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Back & Forth & Back Again

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Awake. Asleep. A dream. Awake again. Where did I go? What paths did I follow? Who did I meet there? Storytellers, with lessons and learnings. For me, about me, for others. And then I stitch.
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back & forth & back again sallie findlay shakespeare school deer isle, maine
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back & forth & back againsallie findlay shakespeare school deer isle, maine

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October 5–8, 2012, noon–5 pmOctober 12–13, 2012, noon–5 pmArtist Reception, October 7, 2012, 2–4 pm

Shakespeare School64 North Deer Isle Road, Deer Isle, Maine

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sallie findlay

Awake. Asleep. A dream. Awake again. Where did I go? What paths did I follow? Who did I meet there? Storytellers, with lessons and learnings. For me, about me, for others. And then I stitch.

My solo show is an installation: an indoor forest where my new sculptures reside. I’ve made these figures with dyed cloth and found objects. They have come pouring out of my hands this past year, as I go back and forth and back again into the landscapes of my imagination. In a way it is a memoir of a long life, so many dreams and memories, often with the same figures appearing. Not long ago, I made maps by stitching onto fabric I had dyed; in this work, I answer the question I posed next, “where am I going, within these maps?”

The figures that have emerged refer to carvings of peoples and cultures different from mine, but feel connected to me all the same. I was on an Inuit island in the Bering Sea

many years ago, watching native ivory carvers and a grandmother sewing fur toddlers’ slippers adorned with a twirl-ing feather. I have held totems and fetishes of Southwestern native people, while in their lands. I remember the thrill of touching silks dyed by masters in Japan, in a kimono shop in Kyoto. I hope the sculptures that tell my stories will resonate with others who listen and look.

A woman’s quest, my quest into the mysterious forest becomes more urgent as I become the elder, with a duty to share what I’ve learned: when to listen, how to see, how to find confidence, what it means when life is both bleak and full at the same time.

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Oma Dyed, stitched cotton, silk, muslin, wool/silk, knitted jute, thread, fur, shellac, 11.75'' x 11.5'' x 8.5''

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HottentataDyed and stitched muslin, linen, fur, threads

19.75'' x 15.5'' x 9''

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Bound/Bond Dyed, stitched and wrapped muslin and jute14.75'' x 7.75'' x 6.25''

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BirdDyed, woven, wrapped and stitched muslin, repurposed cotton cloth, jute, thread

11.25'' x 8.75'' x 13.75''

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Warrior Dyed and stitlched muslin,silk, jute, fur, cotton tape, shellac17'' x 9.5'' 4.75''

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Many have come alongside me as I walk this path to creating a new body of work. First came caring friends who challenged me to do so. Then several who took the time to talk about the process, the materials, the references, and the results. Next came active collaborators, sharing ideas and making work themselves, as the show date neared. Let me name names: Katharine Cobey, Carole Ann Fer, Katy Helman, Ruby Kaufmann, Chris Leith, Jennifer Lee Morrow, Rebekah Raye, Renee Sewall, Ellen Wieske. My thanks is so deep I can express it only as heart melody, like birdsong or wavelets, without words.

Closest of all to my journey were two whose support, love, talent, and generosity kept me going forward, smoothing the path and making the journey possible: Sarah Hewitt and my dear husband, Gene Nelson

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Sage and Bounce Dyed, wrapped and stitched muslin, jute, industrial felt, feathers, twigs13.125'' x 4'' x 6'' and 5.125'' x 3.5'' x 3.5''

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Sweet SweetDyed and stitched muslin, redwood fiber, thread

15.75'' x 4.25'' x 4.25''

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Yes Dyed, wrapped and stitched muslin, jute, fur11.5'' x 15'' x 8.75''

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Who better to make drawings of the creatures that have emerged from my spirit and hands than Rebekah Raye? I called her to bounce the idea her way, and immediately she responded, in her own special voice. Once in the studio, delighting in what she saw there, Rebekah set to work, with ink, crow quill pens, brushes, and water. Our first session began outdoors in sunshine but soon the birds became still as someone unseen took target practice; then came the thunderclouds that sent all us humans indoors.

Rebekah and I worked side by side in my studio, she illustrating and I stitching. We laughed, chatted, talked of our mutual interest in spirits in nature in human life – a real collaboration. And so came her inspired and inspiring drawings shown here.

Children and adults took time at the show to color the reproductions of Rebekah’s illustrations, using a heap of crayons to tell stories. I enjoy the results, whether you think it is ‘good’ or not. I treat your effort

as a valued gift, as I have Rebekah’s work as well. Aren’t they expressive and heartfelt too!

Rebekah Raye is an artist beloved for her bird and animal paintings and sculpture, derived from her affinity with the natural world around her at her studio in East Blue Hill, Maine.

She has been interested in animals and art since she was a child in Eastern Tennessee, and now in addition to creating her own works of art, teaches workshops for children and adults.

For more information visit www.RebekahRaye.com.

rebekah raye

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Deer Dyed and stitlched muslin, day lily stalks, leather, wooden spindles35'' x 9'' x 5''

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That right material is a humble one, muslin bags used locally. They speak directly of the island where I live – Deer Isle, Maine, a real place of intense beau-ty, clear air, changing tides, forests and fishermen. The muslin bags are clean cotton sacks where sea-scallop divers put the meat after shucking it from the shell. I dye the side-stitched bags in various non-toxic natural dyes.

In this group of sculptures I mainly used a dye from Japan called kakishibu, made from fermented per-simmons, and used for centuries as an insecticide, as a wood preservative, as a way of strengthening cloth in industrial processes, and as a dye, I see as the color of the earth. When dyeing the scallop bags, I tie, clamp, and twist them, applying various shibori techniques. The resulting patterns enliven the sur-face and help call forth the story within the sculpture that emerges.

The figures in my installation Back & Forth & Back Again began to take shape, literally, when I put the right material in my hands, in early 2012.

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Bear Dyed and stitched muslin, artificial sinew, shellac6.5'' x 15.5'' x 5''

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Besides the cotton bags, I dyed other cotton cloth, silk lengths, and jute twine. Some of these got color from my dyeing them in solutions I made from the twigs, flowers, and leaves of lo-cal plants, such as golden rod, bayberry and mountain ash. When I see the cloth take the dye in its dye-pot, I am touched to be able to see the color of life that courses inside these familiar plants and trees. It’s almost like I am privy to their gossip and stories and responses to their world.

Another humble material used in many of my figures is jute twine. I wrap with it, stitch and stabilize and tie it. Sometimes the tied ends become lines in the sculpture, like the torso and head-dress of a heron. Sometimes I use the twine as wrap-ping that bonds an intimate duo. Shellac, like the twine, lets me add color as well as strength to surfaces. In many pieces there is a tension between construction methods and surface details, using the same material, that helps tell the inside sto-ry of the figure on the exterior.

I build the figures from the inside out. The basic form emerg-es from the scallop bags in my hands, then stuffed with used newspapers. Local news stories are unseen but present nonetheless. Once stuffed, the crumpled newspaper can be molded, added to, and shifted, as the form demands. Next come wrappings and stitches to stabilize the shape and to

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Boreal Dyed, wrapped, woven and stitched jute, fur, repurposed cotton cloth9'' x 9'' x 8.5''

add detail that tells more of the story. I may get a certain shape that remains on the worktable for days or weeks before I know how to finish it, as I await inspiration.

Then other materials from my environment, my history and my hands are included. For example: bit of redwood fiber my daughter brought me from California; pieces of the fur coat my mother gave me 30 years ago, a knitted cloak I made from the jute twine; a remnant of fabric I dyed in a workshop many years ago. Then I stitch. I stitch parts in place; I stitch through layers of cloth to secure the shape; I stitch in specific patterns to decorate the bodice of one womanly figure and to define the lines in the tail of a bird figure.

The materials I use reflect my deep sense of place, of com-munity and creatures, of memories and dreams. The colors come from nature, and the processes learned from inspiring teachers. My figures emerge from my meditative journeys, back and forth across the landscapes of my imagination, with stories of pain and joy, detachment and love, intimacy and solitude, and journeys with stops. starts, revisions, re-visions, dances, songs, words, wings, and wind.

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Her BoatStitched industrial felt, woven and knitted jute, ramie, cotton strap5'' x 36'' x 6.5''

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Hear Ye Dyed, woven and stitched muslin, repurposed cotton batting, jute, fur, thread15.75'' x 11'' x 11''

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IndiaDyed, wrapped and stitched muslin, jute, redwood fiber, and sticks42.5'' x 5.5'' x 6''

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Owl, Maquette Stitched and pinned muslin and jute8'' x 15'' x 4.5''

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sallie findlay www.sall ief indlay.com sall ie@sallief indlay.com

©2012 Sallie Findlay, All Rights Reserved; Photography & Design by Sarah Hewitt, Straitjacket Design LLC