Talent Scout

Archive for the Category Personal Storytelling


Series 7, Creative Space: Creatures of Habit

Barn swallows have made a nest in the corner of my future studio.  They have been so busy gathering sticks for their new home that I hate to break it to them that they will eventually have to move outside.   We also have a wood chuck that is enjoying the sandy surface with his paw prints tracking the interior.  Things are moving fast in spite of the torrential rains.  All of Gregg’s earth moving last week slid down the hill.

Barn Swallows Nest

Series 6, Creative Space: Dream State

Gregg and I visited our work in progress, creative getaway this weekend.  Gregg is there everyday but I haven’t seen it since it was a hole in the ground.  I will have to say I was in awe, scared, not sure we deserve it, thrilled and excited all at the same time.  When you actually execute on a dream it can be a bit surreal.  Literally we will be perched in the tree tops.  Amazing light, views and peacefulness will surround us. I’d say from the photos we look pretty darn happy.

Marilyn in front of future studio window

Gregg in awe of the view and cool breeze

Guys at work

View as you walk in the front entrance

Series 5, Creative Space: Taking Shape

View from my studio

Studio view looking towards the East

It’s been a long week but things are moving forward on our creative space.  It’s been raining on and off again for two weeks which has slowed things down.  I’m very exciting to see the framed walls going up.

New Piece, All Your Beauty

I’ve finally finished the piece that I started earlier this year.  What can I say, I got sidetracked with a new job.  Thanks to my friend Zac, I was able to add the perfect phrase of text.  It’s off to the framer since it will appear in Gallery 360’s ten year anniversary event in June.

Marilyn Stevens, All Your Beauty, 36w x 44h, 2010

Series 4, Creative Space: The Difference Between Men & Women

We visited our Wisconsin creative space building site this weekend.  Although both Gregg and I are very excited, our reasons are very different.  Gregg wanted me to see the rocks he had collected for later landscaping,  where he planned to store the wood and how he was going to use his bobcat to clear out a nice landing.  I on the other hand wanted to stop and take pictures of the hundred plus horses in the pasture across from our land and take photos of what my art studio view will look like from above!  It’s all good.

Gregg's Man Toy

Rocks Collected from Site

Horse Farm Across From Us

Future View From My Art Studio

Series 3, Creative Space: Breaking Ground!

It’s finally happening.  The heavy equipment has arrived and we are starting to move the earth. We are in the infancy stages of building our dream creative space.  I know these photos are probably not that exciting but they represent a monumental step in this journey.  The beginning…

Diamond Bluff, WI, 2010

Series 2, Creative Space: What If We Run Out of Ideas?

We haven’t broke ground yet and Gregg and I have already started discussions on “what if we build this creative space and don’t have any new ideas?”  “Or money?”  Nothing like two Virgos getting together to worry and obsess about stupid things we can’t control.  Then we snapped out of it and started talking about all of the possibilities.  My dreams include events featuring local chefs, musicians, artisans and artists.  Gregg has visions of more equipment, tools and things that require more storage.  This is part 2 of what I’m certain will be many interesting twist and turns in the unfolding of our dream creative space.

We worked with the Minneapolis, architectural firm, Altus to create our new space. We have followed Tim Alt on several building projects over the last several years and have always admired his firms modern aesthetic, use of materials and ability to integrate design naturally with the land and individuals who live there.

Our land site has some very challenging issues given it sits on the side of a hill.  Altus was able to guide us with thoughtful placement of the home fitting it into the landscape and taking advantage of the best views and optimum light.  Our goal was an emphasis on natural light, easy movement from indoors to outdoors and from creative space to living space.  We are so excited with the results which features loft like flexible spaces, high ceiling and lots of windows.  Our favorite is a huge rooftop deck over a portion of the shop in the back.


East, front view


First floor, wood shop and art studio


Gregg with land permit

15 Creative Tools That I Can’t Live Without

These are the tools and materials I just couldn’t function without in my art making.  Some are like an addiction.  I tell myself I’m not going to use them this time and all of sudden, like a drink they are back in my hand.  I would love to hear about the materials or tools you can’t live without.  By the way these aren’t in order of importance, Zac!

Letters of any kind--stencils, stamps, metal letters--they just have to show up in my work

Metals--this particular metal is from and old arm cast from the late 1800's

My mother in law's 1950's mail order fashion design book--priceless

Mix this with paint and you get a nice thin translucent layer of color

Needle and hand-dyed thread--it's my signature mark

Graphite--it's the frosting, the lipstick and the finishing touch

Pins, pins --my entire studio has work pinned to the wall and often I recommend them for framing a piece

Scissors--Don't you dare use them for anything other than fabric

A good assortment of papers are always on hand

Glue--the best I've found to replace my addiction to spray mount

Poems by my friend Zac--they inspire and complete my work

Books--you can never have enough

Pattern paper--vintage only, I love the quality, it's translucency and graphics

Coveted hand-dyed and printed fabrics from my travels around the world

Series 6: I Am Still Here

By 2007, my mom could no longer communicate due to her continued decline from dementia.  Around that time, I had been reading about the idea that music could evoke memory in Alzheimer’s patients.  Petr Janata, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California concluded, “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in their head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and they might all of a sudden see that person’s face in their mind’s eye.”  It is a part of the brain that is the last to deteriorate from the disease.

I found this concept interesting given my mom’s love for music.  Ever since reading this study, I have requested that the staff keep a radio on in her room and when I visit I wheel her in to the music room where I plunk away on the piano.  She expresses a very intense and loud combination of laughing and frustration when I do.  I told my husband she is remembering how awful I sounded while reluctantly practicing my piano as a kid.

It’s this idea that led me to create the piece “I Am Still Here”.  I knew from that experience that my mom was still there deep, deep inside. It is a fully constructed hand-stitched coat made from paper and old newsprint from my hometown paper.

Marilyn Stevens, I Am Still Here, 26w 7d 50h, 2007

Another great thing about this piece is that I collaborated with a poet friend, Zac Stafford.  I gave him the title without telling him about the piece.  I think the poem fits perfectly with what I was trying to say or what my mom would. You can see it hand stenciled on the inside back.

I Am Still Here, Detail

To see all posts in this series go to the category, personal storytelling .

Series 5: I’ll Catch the Words As They Fall

A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune story, Dementia’s Glimmer of Light features Ruby Fairbanks who at 87, despite a shaky gait and sight in just one eye, retains her innate curiosity about people. Although some words are lost, her agile mind creates new and often playful word combinations. Ruby recently held court from her recliner in her daughter’s living room. “Careful,” she warned . “My head isn’t loaded anymore, but I think my finger is.”  My mom has come up with some real zingers as well.  I remember on one visit, she looked at my husband Gregg and said.  “Gregg, you have great legs.”

My mom broke her hip in 2005 which accelerated her dementia and by 2006 most of her speech was gone.  I’ll Catch the Words as They Fall was created in the spring of 2006.  When she spoke, I wanted to catch each word and hold on to them for as long as I could.  Some made sense and others I had to piece together.

Each letter attached by twine hangs from the bodice piece.  Individually crafted, each letter is unique—some with fabric, others with old letters written to my mom from friends in the army.  It’s fragile, complex and gives a sense of holding on.

To see all posts in this series go to the category, personal storytelling .

Marilyn Stevens, I'll Catch the Words As They Fall, 14w 4d 30h, 2006

I'll Catch the Words As They Fall, Detail

Related Posts with Thumbnails