FEATURED ARTIST: Pamela Zimmerman
This was the most unusual crop of entries $2 Art Contest yet. I review lots of paintings, sketches, mixed media & photos. This month I reviewed woven metal, furnishings, installations, screen printing and fiber art. None of those media is necessarily unusual, but getting them all in one month was unexpected.
I love textiles and texture. I’m one of those nuts that has shelves and shelves of fabric for absolutely no valid reason other than I loved it enough to bring it home with me. Everything I know about basket weaving, which isn’t much, I learned from a kit I bought at Piece Goods in 9th grade. So how do I review fiber work and weaving?
I need the guts of it all.
The how of it all is very important,
but the why is what I really want to know.
The Featured Artist chosen from the September entries is Pamela Zimmerman. Her work made me stop and wonder HOW is this done? What is the story behind THIS piece. I just kept going back to the work and zooming in to inspect the details. In the end, the same intricacy that usually speaks to delicacy left me with a sense of warmth and strength that I just could not dismiss. This month, all my eggs are going in Zimmerman’s basket.
Zimmerman was a National Park Ranger, and lived and worked close to nature. Living in the desert Southwest, she admired the native basketry in that area. She was intrigued by the notion of making “something from nothing.” In the late winter of 1998, she began weaving baskets from her garden. The pine needles in her yard were short and twisted, but her first basket was enough “like a basket” to keep her going.
Soon she realized many materials from the woods and roadsides could be woven. Some very tolerant neighbors (and strangers, too) allowed gathering of dying leaves from their yards with which to experiment. Storm-downed trees yielded green needles, bark, or roots with which to weave. Not all of the fibers worked out in that weaving adventure; but finding and trying new materials is all part of the fun of basket making.
“Coiling and twining are acknowledged as time consuming and thought by many to be tedious.
I find these processes contemplative, meditative, thought-ordering.
“Frustration is usually easily set aside, because there is always another project in the wings, beckoning, when one does not bear fruit. It is also easy to forgive oneself for a basket turning out different than one had envisioned, or conceived… so much easier to live with than the complexities of dealing with people. Most of my weaving is about making things work.”
What do you consider your media? Do you primarily consider yourself a fiber artist or a basket weaver? “I consider myself a fiber artist who primarily uses basketry techniques. I am constantly exploring new techniques and media to incorporate into my fiber art, not all of them relate to basketry. I also consider myself a basket MAKER – because I sometimes use materials that I gather and process myself, and make them into original baskets… making something from nothing. Basket WEAVING, to me, is when materials are prepared by someone else, or when the basket is not of one’s own design.”
Clearly, there is a clear aesthetic voice to your work. But I want to hear about your point of view. “I generally do not try to work on a focused theme, but I find there are ones that repeat in my work. They speak, I think, to my role as a mother. Birth, rebirth, cocooning, transition, transformation, metamorphosis, emergence, change, and perspectives on these processes often are apparent.
“At my house, we try to make ourselves understand and live within society’s rules. It is a struggle from waking to sleeping, and we must find ways to adapt and learn, despite our differences, and fit into something which looks like normalcy. It is hard to deal with, day in and day out.
Weaving is the escape.
Art is the place where there is no need
to do what someone else thinks is right.
“I use the problem-solving skills that I have needed for survival throughout my whole life, learning to adapt in a world that does not make sense, and the fiber responds silently, there is no yelling…the harshest penalty is loss of material. I can almost always go back, something I cannot do when dealing with people.”
You know we have to talk about food, and I am always delighted when someone can’t give me a one-word answer to the favorite food question: “I love to try new foods, and gravitate towards spicy and creamy, like Mexican with a lot of cheese, and fettucini alfredo with hot peppers on top!
But when it comes to every day eating, salads with feta cheese and olives topped with hummus and plain yogurt. And, being a Texan by birth, I love a good steak, and I NEVER seem to be able to resist mushrooms, in any form.” Make room for me, Pamela. I’m movin’ in, ha.
So, what’s coming up next for you? “I enjoy teaching, and interacting with the online community. I would like to teach more, and as my children grow, I am beginning to. A book about horsehair coiling has been in the works now for several years. Other than that, I will keep weaving what I want to – of course there are more “moon” pieces in the works.”
Thank you, Pamela Zimmerman for reminding me for the need for contemplative, introspective silent work…with voice. I am inspired to never be the person that that tries to make you fit, and I am on winter hiatus from yelling, I promise. You’re a good egg!
Learn more about Pamela Zimmerman online!
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