Naturally Inspired – a natural collaboration

Lyn Belisle, “Bedrock” – Earthenware, found objects, 2019

NATURALLY INSPIRED: WORK BY LYN BELISLE, SABRA BOOTH, JESUS TORO MARTINEZ, AND TIM MCMEANS

I finally got to the this fantastic exhibition at St. Mary’s University which opened while we were in Cuba. The last I saw of my “Unearthed” pieces was dropping them off in a big box to curator Brian St. John at St. Mary’s University – goodbye, stuff!

Brian, a huge talented painter and professor of art at St. Mary’s,  treated me to lunch yesterday and a tour of the exhibit – wow! The works by (lucky) me and the other three artists integrates beautifully. Read Brian’s statement to see how all of this came about:

I knew Tim McMeans’ work well and had admired it for some time. His hybrid painted-drawings of two dimensional figures in broken geometric planes were recently featured in a great show at the Felder Gallery.

Jesus Toro Martinez is also a well-know San Antonio painter whose work I knew for its textures and power depicting earth themes. We had met a couple of times, and I loved his outgoing generous nature.

Jesus Toro Martinez, Sagebush by the Creek

Sabra Booth was new to me, but no longer – she is amazing. Her organize prints and collographs are stunning. In the exhibition, she has one huge collagraphic printing plate displayed next to the framed print it produced. I am a new fan of her work!

Sabra Booth, Frack House (detail)

I took some photographs of the exhibit when I was there with Brian yesterday – want to see? Just click on the image below!

Lyn Belisle, “Unearthed” – earthenware and found objects, 2019

 

 

 

An ancient pottery technique interpreted with modern stamps

“Synchronicity” is having a field day with me these days – it seems as if everything I come across relates to something else I’m working on.

Case in point: I’ve been researching pottery shards (or “sherds,” as they are often called in archeological reports) found near a burial site near Olmos Basin and have discovered that some really beautiful versions of black-on-white designs existed in this area and farther west and north.

Flafstaff Black on White Bowl – Date Range: Kayenta Heartland: A.D. 1130-1230 (Christenson 1994), Flagstaff Region: A.D. 1140-1225

Tularosa Black and White

If you’re interested in the historical details, here’s an excerpt from a 1959 paper on the subject:

About this same time, it so happened that I was supposed to design a bowl for the Empty Bowls fundraiser that’s held every year for SAMMinistries (which helps the homeless).

When I saw those ancient black-and-white pot shards, I was totally inspired. I wanted make a bowl to pay homage to that work, but time was of the essence and I couldn’t spend many hours hand-painting the intricate designs.Then I remembered that I had purchased a Potter’s Stamp from Road Runner Clay last year.

I got out my flexible clay texture stamps and the Potter’s Pad. This works just like a regular stamp pad, but it contains an underglaze for clay surfaces.

You can use any craft stamp to apply the underglaze to bisqueware (clay that has been fired once, but not glazed). Once the piece has been stamped, clear glaze is put over the surface as a top coat, and the pot is fired again.

Here is my stamped bowl – not quite Anasazi, but it does have that look, with a contemporary twist. I also used an underglaze pencil to do some asemic writing on the first layer.

Bowl with Stamped Underglaze, Lyn Belisle

Here’s what the underside of the bowl looks like.

Several other artists in the San Antonio Art League also painted underglaze designs for the Empty Bowls fundraiser. They were gorgeous! These artists were braver than I was, and used colored underglaze, which really change when fired. Here are photos of Dona Walston’s bowl before and after firing.

BEFORE FIRING:

AFTER CLEAR GLAZE & FIRING:

Underglazes, whether painted or stamped, are a wonderful way for a painter to experiment with pottery!

I encourage everyone to come to the Empty Bowls Event on March 3rd at the SW School of Art.

And for a sneak preview, click on the video below with more bowl photos from SAALM artists.

SAALM & SAPG partner for EMPTY BOWLS 2019 from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

 

Screens and shelters as art

archaeological excavation shelter

screen panels of heavy paper and sticks

As part of my work with the “Unearthed” series, I’ve been working with panels of paper, wax, sticks and silk to construct three-dimensional sculptural objects that can be configured in different ways.

This has become a very exciting project for me, informed and inspired by shelters and screens for archaeological excavations as well as the idea of versatile art panels that can be viewed from many perspectives to conceal and reveal.

Here’s one that is almost finished. It is large, about four feet long and two feet high.

Lyn Belisle, Shelter Screen #1, 48″ x 36″ Paper, wax, silk, pigment, and sticks

This is a close-up of the surface of one of the panels – torn silk is adhered with beeswax to squares of archeological symbols printed on paper. It’s multilayered and complex. The surface is meant to suggest ancient shards and scraps that have been collected and stuck to experimental surfaces for further study.

Detail, “Shelter Screen #2”

Another great thing about working with these kinds of panels is that each panel has two sides. Here is the reverse side of that piece.

“Shelter Screen #2”, reverse side

The artwork can be displayed on a wall as a four-panel work, or it can be configured on a pedestal or table as a three-dimensional object.

Here is another Shelter Screen in the series that also has two different-sided surfaces. This one is slightly smaller, about 3.5′ long.

Lyn Belisle, “Shelter Screen #3”, Paper, wax, sticks, acrylic, pigment

The back of this screen features photos of one of my earthenware face shards in a series of altered photographs.

“Shelter Screen #3”, reverse side

And it can be hung, or folded or tied into a square with either side out!

Because I have very limited studio time these days with all of the Art League duties, I find that working with these shelter panels is like meditation. Each one that I construct is slightly different, and when they are stitched or hinged together, their possibilities are endless.

I love the way this process grounds me back to the basics of building. And the fact that they are inspired by archeological screen and shelters gives them a deeper meaning.

Here is my second “Unearthed” sculpture displayed in front of a Shelter Screen – they were obviously meant to be together!

It’s as if the past is reaching out into the present, giving me guidance. Maybe “Nine Antlers” has a hand in all of this!

“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” ~ Mary Oliver

RIP

 

Unearthed

“Unearthed”- Lyn Belisle – Mixed Media Sculpture – 18″x 8″x 6″- 2019

Much of my new work is influenced by the Archaeological Investigations report which describes the 1979-80 research and discovery of 13 Archaic period human burials removed from a prehistoric cemetery by Olmos Dam. The investigation provided important information on the cultural practices during that period among people who lived almost exactly where I live now.

I call this new sculpture “Unearthed because I deliberately followed a process by which the clay shards that I created were fired in pieces that would be assembled like an unearthed archaeological puzzle – I did not have a plan about how they would go together, but rather worked on instinct. I let the piece “tell” me how it wanted to be built.

Clay shard pieces at the bottom of the kiln

It was harder than I thought. First of all, engineering a stable form from diverse clay pieces was a challenge. I used a combination of wood, plaster gauze (a gift from Shannon Weber) and a product called Platinum Patch in a few places where stability was critical.

Creating in three dimensions means paying as much attention to the sides and back as the front. The back of the piece shows the intricate textures pressed into the clay shard.

Here’s a detail of the texture on the front. I really like the way the plaster gauze looks like aged fabric remains.

I actually created two heads for this piece and ended up using the larger one.

A large head suggests child-like proportions, while this body suggests armor, so the whole piece resembles an ancient child warrior. Again, when I started out, I had no idea what this creature wanted or how to get there, but — trust the process!

You’ll be able to see this guy (and more of my brand new 3-D work) at  St Mary’s University Library in February as part of the exhibition called  “Naturally Inspired: works by Sabra Booth, Lyn Belisle, Jesus Toro Martinez, and Tim McMeans.” 

It’s gonna be a creative new year!