Summer Happenings / It's Been a While by Brielle DuFlon

Hi buddies! I haven't made a post in a while and it's because I stepped away from my fine art for a few months this year (between March and August) to launch the little business I wrote about in the last blog post - Window & Wing! 

Guess what? It's up and running and you can visit the shop at www.windowandwing.com

I'm pretty excited about it - it's just the beginning and there is still a lot to do and add to this platform but it feels good to have the foundation built. It's thrilling to think about how it might change and grow to encompass a wide variety of items that I'd like to make and learn how to make as well as focus more on sustainability and reducing fabric waste. As it stands, you can buy three kinds of things in the shop: wall hangings made out of recycled fabric, used and vintage clothing that I've made unique through embroidered embellishment and embroidered/beaded jewelry that is small edition or one of a kind. Here are some examples: 

Thoughts on what I'd like to add to the shop eventually include:

  • Woven wall hangings, woven textiles for the home (that could be commissioned) such as throw-pillow cases, tablecloths and bedspreads, placemats and napkins, tea towels and maybe even clothes some day.
  • Baskets: I'd like to learn how to make baskets and have them for sale through the shop (decorative and useful).
  • Handmade paper (from scrap thread and other fibers) available by the sheet and envelope. 
  • Stationary and notebooks
  • Patterns for fabrics and wallpapers (partner up with designers to make these available to people)

The potential for collaboration through Window & Wing is huge and I would like to partner with other lady-makers and small female-run businesses when I can. I'll keep you all posted on all of this including letting everyone know about any workshops or camps that I might run that have to do with the skills needed for this shop (something I'm very interested in exploring). I'm giving myself another full year and change to continue to lay the foundation for this and practice weaving, basket and paper making, learn how to use my sewing machine, and grow a following that trusts me and is interested in the next thing that might come to the shop.

So that's that for the craft side of things. 

On the fine art side, I signed up for two group shows this fall which are very important to me - the first being an activism show at the McGuffey Art Center called "All Rise" that opens next month and the second being a group show at Second Street Gallery in December that I'm extremely excited about (I'll post a Second Street update closer to the time of that show!).

I'm currently working on three pieces for the show at McGuffey that approach the division between groups of people in the contemporary U.S.:

  • people of color vs. white supremacists (and the greater theme of white privilege)
  • the LGBTQI community vs. those who want to take away or limit their rights
  • immigrants and refugees who would like to be part of our community vs. American citizens who do not welcome them.

I'm making these pieces all in the same style - as abstract representations of the voices of these oppressed communities getting pressed on, squeezed or pushed away by their oppressors. The pieces are titled "Voices of Color," "Proud Voices," and "Voices from Outside." Here are some progress shots from "Voices of Color" which is nearing completion: 

The cool thing about these pieces and the ones for Second Street is that I'm combining various media that I've become familiar with over the last few years into single pieces that have richer depth and texture and are more expressionistic. The emotion of making them feels evident in them, and that makes me ECSTATIC because with the preciseness of needlework and some of the geometry I like to include in my abstract representations, I've felt that the expressionism and emotion have been somewhat compromised. Now I feel like I can have it all and it feels great! 

On a final note, I wanted to mention three positive additions to my life: 

  • I joined an amazing Femme creative group called the FUCC (Femme Union of Charlottesville Creatives) that has not only introduced me to some really cool creative female energy in town but has also offered some incredible resources.
  • I attended a Social Media Workshop led by one of the FUCC members that has totally revolutionized my approach to instagram for my fine art and for Window & Wing, which is exciting.
  • I signed up for and completed a time management course online through Coursera that was extremely empowering - it's a multi-stage sort of thing so I'm currently in the process of tracking my time in 15 minute increments for a month! There are tools for higher efficiency, faster completion of projects and taking less transition time between projects as well as organization tips and things. It's been really great. Overwhelming sometimes, but amazing. 

 

In general it has been a very tender and sensitive month in C-ville. It makes me happy to be working directly on activist pieces right now. I've been feeling really emotional about the dark feelings a lot of people around me put so much energy into and behind - close-mindedness and division that have deep roots in this country and that are terrifying. The positive additions to my life mentioned above have been key in pulling me through these tough times, as well as open conversations with friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, reconnecting with my neighbors and making human connections everywhere I can - eye contact, acknowledgement - making those around me feel as welcome as possible. We have a lot of work to do as a community and a country and I'm excited to be diving into it using some of the best means of communication I know - art! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

B

Nailing reclaimed fabric to a wall, Going to Guatemala, Starting a business, You know by Brielle DuFlon

What's good, guys? 

It's really beautiful out these days. Spring fever has everyone driving around like they're in the middle of a hail storm (biking has felt particularly precarious but the breeze sure feels good). The irises have popped up in front of our house and I've been getting dirt under my fingernails from toiling in the soil. Good stuff. 

I had a blast in March putting a reclaimed fabric mural/installation on the wall at Brazos Tacos in town, in the IX building. It was a great experience getting to know the Brazos staff, talking to passersby with questions, and a lot of fun to boot. Here's a slideshow of the process that culminates in a few photos of the final product: 

The day after I finished installing the piece at Brazos Tacos I flew to Guatemala to visit family and friends. My boyfriend Colin came with me - it was his second time in Guatemala and we had a great visit! It was pretty action packed but we got to spend some really nice moments with family talking about real things, we shared some beautiful meals, we drank lots of mezcal with good people and close friends. We spent most of our time in Antigua where my families live but we also took a little three-day trip to Lake Atitlan and got to explore two towns that I had actually never been to in my 20 years there (or I don't remember because it was so long ago) - Santa Catarina Palopo and San Antonio Palopo. On our way to San Antonio from Santa Catarina we met the sweetest guy named Francisco who took us to his house because he wanted to show us his loom. Yes! A man with two pedal-looms who weaves in San Antonio Palopo. We watched him weave a bit and saw his little weaving room and met his wife Maria, and I took a couple of instant photos of he and Maria (which I left with them but I photographed first) and also some photos on my digital olympus. Here're the instant portraits and a digital photo of him and Maria with a little more context. 

 Francisco with one of his looms, San Antonio Palopo

Francisco with one of his looms, San Antonio Palopo

 Maria surrounded by photos of her family and the weavings they've made, San Antonio Palopo 

Maria surrounded by photos of her family and the weavings they've made, San Antonio Palopo 

 Francisco and Maria in their weaving workshop, San Antonio Palopo

Francisco and Maria in their weaving workshop, San Antonio Palopo

We also bought some beautiful ceramics from San Antonio Palopo. There's a beautiful glazing style there that is known nation-wide and I wanted some original pieces from the source, so we stocked up on some gorgeous pieces of earthenware <3. 

Coming back from Guatemala would have been more difficult if it wasn't spring in Virginia. The color of the flowers, the potential in each bundle of leaves unfurling in to the world, the balmy days have all made for a smoother transition. I've been catching up on weeding, planting and cleaning up flower beds, as well as some things around the house that needed to get done. I've been putting things away in the studio and making more space there (I'm also on the waitlist for a bigger studio, which is exciting), working on some small commissions here and there (those wedding watercolors are still coming, it's pretty great!), and last but not least - I'm finally in a place to think about Window and Wing - the home-wares and wearables shop that I've wanted to launch for over a year now!

Home-wares and wearables. It's just an easy way to sum up a shop that encompasses a wide variety of objects that fall into a similar aesthetic that are for the home and body. I've always been one who enjoyed making cozy spaces and unique wearable items (clothing, refurbished clothing, jewelry). I thought to myself "why not do this for other people and actually make (part of) a living out of it?" 

So yes, that's the business I'm referring to in the title of this blog post. I'll be making a website for it that is completely separate from this one, and I hope to one day be able to sustain myself on a combination of sales from Window and Wing and sales of my fine art works. It's going to be a process that might take a little time but I am looking forward to every step of the way and am happy to feel so sure about it. As I just told a close friend, it feels like part of me has been lying dormant for a long time because I didn't know how to channel this craving to create crafty, utilitarian things. I think I've found it! I'll be sure to post updates about it along the way, and will occasionally point you all to the Window and Wing website when something particularly exciting is happening on that side of my creative sphere. 

Have a great week, all! 

 

The Making of "Living Well in Oak Park" by Brielle DuFlon

Hi all! if you follow me on instagram or facebook you might have been bombarded fairly recently with quite a few photos of a mixed-media triptych commission I was working on that involved a lot of fabric collage. Here's the story behind the making of it and a series of photos showing the phases it went through as it came together! 

When Ali and Ryan Steers initially asked me about making a large piece for their living room over a year ago, I told them that although I was really interested, it might be a while before I was able to dedicate weeks to making them something. They weren't in a rush so the year passed in a fever of shows, camps and smaller or more timely commissions. When winter rolled back around, it was time to think about dedicating time to the piece that I'd promised Ryan and Ali and so I reached out and we decided to make a piece that was 6 feet long total but that was divided in three 3ft long and 2ft wide pieces. They wanted texture, color (especially red to interact with a red credenza in their living room), and they had a couple of fun and challenging things they wanted me to include in the piece somehow: wine (because they love wine and Ryan has developed his late father's appreciation, passion and memory for wine) and cycling (because it is something they love to do together as a family - little ones included - and Ryan is also a semi-professional mountain-biker).

I decided to go the abstract route and immediately thought of all the photos I took of peeling paint last February in Guatemala. I dug up a few of these photos and started taking shapes away from the patches of peeled paint, which I then drew in a more simplified fashion and cut out of paper. I also cut out three rectangles that acted as the three canvases and moved these weird abstract shapes around on them, ultimately settling on a composition I liked.

Then I thought, how do I bring in the wine? I wanted to symbolize it in a way that was abstract and not corny. I thought of all the ways that wine occupies space and remembered how it looks as it's falling through the air from one vessel to another. I looked up photos of wine getting poured from bottles into glasses and picked a few and recreated the shape of the stream traveling through air. Then, I placed those in the background of the drawing, behind the peeling-paint derived shapes. This is what it all looked like: 

 I ended up tweaking some of the shapes even more in the end, but this was the general gist!&nbsp;

I ended up tweaking some of the shapes even more in the end, but this was the general gist! 

Now it was just cycling that had to be incorporated somehow and I'm really happy with how I did that, but I'll wait to show you what I did later, once you've seen the finished painting. Here's the drawing on raw canvas: 

I painted the entire background space off-white. It's such a warm and calming color and I knew I was going to be bringing a lot of color into the abstract shapes. 

Then I painted the wine inspired lines in the background different shades of wine-inspired reds, from reds pushing plum to rusty reds. Then, I started on the fabric. It was really hard to start with the fabric though. I didn't have a lot of experience with fabric collage (none, really) and I didn't realize how forgiving it would be to work with, so I felt a lot of pressure to have to make the right decisions on the first try. Luckily I finally just took a risk and realized pretty quickly that not only could I cut and re-cut fabric and stretch and move it around, but also that making color choices was natural and I felt pretty confident about what I wanted. Always a good feeling! 

Where did I get the fabric for this piece, you ask? Up until this point I'd gotten quite a few fabric samples from The Second Yard in Charlottesville - an interior's store that sells grocery bags full of old fabric samples for really cheap. I'd also stumbled upon bags and boxes full of fabric samples and swatches in the free pile at McGuffey and I'd sorted them all by color. 

I wanted to add, before showing you all the process photos of the piece, that (and if you know me you know this) I'm concerned with our environment and in reusing, recycling and repurposing things in my artwork often. It's really exciting to feel comfortable using reclaimed fabric after this project because Americans alone send around 10.5 million tons of cloth-waste to landfills each year and I'm hoping in my small way to take away from that number by continuing to incorporate cloth-waste into my art! 

Without further ado, here's the coming together of "Living Well in Oak Park" :

 Completed!!&nbsp;

Completed!! 

Here I am with it, framed and all! 

 lighting's not great, sorry guys :/

lighting's not great, sorry guys :/

Remember how I had to bring cycling into the pieces, somehow? I managed to fit two of Ryan's favorite trails from the Oak Park area into the piece subtly : 

Backbone trail: 

And Dead Cow Loop: 

IMG_7138.jpg

Lastly, this is how great the triptych looks in the house !! 

Thanks for visiting everyone! Will be coming at you soon with a blog post about an installation I'm currently putting up at Brazos Tacos here in Charlottesville (also reclaimed fabric! Wahoo!) Have a great week! 

Inspired by the Elements, the Political Climate and Botanical Literature by Brielle DuFlon

Hi again everyone! Thanks for stopping by! 

I hope that your January's have trickled by as slowly and richly as mine did :). It was a good month for me, professionally and mentally. I managed not to get overwhelmed by the same amount of work that would have choked me a year ago. The changes I've tried to make in my habitual negative thinking and my perspective in general seem to be working! I seem to have gotten a little better at not pouring physical and mental energy into places that don't deserve it. That's a big deal for one who has been quite anxious for a while!  

Creatively I focused on two things in January. Finishing eleven miniature embroideries to be grouped into three pieces for the February show that I was roped into last minute at Chroma Projects Art Laboratory, and a large triptych that is heading out to California in a week. I won't go into detail on the triptych during this post, but will reserve an entire post for it after sending it off because it's a lot of fun and very different than what I usually work on! 

Outside of my creative life, I took some blows last month. My grandfather passed away peacefully but somewhat unexpectedly on January 10th. I just saw him in Montana at Christmas without knowing it was the last time I'd ever see him. At the wise age of 89, he was ready to go. The polio he survived at the age of fourteen was compromising his mobility to an exhausting point and he was starting to lose his mental sharpness (or so he felt - he seemed sharp as ever to all of us at Christmas-time) which had always been his biggest source of pride. He'd had his successful family get-together over the holidays, so he gathered his children and wife around him and after a few days of laughing, reminiscing and hand-holding he took a day-long nap and never woke up. Best case scenario really, but still difficult. I very much loved and admired him, and really value all of the adventures that we went on together (and there were many, my grandparents made sure of it). It has been hard to try to imagine Montana without him. It is always so difficult to process a loss when you don't get to see the person regularly as it is. Your mind just wants to trick you into pretending that nothing has changed. In order to keep my grandma company as she tries to accept her new reality (after being married for 65 years!) I've been sending her a couple of postcards a week hoping they'd make her smile and feel loved and plan on continuing to do so in the months to come. I bought 100 beautiful postcards!

 My grandpa, William Vorhees Skidmore, caning a chair quite a while ago.&nbsp;

My grandpa, William Vorhees Skidmore, caning a chair quite a while ago. 

I'm pretty sure that my grandpa purposefully left before the inauguration. He'd been depressed and anxious since the election and wanted to leave this earth before it took this turn, I think. I can't blame him. I was in Washington DC on inauguration day and the air was heavy and the streets were quiet. The day after the inauguration I got to participate in the biggest protest in U.S. history marching alongside two of my closest female friends from college and hundreds of thousands of other women and men holding beautifully open, progressive, bold, hilarious, intelligent messages on posters, wearing pink knit pussy hats, shouting, whooping, calling and responding. I want to express GIGANTIC admiration for all who participated in the pussy hat project - as a maker, I was so so touched by the fact that so many people across the country put such time and effort into making these hats and sending them to the march in time!! So amazing. The weekend was really the best - empowering time with two close girlfriends, laughing, crying, cooking, drinking wine and eating cheese, listening to music, having amazing conversation, walking, observing, reflecting. The emotions of the weekend and of the march were so overwhelming that they're pretty impossible to describe but a lot of you know what it felt like. I was on the verge of crying the entire day of the march because everything felt so incredibly meaningful. 

 Fujifilm instax 300 wide photos I took on during the rally and march on January 21st, 2017.&nbsp;

Fujifilm instax 300 wide photos I took on during the rally and march on January 21st, 2017. 

The empowerment is still feeding me and many people around me who inspire me every day. There is a lot that we're going to have to come together to protect over the course of this administration. I've been trying to stay active since returning to Charlottesville by overcoming some anxiety and making phone calls to my congresspeople about appointments I don't agree with, signing petitions against budget cuts, conflicts of interest, federal appointments, donating to organizations locally, nationally and internationally. I want to do more and plan on doing more once I get this triptych sent off and I have a little more breathing room. If you want to know what changes are being made around the issues you care about most, bookmark this website and visit it often:  

The Resistance Manual

I've also signed up for Jen Hofmann's weekly to-do list. You can subscribe to that HERE. It's an activism checklist that includes important numbers to call, scripts to use when speaking with someone or leaving a message, e-mail messages to copy/paste etc. What else do I plan on doing once I have a tiny bit of breathing room? Attending meetings for SURJ Charlottesville and applying to volunteer with our local International Rescue Committee. Check out C-ville IRC volunteering opportunities HERE.  

Ok. I've done my duty to acknowledge the scary situation we're dealing with, here and can now proceed with creative updates! I just wanted to share the miniatures that came together to create the three pieces I contributed to "Bindings," the show currently hanging in Chroma Projects inside York Place on the Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall. Before I show you the images though, here's the little statement I wrote for my pieces in the show: 

"The pieces created for Bindings were inspired directly by the elements, the current political climate and botanical literature I’ve recently ingested. I wanted to create families of miniature embroideries that stood strong as individuals and even stronger together. At this tumultuous time in U.S. history it has become vital for us to work with each other, move together and care for one another – this tenderness toward those around us and our environment is what I aim to embody in these embroideries that listen to one another and move as one."

I'll share them with you in order of completion. 

 Digital collage of the four miniatures that came together to create "The Slow Study of Mosses," each 4 inches squared.&nbsp;

Digital collage of the four miniatures that came together to create "The Slow Study of Mosses," each 4 inches squared. 

 "The Slow Study of Mosses" hovering above the yarn that came together to create her!

"The Slow Study of Mosses" hovering above the yarn that came together to create her!

In case you're wondering where the name "The Slow Study of Mosses" came from, it came directly from The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, that I'd been reading all month in which the female protagonist studies mosses over a long period of time (and also from my fascination with olive greens). 

 A digital collage of the three 4" squared miniatures that compose "Kites."&nbsp;

A digital collage of the three 4" squared miniatures that compose "Kites." 

 "Kites" with the many skeins of yarn that came together to create her!&nbsp;

"Kites" with the many skeins of yarn that came together to create her! 

By this point I knew I wanted to make pieces that revolved around different elements but also wanted to create pieces that were about humans interacting with nature. I also wanted to use some of my off-white yarns in a setting together to look at their textures and tones side by side. All of this came together to create this little vertical triptych. 

 Digital collage of the four 4" squared miniatures that compose "Water is Life."&nbsp;

Digital collage of the four 4" squared miniatures that compose "Water is Life." 

 The yarns that came together for "Water is Life". I don't have a photo of this family of miniatures framed - I forgot to get one before dropping it off at the gallery! But it's fun to see what all went into it anyway :)&nbsp;

The yarns that came together for "Water is Life". I don't have a photo of this family of miniatures framed - I forgot to get one before dropping it off at the gallery! But it's fun to see what all went into it anyway :) 

I was originally thinking of the sea when I started "Water is Life" but quickly moved into wanting to make the piece about water in general, and also wanting to donate 100% of my profits from this piece to three very important organizations providing legal aid to the Lakota People and who fight to legally defend water and the environment. The three organizations I'm going to split the profits from this piece between are Earthjustice, Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) and the Lakota People's Law Project. I've wanted to create art purposefully with the intention of donating the profits toward a worthy cause for a while. It's something that I want to create a habit out of and do as often as I financially can. It's my time and the person who purchases the piece's money. It's my favorite kind of collaboration. I plan on starting a website page directly for these pieces so that if people are specifically interested in purchasing a piece that puts money toward aiding an issue, they'll be all together and easy to find. 

That, my friends, brings this epic blog post to a close. January 2017 shall go down as one of the most intense political times in U.S. history, what a year we've all gotten off to. Stay strong sweet ones. Take time to take care of yourselves and process all that is happening. When we are strong and stable individuals we can be those things for those around us, too. We need each other more than ever. It's important not to get exhausted now, the fight is only just beginning. Hope you all have a wonderful week and I will be writing again soon with news on the California-bound triptych! 

xoxo B

Happy New Year friends! by Brielle DuFlon

Hi guys! Happy 2017! WE MADE IT!

It’s time to catch up after the end-of-year madness and the holidays. After the show at the Bridge PAI, I took myself to Trinidad and Tobago for a week of reflection, philosophy, reading, sun and sleep. It was exactly that and it was great. It also shattered a lot of the perfectionism, discontent, restlessness and impatience that I'd been building for various years as I have been trying to set the foundation for my career. It was nice to realize that I didn’t enjoy those new aspects of my personality and that I didn’t need them. It’s obviously not an easy habit to break but I’m conscious of working on it every day. I’ve figured out what’s important to me and now I’m just trying to cultivate those values on a daily basis so that I can be the best person I can be for me and for those around me. I’m working on a written piece about my trip to Tobago that I will quite possibly share when I finish it, whenever that might be!

About actual things made and accomplished in November and December: I got four embroideries officially sent off to Melbourne, Australia where they are now for sale through a web gallery named B for Brian. Here are the pieces ! 

 "Salt Rim" (left) and "Irises by a White Picket Fence"&nbsp;

"Salt Rim" (left) and "Irises by a White Picket Fence" 

 "Finding Home Inside" (left) and "Petri Dish Dreams"&nbsp;

"Finding Home Inside" (left) and "Petri Dish Dreams" 

Here's a link to the B. for Brian Shop!

I never showed you guys "Salt Rim" before sending it off, did I? Here are some photos of the last full embroidery piece I completed in September: 

     After getting those pieces sent off to Australia I started to clean out the studio, which felt amazing. It had been collecting dustbunnies and literal dirt from my found objects for a year while I worked through all my deadlines and commitments. It felt amazing to get rid of some furniture, start painting my yarn shelves white (much better than the dowdy faux wood paneling), move everything around so that I finally had floor space, open wall space and more light. The loom has now been oriented so that there is natural light falling on what I am working on, too. The general feeling in the studio is one of openness and organization and that pleases me! Once I've got the the shelves all painted I'll share an updated photo of the space. 

As far as weaving in concerned, I did have my first warping lesson yesterday and got part of my first warp ever tied on! Check it out you guys! 

 You can also catch a glimpse here of a little more floor space and a nicer layout! Also notice the two white painted shelves as opposed to the 3 fake wood ones :/ I chose bright colors for the warp so that I can test fun things on it and see how much the warp shows with different weaving approaches etc.&nbsp;

You can also catch a glimpse here of a little more floor space and a nicer layout! Also notice the two white painted shelves as opposed to the 3 fake wood ones :/ I chose bright colors for the warp so that I can test fun things on it and see how much the warp shows with different weaving approaches etc. 

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Before Christmas I had one more art project to complete - 5 little watercolor commissions based off of photos from weddings. I enjoy making little landscapes in watercolor and often do small-scale commissions for people. In this case, a friend wanted me to paint a little painting as a gift for 5 weddings she attended this year. Here they are, all together: 

After completing the watercolors I also hung six of my 9 found object assemblages from "We Made You This" and a straggler from a previous show - the first found object assemblage I ever made - at Random Row Brewing that just opened in town not long ago. This is what they look like, up: 

They'll be hanging for 3 months and we will be having a meet and greet on Thursday, January 19th so stop on by if you're in town! 

Christmas was really nice - I got to go to Montana and see my extended family on one side. It was beautifully wintery and white and I had some really sweet shared moments with nuclear and extended family members. It was special. Did you all have a wonderful holiday? I hope you were surrounded by love :) 

Since getting back I've fallen into a busier month than I anticipated. I had two projects I knew about ahead of time and planned on diving into, and am actively planning for those, or am in early stages. One of them is a triptych commission that will be getting shipped to California by mid-February, an abstract full of color and texture that should be pretty fun. I look forward to sharing the process and final product of that with you all!

Simultaneously I'm beginning work on a large recycled fabric mural at a local restaurant, Brazos tacos, composed in a similar fashion to the rose-petal piece I made last summer, "Caught Past Prime." I'm cutting ovular pieces out of the fabric to layer in a sort of fish-scale or shingle pattern, like so: 

IMG_4966.jpg

That mural/installation should be completed by mid-march at the latest. 

I've also gotten roped in to a group show in February, last minute. It's at Chroma Projects Gallery, which will be moving to York Place on the Charlottesville downtown mall before the show. I'll be showing with two other artists who also work in mixed media. I'm going to be making some texture study miniatures for that show, I look forward to sharing those with you all, as well. 

 So it turns out January isn't as calm as I was imaging it to be but that is ok. I remind myself every day that I am lucky that what I love to do is in high enough demand that I am a little overwhelmed sometimes. It means I must be doing something right, right? I am determined to stay present throughout this month regardless of all that is now on my plate, and will try not to lose track of friends, or exercise, or the other things outside of art that I enjoy and that make me a multi-faceted person namely, reading, writing, cooking, meditating/practicing yoga, dancing, listening to music and spending time with my plants and my amazing boyfriend Colin :) 

Happy 2017 all! Looking forward to spending and sharing another year with you guys. Never hesitate to reach out through my contact page! 

'We Made You This' at the Bridge PAI by Brielle DuFlon

It's hard to believe that November is nearing it's end! What a year it has been. Thanks for sticking through it with me guys. While it's still current, I wanted to put up a blog post about the trash assemblages I compiled for the show that is currently hanging at the Bridge PAI (the show comes down on Nov. 23rd) that I affectionately titled "We Made You This," a name harvested from the marketing on some of the trash itself - McDonald's Apple Pie packaging. Here's a photo of the whole show, hung: 

This was a huge project you guys. I'll let the statement do most of the talking, it's just under the photos of the individual pieces, but I'm still coming down from making these pieces, which is the largest set of artworks I've ever made. As I said, what a year it's been! 

Here are the pieces individually, in the order that they're hung from left to right: 

  Americas Favorite &nbsp;, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft&nbsp;

Americas Favorite , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft 

  Patrice , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Patrice, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2ft x 4ft. 

  Clean and Serene For Ninety Days , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 1.5ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Clean and Serene For Ninety Days, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 1.5ft x 4ft. 

  Lunch Money , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Lunch Money, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft. 

  S  tarted From the Bottom , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Started From the Bottom, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2ft x 4ft. 

  Oil Fill , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2.5ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Oil Fill, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 2.5ft x 4ft. 

  Happy Easter , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

Happy Easter, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 3ft x 4ft. 

  SA41 , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 1.5ft x 4ft.&nbsp;

SA41, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 1.5ft x 4ft. 

  Comfort Zone , found material hand-sewn on canvas. 33in x 4ft.&nbsp;

Comfort Zone, found material hand-sewn on canvas. 33in x 4ft. 

I wanted to share the statement for the show with you guys, too: 

The titles for these artworks and for the show were harvested from the discarded material in each of these pieces (labels, handwritten notes, etc.) – I challenge you all to find the sources of the piece-titles and the show!      
The material found in these pieces was collected between the months of January and October of 2016. As hard as it was, I refused to let people help me or donate neat items they’d found because it would have disconnected me from the process of building this connection to the community that I joined 4 years ago. The trash-collecting was meditative for me. I tried to be very present while walking around scrutinizing the sidewalk, putting my phone away and engaging with the land I was walking on intimately.
     When I first started collecting trash to incorporate or turn into art, I considered making a little vest for myself to wear while on my expeditions that said “ARTIST – DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME” on the back. I was self conscious about picking up trash. I didn’t want people to assume things about me because I looked desperate. I wore gloves when picking things up – partly to look “official” and partly for “protection”. After a few months I started just taking a smaller bag and putting it on my hand when picking things up, taking it off when I wasn’t actively touching anything “dirty”. Toward the end of this process I stopped “protecting” myself against the trash altogether. The self-consciousness, disgust and fear were gone. The trash I was picking up was mingled with leaves and sticks and other natural elements that I respected along the sides of the road, and it was no dirtier than those things. It became empowering to keep people wondering who I was and what I was doing – dressing nicely (or not) and going out with a bag and bending over to get something no one else had noticed, or waiting for a gap in the cars driving by so that I could run into the street and pick something up that I’d caught a glimpse of. I imagine people who saw me created their own stories for me – I was a white lady doing her part to clean up the neighborhood (simple but true!), I was a homeless lady with one fancy outfit that I kept in pristine condition, I was an eccentric (also partly true). The idea of those stories makes me smile, but I do wish someone had blatantly asked me what I was doing. No one ever did.
     Bending over/crouching to pick something up is a humbling experience. It’s something we feel self-conscious about even when we’ve only just dropped something and immediately bend down to get it. The act of bending over is shameful – it’s associated with manual labor, low economic status, and is improper for women in particular because of the potential sexual connotations. I’m sure some people felt embarrassed when they saw me picking things up. But I’ll tell you guys what – not only is it something we’ve been doing since we became an upright species in order to feed ourselves, build shelter and generally survive, it’s incredibly grounding and builds physical strength and balance.
    I realized throughout this process that the parts of the city that are most littered often have the least sense of community. I walked though neighborhoods without public trashcans that I was sure would be rife with trash but all I got were mingling neighbors on porches waving at me or watching me walk by. These weren’t heavily trafficked areas, and they weren’t wealthy neighborhoods. It was just the community that cared about what their neighborhood looked like. The most littered areas were the most transient neighborhoods like the trailer parks and areas under construction, and main roads with the most traffic – downtown Belmont, downtown Charlottesville, West Main St, the train tracks. What comes first, the clean neighborhood or the sense of community? I think the latter. 

Some photos of me in the studio by Martyn Kyle (thanks Martyn!!) : 

Here are some photos from hanging and opening night! (Last thing in this entry, I promise, haha): 

 my friend Karine got a panoramic with three me's in it!&nbsp;

my friend Karine got a panoramic with three me's in it! 

 On a more formal note...

On a more formal note...

Fall Already? by Brielle DuFlon

Hi guys! 

Hope everyone had a wonderful summer. I had a great one (though I am already feeling nostalgic for all the summer activities and am going to continue wearing skirts until it's uncomfortably chilly). Lots of things have happened over the last month and a half! This year has been so unbelievably fast-paced. 

First off - I had the amazing opportunity to get interviewed by Culturescene Magazine based in Richmond, VA. The interview was published on August 4th - sorry I'm so behind! But you can find it HERE - it's a great interview - super amazing questions and some beautiful photographs by James Millhiser and David Talton - thanks again guys, it was so much fun! 

After Art Extravaganza day camp wrapped up I completed my first corporate commission for a PR company in NYC - it was a somewhat excruciating process but also a huge learning experience. Reminded me how important it is to draw up a contract for every commission, and to make sure expectations are understood on both sides. NO ONE IS GOING TO VALUE YOUR TIME IF YOU DON'T and YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON STICKING UP FOR YOUR TIME. That's for all my fellow emerging/establishing artist friends out there. Don't feel bad about charging people the money you deserve for the hard work you do - there should be no guilt associated with asking what you deserve to make a living. 

While I was working on that commission I was also working on a piece for "Cherry Bounce" - a collaborative show at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, VA. The museum reached out to over fifty Appalachian artists to ask them to create an assigned artwork. Each artist was paired with a U.S. presidential election year and given specific campaign posters and cartoons to respond to. I was assigned 1804, Jefferson's second election in a row (which he won), and was given two cartoon's to respond to. The one I ended up picking was the following: 

  The Philosophic Cock,&nbsp; James Akin

The Philosophic Cock, James Akin

When I was thinking of what to do in response to this cartoon depicting Thomas Jefferson as the Philosophic Cock with Sally Hemings, his slave and (at the time speculated, now confirmed) concubine standing behind him as a hen, I did a good amount of research, including a little trip to the Historic Society of Albermarle County to look through the Hemings' file. This cartoon was anti-Jeffersonian, throwing shame at Jefferson for a forced sexual relationship with one of his slaves despite it being common practice for white slave-owners to pick a concubine.  I was pretty repulsed by this cartoon for various reasons, and in large part because of that it seemed extremely relevant right now in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. There is a lot to say about the forced relationship between slave women and their white owners. 

The route I ended up taking for my response piece was to make Sally Hemings the center of attention, without making her a hero. To consider Sally Hemings a hero would belittle the efforts by the black heroes who have risked tremendous amounts for the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality and justice. Making a hero out of Sally Hemings would in fact give credit to Jefferson for giving her a name - it's only because the master she was forced into a relationship with was Thomas Jefferson that we know about her - there were many, many slave women taken as concubines who we've never heard about because their white owners weren't of particular importance. I wanted to depict Sally Hemings as a whole human being, surviving.

The painting I made depicts Sally going about her daily work. If she wanted to stay alive and stay in-tact she had to deal with Thomas Jefferson, a task she could not avoid in the same way she couldn't avoid anything else asked of her. Tending to her duties and his attentions were what was expected of her in her position at that time - she followed through, and she stayed alive, physically. In my painting her face is set, desensitized and unexcited - she is feeding the chickens, amongst them Thomas Jefferson, the philosophic Cock from Akin's original cartoon. It's a job without pay and nothing more and she does what she has to, mentally and physically, to wake up every morning like every other slave had to. Thomas Jefferson the rooster has his eye on her but she's not thinking about him - she could be thinking about anything: her children, her duties, her coworkers and friends.

Here are some detail shots: 

You might wonder why I painted Sally with straight hair, and somewhat caucasian features. When I was researching her and her family tree I saw that she was actually 3/4 white, her mother and grandmother having been taken as concubines by their white owners. In physical accounts of her she is described as being light skinned, with straight dark hair and caucasian facial features. I also found out that she was Martha Jefferson's half-sister, Thomas Jefferson's late wife who passed away before he took Sally as his concubine at the age of fourteen. Apparently Martha's father John Wayles had owned Sally's mother, Betty Hemings who he took as a concubine whilst married to Martha's mother, Martha Eppes. Sally was Betty and John's daughter and Martha was Martha Eppes and John's daughter. When John Wayles died after Martha and Thomas Jefferson had married, they inherited all of John's slaves - including Sally Hemings, Martha's half-sister. Here's an incomplete and very basic family tree from wikipedia: 

 

It's a pretty crazy story and a convoluted web - just goes to show how complicated and dehumanized things were, then. This family tree is not unusual, it was a fairly common situation at that time. I learned a tremendous amount from this collaboration/challenge. The piece is on display with over 50 other pieces in Abingdon, VA if you happen to be in the area and want to check it out sometime! Please do and shoot me a message telling me what you think! 

Art Extravaganza Camp Week Results in Genius Works! Am I Surprised? No! by Brielle DuFlon

I had an amazing opportunity last week to lead a group of thirty kids in an assemblage activity as part of McGuffey's Art Extravaganza week-long art camp. The camp was organized by fellow member and art-camp extraordinaire Renee Balfour, who pulled together five artists at McGuffey to teach the same class 5 days in a row with rotating campers: Charlene Cross, Vee Osvalds, Jane Skafte, me and Renee. There were five groups of six campers each, between the ages of 8 and 16, grouped within three or so years of each other, mostly. 

It was a great experience you guys. I laughed a lot with these guys and was so, so impressed with the different approaches that individuals and age groups had to working with mixed media. Everyone in my class had a large 20 in x 30 in piece of matt foamcore to use as their backing foundation material - for those of you who aren't familiar, foamcore is two pieces of thick paper with a layer of foam between them, so it provides a rigid, sturdy backround for anything that might weigh more than paper could handle. They had the option of using the piece whole or I was happy to cut it up into smaller pieces for them. Some kids actually used the larger piece of foamcore and additional small pieces that I cut afterword. 

Here's a photo of the collection of materials that i displayed for the campers that they could come and take supplies from over the course of the session. I think this photo is from the second day so things are still pretty organized/ in tact ha! 

 (making this diagram was fun and a tech feat for me lol)

(making this diagram was fun and a tech feat for me lol)

Here are all the finished pieces, large and small (I'm so impressed and proud!!) 

Here are some action shots and details of camper's pieces: 

Long and short of it, we all had a great time last week and learned a lot about how different materials can be used in unexpected and unconventional ways and how glitter can be both a good and bad idea, ha! 

Petri Dish Dreams by Brielle DuFlon

Finished a small tapestry I've been working on for a while now just this last week - "Petri Dish Dreams!" You've seen pictures of it in progress. This was a two-layer embroidery piece: I did the first layer completely in cream-colored thread, then painted it with cream-colored acrylic paint, let it dry and then did the color embroidery over it. This is an approach I'd like to keep exploring, for sure! It was really neat to watch it come together with such a marked foreground and background. Here's the finished product:  

Here are some photos from the process of making "Petri Dish Dreams": 

"Caught Past Prime" Assembly and Opening: Success! by Brielle DuFlon

Hi everybody! Can't believe my rose petal installation is up for view and enjoyment! What an incredibly meditative and satisfying process. I ended up using 5,932 petals for it - only had 13 petals left over and they were all tiny and purple. Assembly took close to 40 hours. Here are some photos from the beginning to the end of the creation process, including all the rose petal pictures from as eary as January: 

Here's the statement I drew up for the opening: 

     5,932 rose petals were used to make this piece that measures twelve feet in width and is roughly 8 feet tall. I started collecting petals in January of this year. The first bunch of roses I pressed came from a friend - a gift at a show I had in January. I couldn’t bear to throw them away, so as they started to hang their heads, I pressed all the petals. While I was pressing the petals for those first roses I got the idea for this installation. In order to get enough rose petals to fill the amount of space I wanted I was going to need a reliable and consistent source, so I went and talked to local florist Hedge Fine Blooms and they agreed to donate the roses that were past their prime and unsalable to this project. No roses were bought with the intention of being used for this project -  was an exercise in using and reevaluating discarded material.

     Every time I went to Hedge to pick up the roses they had waiting for me I was shocked by their beauty. I started to think a lot about our standards, as humans. It’s interesting what our society considers to be an organism’s “prime” – smooth, tight, full of potential. I’m describing a flower bud but the same words can be used to describe the bodies, skins and outlooks of humans during the years we consider to be their prime years. I grew to love these open roses and the buds that had been a little battered during transport and were thrown in with the open blooms – the irregulars and the golden girls. Not only did I find them more beautiful, in the end, than the tight buds, but they were softer, and more confident – showing their full faces. I wanted to do my best to pause their beauty and give them as much of a legacy as possible while still letting them gracefully turn to dust. 

     The aging process of a cut rose in a vase has stages. Some stages in their openness last a matter of days – especially those last moments of heaviness before they start to wither. This project was a lesson for me in aging and being present – not only with the blooms themselves but also in my own life as my mind and body change and approach their potential and fullness.  

Thank you to all who came to opening night! Here are some photos of the finished piece in the space and people interacting with it (including some pictures of me and my boyfriend, Colin :) ) 

 

 

Busy Busy May and June !! by Brielle DuFlon

     I'm officially the worst at updating my blog during times of chaos and tight deadlines. It has been a heck of a couple months guys! SO much stuff has been going on! I've actually gone through periods of time where I've been upset with myself for taking on so many things and making myself busy and frantic all of the time, but in a recent conversation with my dad he actually made me feel much better about everything. He was convinced that I'd done this on purpose, that it was strategic and the only way things could be going if I was going to get better, do better and continue to grow. So now and then when I have these moments of panic and think to myself over and over again "I need to get myself together, everything is chaos" I correct myself and try to repeat "I know what I'm doing and I'll get it done" over and over again until I sort of believe it. Sometimes you have to try to convince yourself of things that feel like lies but probably aren't. 

      I will say that in all this busy-ness it's hard to feel present. When one is moving from deadline to deadline, time really kinda slips away. It's not my favorite feeling, to have my whole year planned out, as organized as I may be. Next year I would like to take it a little easier - allow for a little more meandering, a little more wandering. I think I'm going to aim for 1 solo show and one installation next year, and hopefully a collaborative show or two will turn up that I can participate in. This year I will have participated in a total of 6 shows, collaborative and solo, by the end of the year and that's honestly a little insane!! But hey, my CV is happy and that's worth something. As my dad reminded me - I'm currently laying the foundation for my career and for future shows that will only build my art higher. 

    Let's review the last couple of months.

    So after the completion of 'Roses Redressed', at the very beginning of May, some friends who were getting married at the end of the month (that same month) asked me if I'd be interested in doing some simple embroidery on the cloth covering their Chuppah in their jewish wedding ceremony. For those who don't know, the Chuppah is the altar, but it's a four-post altar symbolizing a house and the home that the two people who are getting married will build together. The ceremony happens within this four-post altar with the cloth serving as the roof/ceiling. I was touched by their request and got to work on a giant piece of fabric for this purpose - it was 7 x 9 feet. They wanted the colors to include purples and greens and told me they loved willow trees, so I went with something really simple and willow-tree inspired (this is a detail collage and doesn't include one of the smaller embellishments I repeated various times throughout): 

     After committing to embroidering the Chuppah, I heard from them a week or so later when they had a little emergency with the artist who had agreed to paint their Ketubah - apparently an opportunity came up that she had to take and she was going to leave town and couldn't complete the commission - anyway, long story short they asked if I would also consider making their Ketubah, along with the Chuppah cloth. For those who don't know, a Ketubah is an illustrated wedding contract that has the couple's vows to one another, their signatures as well as the signatures of the officiant and a witness, a little introduction in Hebrew and any kind of embellishing or decorating that they'd like. These guys wanted a willow tree, because, as it turns out, they really hit it off under the willow trees on the banks of the Potomac River. For the Ketubah I used watercolor and ink, carefully spacing out and copying the vows, trying to write Hebrew in a way that didn't look totally alien and amateur. I'm really happy with how it turned out though there were a couple of mistakes in the Hebrew composition for the piece in the photograph that I fixed afterword: 

Here is a little slideshow of the progress of the willow tree in the Ketubah! 

The couple loves it - It's currently on their mantle in their home in Minneapolis :). 

     After the wedding commissions had been turned in, I celebrated my 29th birthday and weeded the flowerbeds and veggie garden, watered my plants and cleaned the house. May had turned out to be much busier than I had anticipated as the month was beginning, but the challenges had been fun. A week after my birthday came my beau, Colin's. He'd given me some exquisite hand-printed Japanese papers for my birthday that he'd brought back from a trip to Santa Monica (from the amazing Hiromi Paper Inc.) and I wanted to make him a collage for his birthday that included the paper he'd gotten for me. This is what I gave him! 

     With the beginning of June I made some impromptu little trips - up to NYC for a night to surprise see a dear friend in a play, and that same week Colin and I drove up to Alexandria for the Opening of 'Please Touch' in The Torpedo Factory's Target Gallery. I had one piece in the show, Bedtime Reading/Rest Assured - the pillow that I made out of recycled law textbooks, which I got to talk about a little during the opening. It was really exciting :) The show was curated by the amazing Cynthia Connolly and the audience could physically interact with all of the pieces in it without feeling bad or guilty about it. People put their heads on the pillow and squeezed it, which made me happy! 

Here's a reminder of the pillowcase (details): 

The pillow about to get shipped! 

And a photo of me at the opening! 

     I spent a couple of days in DC after the opening to get my art fix, hitting up the Sackler Gallery, The African Art Museum, The Hirshhorn, and the National Portrait Gallery. It had been a while since I'd been to an art museum and it felt great to stare in wonder at textures, shapes and colors - to see ancient or old pieces next to contemporary ones. The Sackler and African Art Museum actually kinda stole my heart - I'd never been to either and they were amazing. If you can check them out, do it!  

     Upon returning to Charlottesville, I finished up the initial stage of one of the smaller embroideries I've been working on to send to Melbourne (remember how I've been talking about doing this for months!? It's still happening!). Here's a photo of the little piece before paint and after paint (still some color embroidery left to go!)  

Once I'd made some progress with that piece, I buckled down to work on the rose petal installation that I've been pressing petals for for six months! The opening reception is July 1st from 7pm - 9pm but the show will be up for a couple of months at least. It will be hanging in a little space called The Ixhibit. If you live in Charlottesville and have come to know the IX area a little bit, there is a tiny room (10 x 12 feet) right next to Brazos Tacos and that is where my installation will be! 

     I've now been working on it for about a week and it's really coming along. The current petal count is up to 2,081! I've been counting them as I go and will continue to do so, so that I have a final count at the end. Here are some process shots. 

Thank you for reading this epic blog post, you guys are the best!  Promise I won't let so much time lapse next time! The plan is to make shorter posts more regularly - thanks for your patience!! 

 

The Studio These Days... by Brielle DuFlon

I recently submitted some photos of my studio to Fiber Arts Now Magazine to see if they might get selected for their "Studio View" section in the upcoming summer issue. They will be featuring photos of fiber artist's studios accompanied by their words on why their studio is important to them etc. I hope I get featured, that would be great! I'll be posting an update as soon as I know, of course! (unless I don't get it and then I'm just going to let you forget I ever submitted hehe). 

Thought I'd share the photos I took of my studio, regardless, as it's nice to see what's going on in there these days! 

Pretty great space, isn't it? I couldn't be happier. As I said in the submission to the magazine, my studio feels like a shrine to full color creativity and when I enter my studio I want to respect that holiness!  

Roses Redressed by Brielle DuFlon

Although executing my first-ever actual rose petal piece was a more challenging and problem-solving experience than expected, I was able to finish it in time to submit it to a call for entry for the Torpedo Factory's  "Please Touch" show this coming summer. It's a collaborative show of course and the idea is that the audience will be allowed to interact with the pieces in a physical way. It's such a fun idea and I hope it works out, but even if it doesn't - I'm happy with keeping the two I submitted around, and letting people touch them at the studio. 

The first piece I submitted was the pillow I made last summer "Bedtime Reading/Rest Assured" out of recycled paper because everyone wants to squeeze it and I'd like to invite people even to put their heads and faces on it IF THEY DARE! 

The second piece is the rose-petal piece that I labored over for like 6 days straight (between last Wednesday and Monday), for many hours a day. Man, what an adventure. So I started out wanting to make it 7 feet long and 3 feet wide and I was going to try to use all the smallest petals I had. I didn't want to use the larger ones because I was saving them for the summer installation. I was also going to sew them to adhere them to the fabric. 

As I was working on the first 6 rows or so of petals, my dad called me on Skype and he could hear me cursing and grunting every time I tried to hold a petal in place and ended up crumbling it or another petal around it to pieces. He had a brilliant idea - why don't you dab a little glue on the petal to keep it in place? Then you can sew it in peace and you won't have to fumble with all the cloth and other petals at the same time." THANKS DAD! Oh yeah, ALL THE CLOTH. The cloth had to go, I couldn't have a huge train dragging down the piece while I was trying to work on it so I cut it down to 2 feet and approached it again with much more ease. 

Between the little glue dabs, changing over to larger petals and cutting excess fabric off (and then adding it back on when I was ready to expand), I sped my pace up about 200% and was able to finish the piece just in time :). Colin helped with the title a little as I was submitting (thanks partner!). It ended up being four feet long and 3 feet wide, with a painted bamboo rod at the top that extends the width another 8 inches or so. 

Here she is in her completion, Roses Redressed :

  Roses Redressed,&nbsp;  Brielle DuFlon 2016

Roses Redressed, Brielle DuFlon 2016

"Where does the color in the petals come from?" you might ask yourself. It's all the natural colors from the roses, resilient from when they were in their prime. Pretty amazing how well some of it has kept, isn't it? That purple insists on sticking around, I adore it. I can't believe one of my favorite color combinations (yellow and purple) has just sort of naturally happened here. It's great. 

Here are some process shots leading up to the final product: 

I definitely learned a good amount from working with these petals this time, as far as the installation I want to do this summer is concerned. First, it's totally possible! Second, it's going to require a hell of a lot of petals. Third, I don't need to sew each petal for the installation, the glue will work just fine and will in fact, prolong the life of the petals. 

I'm off to a good start as far as rebuilding the petal collection goes. Karen at Hedge Fine Blooms, who has been donating her old roses to me, gave me more than I could have ever expected yesterday, and colors I have yet to press, which is super exciting!! Here I am holding my huge gift yesterday, thanks Karen!! 

Teaching Embroidery at the Boy's and Girl's Club of Central Virginia by Brielle DuFlon

A little while ago I was asked by Second Street Gallery to participate in a week-long art program they were organizing at the Boy's and Girl's Club of Central Virginia while the elementary and middle schools in the area where on spring break. Second Street is my favorite gallery in town (alongside McGuffey of course, gotta represent), and I've been curious about teaching little ones the way of the stitch for a while, so the obvious answer was to sign up to lead two workshops, of course! I picked two on the same day - Tuesday April 5th. The first was from 9-11am and the second was from 1-3pm. 

I ended up leading 43 kids or so in embroidery activities throughout the course of the day with huge help from Erica Barnes of Second Street Gallery. It was a trip! I enjoyed getting called Miss Brie by all these adorable little ones, but there were a few things I didn't see coming in the least before the day started. Namely, how many needles I was going to thread over the course of the day, or how many knots I was going to tie. I didn't imagine, for some reason, that kids were going to stitch over the lines of the pattern that I'd put on the fabric in the little hoops I'd prepared, I'd thought (probably because this is the way that I embroider) that they'd be inclined to fill in the spaces instead of tracing the lines. Only one child of the 43 filled things in the way I do. 

There were some interesting/challenging moments throughout the day: an embroidery hoop was broken and tossed across the room, some of the patterns were cut out of the middle of the hoop and abandoned, one child balled up a whole bunch of the thread I'd pre-cut and organized, put it in an ice-cream scoop, doused it in water and stuck it down her shirt (kids), and there was a serial thread cutter who went around chopping these long strands of pre-cut thread of different colors into tiny chunks which no one could use. It was an adventure alright and Erica was so crucial to keeping order in the class and helping all those who needed help. 

I spent my lunch break eating my super weird pizza (a first grader's words) with cauliflower and brussels sprouts on it (it was leftover from Sunday's dinner and it was amazing) at a table of girls between the ages of 7 and 10 - one little one told me through a mouthful of cheeze-it's that "Lying is bad" and another one told me that someone had told her she was ugly and also had called her a "butt" - which I tried really hard not to laugh at haha!! All I could say was "well you certainly aren't ugly in the least and it's just science that you're not a butt, even if you have one. I have one too, we all do."

I was so proud of what the kids made! We even had two boys participate and make amazing things. There was a lot of free-style embroidery in the second session - I'd traced the pattern on to the fabric with a tracing paper that washed off with water and a lot of the kids asked me to wash it off, in the end. It was kind of hilarious because it had taken me FOREVER to trace it 40 times on fabric and I'd underestimated their independence. It was really impressive.  

Thank you Second Street Gallery (and thank you Erica so much for your help!) for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful day-long activity - it was a really unusual day for me and an amazing learning experience. It was exhausting too! Have never been asked by so many little voices at the same time for help - that's a feeling I'll never forget! All my respect and praise goes out to the people who have the patience and energy to work with large groups of rambunctious little ones for a living: teachers, librarians, counselors and staff at the boy's and girl's clubs across the country, you have my respect! 

Here are some photos of the organized calm before the storm: 

 

Some photos from the day. So many beautiful little faces diligently working away: 

Lastly, I'd like to share some photos of finished work by the kids! 

"Describe a Childhood Memory (A Letter Project)" Opening = Success! by Brielle DuFlon

Wow guys! What a crazy week and a half! This month is my craziest of the year by far, I just gotta keep chugging along. Have a lot on the docket, but it's all good and exciting and lots of new things :). 

Let's start with the first day of the month! The Letter Project show on Friday night! 

Setting it up was fun :) I took my time and really enjoyed it. It was my first installation, so I was in unchartered territory, but I had what I wanted it to look and feel like in mind and just set to it! I used push pins to put everything up, and for the letters that had been written on both sides of the paper, I was able to put them in plastic sleeves and pin them all together so that you could leaf through them like a book that was attached to the wall. 

 Before I put the show up it was all contained in this green binder. Easiest body of works I've ever had to transport! Just put the binder in my bike basket, ha!&nbsp;

Before I put the show up it was all contained in this green binder. Easiest body of works I've ever had to transport! Just put the binder in my bike basket, ha! 

 Beginning of the installation process!&nbsp;

Beginning of the installation process! 

I spent a day pinning things up and came back the following day to write a little story about the letter project across the top of the installation in masking tape and marker. It sounds terrible but it really looked right at the end (you'll see in some pictures ahead)! All forty letters fit in the installation, they were arranged in the order in which i received them and they all shone in their own way. I also stuck little stickers around with arrows and comments to make sure that people wouldn't miss details that I thought were really special from letters, photographs, postcards and envelopes. 

Lastly, I set up two tables. The first had a whole bunch of multicolored flashcards, pens and the list of original letter project questions, as well as a little sign that read "PARTICIPATION STATION: Please use a flashcard and pen to anonymously answer a question or two!". The second table had a little sign that read "Leave your answers, confessions, jokes, stories (etc.) here!". 

Here are some photos from before the opening began: 

People started to arrive a little after 7 and peruse. It definitely took people a second to get into the stride of a show that was visual to a certain extent but not in the usual way... The letters did look really amazing all together on the wall with their variety of paper types, paper sizes, handwritings, ink colors, envelops and occasional odds and ends. Some people dove right in at the beginning, others bounced around from letter to letter. Some people went through and everyone's answer to the same question. Some people would read one entire letter, and then another one, and another, randomly. It was so amazing to hear people chuckling and flipping pages, calling friends over to read one thing or another, pointing things out on the wall and whispering about them to friends as they read. I loved talking to people about the individual stories after they'd read through a few letters, too. I've never been able to share these stories with anyone, they've always been these little secrets of sorts. And I feel so tenderly toward them, and like I need to take good care of them. They feel like little treasures that have been entrusted to me and I finally get to show them off! 

Here are some shots from the opening in action: 

As you can see, things got pretty wild at the end there, lol! 

Amazing night, all in all. Had some really really wonderful conversations with people and was so SO touched by people's comments and the fact that so many folks participated. I can't tell you all how thrilling it was every time I looked at the table and saw people writing on flashcards - it was the most thrilling thing ever. People putting themselves out there! It's always so comforting and impressive!! The first three flash cards came from three 17 year old girls and I'll never forget that. They really were the bravest. I was on the brink of writing a few flashcards in fake different handwritings just to get the ball rolling but it wasn't necessary. 

I'll close with a typed-out version of what was written in the masking tape above the installation in case you aren't familiar with the story behind the letters: 

"In June of 2013 I tried to send 26 random people handwritten questions via snail mail, to their homes, and asked them to write back with the answers. Nobody wrote back. I was invading people's space. It was a humbling experience. After a month I was ready to give it another shot. I put the questions up on tumblr. I was going to attempt to use the internet to get people to write letters. Good old fashioned letters. It worked! Between tumblr and Facebook and the way the wide web works, 40 people sent me letters between July 2013 and July 2014. They sent the letters to a P.O.Box I opened at the post office on the Downtown Mall here in Charlottesville. 

I numbered the envelopes as I received them, and this is how they are displayed for you, here. You can see the numbers on the envelopes, usually in the lower left-hand corner. The rules were quite simple: - Please write your answers out in pen. No typing. - If possible, please write the question, too. - If a question makes you uncomfortable feel free to leave it blank, or say so. - Feel free to use as many or as few words as you'd like. - This will be an anonymous project, whether you write your name or not. - If you give me a return address, I will send you a thank you note, and if I get a show together I'll send you an invitation. - Be as creative as you'd like with the envelopes, paper, pens and send along extra things too, if you want! 

I did send everyone who participated a thank-you note (or letter, really). Some of them became my penpals. 

Every person who sent me a letter for this project with a return address received an invitation to this opening. It was so incredibly exciting to finally tell them that I'd found a venue in which to share their stories. I only wish I could make this a traveling show so more people could partake in the comfort, smiles, tenderness and consideration that these beautiful letters bring. If you participated in this project, I can't thank you enough for being vulnerable, beautiful, honest, fun, sad, cynical, uncomfortable, silly, trusting, philosophical, witty, intelligent, precise, and always human. 

Thank you for reminding me why I love humans so much. 

xoxo, Brielle. 

p.s. Thank you internet. "

 

Irises by a White Picket Fence Completed! by Brielle DuFlon

I couldn't be more proud of this little piece that I finally finished yesterday morning. It really feels like it's even closer to what I have always wanted for my embroidery pieces - rich and a little fantastical, textural, alive. 

It's crazy to look back at my "Hello Purple Iris!" post from a month ago and realize that finishing this piece just took focus and priority. It seems obvious but for whatever reason, I'd recently adopted a "multiple embroideries at once" approach where I would have various pieces going at a time. Instead of making me feel hyper productive it was dragging all of the projects out for way too long. I think the original approach had to do with keeping things interesting but the truth of it is that watching a piece unfold and come alive as you add this and that to it is plenty interesting in and of itself, and it is unbelievably rewarding to finish a piece in a reasonable amount of time - not to mention a much more sustainable approach to creating these pieces for a living/actually bringing all my ideas to life. I started this Iris piece almost a year ago! That's unacceptable - not only because it's only 12 inches squared but also because how am I ever supposed to price something or let go of something that I anticipated and grew with over such a long period of time? 

This piece as well as three others (mostly abstract) will be headed to Melbourne Australia soon to be sold through an online gallery called "B for Brian" - once they're up on her website I'll post a link! Though I'm sure I'll post a goodbye note when I send my little pieces off - makes me so nervous to send them across the world! 

Anyway, here she is!! 

 Finished "Irises by a White Picket Fence"&nbsp;

Finished "Irises by a White Picket Fence" 

Here's a process shot from a couple of weeks ago: 

 "Irises by a White Picket Fence" in progress

"Irises by a White Picket Fence" in progress

Three Poems by Mary Oliver by Brielle DuFlon

out of her book "Blue Horses" because who knows who they might inspire :) 

IF I WANTED A BOAT

I would want a boat, if I wanted a
boat, that bounded hard on the waves, 
that didn't know starboard from port
and wouldn't learn, that welcomed
dolphins and headed straight for the
whales, that, when rocks were close, 
would slide in for a touch or two, 
that wouldn't keep land in sight and
went fast, that leaped into the spray. 
What kind of life is it always to plan
and do, to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe? Yes, by the
heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
a boat I couldn't steer. 

p.19
 

FORGIVE ME

Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It's what I see in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there. 

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
continuously. 
I'm not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I'm often so late coming
back from wherever I went. 

Forgive me. 

p.55

WHAT GORGEOUS THING

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying, 
his voice easing out of his throat, 
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts. 
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can't and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.

p.79

Letter Project Opening on the Horizon! by Brielle DuFlon

It is my pleasure to FINALLY announce an opening for the letter project!! I'm so excited!! 

The exhibit is going to be an installation, with the letters that I received between the summer of 2013 and 2014 at a P.O.Box in downtown Charlottesville, prompted by questions I put out into the internet via tumblr and asked people all over the world to answer anonymously, in their own handwriting. Every time I got a letter it was such a wonderful surprise :) 

The people who wrote varied in age from in their teens to in the 80's, and the envelopes and pen colors are of an amazing variety. Some people included stickers or photographs with their answers, some illustrated within the margins, some people printed out my questions and left space for their answers, writing in their stories in a format that resembled an academic exam. 

I cherish this collection of letters and would like to do this again sometime, so let us call this the fist of many letter projects! I can't wait to put them all up on display for you to read through them and examine their contents the same way I did when I opened them. It really is thrilling! 

Here is the postcard invitation with the show information: 

 Front!&nbsp;

Front! 

 Back!&nbsp;

Back! 

I hope to see as many of you at the show as can make it! I'm really looking forward to sharing these letters with you all :) 

 

The Loom and the Yarn: A Tale of Epic Proportions by Brielle DuFlon

On Dec. 27th I went to my boyfriend's mother's Christmas party and met Carter Howards. Carter is an artist and did a good amount of painting throughout her childhood and into her 20's, she then wove for 40 years until arthritis prevented her from continuing do so, and has now picked up the camera and photography has become her medium of choice. She goes on little scouting adventures in the VA countryside (or wherever she might travel in the world) and finds places to photograph. 

While we were talking about weaving I of course told her of my humble venture into making my simple loom and my 'Window and Wing' piece out of recycled material and cotton thread. I told her that it took me forever and had filled me with even more respect for weavers than I already had, having grown up Guatemala watching women weave with back-strap looms. She told me about her Macomber loom that she ordered from Maine in 1969 and didn't receive until 1971 because of the waitlist and the time it took to make each loom by hand. The loom is solid maple with steel and cast iron fixtures. 

At the party while we were talking about weaving she mentioned that she had the loom in her basement along with copious amounts of yarn that she'd collected all over the country and world on her travels and was actually trying to find a home for it, since she hadn't been able to use if for around 6 years and the yarn could actually go bad if it wasn't used. I assumed she was trying to sell it so I didn't pry for more information, as I couldn't afford it. But after the party, she went up to Amy, Colin's mom, the host of the party and her longtime friend, and told her that she'd like to give me the loom and as much of the yarn as I'd like because someone had to use it and she liked me. Would Amy and I like to look at it sometime at her house? 

The answer was obvious, though I couldn't really believe someone wanted to plop a loom in my lap, and as much yarn as I wanted. The truth is, I had no idea how much yarn Carter actually had. 

Amy and I drove out to see her one Tuesday and looked at everything. I took this picture: 

 Carter's weaving studio in Ivy, VA.&nbsp;

Carter's weaving studio in Ivy, VA. 

That's not even all the yarn! 

We took four full trash bags of yarn that day, when we left. I decided I wanted it all, because how could I choose some? And why not? I could always get rid of what I didn't end up wanting, or throwing away yarn that gave too easily under pressure, etc. She even offered me the shelves and the baskets. I told her I'd get my studio ready to move everything in and then I'd have a better idea of what I needed as far as storage was concerned. 

Over the next few weeks I tied up a few loose ends at the studio - took down my show that had been up in January, put some of the pieces away, moved things around to make room for the loom. I figured I could fit 5 of her 7 shelves and all of the baskets she wanted to give me. 

I coerced some strong buddies to come help me on a Sunday, and Colin and I rented a pretty big u-haul and we all set off for Carter's house around 11am. 

When we got there, Carter had already packed a lot of the yarn into trash bags for me. She had also collapsed the beautiful loom as much as possible (the sides can fold in ) and tied all of it's parts together so that nothing would fall off or get lost in the process of moving it. Here is Carter on the day we came to pick up the loom, standing with this beautiful tool that she was passing on to me: 

 Carter Howards with her loom and yarn, moving Day.&nbsp;

Carter Howards with her loom and yarn, moving Day. 

The boys wasted no time! They moved the loom into the truck first, then the shelves as we quickly emptied them of yarn, then the bags of yarn themselves, the boxes of extra loom parts, the baskets. We were done within a half hour and Carter was totally impressed! 

We drove everything back to McGuffey and moved it all into my studio. Believe it or not, the loom even fit on the elevator! it was insane! It's pretty much exactly 6 feet long. 

We piled everything into my side of the studio and decided it was time for pizza and beer. I took all who could stay to lunch at Mellow Mushroom which was delicious and a blast. When we left to go to lunch, the studio looked like this: 

It was a mess! I could barely see the floor on my side of the room. 

I got to work organizing pretty quickly. I decided to start with the cream colored yarns, and dove into that the day after we moved everything in. My lady friend Molly Mills came over to help. Here's a photo from when were up to our waists in cream colored fiber!:

 Molly Mills, Badass.&nbsp;

Molly Mills, Badass. 

From cream, I moved on to white, gray and then yellow. The studio sorta started coming together. When I needed a break from the overwhelming piles of yarn yet to be catalogued, I would turn and look at this one organized corner: 

After the yellows came the browns, after the browns, the oranges: 

After the oranges came the reds. I finished the reds and then I went home to Guatemala for two weeks and thought frequently of all of the bags of yarn on the floor (though fewer than there had been, the floor itself was actually visible again at this point). 

I came home from Guatemala determined to finish the process of cataloguing, taking inventory and putting away all of the yarn from Carter. I'd spent the entire week before my trip with yarn, and when I got home I spent my first week home sorting the terra-cotta and brick colors, mauves, reddish-purples, deep cranberrys and plums and then went into the deep purple-reds: 

And then the purples themselves that all ended up in baskets along the top of the shelves: 

Then, just because I was sick of staring at warm colors, I catalogued and took inventory of the greens, late into the night that friday night. That was now two full weeks I'd spent with yarn: 

IMG_2243.jpg

That Saturday I catalogued the sea-foam greens and came back on Monday and started on pink:

And from pink I moved on to blue, the final color family... This was Tuesday....

I don't have a photo of the very last group of blues I sorted on Wednesday, I forgot to take one :/ but they were beautiful too - while these had a little green in them, the other blues had some purple in them, or they were that beautiful deep navy family. 

Believe it or not, none of the blues or pinks that are in these last two pictures are even on display! There's no room out front for them. So they're all in storage in my crawl space and if I want to use them I can find them through the inventory. They're stored in families so it shouldn't be too hard. But it's insane. I have all the baskets and shelves full and I still have 13 trash bags full of inventoried yarn in storage!!! They won't stay in plastic for long - yarn needs to breathe, so storing it in plastic is a death sentence! Moisture can get trapped in the bag and rot the yarn. I have cloth hampers coming in the mail ;).

The studio and the loom are looking pretty good though, check it out: 


Sorry that last photo is a little dark, the lighting was tricky at the end of the day. But things are sort of back to normal in the studio now and I couldn't be happier to be surrounded by all the beautiful colors. I'm still in disbelief. I'm trying to move past feeling undeserving. And I'm trying to not place too much pressure on myself as far as meeting to now make amazing weavings and becoming a badass weaver pronto, etc. 

Carter is coming over tomorrow to help me set the loom back up fully and teach me to warp. I have a lot of reading to do, and all the books on weaving I'll ever need (thanks to Carter, of course). 

This year is pretty much all set for me art-wise. I have three shows lined up for sure and am submitting to a collaborative show that might amazingly pan out as well, so the weaving is going to be something I want to take my time getting comfortable with and just learning how to do well on my own time. It's so so exciting though. Every time I walk in to my studio I get overcome with a feeling of tenderness for this beautiful loom and for Carter who truly changed my life. 

I told her that and in true Carter fashion she responded "Don't make me responsible for your life!" ha!