2.18.2013

Recent Creative Pursuits: Mud cloth experiment

Malian woman drawing pattern on bogolanfini
When people ask me how I create my work, I often say I follow what inspires me, to see where it leads.  Every year, I'm committed to showing and selling something just a bit different.  I say it's because I'm easily bored (!), but the real reason is twofold:  I'm inspired by many things, and I'm always looking for ways to express them in my work, and I never want to be one of those artists who does the same thing year after year.  In my experience of doing juried art shows, I've seen artists who do this; who display almost exactly the same pieces at show after show after show.  Yes, there's something to be said for having your own, unique style and sticking with it, but if you're boring your customers (how many of almost exactly the same thing does a person need?!), and turning off potential collectors, I'd say it's time to shake things up. 

What's been inspiring me lately is mud cloth.  Created by the Bambaran people of the Republic of Mali, west Africa, it is known as bogolanfini (bogo=mud, lan=with, fini=cloth).  Mud cloth is culturally significant, traditionally created by women, and used in ceremonies as well as for modern day clothing and home accessories.
My first attempt at mud cloth
The colors, patterns and symbols of mud cloth resonate with me, and though I don't often work with cloth, I experiemented with canvas, resist, inks and acrylic paint.  I should say at this point that one of my major impetuses to try this was my friend, and phenomenal artist Sharon DiGuilio.  We had a play date in her studio a couple of weeks ago, exploring all kinds of ways to print and use resists with fabric.  At right, you'll see my first attempt.  I'm not certain at this point how I'll use the fabric, or if I'll incorporate it into my wall hangings, but it sure was fun to play!  So much so, that Sharon and I have scheduled another play date this Friday, so stay tuned for more....

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