Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Wheel Drive: Interview with Artist Laura Murhpy

What follows is an interview with the wonderful Laura Murphy of Wilde Thyme , who was featured in January's box. Enjoy!

Describe Wild Thyme.

Actually... Wildethyme is a screen name, intended as a joke, that took on a life of its own on the web. I feel as though I am committed to it because it's been publicized as much as it has. It is also my favorite aromatic herb. Technically, legally, I do business as Without Sin, which is mine and my husband's art studio. It's another house, across the street from where we live. We have a full pottery studio, papermaking studio--and are researching the possibility of adding a fiber processing facility! We just leveled the greenhouses to build new ones, lol. I say we, but that was mostly him. Our other hope is to open a fiber/ceramic studio and gallery. We have the space, but it still needs a great deal of work. Without Sin refers to a couple things, but mostly about the notion that art, itself, is sinless--as is one's fiber stash! This usually leads to lots of fun conversation about what is and isn't art, but I'll leave it at this for now. :)

What led you to a life of fibery pursuits?

My father taught me to knit when I was sixish, but I came back to it en force in grad school. He said that, growing up in rural Wisconsin, all of his family could knit or they "went cold"! However, I had been primarily a painter for over 25 years, and later pursued a Masters degree in Open Media, the requirements of which meant I had to demonstrate a mastery of two or more media. I chose fibers and ceramics. I think they work well together and am planning several pieces that blend fiber and clay. My thesis incorporated clay, fibers, found objects and live plants. That was a blast! The funniest part of grad school was when my friend and business partner decided to learn to spin. We tend to explore alot of media and processes together and I told her, "I'm NOT going to follow you into yarn. I've been there and it literally takes over your life. You don't know what you're getting yourself into, Crys. No, no, no!". Six months later, I got a spinning wheel as a gift. It was my last semester and had to sit it in the corner until I could finish school because I couldn't spare the time. A year later I was hooked again, no pun intended. Needless to say, I was right. :)

What inspires your creative use of colors and textures?

I suspect it is my painting background. The last few years, I painted exclusively, I was focused on color, pattern and texture, but it simply wasn't as satisfying as manipulating materials that have actual texture. I am curious, though, to see how the last few years of fiber arts will influence my painting, but I would have to put down the fiber to find out, and that's not easy. In my environment, I am strongly influenced by landscape and plant life. I love to grow things, love gardening. I learned to make paper (another fiber media!) in part because I could do so from plants. I still have plans to develope a line of paper and cellulose yarns some day. But I digress :)

Do you have any spinning or fiber mentors? If so, whom?

Crys Mascarenas, aka polyartgirl. She taught me to spin. We create very different yarns, but if I ever need help with anything, I call her. She is an excellent teacher of process.

Describe your favorite yarn.

Good Question! I still have a couple of yards of it left. Until I make more, I cannot use it up. It's an olive wool yarn with a zillion bits of yarn, fibers, threads and fabrics spun into it. I have attached a photo. Unless... for perversity's sake, it's the yarn I spun out of 4 months worth of dustbunnies! That was a natsy experience, but I loved the oddness of the result, the record of time that resulted. As I spun, I found a tiny bird feathers (from my cats, no doubt), cat hair, dog hair, bits of yarn and fibers, paper--and even a (yuck!) bandaid! I made a hood from the yarn and have shown it in several shows since then. If I do it again, I know to wear a dust mask.

Describe the least favorite yarn you've spun.

The Dust Bunny Yarn was a very unpleasant experience, but it had to be done.

Do you listen to music while spinning? If so, what is your spinning soundtrack?

Actually, I watch movies and "House" marathons when they happen. I listen to music when I work with clay, usually blues.

Your yarns have distinct earthy inspired hues and textures, do you plan colorways in advance or let serendipity play a part in your creation process?

I would dearly love to say they were spontanious, but.. at the risk of sounding pretentious... I think I may have too much education to get away with that answer. I know too much and think about it a great deal as I work. I also teach Art Appreciation, so at least 3, 4 times a year I give a lecture on color, texture, etc. I keep teaching because I learn more, see things anew, in doing so. So.. to answer your question *insert sheepish (!) grin here* , no... I plan the basic coloways and then add, subtract and re-mix as I go. Sometimes, I even borrow my painting skills to touch up the end result with dyes. You ask about it next, so I will use "Verdant Falls" as an example. I love green and garden colors. In "Verdant Falls", which lliterally means "green falls", I set out to create a riotous tumble of garden joy! Much like we see outside, I set out to use greens for my "neutrals". The idea here is that, in the garden, all colors are harmonous with green. This doesn't work in all contexts- I would never put these colors together in my bedroom, for instance. They would be overwhelming, perhaps even sickening. But.. in the garden... it's just magnificent!

One of your current works for sale is "Verdant Falls" a Free-Form Knitting and crochet piece. Could you tell us more about the process you used to create it, and what your statement is about this piece?
In addition to what I said above, I imagined a fall of garden foliage and flowers, like a waterfall, but a green, fecund fall instead of water. The result is a celebration of the garden aesthetic. I started with this idea, a few scrubles to get me started and a few sketches to draw from in case I get lost or stuck-which I inevitably do. It took about 5-6 weeks of 12-16 hour days to complete, not counting the time I invested beforehand dyeing and spinning. It contains 70-80% handspun yarns!

If you were to create a self-portrait in yarn, what would it look like?
I don't know, but I think you have inspired an idea! Seriously, I spent about six years painting self-portraits, but this has yet to occur to me with yarn. I suspect my next challenge is to finish what I am currently doing before I tackle this (design) problem. I am a very large woman physically, so I suspect it might have to be sculptural! Oh... On second hand... I did do one, once, out of felted sweater seams. They were left over from a series of blankets from old sweaters. I treated them as lines that I assembled by sewing them together. I'll attach it too. It's called "Lillith, lollygaggin' in the Garden of Eden". I am fascinated by the story of Lillith and identify with her on some level.


trh said...

Wow! That makes me very sad that I missed the January box . . . there's always etsy!

morgaine24 said...

i received my phat fiber box today so nice i lurve it all the lotion is yummmy everythings yummy.

Ann said...

Thanks for the great interview - I am a new follower; I promise not to stalk too freakily =)

PenelopeRose said...

What talent! I loved reading the interview. It's so nice to meet the person behind the art. Thanks for sharing with us.