar, where I wanted to document impressions from each day of my stay there. When my studio professor, Katherine Kavanaugh, questioned my choice of butcher paper and suggested wood instead, I resisted, but the thought stuck and I got excited about using the graduate wood shop and all the power tools. I kept the “calendar” on the butcher paper and diligently completed a square each day (but not in linear order), but started playing with all sorts of configurations of wood blocks with interesting wood grain.
This show is part of a work in progress, as I continue my graduate studies from home during the school year. I’m exploring the idea of time and memory and how we remember our lives. I feel a strong connection to my Babcia (Polish for “grandmother”) in this work, because she had dementia and lost her sense of time and memory before she passed away. To set aside time in my studio has been so gratifying, and I’m looking forward to exploring these themes further and seeing what comes of the work.
If you are interested in showing your work in a high traffic, downtown location in the Berkshires, please contact me! I manage a small storefront window space on North Street in Pittsfield, MA. Shows are up for one month at a time, with openings on the first Friday of each month, when Pittsfield hosts an organized event called First Fridays Artswalk.
The space can be thought of as a pop-up installation gallery, where artists can get creative with materials and have an opportunity to try something different.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a show you’d like to propose.
Opening on Friday, February 1, during the First Fridays Arts Walk in downtown Pittsfield, MA! I’m having a one-woman show of black and white photographs (35mm and 120) taken in Poland in the mid-1990s. The show is hanging at the lovely Maria’s European Delights shop, at 146 North Street (in the same block as Bagels, Too).
My mother is the only one in her family who emigrated and moved to the U.S. after studying in England and marrying an American. When I was in high school I wanted to unearth the reason for her strength, how it was that she was able to provide such a wonderful life for me, through the simple work of her two hands as a massage therapist. She joked that, thanks to her chore of taking the cows out to pasture when she was five years old in Poland, her hands were strong now.
That inspired me to interview women in Poland who toiled with their hands to make food, lace, wool, gardens, music. All that skill, care and knowledge within their hands astounded me! That raw ability to create something from nothing — to carry on traditions, to provide so much through their hands — spurred me on with my camera.
The images here were all taken in the south of Poland, near Krakow and the border of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The women in them are either friends or relatives of mine. Several of them, including my beloved Babcia (grandmother), have passed away.
The show has been hung, and who’s that in the foreground?! Is that a Joe Wilk, by any chance?! 🙂
It was a busy week of processing film, selecting images, printing in the darkroom, and editing, and now all the show photos are at the framer’s. I’ll be hanging my show next week at the ArtOnNo Gallery at 311 North Street in Pittsfield, MA. I hope you will be able to join me at the opening reception on Friday, September 7, from 5-8, and hear stories about the people and neighborhoods I photographed. It was such a great experience getting to spend a month in Brooklyn, and I’m so excited it share it with everyone! See you there!