Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Travel Buffet of Books

When I travel, nothing I pack seems more important than books. When I fly, I always make sure I have two in my carry-on luggage since nothing is worse than running out of reading material. Obviously, I haven't made to switch to an e-reader yet (maybe some day). Here are short blurbs about four of the books I read on a recent trip to NY. Looking for a metaphor to describe this assortment of books, I kept thinking of a Dagwood sandwich -- everything but the kitchen sink went into this reading feast. If so, the bread was the nonfiction Alzheimer's book. It kept me grounded. Most substantial lterary protein was probably the Freudenberger novel, followed by  Carlson-Voiles' fine YA book. And the relish would have to come from Jennifer Weiner, sweet and spicy. Interesting how varigated our reading tastes can be. My moods change quickly and I can't stay with one genre or subject. All these books hit the spot!

Journalist Lauren Kessler takes a minimum wage job in a memory care facility, and learns most everything there is for a layperson to know about Alzheimer's. She also starts to care deeply. Her own mother went through dementia in the last years of her life, and Kessler felt she never dealt with it then, so her foray into this field serves purposes of both mind and heart. I passed this book on to my mother's live-in health aide, and also hope my brother will read it soon. Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's was published by Viking in 2007 and remains one of those word-of-mouth books everyone tells you to read if Alzheimer's touches your life.

Got my galley of Summer of the Wolves Houghton Mifflin, 2012) by Polly Carlson-Voiles at the TLA conference  a couple of months ago. Intended for ages 10 - 14, but that didn't matter to me. Strong writing & characterization, with lots of good factual background. Plot elements that spoke to me: orphans, wolves, Minnesota; need I say more? 

If you enjoyed The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, you'll probably enjoy The Newlyweds (Knopf, 2012) by Nell Freudenberger. Here the wife-to-be moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, NY, having met her husband-to-be online. She is Muslim, he is not. Can this marriage succeed? Perhaps a little overwritten, but I persevered and was glad I did. 

Then Came You (Washington Square Press, 2011) by Jennifer Weiner was an impulse buy at the airport, and really kept me entertained on my flight home. An emotionally-laden tale of surrogacy, involving a college student who sells her eggs, the woman who carries the baby, the wealthy wife who hopes this baby will cement her marriage to a wealthy man, and her step-daughter who suspects the worst of new new stepmother's motives. Get out your hanky....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quiltesque Collage

Lots of "quiltesque" motifs have turned up in my collage work recently. I find collage more instantly gratifying than quilting, though I do love both art forms. Using fabric scans and ruffle-like or stichery embellishments in collage compositions comes naturally.

"Pilgrimage" is a mixed media collage on wood, and is on display at the Transcendence show at the Houston Jung Center through July 17, 2012. I used colored telephone wire as an interconnecting device, giving this composition some three dimensionality.

"Holding Still at the Center" was completed in 2011. Being in some ways balanced and centered, in my mind it has some mandala qualities, but also uses obvious quilting elements along with vintage advertising cuts.

"Quiltscape 4", completed a month or so ago, uses mostly fabric elements with some decorative papers. These kinds of collages are relaxing for me in their very sweetness, though many would not consider them as high art. But you know what? That doesn't matter to me most of the time.

"The Quilter" ties in with my old Dollscape series. I used a small scrapbook punch to make the tiny squares. Sometimes it is tricky getting such elements balanced and straight, just like in quilting.

And so it goes. I don't have as much time as I might like to learn new collage techniques, but these types of collages have become a staple in my life. I intend to learn more about mixed media, including acrylic painting, encaustics and digital collage. For the time being, cut and paste will have to do. I find myself flying to Long Island quite often to visit my 93 year-old mother. Perhaps if I could make progress on learning Photoshop, I will be able to do collage on my laptop when I travel. It has been very rewarding to reconnect with collage during retirement. I think I made my first collage in junior high school, and on and off since then, but at this point I am more involved than ever. I gave a collage workshop at a Unitarian Universalist women's conference in Clear Lake this past winter, and enjoyed sharing this "quiltesque" take on collage with them.