20 May 2010

Syllabus Day

Today was the first day of my summer letterpress class, taught at MICA by Kyle Van Horn. After a brief discussion of the course objectives and an overview of the equipment, we got right to work. Kyle had set up three of the presses with type and a plate the night before so that we could print our own syllabus covers. We mixed three colors, and each of us ran our cover through the three presses. After lunch we explored the many cases of type in the room and chose a case to work from. We each set a few lines of type, 25 picas wide, using quads and spacers. I chose 24pt Baskerville and wrote out two lines from a knitting pattern I've been working with because I couldn't think of anything else to write that didn't sound cliche. Kyle helped us to place all of our type on the press, using furnitures to hold the type in place. We used the leftover silver-black ink from the cover and each of us ran off our own copy of the class composition. Next we'll be working on an edition of mail-ready postcards.

06 May 2010

The Explored Stitch installation

This was my final for The Explored Stitch. The assignment was loosely a call and response to the historical textile we chose from the Design Center and have been working with/about for the past month. My textile was this ridiculous skirt suit made by a 1960s Austrian designer completely from white ribbon that was looped over and over and sewn to itself to create its own plane of fabric. So I took ideas of construction and accumulation as well as the temporary shelter that is a piece of clothing and created a large installation in the hallway to S206. It became a sort of nest/tunnel that you had to walk through to get into the classroom but at first repelled the viewer. The "floor" is the most important part of the piece: I positioned the skeleton ropes so that they would hover slightly above the ground, giving the illusion of tautness. However, because I created a floor of knotless netting, as soon as you step onto the piece your foot hits the ground and it becomes obvious that it's completely safe to walk across (as you can see in the image of Alison walking through the piece). It also forced the participant to step into and out of the piece, as the edge supports were slightly higher than the rest. It was really interesting to watch my classmates and professors pause before hesitantly moving through the piece this morning. Several even asked if they were allowed to walk on it.
The piece was site-specific and it complimented the architecture of the space without looking like it grew there. I wanted it to feel as though someone or something create this "trap" overnight (which is basically what happened: I was up all night installing it and didn't sleep a wink). This is probably my favorite piece from that class and it felt so surreal to finish it.

03 May 2010

@rachristensen, 2010

This was my final piece for Material Construction. I wanted to revisit binary code as a method to create a patterned textile. I dyed thread and then translated every tweet that I've ever sent into binary, using that to create two (out of three) rectangles approximately 2'x3'. I wanted to create accessible "wall art" that was purely decorative and vain. Knitting something immortalizes it, elevating its importance (if not purely because of how long it takes and the dedication involved). Twitter, like all other social networking sites, is extraordinarily narcissistic. The 140 character messages that I send into cyberspace are unimportant and trivial, yet somehow I think everyone gives a shit about what I'm up to at the moment. I tried to bring together two acts of narcissism in a form that I alone know the translation. I left small clues to help the viewer uncover the layers of meaning: even if the viewer is unfamiliar with twitter the title alludes to technology and social networking as well as knitting a border of actual 0s and 1s in their respective colors (which spell my name by the way, another narcissistic act of signing the work so blatantly).

01 May 2010

From my book of stitches.

(Mary Smull told me this is the best piece I've made all semester in The Explored Stitch.)

Material Construction

Second project for Material Construction: "Stuffed or There is no There There (How My Mother's Embroidered Apron Unfolds in my Life)"
I created a wall-sized patchwork of knitted squares from thread that I dyed the colors most prominent in my memories. All of my memories are in third person so I wanted to create a viewer's experience of my nostalgia similar to the way in which I experience it. It was actually therapeutic to watch my classmates interact with the piece, and that became an equally important element. Some of the knitted squares are pockets that contain scents such as lavender, cedar, sunscreen, mint flouride, etc. These are scents that are both universal and specific to my memories, so they are easily accessible and recognizable as dealing with nostalgia. As the viewer walks across the piece they can detect different scents, imagining their own narrative from the fragmented experiences. I allowed the patchwork to become amorphic and asymmetrical so it's not just seen as a quilt and instead took on its own physical form and presence.

The Explored Stitch

"Sampler" for The Explored Stitch. I took the idea of the sampler and ran in a completely different direction with it. Samplers were a way to categorize and organize knowledge, and of course there's the idea of "scientific samples". I really don't like to refer to it as scientific art, rather I used the erlenmeyer flasks purely for their aesthetic form and only slightly for their laboratory connotations. This piece was mostly about the process. I embroidered a large section of the plant cell pattern I've been exploring, and when it was finished I cut it up into smaller circles. Cutting apart embroidery goes against everything a fibers major is familiar with; it was terrifying but extremely liberating. I then constructed a display for these embroidery fragments that contrasted the organic cellular inspiration for the pattern (cotton fabric, untreated birch wood, linen thread) and the mechanical repetition (glass bottles, metal hooks, metal wire).

Material Construction

This was my first piece for Material Construction. The project was called "craft hack" and the only stipulation was that we had to use the knitting machine. I created a situation consisting of a card table, place settings, vase, and knitted placemats. Since the knitting machine works in a very binary way, I translated an excerpt from Hemmingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" into binary code and used that to create a fair isle pattern (all of the 0s were one color and all of the 1s were another). I used really feminine colors and finishings to contrast the extreme misogyny of the short story, and the vase in the center included the title with distorted transfers, as though the words became trapped on the glass between the imagined people sitting at the table. The piece has a lot of layers to uncover. There's obviously a narrative of a dialogue with the two place settings, but something feels wrong without actual plates. Then there's a feeling of nostalgia and memory, as well as domesticity and femininity. It's not even that important that the viewer is familiar with the short story, it just adds another layer of irony. In the end it was kind of refreshing and liberating to have spent so much time on the knitted parts that didn't end up being the star of the show, but rather one element of the narrative.

Papermaking, spring 2010

This isn't even all the paper I made this semester.
full-page 12x18" watermark

Ceramics, 2009-2010

Bookbinding, fall 2009

Summer 2009


Wildwood Park

PA turnpike

Intro to Fibers, spring 2009