Wendy Mike - Mixed Media - Coming Soon!

Such an opportunity: the time and space to produce a whole new body of work! And what a challenge… After a time failures, messes, near-misses, frustration and doubt gave way to a kind of surrender and then to curiosity. One day something I had made in a singing workshop caught my eye: a “Gullah pounding stick,” casually stowed on the back porch of our house. Created for the purpose of striking rhythms to accompany songs, it was decorated with fabric, leather, paper, ribbon, yarn, wire, and festooned with silk flowers. There was a freedom and innocence to it, absent the conscious meaning and message present in my past artwork. That stick revealed what I do when no one is looking, and thus the exploration of my favorite things ensued. What do I make when it doesn’t really matter? What floats my boat, feeds my soul and thrills me? How do I waste time? What are my guilty pleasures? What if my work doesn’t mean anything?
Looking for my favorite things led me to well-known thrift stores, (mined in the past for unique fashion) in search of fabrics suitable for sculptural creations, such as silk, cotton and linen. Architectural salvage, friend’s garages, and a keen wandering eye (my own and my husband’s!) yielded “found objects:” rusty used metal, glass electric insulators, old kitchen tools. A fellow artist whose surfaces I admire showed me how to dye and stamp archival tissue paper. A love of copper and brass wire, and gold thread, resulted in stitching, spirals and curly-cues, anchored with various metal brads. Another friend who helped me with electricity introduced me to OEM. What a treasure trove! All of this came on-line, permissible inside of a newfound freedom.
Well, meaning creeps in, because we humans are meaning-making machines! But it came after the fact: the artwork emerged first.
Certainly one of my favorite things is the human form, particularly caught in motion. Much of my work has been hollow, both body casts and miniatures, but that has been incidental; just how the material behaves, or for the purpose of making things lightweight. Now I asked, “What about all that stuff in the middle?” That is, all the material inside a sculpture that supports the finished exterior.  Is it perhaps wasteful, all that material, all the space it occupies? What if it just wasn’t there? And then, what does that make available?
Well, an interior and an exterior, for starters. By removing all the “stuff in the middle” I can interact with both the inner and outer palettes. What is the distinct nature of each surface, each space? Mostly we see the exterior, “how we look” what we “see.” But what of the inside? How does it juxtapose with what’s on the outside? And how can the form be rendered as thin and lightweight as possible, with just enough structure to support and render what is necessary: no more and no less?
Perhaps the most ancient art form is adornment; certainly the power and magic of presentation is a part of what has had me spend so much time in thrift stores! There is also an aspect of adornment and presentation as armor. It can serve to protect, denote membership, encourage self-expression or suppress it, and it simultaneously affects both the wearer and the viewer. Especially for women this relationship with adornment, presentation and armor is particularly complex and consequential. And what of beauty…?
Working with ‘recycled materials” is another revelation: they are one of a kind. I can’t just go to the hardware/art supply store to buy more. That silk scarf I am about to soak in stiffening medium will never be worn again, so I better make sure I do it justice! There is a responsibility to my materials that honors the life they had before I found them.
So welcome to My Favorite Things. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!