Monday, November 28, 2022

Modular thinking and soup

The current jigsaw puzzle is one that suits me, because as you see, it's modular


It's a grid of labeled botanical illustrations of butterflies. The subject matter doesn't hurt, either. But modular, creating larger works from small pieces, is definitely my style. The bird by bird approach.

I've made large handmade paper pieces for exhibit using a mold and deckle about 8x10 or less, visualizing as I worked the eventual relationships of the parts into a whole. 

I was encouraged years ago by an account of a Japanese paper maker working in a tiny home studio, her kitchen, because of all the water needed,  producing massive installations for exhibit. 

And even longer ago, when faxing first became a thing, David Hockney sent a huge artwork in faxed pieces to be assembled when received at the gallery, with his instructions about which bit went where. 

I think this is the appeal of piecing in textiles and paper collage, too,  giving small components bigger meaning in a context. 

I did a workshop for middle school students a while back, my agenda being for them to feel their part, and that each of them,  was accepted and belonged in the group project. Middle schoolers rarely feel confident with art, beginning the self doubts and confusion of teen years, so they were a bit sceptical and worried about self exposure. But I wanted them to experience the pleasure of expressing themselves anyway, in a safe way.

Everyone, about 45 kids, yes, I had a teacher and a parent assisting,  got an 8x11 piece of black construction paper, a big stack of collage bits I'd collected,  glue sticks, and pens. They were to create a piece about themselves, favorite color, shapes, draw on it, write important numbers -- a lot of birthday numbers got in here. 

Once finished, we assembled the pieces on the wall, like a paper quilt, huge,  and the kids were amazed to find their piece was hard to find in the finished artwork.  They liked how they seemed to be an important part, at the same time, though. The black exposed edges of the sections locked the design together, and gave contrast to the collages, punching up their effect. Sneaky teacher planning for success. Modular power!

And there's soup. This week it's the rest of the leeks and potatoes, home made stock, and flavored with a big spoonful of plain yogurt, Old Bay seasoning, za'atar and something mysterious from the freezer labeled "Spicy for soup" I added in a can of chickpeas after the blending was done.
 


Seen here with hot biscuit and Thai basil. I do like having soup in the freezer for when I can't think what to have.

Art today from a favorite sculptor, Barbara Hepworth whose curves and air and wire thread lines are unmistakable, and full of suggested ideas and images.


Happy day, everyone, bird by bird does it! What do you like doing in pieces that then come together in a different,  significant whole? Many possible answers here.

Added ed. note: we're talking about modules, not components here. A component is not a module. Got more technical than I realized, so I came back to clarify.



20 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your modular collage art story!

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    1. I hadn't thought about it for years. It was a cool experience.

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  2. Well, cooking and baking are definitely things that come together as a whole from smaller pieces (ingredients). A book is a whole created from small pieces, first words, then sentences, paragraphs, on to chapters and then...the whole.
    I think the best example may be life. At the end, it has been created by minutes lived, by one choice, deed, thought, after another.

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    1. This is a different concept. Modular means that each part is a whole in itself. Each module has meaning.

      The ingredients in cooking can't stand alone, that's the point, without the other components they're not useful. But each part of a quilt, for instance, can be seen as a complete artwork.

      I might not have been explanatory enough, making assumptions there.

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    2. Oh, I'm sure you are. I think my brain just doesn't work that way!

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  3. Chunks of crazy patchwork. F sews the odd bits onto 40cm plain squares, and then puts squares together according to how she feels about the finished effect on each one. It seems to be a way to use up small offcuts - she is so frugal she won't even throw tiny pieces of fabric away when the bulk has been used up on more formal designs.

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    1. It's a trip to do that final assembly, so many decisions.

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  4. I wish my art teachers had thought like you, the classes would have been more fun!

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    1. Thank you! You can still make art if you want to, following the ideas above..

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  5. Faxing. Does anybody fax any more? I have had no cause to for awhile now.

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    1. Some medical orgs still fax documents. But you need landlines st both ends. I don't know many people who still have them.

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  6. I haven’t made leek soup in ages. I always go to the standard butternut squash this time of year. Time for a change…

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    1. I have the makings of butternut/carrot soup on order from Misfits this week, so it's still in the rotation.

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  7. I wish I'd met you when I first tried artwork and the grade school teacher corrected my work. I'd drawn what I wanted and not what she wanted. :)

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    1. That's an art crime! But I hope you kept doing the art you needed to. My kindergarten teacher tried to teach everyone one way to paint an apple and shouted at me when I did mine different. After that I ignored her! You really can't dissuade an artist.

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  8. I suppose the box I spent nearly 4 months making qualifies as it had lots of separate pieces that could stand alone and were then put together into a whole.

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    1. Yes, exactly that. It took the vision of the finished piece to make all the components free standing yet harmonizing.

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  9. The puzzle is a bit quilt-like, isn't it? I suppose that's modular? (I'm not sure about the technical definitions!)

    I'd forgotten about Hockney's faxed artwork but I remember reading about it years ago!

    Wonder what's in "Spicy for soup"?

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    1. I think the spicy thing is probably the juices from caramelized onions with za'atar and the inevitable Old Bay.

      The butterfly motifs in the puzzle, like quilt blocks, are modules, yes. Each could be seen alone.

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  10. I enjoyed reading about your modular art with the students and it reminded me of an art project I took part in several years ago. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the technique, but each participant (done via mail when postage costs were much lower) started with a long accordian folded piece of fabric, did one part of a body (head, as I recall), covered them up so the next participant couldn't see what went before and mailed them off. The next particpant did the the upper body, covered everything and mailed it on...and so on. AHA - I remembered the name of the process - google 'Exquisite Corpse' and you'll see more of what I mean!!

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Thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate your taking the time, and taking part.