I am an environmental studies and 3-D art major at Whitworth! I was born in Hawaii and have lived my entire life, so I have witnessed first-hand some of the effects of climate change over my life. Therefore, much of my art is focused on environmental issues that I think need more attention, and I view the art that I make as environmental activism. However, I am also continuing to learn new glass and weaving techniques, so I also explore themes outside of the environmental art sphere.
For my first blog post, I thought I would explain the concept behind my piece Creation and Consumption which is being shown in the Senior Exhibition! The piece is made up of three panels with two being glass and the center one being a woven tapestry. I had an independent study in glass and weaving last semester where I focused on finding ways for tapestry weaving and glass fusing to interact! For the glass panels I tack fused brown sheet glass and murrine pieces that I made from glass cane I pulled from a vitrigraph kiln. I wove the tapestry line by line on my frame loom where I used wool and acrylic yarns along with hand dyed merino wool roving to get that chunkier texture. Playing with texture and exploring the ways that both these mediums can be displayed was an integral part of my process for this piece.
Through my journey of learning how to fuse glass and through my process of becoming a self-taught weaver I continually fall into repetitive motions. Although both mediums are quite different in nature, the repetitive process of scoring, cutting, and grinding glass parallels really similarly with the repetitive process of weaving, cutting, and tying off the yarn in tapestry making. As I continued to do both of these repetitive processes I got into a groove where my mind was able to wander while my hands continued the work. Then, I began to think about the art-making process as a whole and how I am an artist who really values learning outside of the art making process which is why I am also double majoring in environmental studies. This idea of parallelism between my creative habits where I am in a mindset of making and then switching to the other side of consuming information and imagery inspired me to make this piece. The brown lines that flow across each panel represent those constant streams of creative and consumptive habits that are so integral to how I function. They both ebb and flow but continue to move together!
Displaying these more complex ideas in abstract ways gives me a lot of freedom. Creation and Consumption have certainly led me down a path of making that I am excited to continue with!
For this blog post I would like to explain what is going on in my second piece shown in the Myriad exhibit titled Rain. This artwork is made of sixty-five individual stained-glass raindrops suspended from a circular wood piece by fishing line. The process of creating this project in time for the show was a whirlwind!
To be completely honest, the original idea behind this piece was to explore the concept of acid rain. As I worked on each individual raindrop, I found my intentions for the piece shifting. Although acid rain looks just like regular rain as it is falling, once I started to string the drops up, the piece read as “regular rain” to me. Although the piece turned into a celebration of the process of rain there are still important environmental implications included in this piece. Celebrating and educating about healthy natural processes is just as important as bringing attention to unhealthy ones when it comes to ending the climate crisis!
The process of making each individual raindrop and then tying fishing line to every single one became extensive. I cut three pieces of glass for each raindrop, ground the edges, wrapped the edge of every piece in foil, and then soldered all of the edges. In total, that came out to a whopping 195 pieces of glass that made it to the final piece! I quickly got into the groove of the repetitive process, and began to marvel at how it takes us so much effort to reproduce naturally occurring processes. Regular processes that occur all around us in nature that we don’t really think about like plant growth, snow, and wind are the product
s of so many factors I never think about. It was nice to slow down and consider how incredible it is that we are living in a world that is so naturally interconnected.
Find more of my art at: mayamarkillie.wixsite.com/portfolio
My third piece shown in the Senior Exhibition is named Topsoil. This piece is another creation from my independent study where I was exploring the possible relationships between glass and weaving. At the time, I was learning all about the importance of topsoil in one of my environmental science classes. The important things to know about topsoil are that it is full of the key nutrients we need to grow our plants and crops, it has extremely high levels of micro-organic material compared with other soil levels, and our modern agricultural practices are ruining it. Topsoil is essential to our production of food, but constant tilling, monoculture, and runoff from pesticides and other byproducts of modern agriculture are destroying this layer of soil that we depend on! We need to increase the amount of food we grow each year, which leads to this vicious cycle of finding the fastest and cheapest ways to produce food without thinking about the health of the earth. I was really shocked by the fact that I hadn’t heard about the crisis beneath our feet that humans are perpetuating. The idea that we are destroying such important parts of our ecosystem without thinking about it seems to be a common issue leading to the overarching issue of global climate change. So, I thought I would highlight this overlooked issue in one of my independent study pieces.
I started with the tapestry part. I wanted to convey the microscopic layers of organic material and microbes that exist in the top five to ten inches of soil. I used sheep wool yarn, alpaca hair, and a natural fiber yarn that I found at art salvage. I first laid out a design on paper and then taped that paper to the back of my loom and began the weaving process. Weaving feels sort of like a meditation for me. The more I weave, the easier it is for me to drift off into thought while my fingers continue doing the work!
Once I was about two-thirds of the way done with the tapestry, I had already decided that the glass elements would be enlarged soil microbes. They are supposed to represent living organisms that most humans would probably never get to see, but that most of us depended on for food. I ended up fusing together a bunch of thin pieces of glass to get the organic shape looking how I wanted it. I also got to make use of my favorite Bullseye Glass Company sheet glass which is called streaky “petrified wood” glass. Bullseye hand rolls this glass with four different colors that have different striking capabilities once fired, which create awesome reactions that can be likened to petrified wood! It’s exciting stuff.
Anyways, I ended up fusing four microbes and then attaching the hardware to each of them. Right before hanging up the finished piece for our exhibit though, I got some feedback that having an uneven number of microbes might make more visual sense, so I ended up making one more for a grand total of five microbes and one finished tapestry! I am really happy with the result of this piece because it ties together an issue that I am passionate about with artistic materials that I am passionate about!
Find more of my art at: mayamarkillie.wixsite.com/portfolio
Part 4: Fleaves
For my final blog post I wanted to talk about my Fleaves piece that is currently on display in the corner gallery in the Lied Art Center! I came up with the idea for the Fleaves piece last fall semester in my Senior Seminar class. As you may have learned from past blog posts, I am really interested in the natural processes of nature. This interest and curiosity about how things like rain, wind, water and other moving natural processes function make its way into my everyday thoughts and dreams.
The idea of fleaves came from a couple of dreams I had of fish and leaves combining! Natural currents that certain fish move and flow through within the ocean and in natural waterways somehow got linked to how leaves move through wind currents. I think it helps that leaves and fish have somewhat similar geometric shapes to them also! But I thought it would be fun to show this meshing of fish and leaves in a visual way, so using glass, I went about creating fish and leaves flowing into and becoming “fleaves”!
At the time of its creation, I was still exploring the relationships weaving and glass could have with each other, so I decided that the ambiguous currents that the fish, leaves, and fleaves would be moving through would be woven and knotted. The giant woven current part of the piece took a lot of time and patience and was threaded with wire so that I could keep the piece sculptural. The glass elements were made using the Pâte de Verre method where I sculpted each individual fish/leaf, made a mold of it, and then filled that mold with glass frit and fired it to a solid! I really enjoyed the process of making this piece and I am very happy with the outcome. Getting to display it in the corner gallery has been a treat!
Find more on my website: https://mayamarkillie.wixsite.com/portfolio
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