Looking for a zen-like, meditative haven? How about an intense and heady tour of some of the most riveting and revolutionary sculpture ever created? I found both experiences at the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Queens, NY. You will, too.
Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.
I am struck by all the opposing forces in his life, which found expression in his work:
- His mother was a Scottish-American writer; his father was a Japanese poet.
- Noguchi spent most of his life and had studios in both Japan and New York.
- That East-West tug on his identity made him fully comfortable in neither place.
- He was inspired by the lyricism of nature, and the boldness of Brancusi’s reductive, powerful forms.
- Noguchi created huge stone monoliths and delicate paper lampshades, mass-produced furniture and fine art, public gardens and theatrical set designs.
- He said,”The best is that which is most spontaneous or seemingly so.” He also said, “Brancusi made me realize that what I had learned previously – the quick ways of doing things – was all wrong. It is a search you have to enter – into yourself.”
In my art-making, I am constantly struggling with opposites:
- I want to produce work that is both subtle and bold.
- I covet simplicity but I want to convey complex ideas.
- I strive for the sophistication of abstraction but always seem to end up with pictures–still life, landscape, recognizable figures.
- I admire the purposefulness of working in a series, yet I flit — from one sort of style, group of materials, and type of end product to another.
- I know I should put in the time, but I am, at heart, a quick-and-dirty worker.
- I seek popular success for my books and patterns and presentations and workshops, but I think it’d be awesome to be accepted into the lofty echelons of the serious fiber art world.
My sewing room, aka my studio, reflects the dualities. I have two sets of projects calling to me:
Baby banners, pillows, and Skinny quilts/table runners for gifting and patterning for my recently launched EllyLdesign line on Craftsy and Etsy (another dichotomy, as I haven’t committed to just one quite yet).
Psst–You can check out my Craftsy Shop or my Etsy Shop. I’m proud to say that the instructions are 100% reliable and user-friendly and full of how-to photos –just like my books. Let me know, in the comment box below, what you think!
OK, the commercial message is over, so let me switch over to the other side of my brain. That is focused on the constantly evolving arrangements on my design wall. Here are a few of the iterations. Once again, I welcome your comments: Which one appeals most? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6?
I definitely dig Noguchi’s aesthetic. He was lucky to have good critics and great supporters — he hung out with Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and a lot of other abstract expressionists. He found ways to nourish and bridge the different aspects of his identity and to address many different interests, putting the tensions of opposing forces to work in his favor.
Me, I often feel like Dr. DooLittle’s pushmi-pullyu, that crazy, two-headed unicorn gazelle, trying to go in two opposing directions. Still, I’ll get there, wherever there is, somehow, sometime! Thank YOU for the criticism and the support. Heck, thanks for reading this!