Explore Shibori this winter with Cha O’Connell

I love that Shibori is accessible, with a low threshold of skill or experience to make something that you can be excited by, but also very deep, with a multitude of variables to explore.”

So says Cha O’Connell, one of ACA’s inspiring art teachers and our Shibori instructor extraordinaire. Shibori, the elegant forbearer to psychedelic tie-dye, is a Japanese resist dyeing technique that is simple enough to do in your backyard but vast with possibility. Cha, who has been teaching a variety of classes and workshops at ACA (including calligraphy, paper arts, Shibori & more), is especially excited to be teaching two creative Sibori workshops this winter. The first, which will take place on March 17 and is currently full, will give students an introduction to the fundamentals of this unique resist dyeing technique.

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Maki Nui Shibori

The second, entitled Shibori 2: Nui Stitch Resist Techniques, will take place on Saturday, March 24 and is still currently available for registration. A creative workshop for those looking to take their Shibori craft to the next level, “Shibori 2” will give students the opportunity to learn various stitch resist techniques known as shibori nui. No prior experience is necessary for this workshop in which students will create distinctive and elegant designs with indigo dye.

Below read our Q&A with Cha to learn more about these fun & creative workshops and the unique properties of Shibori and Nui Shibori.

 

  1. How long have you been working in Shibori? What attracted you to this interesting resist dyeing technique? 

Shibori is a practice with a long history, and there are Shibori artisans who have trained, studied and mastered the art, dedicating their entire lives to creating beautiful fabrics.  I come from the other side – a professional dabbler, I love to figure things out on my own, often simplifying traditional methods to use readily available household supplies.  I did a lot of research and experimenting in preparation for leading my first workshop, and learn more every time I set out to bind and dye something.

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Itajime Oval

I’m drawn to the organic fluidity and repetitive geometry of shaped resist dyeing.  There are so many ways to manipulate the fabric to create specific outcomes, but once you go to the dye vat, you lose some of the control, which is sometimes a nice thing to let go of.  Every single piece is unique and impossible to replicate.  I love that Shibori is accessible, with a low threshold of skill or experience to make something that you can be excited by, but also very deep, with a multitude of variables to explore.

 

  1. What do you think makes Shibori so unique? What can students expect to get out of learning this technique? 

I always go back to the interplay of flowing, organic forms resulting from the dye seeping into the bound & compressed hunk of fabric, overlaid on the regular arrays of lines and shapes created by the folded structure of the piece. Most other resist dyeing techniques involve applying the resist to a flat piece of fabric, so you have a very straightforward means of dictating the pattern.  Shibori brings the fabric into the third dimension, which obscures the actual dying process from the creator.  I hope that my students gain a respect and love for the dual nature of Shibori – the planning and expectation of the folding/binding/stitching, and then the unknown mystery of the dye vat.

Arashi Pleated

Arashi Pleated

  1. What are some of the Nui Shibori techniques students will learn? What kinds of projects will they create? 

In the Nui Shibori workshop students will work on cotton dinner-napkins to learn five different stitched techniques.  Ori-Nui and Maki-Nui are methods that result in linear designs.  Mokume and Karamatsu use running stitch to make beautiful wood-like effects, and Kanoko involves plucking and binding fabric to create dots.  Students have a sixth napkin as a “free-for-all” piece to experiment with blending different techniques or simply revisit one that they liked. I also invite all my students to bring in any fabric or clothing that they want to dye using Shibori methods.

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Ori Nui Shibori  

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Karamatsu Shibori

  1. What are you most looking forward to about these two workshops? What is your hope for your students/what they will take away from these workshops? 

I love it when my students unbind their fabric.  It’s a really exciting, magical moment, to see the unfolding of their pieces and the expressions on their faces.  Creating can be fraught with all sorts of emotions.  A lot of people are very nervous when it comes to creating things, which can undermine themselves and their work – a large part of teaching is helping people get past that.  The Shibori workshops are just awesome, feel-good afternoons for all involved.  Everybody gets to take home at least 6 beautiful pieces of art that they made, as well as the know-how and confidence to explore Shibori further on their own.

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Kanoko Shibori

For more info about Shibori 2: Nui Stitch Resist Techniques and/or to register, follow the link. For more info about ACA’s winter art classes & workshops, please visit: www.acarts.org/current-catalog

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Maraj to add a little metalworking magic to your spring

“Art is in so much that we do on a daily basis, it isn’t just a painting or a sculpture,” says Karenna Maraj, ACA’s wickedly talented Making Metal Jewelry teacher, as she revs up for another exciting semester ahead. “I believe it comprises everything that we make. Always being creative has centered me and shaped me into the person I am today.”

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Karenna at her store in Belmont

Karenna hopes to pass on that love for the act of creating to her students this spring. Making Metal Jewelry, running for 8 Mondays from March 27 to May 22, will give students the opportunity to solder, saw, hammer, set stones, and make hollow forms to create any form of jewelry they can imagine.

“I am interested in seeing what new designs students come up with,” Karenna notes. “I am always inspired by their ideas. I like to teach a new technique each week and then give students free reign to create what they want. In my experience, students have found this to be motivating and highly rewarding.”

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Jewelry by Karenna Maraj

A RISD graduate, Karenna spent a few years working for a company that created mass manufactured jewelry. While she admits that the work was “fun,” something about the prospect of teaching, and passing along her love for jewelry, called to her. “During [the time I was working at the company], I also started to teach and I realized how much I missed being around more creative and inspirational people. Teaching was not only a rewarding experience, but made me realize what I was missing and how much I wanted to do something else.”

Karenna has since been teaching at ACA for 7 creative and explorative years and notes that the “time has flown by!” She continues: “I really enjoy the people here, both behind the scenes and especially the students taking classes. I do have a few students who come back session after session and I really appreciate my relationship with them.”

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Created by Susan Green in Karenna’s “Making Metal Jewelry” class

And teaching isn’t the only way Karenna has been able to pass along her love of jewelry to those around her. After leaving her job in jewelry manufacturing, Karenna opened her own jewelry store where, in her words, “I continue to metalsmith and where I can be creative every day!”

Karenna Maraj Jewelry Collection, based out of Belmont, offers handmade artisan jewelry and is a labor of love for Karenna. She notes: “My work is organic and industrial because of the materials that I use and I love working like that. Mostly I get my best ideas while I am already creating. I don’t like too many constrictions.”

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Jewelry by Karenna Maraj

 

And Karenna wants to let potential students know that the course this spring will often lead to creative and surprising places. “Students usually sign up for the class because many are interested in how jewelry is made, but then more often than not they are surprised and pleased to learn how successful they can be creating their own in a short amount of time. Students routinely take projects home on the first night to show off to friends and family, and, as a teacher, I take great pride in how the confidence of my students grows as they develop skills and a sense of personal style.”

Join Karenna for Making Metal Jewelry this spring – we can’t wait to see what you create! For more info or to register, visit www.acarts.org.

Create with Linda Hoetink this fall

Linda Hoetink, one of ACA’s innovative art teachers, has loved art for just about as long as she can remember. “I don’t remember a specific moment when I decided to become an artist,” she says. “I was surrounded by art from a young age. Both of my parents were art historians, and I remember my mother dropping me at the museum where my father worked, leaving me free to roam through the galleries and look at art, from Flemish altar pieces to German expressionists. I felt completely at home there. That feeling of self-evidence is important to me, and I try and convey that in my teaching.”

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Linda in her personal studio

Hoetink will bring that very sensibility to her “Family Printmaking” workshop this fall – a fun family workshop in which children and their families will design relief prints, and more, with simple, safe materials. The workshop, which takes place on Sunday, November 6 from 1-3 pm, is one in a series of newly-introduced “Art for Everyone” programs – inclusive classes and workshops designed to offer accommodations and to support each individual student as they explore different mediums and let their imagination run wild.

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Ink on Paper  (Linda Hoetink)

“Printmaking is one of the oldest art forms on the planet,” Hoetink exclaims. “Think of the hand prints and hand stencils that were discovered on the rock walls in ancient caves, some of them 30,000 years old! Printmaking can be very simple and direct. Dip your hand in paint and press it on a piece of paper and—voila!—you have a print. Printmaking can also be very sophisticated and complicated. It is a very varied medium and there are many different techniques within printmaking—mono-printing, linocuts, stenciling, etching, screen-printing.”

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Polignac 1 (Linda Hoetink)

The daughter of art historians, Hoetink is a firm believer in the importance of learning about art through its history. “I find it important to incorporate some art history in my practical art classes,” she says. “We can learn so much from looking at artworks and putting into words what it is we are actually seeing. I regularly hear from my students that they are looking at things differently since they have been drawing or painting. They don’t see an apple as only red anymore, but see the different colors in that red, not only in art class but also when they are in the grocery store! Making art is an enriching experience on many levels.”

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Polignac 2 (Linda Hoetink)

When asked why art was important to her, she offered: “The urge to make art is what makes us human. Art can soothe, heal, excite, upset, invigorate, make you laugh or cry. Good art makes us recognize we are part of a larger whole.”

Indeed. Make sure to join Hoetink for her “Family Printmaking” workshop this fall at ACA – we can’t wait to see what you create!

For more info or to register, visit www.acarts.org

Street Piano finds a home at ACA

“Play Me, I’m Yours”

That’s the simple, irresistible credo, and title, of a public art phenomenon, devised by British artist Luke Jerram and organized by Street Pianos. The installation involves 1,500 strategically placed pianos across 50 cities around the globe – everywhere from New York to London to Singapore and more.

You may have seen some in our very own hub of Boston – 60 hand-painted pianos placed on sidewalks and in parks around the city, free for the public to use to their hearts’ content.

But now this amazing installation has come even closer to home. The Arlington Center for the Arts has become the proud owner of our very own Street Piano, free and open for the public to use and enjoy. The piano comes to ACA courtesy of Bill Turville, a local architect and artist, as well as one of ACA’s amazing arts camp teachers, who designed the sleek black exterior for this public piano.

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Bill’s original piano – before the artistic transformation.

Bill designed the piano’s exterior  based on images of road cases – sleek black containers used to carry instruments all around the world. For a traveling piano, the imagery seemed fitting.

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Bill started with a sketch of the piano’s exterior – inspired by road cases.

Bill sketched his design, then worked alongside dozens of other artists, all looking to artistically transform their pianos before putting them around the city.

 

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A work in progress.

An architect by trade, Bill used his design expertise to craft this cool, creative piano design.

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Bill’s decked-out “Road Case Piano” being played by a passerby outside the Wang.

Bill’s piano traveled throughout Boston, ultimately landing in our very own laps here at ACA!

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Bill & the gang at ACA, celebrating this awesome new addition to our home!

Interested in seeing ACA’s new “Road Case Piano” or even playing it? Come by the ACA lobby to see this magical and musical addition to our space!

You can also see Bill being interviewed about the project here: http://www.necn.com/entertainment/the-scene/Street-Pianos-Back-in-Boston-395357891.html

Huge thanks to Bill for allowing us to home this awesome public piano!

Angier to take fresh approach to figure drawing this fall

“My teaching is my way of returning some of what I have learned – of giving something back to the idea of artistic endeavor,” says Jeremy Angier, who will be teaching Figure Drawing at the Arlington Center for the Arts this fall. “I enjoy being able to help people understand the figure or to see the figure through fresh eyes.”

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Grinder, Jeremy Angier

Angier, who is joining ACA this semester for the first time, has had a lifelong interest in the arts. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions over the course of his artistic career, including the Vermont Studio Center Residency Grant and Prince of Wales Fellowship, and has been exhibiting his work, not only in figure drawing but in sculpture and video production as well, as far back as 1990.  “I’ve always been an artist,” he notes. “I was drawing from a very early age.”

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Putto con Pesce, Jeremy Angier

“I decided to study the figure because I reached a point in my art where I realized that without some kind of figurative training, I would be limited in my understanding of traditional Western art,” he says. “I started at the Art Students League and went on to study figurative sculpture at the New York Academy of Art. I teach figure drawing because I think that all artistic training needs a grounding in figurative drawing and understanding. That’s not to say I think we should all be academic artists. But the academic training as practiced by artists…provides a solid basis from which to explore other approaches to making art – whatever that might be for the individual.”

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Standing Female, Jeremy Angier

“Figure Drawing,” running for 8 Thursdays from 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM at ACA, will do just that – providing students with a solid basis in representational drawing, so that they can take their art into new and exciting territory. “Representational drawing is the direct depiction of what you observe – it’s just you and the subject – whether still life, landscape or the figure, you are recording your immediate response to what you see,” Angier notes. “With the most minimal means – a pencil – you can make the most expressive representation.”

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Two Females, Jeremy Angier

And Angier is thrilled to help push students past their creative limitations. “In my figure drawing class, I hope to give the student some new tools to use in representational drawing – or indeed in any artistic practice,” he notes. “By focusing on a specific aspect of figurative understanding, such as the idea of contour, or the concept of volume, I hope that students will gain a better understanding of how the figure has been represented in art since the Greeks. What particular ideas about the figure have led artists in the West to depict it in any particular way? And how the student can take those ideas and use them in their own work, whatever that may be.”

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Gesture, Male, Jeremy Angier

He is particularly excited to work with a community arts center like ACA. “I find that people who come to community arts centers, especially to draw the figure, are very interested in and devoted to their art,” Angier says. “They’re doing it because they really want to be there. I’m looking forward to meeting people in the ACA community. As a first-time teacher here, I’ll be interested to see how things are done and what students expectations are – and I hope I can live up to the high standards of teaching at ACA.”

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Cityscape 2, Jeremy Angier

When asked why he considered art to be important in his life, he was quick to note” “Picasso said, ‘If I knew what art is, I would keep my knowledge to myself.’”

Indeed. We hope you can join Jeremy for his creative drawing class this fall – we can’t wait to see what you create! For more info or to register, visit www.acarts.org.

Futral gears up for fun, creative fall

“I love seeing the joy my students experience as they realize their own creativity and capabilities,” says Karen Futral, one of ACA’s amazing art teachers, looking forward to the fall semester ahead.  “And I am happy to contribute to this process and witness their artistic abilities and confidence grow.”

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Futral gears up for a creative fall semester.

 

This fall, Futral will have plenty of opportunities to do just that – she’s teaching two ceramics courses at ACA (“Explorations in Clay” and “Forms in Clay”), each intended to ignite and inspire her students’ creative spirits. This semester will mark three creative years that Futral has been with the Arlington Center for the Arts – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love the diversity of creative venues at ACA and seeing work in progress, whether it’s an exhibition being set up, individual artists in their studios, or theatre props in the making,” she exclaims.

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Futral on the boardwalk at Plum Island, her “favorite spot for inspiration”

Futral will be bringing her own bit of artistic magic to ACA this fall, with ceramics courses that will encourage students to approach clay work with a fresh eye and an expanded set of creative capabilities. “I love the feel of clay and how malleable it is,” Futral says. “You can make just about anything you can conceptualize, with enough skill and patience of course.  Clay also seems to have a mind of its own sometimes, and often surprises you with what turns up as you work with it, and when it emerges from the kiln. Sometimes it can be pure serendipity!”

 

In “Explorations in Clay,” Saturdays from 12-3 pm, students will create work that expresses personal images, using line, color and form, working on soft clay, paper and bisque-fired pieces. “I am really looking forward to being back in the clay room with my students and seeing what inspires them,” Futral says. “I’ll be bringing some concepts to use as a base for exploration…each term there is something new.  In the past we’ve used ‘Edges’, ‘Embedded’, ‘Aerial Landscapes’, and ‘Plankton’, to name just a few, as jumping off points. We’ve really had a lot of fun!”

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Original work by Futral

 

In “Forms in Clay,” Saturdays from 3:30-5:30 pm, students will use centuries old techniques of clay slabs and coils to form vessels, platters, vases and tiles.  A 3-week workshop, Futral says the course is “perfect for beginners as well as students with some experience.”

 

Futral, an experienced ceramics teacher and artist, notes that she’s been teaching pottery for over twenty years, no small feat. “I ran the pottery studio at Cambridge Center for Adult Education and taught classes there for seventeen years until it was shut down for a building project,” she says. “I also had my own gallery and studio in Cambridge, Fresh Pond Clay Works, for several years and sold my work there and at other locations.”

 

Today, Futral is a psychotherapist and art therapist with a private practice in Arlington. “Teaching is a nice complement to my therapeutic work in which I am also a witness to my clients’ growth on a deeper emotional level. It is all very satisfying work.”

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Original work by Futral

“I’ve always been creative and visual and was introduced to art and design at an early age,” Futral notes.  “My mother was a painter and very creative overall, and my father was an architect. I had a wonderful education which included 2-D and 3-D arts in high school, college, graduate school, and on my own throughout the years, and I worked in the design field early on in my career.  I’ve enjoyed being a painter, printmaker and photographer as well as a ceramics artist.”

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Her wish for this fall semester? “I would hope to impart to my students the lessons of openness and flexibility with their creative visions and expectations, so that they can enjoy the journey of working with clay and not fret if the final product doesn’t match their vision. Clay is a great metaphor for ‘going with the flow’ in life.”

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. Make sure to check out one of Futral’s creative arts courses this fall – for more info or to register, visit www.acarts.org.

Thibaut to add some creative edge to your Fall

“For some…students, making art can enrich their lives forever – but for others, making art will open up a means of creative expression, a consolation, a source of strength in life,” wrote Connie Thibaut, one of ACA’s veteran art teachers, while preparing her art teacher certification many moons ago. “In this way, studying art – like the study of literature and philosophy – can empower and save lives.”

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Thibaut with original paintings

 

 

 

And Thibaut has done just that – teaching countless arts classes over the course of her many years here at ACA, each prioritizing individual expression and creative modes of self-reflection.

Thibaut, who has been with the Arlington Center for the Arts as far back as 2001, has had a lifelong interest in the arts. “As a child, I identified with the role of artist at a very early age,” says. “It was a way of accessing non-ordinary reality…Those were very happy, even ecstatic hours – drawing, painting, dreaming, illustrating and writing little books.”

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Artwork by Connie Thibaut

 

Now she’s happy to share her love of creating with her students. “I would like to help students learn to transform personal reflections and observations into individual styles of expression,” Thibaut says.

Her student-oriented teaching style has inspired many – including Sharon Gadonniex, who went on to help Thibaut design this semester’s workshop, “Renaissance Art & Shamanism.”

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A snapshot from Thibaut’s “Luminous Oil Painting” class

The two-day workshop, which will be co-taught by Whispering Deer, an experienced shamanic practitioner, will allow students to use techniques of shamanic journeying to access their inspiration and experiment with drawings or paintings to chronicle their experiences. It will also capitalize on Thibaut’s creative approach to arts instruction. She has taught numerous renaissance painting classes at ACA in the past, but the marriage of renaissance painting techniques and the principles of shamanism will add a new dimension, and creative edge, to this dynamic arts course.

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Artwork by Connie Thibaut

 

Shamanic journeying is an ancient practice that involves reaching altered states of consciousness – allowing one to get past the linear mind, which places limits on what one can do. Thibaut is intent on allowing students to push past their creative boundaries – to “think outside of the commercial, corporate, and impersonal takeover of our culture.”

And Thibaut is excited to once again delve into the styles and swatches of Renaissance Painting. “What fascinates me about the Renaissance technique is the mystery that it creates,” she says. “The effect of mystery.  The repetition of glaze upon glaze over some areas of scumbling – creates a great illusion of depth.”

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A snapshot from Thibaut’s “Luminous Oil Painting” class

 

“I appreciate the way we, the teachers, are respected and trusted to teach according to our own teaching philosophy [at ACA],” she notes. “I’ve also enjoyed the camaraderie with other artists, teachers, and art lovers.  There was an eccentric 19th century Oxford don, named Walter Pater, who wrote a book, which became famous, called The Renaissance.  It’s a very short opus and simple in its message in a way.  He was always writing about ‘that liberty of the heart and mind,’ and I feel the presence of that liberty working here at the ACA.”

To learn more about Thibaut’s “Renaissance Art & Shamanism” workshop this fall, or about any of our other arts classes or workshops, visit www.acarts.org.