Paper-Making on Appleton Farms: Q&A with Laurie Miles

 

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Artist Laurie Miles, topping onions at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA.

Laurie Miles is part of Kingston’s current exhibition, Our Voices. In addition to being an active Associate Member at our gallery, she is also in the midst of a Residency at Appleton Farms, Ipswich, MA. Miles, who lives on Boston’s North Shore, will work on the farm through the end of August. I recently talked with her to learn more about her time there.

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Laurie Miles, Phystostegia, clay, sand, fiber, recycled plant container, pigment, wax on panel, 15.25 x 18 inches, 2016. Currently on view in “Our Voices” at Kingston Gallery.

SDG: Laurie, your work in Our Voices is lovely. I especially like the pieces with graphic qualities, with black marks on dense, textured grounds that look almost like parts of an alphabet of the future. Are the works you’re making at Appleton Farms related in appearance to these works?

LM: Thank you. The graphic element will carry through the new work, but handmade paper will take center stage, creating lighter, more sculptural pieces.

SDG: What made you interested in this residency? How did it come about?  Do they typically have one resident per season at the farm? 

LM: I introduced myself to the farmers last fall, asking to collect garlic and leek stalks that they had no need for, other than compost, of course. I’ve always been drawn to farms, and a residency was not only a great way to collect organics, but it offered the chance to immerse myself into farming

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Dried paper swatches made from cabbage pulp.

routines, to satisfy my personal curiosity, and to inform my work in the studio. Appleton does not have a residency program, but they are seriously considering it now.

SDG: What have you been up to so far?

LM: My main project is Organic Papermaking. For the past four weeks (and weeks ahead), I collect and process farm and field material to create an inventory of pulp. The resulting work will be an expression of haute couture textiles, referencing my experience at Appleton Farms and our relationship to the land.

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Cabbage leaves after the harvest.

SDG: When you say haute couture textiles, will you be incorporating them into any wearables? 

LM: The work will not be wearable, but will reference fashion details–collars, necklines, fasteners, seams. It’s not uncommon for me to find inspiration from the runway.

SDG: Excellent. Tell us more about the materials that you harvest. 

LM: Materials and experience with the farm and farmers will be referred to in the work. To date, I’ve made pulp from cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves, grass, hay, onion, garlic, and leek stalks, swiss chard, phragmites, and cat tails. This week’s challenge will be extracting the pre-processed fiber from cow manure. Stay tuned.

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Cows ready to be milked.

Interacting with the farmers also influences what I make. Dairy farming starts with a scenic field of grass. It’s actually a varying recipe of Alfalfa, Timothy Grass, Reed Canary Grass and the weather. It makes up a cow’s diet and effects the flavor of the milk and cheese we consume. Most memorable—standing in a quiet  barn at 3:30 am waiting for the cows to shuffle in to choose a spot at one of the stalls. I didn’t know what was going on but they did.

Vegetable farming is a daily expression of teamwork, camaraderie, volume and repetition. It is a massive feat of time management and coordination. I think I gained their respect the day I spent 4 hours topping onions. It was a behind the scenes opportunity for me to get a large supply of resource material, while doing a job that freed a staff member up to do something else. I used the onion tops in my paper-making.

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Miles’ pulp beater. 

SDG: That is fascinating. It’s a veritable salad of materials. What else is special about the farm?

LM: In addition to the farmers, the event staff also work hard. They create opportunities for the public to learn about and celebrate the farm experience. They host farm dinners, cooking workshops, tours, and camp for kids. Just like everyone else, they love their job and never have enough time or money in the budget. I contributed a high energy day, making paper with 40 Farm Camp kids using recycled pulp.

 SDG: Wow, that’s a good number of kids. 
LM: Yes, and keeping them away from the hose (water is a key part of papermaking) during our recent heat wave was important. It was just another way to point out the value of conservation during our severe drought. It’s top of mind for all of us and effects everything, including our spirits.
SDG: Indeed, that makes sense. Anything else you’d like to add?

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Grass fields for hay.

LM: Every facet is connected. It’s a place where not much ever goes into the landfill.

Laurie Miles is a mixed media artist, coming to fine art after a career in print advertising—an industry saturated in design. She works closely with nature, both in and out of the studio, and has led several community art programs related to the environment. Miles received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art. You can follow her on Instagram (@milezart).

Recognition and Care: New Paintings by Jamie Bowman

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Jamie Bowman enlivens the practice of traditional figurative painting with her exhibition Portraits, on view at Kingston Gallery through February 28. This series of small-scale works depict the nurses who care for Bowman’s mother, who was paralyzed in an accident a year IMG_0251ago. Doubtless, complex emotions accompany the fallout from such an extreme and unfortunate accident. This series is significant for recognizing the people who became a part of her life.

The paintings also record what can come of creativity in times of crisis. The artist chose to represent each nurse as an individual engaged in quiet reflection, rather than relating to others and in action, as Bowman likely got to know them. While she became acquainted with her subjects through their profession, these portraits demonstrate the psychological intimacy that can come about in the process of direct representation.

Models can significantly influence the outcome of a work of art. They bear witness to its process, and even as silent, unstirring, paid professionals, their presence can inform choices in an artist’s mark-making. In this case, the models arrive first as part of a support system, then become models. Their significance often comes across in the IMG_0253portraits. Bowman’s charcoal drawings focus directly on the faces of each person. We associate nurses as being in constant motion, even when exhausted, their job is to care–both as an action and as a discipline. These images allow us to contemplate what thoughts and images may be on each nurse’s mind as they sit for the artist. By creating these portraits, Bowman bears witness to the value they play in the life of her family as her mother recovers. They acknowledge that she sees them as people beyond the function of their job.

Bowman is an Associate Member of Kingston Gallery. Based in Boston, she has shown widely, including at the Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, First Street Gallery, NYC, and Walter Feldman Gallery, Boston, MA. Bowman has a MA in Studio Teaching from Boston University, Boston, MA, an MFA in Painting from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, and a BFA in Painting from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, NY.

 

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The Room is Breathing

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On a recent visit to the current group exhibit Free Association 2014 at Kingston Gallery, a question presented itself: what holds this exhibit together? In spite of the enormous variety of mediums, from tyvek, vintage books, photography, acrylic, encaustic, fabric, weaving, to graphite, there is a wonderful sense of rhythm and synergy exuding throughout the gallery and between the works as well.

There is also a great sense of space and air. The gallery is enlivened, it seems to be filled up with air. Although there was no curatorial overlay here, it is as if there was a plan and direction for the exhibition, creating this ineffable sense of lightness and breath.

What ties these artists together is simply that they are all Kingston Gallery Associates. But it is as if they colluded with each other in advance, so that the work would resonate in terms of color, form and shape, and so it does, so it does.

Don’t miss Kingston Associates’ Annual Exhibition: Free Association: 2014. It runs through August 29. There is an Artist Talk this Sunday, August 10, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Image: Shawn Salinger, Hang Around Sundown, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 46 x 40 inches, 2013.

Greetings From Kingston Gallery!

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Image:  Jamie Bowman, “Stacey”, Oil on canvas, 3×3 inches, 2013

Free Association 2013, Kingston Gallery Associates’ fourth annual exhibition is up for another week, until August 29, and ends our summer season.  The viewer is greeted (that was me this afternoon) with an enticing breadth of variations – medium, size, scale, and especially process.  This free association, where one thought leads to the next, is the thread that holds the show together so well.

Here is my snapshot of just a few of the artists, which demonstrate this wide and Interesting variety, followed by a full description of all the artists:

The tiny black frames of Jamie Bowman’s tiny oil portraits both unify the group and set them apart from each other. David Kinsey’s work on paper is a frenetic assemblage of white lines, describing an imagined space. Peggy McClure’s abstract digital images of deteriorating surfaces of walls pull us in, reminiscent of Aaron Siskind’s photographs of similar subject matter. The vibrant encaustic paintings of Jeanne Griffin are both pattern and landscape simultaneously. In Erica Licea-Kane’s mixed media work, the surface is like a variegated skin undulating across the multiple layers of the support.

The Kingston Gallery Associates:

Rebecca Arnoldi creates ecological mixed media art that explores the visual language, essence, and life energy of natural forms and the relationship between body and earth. Her materials include second-hand cloth, plant pigments, beachcombed rope, algae, and burnt wood from the beach. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Brookline Magazine, and Provincetown Banner. Arnoldi has shown work in galleries and museums in Boston, Provincetown, New York City and Israel.

Jamie Bowman’s current work centers on small-scale portraits and still lifes in oil.  She earned her BFA from SUNY Plattsburgh and her MFA in painting from UNH.  Most recently, her work has been exhibited at St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD and Bowery Gallery, NY. Bowman was recently awarded a residency by the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation.

Erika Carpenter has a deep interest in exploring the landscape of outer space and its celestial objects.  She favors oil painting as her medium for its richness and luster of texture, and brilliance of color.  She also enjoys working in graphic arts and sculpture.  She earned her BFA from Tufts University and her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Jeanne Griffin says that her travels always inspire her. In her newest encaustic paintings, she draws from a recent trip to Nepal and Bhutan. In some of the resulting paintings, these visual images are transformed into abstract landscapes. In others, the artist has expanded on imagery of flowers and plants native to these countries.  Griffin earned her BFA from Tufts University and a diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her work has been exhibited widely, including the Worcester Art Museum, MA, Art Complex Museum, MA, Longmont Museum, CO, and Mesa Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ.

Chantal Hardy is a 2-D visual artist working in oil, pen and ink, and gouache.   She enjoys the physicality of painting and drawing and is often seduced by color.  Her work builds organically from the act of mark making. Her nascent series, Transmission, explores communication (both literal and figurative) within a twilight netherworld. Applying velvety gouaches to handmade Japanese paper, she punctuates earth-toned passages with fluorescent, figural line work. Chantal received her BA from Oberlin College and is currently pursuing an MAT in Art Education at Tufts University.

David Kinsey‘s current work has been focused on a series of drawings, which use an abstract language and notions of aesthetics, dichotomies, the physical versus the ethereal, internal versus external. Embedded in abstract forms, using archival ink pens and paper, he finds a level of sensitivity and fluidity in mark and expression. David received his BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design and his MFA from Yale University. He currently is an Assistant Professor at Stonehill College. He has received various awards including a George and Helen Segal Grant, Hermitage Artist Residency Fellowship, and Artist of Distinction Award in the Still Point Arts Quarterly Publication.

Erica Licea-Kane has been a working artist for the past 33 years. Her work celebrates decoration, and also represents the meditative qualities of working in layers and the numerous hours of repetitive actions, akin to her textile training.  Emotionally, and most importantly, the work addresses the juxtaposition of her personal challenges in dealing with order/non-order and balance, co-existing in a shared space or time. Currently she is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Towne Art Gallery at Wheelock College. Licea-Kane received her BFA at the Parsons School of Design and her MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  Both degrees were based in the area of textiles as a fine art medium.

Robert Maloney’s work straddles the line between structures being torn down and those being erected, as well as the elements of modern life that go unnoticed. He is fascinated by the many layers and elements in the urban landscape which are inevitable and out of our control. Everything from our physical surroundings to our human relationships evolve and expand, then decline and deteriorate, only to leave a trace of these memories, scars of their previous existence. Maloney earned a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and is currently enrolled in a Summer Low-Residency MFA program there. He has shown in numerous galleries in the Boston area including the Mercury Gallery, C. Duell Arts, 13 Forrest Gallery, Sunne Savage Gallery and the Copley Society of Art. Robert’s work is in the collection of Wellington Management, Liberty Mutual and other private collections. Since 2007 he has been an Adjunct Instructor/Assistant Professor in Illustration at MassArt.

Peggy McClure is a photographer who examines concepts of permanence and impermanence.  In her latest work, she photographs walls of crumbling plaster, sometimes punctuated with tiny, randomly placed bits of plastic in the crevices.  A mark-maker, she was first attracted by the beauty in the deterioration, seeing the walls as canvases drawn with graphic lines, loops, and patches of color. McClure studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and New England School of Photography.  She has taught photography at the Danforth Art Museum and School. Her work has been exhibited throughout Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Rachel Thern focuses on curved lines. The paintings are a visual exploration of these forms through their repetition and interaction. The artist is drawn to them, as they feel like intuitive gestures. She also incorporates mathematical curves, as reflected in natural phenomena and living organisms. Using ink applied to wet paper with brushes and eyedroppers, she creates a large grid making up a pattern reminiscent of the movement of water or a cosmic event. Thern studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and completed a BFA at SUNY Buffalo, where she also received a BA in Psychology and an MA in Library and Information Science.

August in the City

What a delight to see the new work from the Kingston Gallery Associates, a group of ten artists, juried by the membership to expand the Gallery’s contact with artists and to encourage new art. This is their fourth annual summer exhibit Free Association 2013 at the Kingston Gallery.

The title is apt, as the group embodies a wide range of ideas, processes and materials.  The work, elegantly hung in the space, ranges from figurative and figuration to abstraction, and constructed/ assemblage.

This Sunday, August 11, there will be Artist Talk in the gallery, from 1 – 3 p.m.; the artists will discuss their individual work and the exhibit as a whole. Please join us for the upcoming event!

ImageSome of the artists at the opening, left to right: Rachel Thern, Jeanne Griffin, Bob Maloney, Peggy McClure, in front of work by Rachel Thern, Friday August 2