Monday, December 22, 2014

Breastplates, Templates: Weaving On and OffLoom (On and off roading for textiles)

To date, I've devoted this blog to my embroidery projects, giving an inside view to my thought and physical art making processes. I may not have mentioned that I'm also a weaver?

Lately, I'm experimenting with using furniture in my house to create makeshift looms, varying tension of the warp (vertical) yarns to create mixed textures, feels and effects across a fabric. This "breast plate," pictured above, is irregularly shaped, like an animal skin.

Our clothes are a second skin. They are part of how we share and shape our identities. In this selfie (selfish), digital age, in which we obsessively pose and posture who and how we are publicly, incorporating second skins into my selfie creations seems a propos. For me, textiles have an inherent narrative and are a language. My goal as an artist is to use them to shape and share stories I infer, overhear and imagine. While I most often use embroidery, I am finding weaving an important additional tool. I am weaving, in part, to create clothing and environments for my almost life-sized, selfie-in-progress.

I'm excited to continue my circular weaving/apartment-as-loom experiments. They let me know that I could make fabric anywhere in any environment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Selfie with @YrImaginaryDog

Fearing that Selfie might get lonely, I made her a dog, @YrImaginaryDog, who provides unsolicited advice via Twitter to @EmbroideryPoems. Follow us to be part of the conversation and watch the development of these narrative, interactive sculptures, making an appearance in your NYC neighborhood soon!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Starting something new: life-sized (or almost life-sized) fabric figures with embroidered tweets. I'm about to start weaving fabric with which to clothe her. Stay tuned.

Selfi(ie). 2014. Paint and embroidery on
stuffed and sewn fabric.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bearded Brooklyn

What do trends in facial hair say about the status quo? Beards are in in Brooklyn. Just in time for winter.

Watercolor and embroidery on fabric. 2014 by Iviva Olenick

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I used to

use this forum to pour out concerns I wasn't sharing IRL ("in real life") contexts. Now Twitter is more of my home.

Is blogging obsolete? Have Twitter and Instagram replaced longer-form writing? (what) Do we read? How long is the average #AttentionSpan? Is #reading #obsolete? What does that mean for poetry and journalism? Are talk show hosts better received than news anchors?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The art of documentation

With a little help from some friends, I got my sculptures speaking. Here is a newly edited expose of little voices. Thanks to IMC Lab & Gallery and James and Carrie Tunick for tech support and sound programming and to Colby Cannonwill, Colleen Flanigan, Isabelle Garbani, Katya Usvitsky, Dionisio Cortes Ortega, Daniella Engen and Ian Trask (and their dogs), Jacob Rath and strangers who inspired the sculptures, provided sound and generally helped with project development and documentation.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Embroidering to Scale

In the works right now is a project I'm really excited about! 

I'm embroidering tweets from my @EmbroideryPoems handle onto an outline of my body on fabric. This will eventually become my first, full-scale, life-sized sculpture. 

Rather than completely cover my "twin's" body with my own tweets (which, as we know, can get kinda personal), I will carry my twin with me as I navigate the NYC art scene and more intimate social gatherings. Interactions with the sculpture will appear on the sculpture in embroidered form. 

I'm hoping for lots of usies (selfies with you+me+sculpture) on Instagram and Facebook, and resulting online commentary, which I will also embroider on the sculpture. 

The feedback loop of in-person interaction to online communication will come full circle. The two will fuse. My sculpture "twin" will physically embody my/her online life.

My latest interface for interactive performance art, crafting and storytelling!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Successful Open Studios + sneak peak of interactive sound!

Last Thursday's open studios at IMC Lab and Gallery was a success! Visitors shared in our excitement over the launch of new projects at the intersection of handmade and digital realms. And there's more - stay tuned for details as each of us rolls out solo shows of our new works later this fall and early in 2015. Colleen Flanigan is up first with a show opening in November; I will debut new works in January-February 2015. 

In the meantime, here is a sneak peak of how James Tunick took sound files of my interviews with friends and acquaintances (and dogs!), and turned them into an interactive piece relating to my sculptures.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Open Studios, 9/25/14

It's Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year next week. This happens to coincide with:

1) a break from public school for those of us in the teaching trenches, and 
2) Open Studios at IMC Lab and Gallery. 

Stop by and see a debut of my new series of fabric sculptures in progress, "Native/ Immigrant City."

Open Studios @IMC Lab and Gallery
56 West 22nd Street near 6th Avenue, NYC
F to 23rd Street; N/R to 23rd Street
Thursday, 9/25, 3-8pm

Also featuring performance, sculpture, installation, digital simulation, handcraft and interactive digital environment(s) by Colleen Flanigan, Dan Baker, Tal and Omer Golan and Iviva Olenick

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Embroidery 3D Workshop at 61 Local - join me Monday, 9/15, 10:30-1:30

I am teaching a special brunch time 3D embroidery class on Monday, September 15 from 10:30am - 1:30pm. Join us in the 61 Local mezzanine, 61 Bergen Street, Brooklyn. Among in-class exercises, we will make mini doll houses, like the ones below.

To purchase a spot in the class, $35 for 3 hours of instruction with supplies provided, use the button below:

Eventbrite - Embroidery 3D Workshop

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Shoestring Press

I discovered a lovely new space for art making, taking workshops and meeting Brooklynites: Shoestring Press in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a collective operated by Lane Sell and colleagues.

Ever excited by the idea of collaborating, Lane and I are cooking up a combined screen printing/ soft sculpture workshop in mid September - stay tuned for details! And Lane, interested in embroidery's graphic capabilities, is planning to experiment with collagraph printing using an embroidery as the source image. With printmaking, one must reverse the direction of the source image so that it reads properly, so note that the below embroideries (at least the front side) have been reversed left-right!

Shoestring back and front reversed direction.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Livre d'Artiste d'Aujourd'hui: Artist Talk at Center for Book Arts, Wednesday 8/6/14, 6:30pm

Dear friends and readers,

Wow - the summer is flying by! Does that mean I'm having so much fun I cannot remember what day it is? Or that I've made so many embroidery stitches my hands and sense of time are wrapped in thread?

Regardless, I plan to come up for air this Wednesday evening at my Center for Book Arts Artist Talk. Ximena Perez-Grobet, BĂ©atrice Coron and I will discuss our works individually, followed by audience Q and A and group discussion. 

Wine and cheese reception to start.

The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor
Wednesday, August 6, 6:30-8:30

Join us!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I've been slowly making organizational and content changes to my web site, I'm particularly excited about a new series of small, soft sculptures, "Native/Immigrant City." You can check them out here.

This tree was planted in front of my apartment as part of the NYC Million Trees project. "Brooklyn Full of Leaves, Treehouses." 2014. Sculpture with fabric, paint, stiffener, embroidery. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brooklyn Family and how has it been so long?

Dearest blog readers,

It feels like I've been on staycay, as it's been so long since we've talked. Balancing multiple trajectories (teaching, making art, research, planning, curating, Bushwick Open Studio visits, gallery meetings, art openings, design projects) + the Brooklyn Half Marathon have left me aflutter.

But I'm back.

Here is a rendering of my Brooklyn "family" in 3D - my pregnant alter-ego, my imaginary dog sharing the story of the night we met, and Bedekah, the imaginary friend of my neighbor's daughter and of little girls all over Brooklyn.

If you've really, really missed me, you can find me this Sunday aka tomorrow, 6/8 at TAC's 5th birthday celebration at the Small Works invitational show on the second floor. I am showing two of my 3D figures. Plus, there will be collaborative art making/weaving, and preparation of a new sewing seeds garden.
505 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BKlyn/BKram - upcoming Bay Ridge 5th Annual SAW (Storefront Artist Walk)

Saturday, May 17th will be a day of sweating: the Brooklyn Half Marathon will kick off the day, after which I will be at Bikram Yoga Brooklyn Bay Ridge, greeting visitors to the 5th Annual Bay Ridge SAW. Yes, my artwork will be in the window of the bikram yoga studio, which is hot and humid, in case you're wondering. Join me at 2pm Saturday, 5/17 at 8302 5th Avenue near 83rd Street. Even better, come to the artist reception Saturday afternoon from 3-5pm at the Owl's Head Bar - 479 74th Street
BKlyn/BKram. 2014. 3.75" x 6". Embroidery on cut, 
beet-dyed fabric with interfacing. "26 poses, scripted, 
repeated, hot, in a City full of posturing where 
nothing is scripted."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sweet tooth

My  baby nieces are turning 1, and having a cupcake party. Makes me think of all the sweet words we use to describe the people we love...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Latest tiny gun pillow

Latest "tiny gun pillow" based on Montana Ray's poem, "(back to the future)." Thanks, Montana! 

The salmon color is from beet dye. After boiling beets, I used the remaining water to dye my fabrics. The variegated thread was store purchased. Some of the thread's color is very close to the fabric color. I like the "come and go" look of the text, and the concealing and revealing the poem.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

You're my patch of grass...

More experiments with sculptural embroidery: "you're my patch of grass in an arid field." We've had so much precipitation this winter, it's hard to think of anything in New York being arid, but I think you know what I mean.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pyramid Scheme

I'm loving experimenting with sculptural embroidery. Here is a new piece, small in scale, about 3" high x 5.5" wide and deep. Cut fabric with embroidery on painted fabric.

"your heart is a pyramid scheme"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Crafting Home exhibition and opening

Dear blog readers and friends,

Last night was awesome. My first ever curated show, Crafting Home, opened at The Brooklyn Cottage, a creative incubator in a gorgeous, Prospect Heights brownstone. There were tons of guests, many of whom made new friends and stayed for longer than people tend to stay at openings. I think the marriage of beautiful work, an accessible space, enthusiastic artists, and a gracious host (thanks, Jenny Douglas) works wonders.

If you happen to be in the NYC area, stop by today, 3/1, 2-6pm or tomorrow, 3/2, 1-4pm and catch this short-lived, gem of a show.

The Brooklyn Cottage is located at 301 Sterling Place in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, near the Grand Army Plaza 2/3 subway stop.

Artists pictured, from left to right, top row:
Courtney Anne Buckland, Cynthia Alberto, Katherine Matos, Karl Larson, Jenny Belin
2nd row, from left to right:
Seldon Yuan, Anne Mourier, Meghan Willis, Iviva Olenick

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

F train couple, New Year's Day 2014

Sometimes watching people (purportedly) in love breeds hope.

Thanks, New Year's Day F train couple. You made it worth the ride to a lackluster art opening.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

He stepped in a pool of red paint...

I may have mentioned that I started writing poetry again, inspired in part by the wonderful poets with whom I interacted through my @EmbroideryPoems project. In a direction related to that work but with a twist, I am stitching parts of poems on dolls and their accoutrements and environments. This is my first attempt at this new process, in which I put together bits and pieces of ideas from various other projects. It is a very time-consuming process!

A lot of work and ideas lie ahead! This is just an excerpt of a poem in which I and a number of others appear. I should mention that my poems are like stories written in poem form with some internal rhyming.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Obamacare, Year 1

I don't know about you, but the advent of a new market for health insurance in the United States has given me new flexibility in my work life, something I've wished for since graduating from college in 1997. No longer am I required to have a full-time job in order to be able to see a doctor. Woohoo!

In talking with friends, colleagues and business associates, I've heard many sides to this story. I'm excited; others are less so; some are even more ecstatic than I can imagine. 

What will happen this year?

If you have an Obamacare-related story to share, get in touch. I am planning to create an embroidered portrait of sorts of year one of this new legislation. Below is my own portrait - paint and embroidery on tyvek.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Night Static, Frost

2013 reignited my interest in poetry, thanks in part to a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council for my @EmbroideryPoems project. 

Yeah, I was one of those literary kids - poetry editor of my high school literary magazine, Patterns (thanks Sharon Lustbader), with a librarian-poet father and a linguistically-gifted mother. My brother also wrote poetry - he had a "blog" of sorts long before anyone had a blog.

Anyway, I'm back to writing WITHOUT embroidering first/while writing. It feels weird but somehow like a high school reunion with myself. Know what I mean?

Here is something I'm working on - something new. I feel totally uncertain about this direction - writing for writing's sake. But when I sat down at my computer the other day, this poured out, surprising me.

Maybe the best thing to come out of all of this is that I'm spending lots of time with InDesign - not a bad tool to learn...and as I'm a freelance artist, I'm up for hire...writing, design, art commissions, etc. Inquire within.

"Night Static; Frost"

Do you remember
the night we stood
on 7th Avenue
on mounds
of hope like snow?
The soft crunch evidence
that purity
could still exist
in NYC.
Do you remember
our talk on 7th Ave?
Static crackled
as you pointed to the hospital
where your nephew was born.
You admitted
how scared you'd been.
I shared
a story of loss that had left me
crying in the street,
on the train,
in a doctor's office,
everywhere, really.
to end your
Saturday night like this,"
you said. We stood
for 10 minutes or more.
You never stopped talking
Sidewalks seemed to invoke
your tongue, the thief
who stole
another morsel
of my time and attention,
grey hairs from my head,
the ones you claimed
never to see amidst the red.

That night on 7th Ave
our snow
started to melt
under my tiny feet—
my one foot
pointed towards you
as you reassembled your bike,
unlocking and then snapping
the detached front wheel
to the slim body;
My other foot
pointed towards the subway.
I was looking
for a way
into you or a way home;
for the night's 
static to leap from your cowlick
into my mouth
encasing me 
in unrelenting light.
I would have
stood there all night
but you rode off,
slightly drunk,
without a helmet,
still talking,
as I took my snow
home with me on the F train.

Starting off 2014 with a non-literal but literary Bang

(freedom is a trip)
a concrete (i.e. visual) poem by Montana Ray 

My re-interpretation in embroidery and fabric manipulation with stuffing...A "soft" gun. Flat, before stuffing and embroidering, the separate fabric pieces I cut resembled Montana's original - I traced her poem to get the right shape. Somehow in the translation, the shape morphed. For one, I added extra fabric at the extreme right because I ran out of space for the top 3 lines of the poem. 

As you can tell, the piece is small
- 3.5" h x 7" w x 1" d