Why I read, why I write: Kurt Vonnegut edition.

ann teresa barboza embroidery artist

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

Kurt Vonnegut is such a boss. Here are his eight tips of writing short stories, a list that includes “be a sadist” and “every character should want something.” But the above quote is my favorite. Write to please one person. When I’m teaching writing to kids, I call this their “dream reader” or “fantasy reader.” Who is a person who you admire, who you most want to read your work? When I write, I think about a professor I studied with at Bard. I write for him, because writing for everyone is exhausting and impossible. A fools errand, just like trying to be liked by every person at the party.

Image by Ana Teresa Barboza, who creates amazing embroideries of plants and bodies and other natural things. Check out her website here.


I love puns, portmanteaus, and plants.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 3.59.12 PMElkebana is a portmanteau of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, and elk, the animal with the big antlers that people like to kill and stuff and put on exhibit. It’s also a very clever name for a very clever product. Twin vases mounted on wood let you display blossoms like others display heads—hanging from the wall, living (though soon to be dead). I love this. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 4.05.34 PMOrdering info is here. It would also be a pretty simple DIY, but kudos to designers Fabio Milito & Paula Studio for coming up with such a rad concept.

Tapestry taxidermy

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.02.41 PMToday was incredibly long and not particularly enjoyable. So, I don’t have anything to say really about these tapestry “taxidermy” creatures except wow. So pretty, so clever. Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.03.32 PMThe lady who makes them is tres jolietoo. (Of course she is; she’s French and perfectly disheveled. Women like Frederique are the entire reason I’ve had bangs for the past twelve years.) Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.49.01 PM

There are lots more beautiful pictures on her website—check it out.

Two Nice Things: Yumi Okita makes textile moths, reminds me of the Limberlost.

Moths! They’re the redheaded stepchild of the butterfly family (no, that’s not science, but it feels true anyway). They’re ugly and furry and yet, in Yumi Okita’s hands, they’re kind of… cute? Cuddly? Fuzzy and warm? Yumi okita
Not since I read A Girl of the Limberlost (a novel by naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter published in 1909) have I been so taken with moths. The book tells the story of a young Indiana girl named Elnora who sends herself to school with the money she makes selling insect specimens. She goes into the Limberlost swamp—what a wonderful, fantastical name for a real place!—where she finds all manner of strange flora and fauna. yumi
I think Elnora (again, that name!) would love Yumi Okita’s textile moths. She makes these beautiful patterned winged things from yarn and string and fiber. You can’t tell from these pictures, but the moths are actually huge—each wing is about as big as a hand. yumi2

I particularly like these three, but Okita creates insects (and flowers) in all different shapes and sizes. They mimic real life, but they’re infinitely more beautiful than the average brown moth you see dive-bombing a lightbulb. Just look at the patterns! And I’m really loving this particular color scheme right now. Rose and dust and dusty rose and soft browns and warm ivory. See more of her work here.

I’ve got a crush on Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown.

nicoletta darita
Beautiful lady out of Baltimore makes beautiful art—particularly her embroidered trashbag series “El Barrio Bodega.” The colorful ones are my favorite, but there’s also a fantastically tacky-ugly-pretty gold one, too. “Growing up in Brooklyn and Harlem I’d visit my block’s bodega daily, with pennies in hand, and leave with priceless treasures,” she explains on her website. “More than just bags, they reflect a sense of pride for my neighborhood and are a symbol of my cultural identity.”

More here.

Myriam Dion is destroying print media.

anthology-mag-blog-Cut-Paper-by-Myriam-Dion-2As much as it pains me to admit this, I know, at some point in my life, I said the phrase “print media is dead.” It was probably when I was fresh out of college and working exclusively online and intoxicated by the sweet poetry of HTML and distracted by the truly catholic offerings of my most beloved blogs. I probably thought I was just being practical. I probably thought I was right (because I usually do think that, sometimes even for far longer than I honestly should).

But print is not dead! Print is alive and wonderful and fun, and learning about things like page bleed and grammage has been surprisingly fascinating. Paper is a cool thing, in and of itself, but Myriam Dion makes it extra, excruciatingly cool. This Canadian artist turns newsprint into art, thus destroying the original object’s functionality while creating something that is far more beautiful than the paper itself. And she does this by cutting, slicing, and peeling out slivers of the pulpy-soft weave. With Dion’s pieces, print is both alive and dead. And I love it.

See more at Anthology Mag.

Bright white, true blue: the MFA exhibits my favorite colors.

blueandwhiteIt’s not often that I wish I was back in Boston, but this exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts has me planning a trip down south: “Blue and White,” on show at the Henry and Lois Foster Gallery. Blue and white ceramics are such a familiar sight, but this show takes the traditional color palate and somewhat rigid medium and twists it, transforming the formula. From what I’ve seen online, the pieces echo earlier work in a playful, irreverent way. Plates are painted with unexpected scenes, impressionist brushstrokes dance across porcelain, and polka dots lend a youthful quality to a fluid sculpture with a möbius strip-like complexity.
Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 8.56.43 PMHow fun, right? Sadly, it’s only on view for a few more days… so I probably won’t make it there. What a bummer.

[MFA Boston]

Rachael Rice’s dreamy work.

rachael riceWhen I was little, I used to make dreamcatchers all the time. I was obsessed with Native American mythology and culture. I read every book in our elementary school library on fairy tales, myths, and legends. I didn’t really like any other kind of book. I wanted to hear about the girl who married the moon, or the boy who turned into a bear.

I think that’s why I’m still so drawn to dreamcatchers. Though sometimes a little cheesy, they’re gorgeous when made right, and artist Racheal Rice does it right. She turns the dreamcatcher into a glorious mess of ribbon and beads. The woven center holds it all together, gives it a depth and geometric balance. I would love to have one of these hanging above my bed.

But I might need to settle for a dreamcatcher print. Society 6 has some nice ones…

Kiyoshi Mino makes furry friends from felt.

fox7I’ve probably mentioned my undying love for foxes on this blog before, but for good measure, I’ll say it again: If I had to choose a favorite animal, it would always (and forever) be the clever, wily fox. Once, when I was in college, I had a girl I worked with tell me that I reminded her of a fox because “you can be very cunning, and I bet you’re good at manipulating people.” I was kind of offended, but I have to admit, it was a little flattering, in a weird way. I like to think I’m nicer than that, but who knows? Maybe being a fox is a good thing.

As usual, I’m rambling about myself in order to introduce a very talented artist. Kiyoshi Mino is currently attending The Farm School down in Massachusetts (a place I had never heard of, but after googling it I immediately wanted to drop everything and enroll). It was there that he found his artistic medium: needle felt. He now creates detailed sculptures of animals out of wool. But as much as I want to snuggle them, they’re not stuffed toys. He sells his pieces for around $500 a pop. His menagerie includes a variety of fauna, both wild and domesticated. His portfolio includes owls, cranes, sheep, cats, donkeys, and other beasts.

Screen shot 2013-03-31 at 5.49.08 PMI admit, I don’t know much about needle felt, but it seems like a great technique. I really admire anyone who works with fiber arts, especially since it seems at once so traditional, and yet so modern.

Check out Mino’s website here, and be sure to read the “about” section. He’s lived a very interesting life.

Flying so close to the sun.

featered friendSometimes I think I’m pretty crafty, and then I see work like Diana Beltran Herrera’s and I realize I have a long, LONG way to go. I can make paper flowers, but she makes paper fly. Her gorgeous series of paper birds can be seen in full on Flickr, but I first found it on the excellent site Colossal. It’s truly amazing what someone can do with colored paper and a little bit of glue. I’m jealous.

lovelylittlebirdsSee more here.