Tag Archives: Eve Jacobs-Carnahan

Outside the Studio

Happy June!    …month of the summer solstice and the Beta Taurids meteor shower.

I am really looking forward to being part of two exhibitions that open this month, one here in Vermont and another in Portland, Maine. No matter the venue, there is always a sense of liberation in getting work out of the studio and in front of public eyes. I am particularly excited about the Maine exhibit because it’s my first opportunity to show in Maine’s “big city”, the town next door to where I grew up.

Wild Fibers

Wild Fiberswhich opens locally on June 2, will be on view through July 9 at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery in Jericho. It’s a collection of work from members of the Vermont chapter of the Surface Design Association, an international organization focused on “inspiring creativity, encouraging innovation, and advocating for artistic excellence … in textile-inspired art and design”.

We who are part of SDA Vermont are fortunate to have a very active committee that has devoted countless volunteer hours securing and organizing exhibitions across the state in an effort to expose the public to the wide range of possibility that exists within the world of surface design.* I think the growth of our membership can be directly attributed to the success of these shows. I am always amazed at the breadth of skills among our members, so if you have a chance to stop by the Gruppe Gallery in the next 5 weeks, I’m sure you too will be struck by the diversity of work and process on display.

For those of you who might be interested in activist artists who use knitting as a means of voicing their ideas and concerns about the world, let me give a quick plug to my friend and fellow SDA member, Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, who will be presenting the talk “25 Years of Knitters Speaking Out” in conjunction with Wild Fibers. Her talk will be on Friday, June 16th from 6:30-7:30pm, also at the Gruppe Gallery.


Knitters at Town Meeting Day, Waterbury, VT     ©2016 Elizabeth Fram

Next week I will be shipping five pieces to Able Baker Contemporary for the upcoming show Selvedge, which runs from June 16 to August 5, 2017. If your travels take you anywhere near Portland this summer, I hope you will stop in. Curator Tessa Greene O’Brien has assembled work from nine artists, all of whom incorporate textiles in their practice while strongly maintaining a fine-art approach. The work is process-driven and carries a strong conceptual component. I’m thrilled to have been included and can’t wait to head to Portland in July to experience the show in person.


Able Baker Contemporary is on the Portland Stage block, within 300 yards of The Maine College of Art, Space Gallery, and Space Studios and the Portland Museum of Art, (where I’m excited to see Hans Hofmann; Works on Paper will be showing from June 16 to September 3), — in other words, a cultural hotbed that, combined with Portland’s fine restaurants and oceanside location, makes for an excellent weekend getaway!

Meanwhile, back to the unglamorous…I am slogging my way through an update of my website, and, as is probably to be expected, it’s way more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. There’s no escaping computer chores! However, to leave you on a happy note, I came across this  worthy diversion — a wonderful mix of metaphors and animation by Greg Condon that made me smile; I hope it will amuse you as well.


First Harvest     ©2017 Elizabeth Fram

*Surface design encompasses the coloring, patterning, and structuring of fiber and fabric. This involves creative exploration of processes such as dyeing, painting, printing, stitching, embellishing, quilting, weaving, knitting, felting, and paper-making.

Taking Action Creatively

“Art never affects the world in a vacuum. It exists as a part of culture. Political art standing against repressive forces in society is part of the culture of change. Political art affects the real world as part of the force that keeps the human spirit alive. it keeps the flame of justice burning. It keeps memory alive. It moves with the struggles and moves the struggles forward.”        Paul Boden, The Huffington Post

I'm With Her

Women’s March, Montpelier, VT January 21, 2017

Although hardly a novel form of expression, I am more aware of the pervasive nature of political art now than at any other time in my life. Voices are surfacing from far and wide, including, and perhaps most notably, from quarters that haven’t previously felt compelled to speak out in protest. The sense of urgency is palpable. For me, the key take-away is the power art has given, and continues to give, to voicing distress / anger / concern / fear, not just in our current political climate, but throughout history.

Yes We Can!

Women’s March, Montpelier, VT January 21, 2017

That voice doesn’t have to be loud, but just as drops of water will carve through stone, change is effected through persistence. This week I want to highlight two local artists I am privileged to know, whose practices center around putting forth powerful statements about the issues that concern them.

Knotweed Not Safe

Knotweed Not Safe     ©Eve Jacobs-Carnahan            Photo credit: Paul Rogers Photography

Eve Jacobs-Carnahan is a mixed media artist whose knitted sculptures seek change by raising awareness and offering perspective, particularly on environmental issues. The thousands of pink “pussy” hats of the Women’s March on January 21 prompted Eve to wonder how one advances an important message such that people will listen and consider it, rather than turning a cold shoulder. In her pursuit of understanding how individuals can be globally motivated toward action, she realized the pussy hats exhibited an unparalleled and viral example of such solidarity.

Chemical Lawn Natural Lawn

Chemical Lawn Natural Lawn   ©Eve Jacobs-Carnahan   Photo credit: Paul Rogers Photography

She brought this idea to the public last week in her talk “Art As Action: Knitters Speaking Out”. Offering an examination of 7 art knitters* who convey ideas about social and political issues through their work, the presentation provided examples of the way these artists powerfully express their objectives via inspirationally accessible means. I think everyone left the hall considering how they too might communicate their views at a time when, for many, remaining quiet seems an untenable option.

India Tresselt

© India Tresselt

As a daily practice, Temari artist India Tresselt is working to bring awareness to her concerns via her aim to make one artwork of resistance for each of the first 100 days of the Trump administration. At the end of January India began posting those pieces of protest to her Instagram profile. She told her followers:

I am disheartened and angry and scared. It is very difficult to lead a normal life and engage in my normal activities when everything in me is screaming that This. Is. Not. Normal.  …I will continue to make pretty things because putting beauty out into the world has to make a difference, but I will also make things that aren’t pretty, because things are very definitely not pretty these days, and I will show all of this work here because I cannot stay silent.”

India Tresselt

©India Tresselt

I find comfort in the fact that beyond the daily dose of news in the papers, on television and on the radio, grassroots artists are taking productive action, speaking up against issues they see as wrong. Countering loneliness and fear, their voices work toward eliminating isolation while fostering solidarity. In deference to the adage “an image is worth a thousand words”, a visual message can be so much richer than traditional media, striking directly at the heart of an issue while connecting with an audience in a much more visceral way than pages of text or unending interviews with talking heads.

I celebrate all those who raise their voices creatively — as well as the fact that we have the freedom to do so.

*The list of 7 artists discussed in Eve’s talk:
Sabrina Gschwandtner
Katharine Cobey
Adrienne Sloan
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Cat Mazza
Liz Collins
Lindsay Obermeyer

We Won't Go Back

Women’s March, Montpelier, VT, January 21, 2017

One last thought: In his uplifting SNL monologue on January 21, Aziz Ansari jokingly observed, “Crazy couple of days, man. Yesterday Trump was inaugurated, today an entire gender protested against him”. I can’t let that go without referring to William Congreve’s often misappropriated quote from The Mourning Bride, closing line of Act III: “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d / Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d”.

Less is More

Happily, the snow that has fallen this week has blanketed our woods again.

Respite     ©2017 Elizabeth Fram                                                      Stitched resist dyed; Hand-stitched on silk

Getting out to walk on our trails with Quinn has provided a welcome reprieve from the relative visual cacophony of pattern and color I’ve been immersed in while working on this latest cup and saucer piece. I’ve long been an avid fan of the traditionally quiet Japanese aesthetic with its subtle contrasts and expanses of open space, which probably explains why a snowy landscape represents a such a welcome counter-balance, not just to working with pattern for hours at a time, but also, theoretically, to the hectic realities of life as we all know it.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about February’s inherently restrained character and was gratified to hear from quite a few of my Vermont friends that they too welcome this season as a time for regrouping, of calm reflection, and as a period all the richer for its subdued identity. If you live with winter for a large chunk of each year, there’s an element of self-preservation in figuring out what gifts you can glean from it.

But in thinking more about the appeal of winter’s sparseness, I did a bit of research on the idea of unadorned beauty. I came across a fascinating lecture by haiku poet Madoka Mayuzumi entitled “Japan’s Culture of Silence”. It goes a long way toward explaining, especially in relation to haiku, the significance of an “aesthetic of reduction”. Haiku invites the reader into the poet’s world, relying as much on the blank spaces incurred through its brevity, as it does on the words which comprise each poem. Mayuzumi explains: “We tend to find the greatest beauty on (sic) what is left unsaid, in the rich possibilities of blank space”.

It’s a principle that can be applied to any of the arts.

Looking out my living room window, layers of fog not only mute any sense of depth, but also lend an openness to the landscape in much the same way as snow.

I’ve always loved winter, so a snow-covered landscape is a welcome seasonal perk…just because. But from an artistic and working viewpoint, there is a lesson in the snow: the importance of finding a balance between maintaining a certain boldness (via composition, pattern, and texture) while remembering to get my point across as simply as possible.

If this subject interests you, you might enjoy this 2 minute video on the concept of “ma”, which discusses how this aesthetic of reduction is integrated within Japanese culture.

On a Different Note…                                                                                                                           

If you will be any where near Montpelier on Thursday, February 9, I would encourage you to attend mixed-media art knitter Eve Jacobs-Carnahan’s presentation Art as Action: Knitters Speaking Out. Inspired by the article What It Means To Be An Artist In The Time Of Trump, Eve will discuss and show examples of projects undertaken by art knitters to raise awareness about social and environmental issues.

Art as Action: Knitters Speaking Out
A presentation by Eve Jacobs-Carnahan
Thursday February 9, 2017 6:30 – 8 pm,
Center for Arts and Learning, 2nd floor
46 Barre St.  Montpelier, VT  05602