Labor of love

After a lengthy search up and down country roads Gregg and I bought the land for our studio+shop in 2008. We sat on it for two years before we broke ground in 2010. This was a dream project that took us approximately five years to complete. We started with getting Gregg’s wood shop finished so he could gradually build out the rest of the space. We enjoyed the slower pace taking time to ensure the layout worked for our creative needs and invested in the materials and design details that were most important to us. We made a commitment to using quality materials, timeless design and utilizing local resorces as much as possible. See more photos of our five year labor of love.

If What You Wear

A commission for Interior Designer, Andrew Flesher’s New York apartment, this work spans 112” wide by 18” high. Inspired by a window display at a men’s shirt shop each shirt label features a line from a poem created in collaboration with Zac Stafford. Materials include shredded paper, pattern paper and vintage textiles.

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One    by Zac Stafford   If  What you wear says  What you can’t  And  What you see is  What you get,  Or,  A picture is worth  1,000 words—  Then  By rights it stands  To reason,  That  We should extirpate,  All the brittle words;  Not  By their foliage alone  But by their  dirty brittle roots —  And  Why stop there?  Gather all your gabardine,  Your saddle stitched  Un-dyed wool,  Those  Teeming heaped piles  Of unwashed blues  By which  We will build a bonfire  Of vainglorious proportions  Stripped of all artifice  Painted by the blaze,  We waltz our dirty faces skyward  Ignorant of our sweet imperfections

One

by Zac Stafford

If

What you wear says

What you can’t

And

What you see is

What you get,

Or,

A picture is worth

1,000 words—

Then

By rights it stands

To reason,

That

We should extirpate,

All the brittle words;

Not

By their foliage alone

But by their dirty brittle roots

And

Why stop there?

Gather all your gabardine,

Your saddle stitched

Un-dyed wool,

Those

Teeming heaped piles

Of unwashed blues

By which

We will build a bonfire

Of vainglorious proportions

Stripped of all artifice

Painted by the blaze,

We waltz our dirty faces skyward

Ignorant of our sweet imperfections

Before

Artist/Poet collaboration with Zac Stafford. Referenced from an old photo of Zac’s mother and uncle. Paper, paint and printed words.

Before

by Zac Stafford

Before the cigarettes

Before the fights

Before the tear warped light

Before the wheeze

Before the playground scraped knees

Before the war

Before the scatter and dash

Before the ash

Before the breeze

Before the doctors whispered disease

Before the scalpel

Before the cut

Before the bills and pills and living wills

Before the looming dread

Before the broken down cars, food stamps and legal pleading and moral fleeting

Before foreclosure

Before neglect

There was a glimmer a grin and place to begin

I Have Given My Whole Life To Words

I Have Given My Whole Life To Words is a commissioned art piece for the Forum Communications news room in Fargo, ND.

Research and collaboration was an essential part of my creative process. Understanding the Forum’s history, talking first-hand with journalists, printers and archivists about their passion at the paper, how they interact with each other and within the community allowed the process of storytelling to unfold.

Using a variety of materials and techniques relevant to the newspaper and journalism as a profession, I combined text, newsprint and old textiles in unconventional ways. Original wood type was hand-rubbed with graphite on paper then enlarged and hand printed on the piece. You see re-use of reporter notes and remnants of a printer’s apron. A host of stories about community, historic events and life changing experiences that are re-interpreted through bits of cloth, paper, paint and text.

A reflection of the individuals it surrounds, the art is expressive, full of continuous motion and a bit chaotic. My hope was that everyday curiosity would lead one to see something new, to ponder the complexity and the multitude of layers and stories within the piece and the world in which we all live.

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Dress Backwards

Number three in a series that marks the journey of my mother’s Alzheimer’s. My mom loved to dance and had a closet full of dresses for each occasion. This dress reflects one of those dresses I found while clearing out her apartment. Rosary beads, pattern paper, textiles and old torn photos

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Towards the River

Towards the River is inspired by the thunder of forty horses galloping out to the pasture each morning. Materials include newsprint, shredded paper and acrylics. A poem embedded within the piece was created by Zac Stafford.

Detail-Towards the River

Detail-Towards the River

Towards the River    By Zac Stafford   The courting she said  was more like a fitting for a saddle  than anything resembling love    Nobody laughs at the truth anymore    Then again they said  Thats what you get when you use the bible to stop your bed    They said at night she closed her eyes and  raced breakneck across the moon stained field behind the barn towards the river    Towards a little salvation    They said her hair streamed behind her like coal black wings  heaving with copper    Anyone looking with more than their mouths  knew she flew not towards anything

Towards the River

By Zac Stafford

The courting she said

was more like a fitting for a saddle

than anything resembling love

Nobody laughs at the truth anymore

Then again they said

Thats what you get when you use the bible to stop your bed

They said at night she closed her eyes and

raced breakneck across the moon stained field behind the barn towards the river

Towards a little salvation

They said her hair streamed behind her like coal black wings

heaving with copper

Anyone looking with more than their mouths

knew she flew not towards anything

Still Here

My grandmother, Elizabeth Fleming, (1886-1974) continues to guide me with her most notable attributes; a steady calm, love for fashion and sewing. Unheard of for women at this time, my grandmother and four women friends started a custom millinery shop in 1907. Their fearlessness, creativity and spirit is something I have drawn on often.

Still Here sculptural vintage hat forms are each adorned with a line from a poem done in collaboration with my friend and poet, Zac Stafford. The words are stenciled, hand-wrapped in pewter and nailed on to each form.

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Millinery business partners with Grandmother, Elizabeth Fleming (second from right)

Millinery business partners with Grandmother, Elizabeth Fleming (second from right)

I Know You By Heart

Number four in a series that marks the journey of my mother’s Alzheimer’s. By 2005, my mom’s memory was severely declining.  She no longer recognized family members and her conversations were limited.

The vintage dress form served as a reflection of my mother—a seamstress, daughter, mother, grandmother and friend to many.  Covered in shredded photos and newsprint from old scrap books these fragments were pieces and parts of her life scattered chaotically throughout the piece.  It really didn’t matter that my mom couldn’t remember any longer.  It just meant I was going to have to work harder to remember her.

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I’ll Catch The Words As They Fall

Number five in a series that marks the journey of my mother’s Alzheimer’s. My mom broke her hip in 2005 which accelerated her Alzheimer's and by 2006 most of her speech was gone.  I’ll Catch The Words As They Fall was created in the spring of 2006.  What little she said, 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. Individually crafted, each letter hanging from the bodice is unique—some with fabric, others with old letters written to my mom from friends in the army.  It’s fragile, complex and gives one a sense of barely holding on.

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I Am Still Here

Number six in a series that marks the journey of my mother’s Alzheimer’s. By 2007 by mom could no longer communicate. During this time there were still small indicators that she was present; a joyful smile or a pondering gaze. The dress is a nod to years of sewing together and her love for dancing. A fully constructed hand-stitched dress made from paper, newsprint and bookbinding material.. A poem created by poet and friend, Zac Stafford is hand stenciled on the inside.

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I Am Still Here    by Zac Stafford   lest you forget,  I am still here.  another shadow,  another year.  another sting  another slap.  another reason I won’t  fight back.  another wrinkle  another fold.  another story  that won’t be told.  amongst those dusty  crevices  faces get lost  or were they hid?  from the sunshine  from the rain  without a thought  of love or pain  so raise your glass  and kiss the air  and ask out loud  are you still there?

I Am Still Here

by Zac Stafford

lest you forget,

I am still here.

another shadow,

another year.

another sting

another slap.

another reason I won’t

fight back.

another wrinkle

another fold.

another story

that won’t be told.

amongst those dusty

crevices

faces get lost

or were they hid?

from the sunshine

from the rain

without a thought

of love or pain

so raise your glass

and kiss the air

and ask out loud

are you still there?

My Therapy Dogs

This series of sixteen dog portraits started innocently as an escape from an election year. Although they are separate paintings they are meant to be displayed together as one unified piece. I refer to them as My Therapy Dogs. They have provided hours of pure pleasure and reward. The intentional use of color is a departure from my natural color palette.

My Therapy Dog Collection

My Therapy Dog Collection

Portraits in Process

Portraits in Process

Tongues Out Tryptch

Tongues Out Tryptch