I produced the following body of work called EXCERPTS with Slovakian silk artist Anna Majernikova. The pieces not only have a vibrant aesthetic, but they are meaningful based on the chosen narrative. EXCERPTS is exhibited at The Fearless Artist gallery December 1-6, 2015 in Miami during Art Basel.
On each piece, the words are not clearly legible because they serve as texture, as a design element and as a way of infusing the piece with significance. They are written with metallic ink that constrains the color and allows for interesting shapes in the negative spaces of the letterforms to emerge.
Each work or series has a distinctive feel relevant to its own story.
Mandala 30" x 30" uses text by Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times columnist who writes about the rural life.
"As for the farm, it will go on much as it has. The horses will stand broadside in the sun or paw the snow looking for last years grass. The roosters two of them now will breast the bright morning air as always while the hens go about their business. The dogs two of them now, again will chase each other through the snow. Ill be fixing fence and hauling wood and feeding out hay and chopping ice in the horse tank when the power goes out. And Ill be doing what Ive always done: watching the way one thought becomes another as I go about the chores.
But what about your farm, the one you've pictured while reading The Rural Life all these years? I know, from talking to readers, that its far bigger and more orderly than mine. It has fewer rocks and richer soil and fences that somehow magically stay taut. It reflects who you are as surely as my place reflects who I am. And it seems to be just about anywhere, wherever there's open land and some woods and enough time to walk the fence line. I've always wished that I could visit the farm that readers imagine I live on. It sounds like a very nice place.
I am more human for all the animals I've lived with since I moved to this farm. Here, I've learned almost everything I know about the kinship of all life. The only crops on this farm have been thoughts and feelings and perceptions, which I know you're raising on your farm, too. Some are annual, some perennial and some are invasive no question about it.
But perhaps the most important thing I learned here, on these rocky, tree-bound acres, was to look up from my work in the sure knowledge that there was always something worth noticing and that there were nearly always words to suit it. "
Jazz 26" x 16" uses text from George Gershwin's description about how the rhythm of a train ride inspired him to write Rhapsody in Blue.
"It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattlety-bang that is often so stimulating to a composer...And there I suddenly heard--and even saw on paper--the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end...I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America--of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, or our blues, our metropolitan madness."
Dessert 11" x 36" is from a dessert menu of a local restaurant in Hailey, Idaho that was on the back of my daughters coloring page.
"MOUNTAIN HIGH MUD PIE: a mountain of cookies and cream and mocha almond fudge ice cream in a chocolate cookie cream crust on a bed of hot fudge topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings--Its huge!
FRUIT CRISP ALA MODE
TIRAMISU: coffee and rum soaked chocolate sponge cake layered with mascarpone cream, dusted with cocoa, and garnished with chocolate pieces
BROWNIE HOT FUDGE SUNDAE: decadent homemade brownies in hot fudge, warmed and topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate shavings
ICE CREAM SUNDAE: Two scoops of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream and chocolate shavings
TWO SCOOPS OF SPUMONI ICE CREAM: chocolate, cherry and pistachio ice creams
HOMEMADE CREME BRULEE"
I'll Be Here (series) uses the lyrics of a song written by young songwriter Adam Gwon and sung movingly by Audra McDonald during her performance with the Sun Valley Symphony.
Panel 1 9" x 11" We met, of all places, In front of Gristedes some freakishly cold winter's day. I had on several unflattering layers of wool. He slipped on the ice with his grocery bags full, So I rescued some Fruit Loops he dropped by the curb And he made some remark that my smile was superb I thought that was sweet and I started to go and he said "Hey, whatcha doing tomorrow?"
Panel 2 9" x 7" Because I'll be here At the corner of Bleeker and Mercer tomorrow at 7. If you want to meet up, I'll be waiting right here, And in case there are two fellas waiting for you, my name's John. He waved and then he was gone.
Panel 3 9" x 12" Needless to say I went back there to meet him Mostly to see if he'd show, and there he was Out in the cold with his jacket pulled tight. He took me to dinner and kissed me goodnight. The next week we went to this terrible play. And the week after that drank hot chocolate all day. And suddenly, eight or nine months had flown by when he said "Hey, whatcha doing the rest of your life?"
Panel 4 9" x 6" Because I'll be here Right beside you as long as you want me to be. There's no question. There is nothing I've wanted so much in my life. This might sound immature but I'm totally sure you're the one." And we had just begun.
Panel 5 9" x 9" We got hitched in September, our favorite month, With a rock band that played in this old synagogue. And we bought an apartment on West 17th street and talked about children and getting a dog. Our first anniversary came in a flash And we promised to take the day off.
Panel 6 9" x 11" He had to stop into his office that morning, And so I went walking uptown to this bakery I know. When I heard on the street what I thought was a joke Till I noticed the sirens and saw all the smoke. So I'm running back home with this feeling of dread To the voicemail he left with the last words he said.
Panel 7 9" x 13" I'm sorry, I don't mean to ruin your evening by bringing up all of this stuff. You're probably wondering why I even called you tonight. Well today something happened that spooked me alright. I saw this storm cloud of papers fall down from the sky, And I thought of that day and I started to cry. When as sure as I breathe I heard John clear as day saying "Hey, you're allowed to move on. It's okay."
Panel 8 9" x 7" Because I'll be here Even if you decide to get rid of my favorite sweater. Even if you go out on my birthday This year instead of staying at home letting all of life's moments pass by. You don't have to cry.
Panel 9 9" x 17" Because I'll be here When you start going back to the places we went to together. When you take off my ring and you let yourself smile. When you meet someone handsome and patient and true. When he says that he wants to be married to you. When you call him one night and he meets you downtown. When you finally answer him yes. Yes. Jason, I will marry you. I will give you my heart. It has taken so long, but I'm ready to start. Right now John's whispering 'Congrats' in my ear cause I finally let myself tell you that I will be here.
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20th Wedding Anniversary
This is a project made for a couple’s 20th anniversary. My client wanted to surprise her husband with a unique gift. She had no particular idea in mind, but after a few interviews and conversations, proposals and mock-ups, we decided to make their bed—a truly romantic gift for an anniversary, and a functional piece of art that they will use every day.
They live in Seattle and use Mt. Rainier as a symbol of their love.
We created a king sized bed including side tables, 4 sets of custom made sheets, a quilt and a coffee table book.
The bed is made from Claro walnut with 20 lines of text about their lives together (poems, song lyrics, inside jokes, literature, utterings from their children, etc) engraved and resin filled on the contour lines of a topographic map of Mt. Rainier on the headboard. The text on the bed frame that surrounds the mattress is engraved along the shape of three creeks that flow down the mountain and the text on the side tables is in the shape of two glaciers. There is a hidden message engraved on one of the slats under the bed, a secret drawer under the mattress with vintage test tubes that have rocks, sticks, and moss from the mountain itself in them. Brass plates engraved with ILYRH are in each drawer—it is how they sign their cards and letters to one another (with a secret meaning).
The gift includes a hardbound coffee table book that serves as a “key” providing context for all of the excerpts on the bed.
Concept and Creative Direction: Lisa Waltuch
Bed Design: Asher Israelow
Hand Lettering: Joanne Day
The couple asked me to make a chuppah for their Sonoma, CA wedding in October 2014. A chuppah is a component of a Jewish wedding and symbolizes the home the couple will build together. It is a fabric canopy under which the couple is married. It has a “roof” but no sides so the home will be a place of unconditional hospitality. The grooms have a lovely and welcoming home but they are also adventurers. Since the form and meaning of the chuppah represents the home, I wanted the content to reflect important places beyond their home. I chose iconic geographical elements which I combined in a seemingly abstract design including:
The Eiffel Tower where the couple became engaged
The Golden Gate Bridge because they are both from California
Provincetown, MA a favorite spot
The vineyards of Sonoma where they were wed and
New York City where they live
Concept, Creative Direction and (some) Silk Painting:
Silk Painting and construction:
Anna Lintner Majernikova
Andrew and Dana Wedding
In 1871 the O’Sullivan family immigrated to the United States.
My client, 5th generation along with his father, 4th generation embarked on a journey to discover their family history. They contacted relatives, did their own research, worked with a genealogist, traveled to Ireland, visited graveyards, found photos, documents, logs and ledgers to piece together the many people that make up the Sullivan clan. In order to commemorate this effort and to document their results, we planned to redesign their family crest, make two family fonts (display and text faces), a family tree and a hand-made, hand-bound book that chronicles every person in their family.
You can see the original crest here and our modern, monochromatic version.
The fonts were designed with the family’s Irish heritage in mind. They were inspired by the ancient Uncial typeface and modernized to use in the family’s contemporary correspondence. We provided them with digital files to install in their computers and share with family members.
While researching coats of arms, we discovered the use of cadency marks to distinguish birth order within a family. We adapted these marks for both males and females and used them as typographic elements in the font and as illustrative elements in the book.
Concept and Creative Direction: Lisa Waltuch
Illustration and Book Design: Tom Griffiths of Everything Studio
Font Design: Chester Jenkins of Village
“This is the type of art that makes a house a home” wrote the owner of the twins jumping on the bed piece (shown below) when she hung it up. These pieces, like the one of the two girls holding hands at left and hung when a family moved to their new home, have a feeling of nostalgia because they both capture a specific moment from a photograph, but also because they are made from the children’s outgrown clothes. Recognition of the familiar colors, fabrics, patterns and most of all body language make them special.
Another appliqué, the small clothes design was made for a mother who wanted to do something with the clothes her daughter wore when she was adopted from an orphanage in China. The sleeping child was handed over to her new mother wearing “everything she owned” including hand-knitted pieces with wonderful texture. Her mother wanted to preserve these clothes, shoes and memories so we maintained the shape of each item and then fit them together in a design that the family could enjoy and reminisce about.
“The piece arrived on Christmas Eve and I was able to hold off opening it until Christmas Morning when we had my mom and dad here too! I was in tears and shaking with love once I saw it. What a blessing you have given us with your creativity and talent. It will be treasured for many lifetimes. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and care in putting this together. You have BLESSED US RICHLY with your gift.”
We made a two-sided quilt for a high-school graduation gift out of clothes a mother saved from pre-school through 12th grade including sports jerseys, girl scout badges, T-shirts from clubs, theatrical productions and school uniforms. Every part of the quilt is made from this girl’s life including the checkered trim. Her mother said,
“The quilt, which traces major aspects of her life from pre-k through HS, resonates with her as a chronicle of the major events in her 18 years so far. As she heads off to college -- another major transition -- it stands as a reminder that change brings uncertainty but also a wealth of great opportunities and experiences that are what make a fulfilling life.”
Concept and Creative Direction: Lisa Waltuch
Appliqué: Piamrak Hattakitkosol
Appliqué for Boys on the Beach: Brianna Paquette
50th Wedding Anniversary
I was commissioned to make a special book by a woman who wanted to surprise her parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. After several discussions we arrived at the concept of “the ties that bind”. This idea guided my execution and my client tracked down all of the unique elements that would make the book particularly meaningful to her parents. She divided their life into 9 sections, gathered photos of people, places and things, and identified poems that would help tell the tale. I printed the photos and poems on a cream matte to reinforce their historical nature and sewed them onto cotton rag paper with linen thread. Each knot would be visible from the front and back of the page creating unexpected patterns. This technique and the exposed stitch binding both reinforce the theme of ties that bind.
Concept, Creative Direction and Book Design: Lisa Waltuch
Binding: Small Editions
Title Lettering: Joanne Day
20th Wedding Anniversary
After designing a bed for a surprise 20th anniversary gift we felt that the present would not be complete without linens to go with it. In the spirit of maintaining the metaphor (the bed was inspired by Mt. Rainier, a symbol of my client’s love) we created a quilt after finding a USGS image of the 26 glaciers that cover Mt. Rainier. We combined white silk organza with organic Kona cotton to achieve a crystalline effect. The cozy blanket is filled with wool batting. Just as the mountain changes with the seasons, and the glaciers remain constant, we designed 4 custom made sheet sets to be used each season under the quilt: cotton for spring, linen for summer, bamboo for fall and flannel for winter. Each top sheet and pillow case hem is trimmed with the silhouette of the cascade mountain range of which Mt. Rainier is a part. The trim in all sets is made from the same Kona cotton as the quilt.
Concept and Creative Direction: Lisa Waltuch
Textile Design: Jessica Reaves
This work is a section of a larger virtual piece being created to commemorate a math professor’s 50-year teaching career and his relationships that have helped define that career.
The virtual piece will exist on the web in the form of a hypercube made of 7 cubes.
Each visible cube will represent a category:
• Students and teachers
• Mentors and mentees
• Collaborators and peers
The cubes will display a rotating series of portraits and anecdotes from each category.
For this piece in the gallery we chose a subset of five people for three categories assembled in upward connected diagonals indicating time and relationships.
The categories are defined by their position and text color:
Blue = Mentors/Mentees
Red = Collaborators/Peers
Yellow = Students/Teachers
Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee was profiled in Dave Eggers’ book, What is the What? FilmAid International – which screens films in African refugee camps to promote mental health and cultural understanding – commissioned a piece from me to be presented to Valentino at a benefit in New York City.
Valentino was one of 40,000 boys who walked across the desert to Ethiopia, and on to Kenya, where they grew up in refugee camps before coming to America. Eggers’ book recounts the harrowing journey. Many boys died from malnutrition, dehydration, lion attacks, or simply from exhaustion. In the midst of such hardship, Valentino formed lasting relationships with the other boys, friendships that have evolved into a global network.
Through the lens of Valentino’s narrative, I represented the boys by the use of silhouetted profiles. Each face is unique, with Valentino’s likeness included among them. The silhouette heads point east, the direction of the boys’ journey. The piece is made with colors of the new flag of Southern Sudan, the boys’ homeland.
The title of the piece, “All the while I will know that you are there”, is taken from a sentence at the end of the book.