“Fairy Tale” won 1st prize

DSCN4436Several years ago, I stumbled on collage as a way to conquer writers block. It still works like magic.

While I love being a journalist, sometimes I’m restricted by editorial guidelines and word counts, not to mention deadlines. But my altered art projects are crafted freely from my own imagination, at my own pace. I like to think of them as another form of storytelling.

Inspired by art and craft magazines, I started experimenting with a variety of mixed-media techniques and entering juried competitions.

It doesn’t matter if my work is selected or not; I take pleasure in making art from things that other people discard. Given that I’m such a magpie, it’s not unusual for rusty hardware, religious medals, recycled greeting cards, vintage fabrics, feathers, and broken costume jewelry to find their way into my mixed-media pieces.

DSCN4430Last week, I was happy to learn that “Fairy Tale” — one of my new altered art pieces — was chosen for Anton Art Center’s Michigan Annual XLI competition (Gilda Snowden, juror). Opening this Friday, the statewide exhibition showcases a variety of media and a display of Michigan art history. (UPDATE: “Fairy Tale” won the First Place award in the exhibition.)

This piece is my homage to childhood vacations with my maternal grandparents. My Granny Bee, a believer in magic, was the first to introduce me to the wonder of fireflies glowing on hot summer nights in southern Indiana. She knew how to spark a child’s imagination — and knew how to conjure happy memories from ordinary experiences.

DSCN4368Wed often explore the woods near my grandparents’ house. To keep me busy while the grown-ups scouted for edible mushrooms, Granny Bee would give me a small birdcage for capturing elves and fairies. (I never caught very many.)

I made “Fairy Tale” from a promotional whiskey box. Drained of its original contents, the wooden box had found its way to a flea market in downtown Clawson, where I purchased it for five dollars. Stamped with the words, “The Glenlivet Scotch Story,” the front cover opened like an old-fashioned storybook and was ready to tell a different tale.

The leather covers (on the back and front of the piece) were rescued from Granny Bees Victorian family photo album — a brittle relic that was literally falling apart at the seams. Before attaching the covers to the box, I repaired the tooled leather and preserved it with a matte coating.

DSCN4988The woodland “fairy” inside the box was borrowed from Botticellis “Primavera” — a favorite image of mine — and is dressed in vintage found objects and fabrics. For a closer look, click on all the photos in this post.

The Michigan Annual XLI runs from Jan. 24 through Feb. 21. Anton Art Center is located at 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens, Michigan. Please visit the Web site for hours and directions. 

To view a gallery of my artwork, please visit my new art site: Cindy La Ferle’s Mixed-Media.

Michigan art show

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  ~Twyla Tharp

Two of my art pieces are in the Michigan Annual art exhibition through Feb. 27 at the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens. A link to an Oakland Press article on the show includes a photo of one of the pieces, “Shrine to Mary: Our Lady of the Lost & Found.”

The other piece (at left) is an altered book titled “Nature.” A tribute to Thoreau’s Walden, it was made from a vintage insurance ledger and embellished with things I collected on long walks and bike rides.

Most of my artwork features found objects or recycled materials. I’m drawn to the rusty, ragged beauty of broken things. (I’ve been caught going through trash and pocketing rusty bottle caps littering the curbs in my neighborhood on trash day.) Most of my pieces are personal tributes to favorite works of literature or poems.  –CL

Now on exhibit

naturecover

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” — Henry David Thoreau

While I’m taking a break this week, I wanted to share a small piece of good news with you…. Earlier this month, I was honored to learn that one of my altered books, “Nature,” was chosen for inclusion in the annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

For me, there has always been a mystical connection between writing and art — just as there is a connection between my gardening and cooking. Like many of my altered art and mixed media projects, “Nature” was inspired by a favorite work of literature — in this case, Thoreau’s Walden.  It was crafted from an old children’s board book and rebound with the cover of a turn-of-the-century leather insurance ledger from a thrift shop. The cardboard pages in the book are collaged and embellished with ephemera, nature quotes, and found objects collected from flea-market visits and, of course, nature walks. The exhibit runs through April 17. For more information, click here. — CL

Circus act

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“Damn everything but the circus!” — e.e. cummings

March really did come in like a lion. For starters, daily doses of economic bad news are dumping more black paint on our national angst and depression. On a personal level, my widowed mother has been wrestling with worrisome health issues all week. So I’ve been spending a lot more time in medical waiting rooms than I’d like.

Following the advice I usually give my writing students, I try to relieve stress and worries by working on creative projects. I type, paint, scribble, collage, or print my way out of whatever’s gnawing at my peace of mind. To cheer myself this week, I completed a new altered art project.

Inspired by an e.e. cummings poem, my new altered board book (featured in the photo above) pays tribute to circus nostalgia. Just thinking about the circus makes me smile. To create the piece, I collaged an old children’s board book with circus ephemera, vintage photos, tissue paper, stamps, glitter, and metallic paints. Then I embellished it with cheerful, fun stuff — feathers, sequins, carnival tickets, broken costume jewelry, and shiny foil stars (like the ones our teachers used to stick on our spelling tests). Here’s the poem that inspired it:

Damn everything but the circus!
…damn everything that is grim, dull,
motionless, unrisking, inward turning,
damn everything that won’t get into the
circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw
its heart into the tension, surprise, fear
and delight of the circus, the round
world, the full existence …
–e.e. cummings

To view an album of my altered art pieces on Facebook, click here.