Monday, December 22, 2008

the elves will play while Santa is away


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Installation Photos of Little Journeys Exhibition

On Monday, Robin and I went to Atlanta to remove my work from Mercer University's Brown Art Gallery. Here are a few installation photos of Little Journeys that Robin shot.

One more huge THANK YOU!!! to Angela Beavers, Gallery Coordinator of the Brown Art Gallery, for being so kind and patient, and to the Swilley Library and Mercer University for this opportunity. If you are a artist living in Georgia and are looking for a space to exhibit your work, there are a few slots open in the Brown Art Gallery 2009 exhibition calendar. See their website for information about exhibiting in the gallery, proposal forms, and contacting Angela Beavers.

If you'd like to see more installation shots of the show, I've uploaded Robin's photographs on my flickr site.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page

Photographs by Bunny Yeager

miss you

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rebecca Miller - Rebecca's Creations

I recently ordered doilies from Rebecca Miller's website, Rebecca's Creations, and they arrived this weekend. They're delicate and intricate - so pretty - like snowflakes!

Crocheted Doily by Rebecca Miller


Crocheted Doily by Rebecca Miller


Crocheted Doily by Rebecca Miller

Rebecca is from Winchendon, Massachusetts and all of her work is handmade. She crochets and knits doilies, purses, bibs, afghans, potholders, tablecloths and many more items. Here are just a few of the new things that she recently added to her site:

Portland Head Lighthouse Notecard

all work copyright Rebecca Miller
Rebecca's Creations (

Friday, November 28, 2008

Handkerchief (Willow and Urn), 2006

Kym Hepworth, Handkerchief (Willow and Urn), 2006.

For Handkerchief (Willow and Urn), I used an old white handkerchief with a polka dot border that I bought in an antiques store. I transferred a 19th century gravestone rubbing onto the handkerchief and beaded it with black and cream glass seed beads. The cream colored beads were a little lighter than I wanted them to be, so I soaked them in a tea bath to give them an "aged" look. Next, I sewed clear beads on the handkerchief to look like falling tears. And, finally, I attached a man in the (crescent) moon and a star with a glittering rhinestone center to the night sky background. The moon and star originally were parts from an earring. Handkerchief (Willow and Urn) is the most direct translation of traditional mourning art imagery in my work. It also pairs materials and imagery together in a straightforward manner - a handkerchief is used to catch and wipe away tears (okay, yes, it also wipes away snot) and my weeping willow tree sheds tears.

Below are three photographs of 19th century gravestones with the willow and urn motif. They were taken at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, SC.

The willow and urn motif began to appear on American gravestones by the late 1700's or early 1800's, and due to the huge popularity of the Greek Revival style, it replaced the earlier winged death's head and winged cherub (or soul effigy) motifs. In Mourning Becomes America: Mourning Art in the New Nation, Anita Schorsch writes that the urn is
"...Etruscan in origin and suggesting of course the spirit of the departed. In ancient times the urn held both the ashes and vital organs of the deceased, becoming finally a symbolic bed for the departed spirit, a vital part of the death furniture of the tomb house...". Schorsch continues, "The willow branch was the ancient symbol for the house of mourning, continuing in Christian theology as a trope for the Resurrection because it has the regenerative power to grow again after being cut. Willows have always been associated with burial sites too, because this useful tree drains the ground of water, keeping the site dry for digger as well as departed."
(Source for quotes: Mourning Becomes America: Mourning Art in the New Nation, by Anita Schorsch, published by The Main Street Press, Clinton, NJ, copyright 1976.)

While browsing websites, I came across these slight variations in the interpretation of what the willow symbolizes: "...while weeping willows, with their long leafy strands suggesting the hair of a woman bent over in grief, stood for the cycle of life and regeneration." And, "[The willow symbolizes] ...desperation, grief and sadness [because] ...the leaves appear to be tears rolling down the face -weeping."

And now, a brief intermission: The Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing

And we're back. I admire the work of Betye Saar (American, b. 1926) and I've included two images from Saar's handkerchief series. The hankie collages, The Loss and Rainbow Babe in the Woods, were autobiographical.

Betye Saar, The Loss, 1977, mixed media on handkerchief, 8 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Brian Forrest.

"In The Loss, a cotton handkerchief with black trim has a photograph of Saar's father and Saar at the age of four. (Saar's father died when she was six years old.) The photograph is torn in half, and a small black cross has been placed at the bottom of the tear. A black butterfly in a dried leaf is in the center of the hankie. A small photograph of Saar alone is stitched in the corner."

Betye Saar, Rainbow Babe in the Woods, 1979, mixed media on handkerchief, 9 3/4 x 9 in. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Brian Forrest.

"A lavendar hankie with a scalloped edge was used for Rainbow Babe in the Woods. In the center, a photograph of trees serves as a background for a photograph of Saar in a flower girl's dress. The dress and the butterfly below are painted in rainbow colors. Fragments of rainbows surround the images. The rainbow symbolizes, as Saar explained, "...the promise that all children have of being happy and being successful and having a joyful life... like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The promise, the promise of being a child"

(Source for quotes and reproductions: Betye Saar, by Jane H. Carpenter with Betye Saar, published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc., San Francisco, copyright 2003.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trapped Butterfly Dance - mixed media 2008

Trapped Butterfly Dance is a new mixed media work that I finished in October. Many trips to Kroger, Publix, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart were made in order to buy enough sewing pins. Attention comparison shoppers: Walmart is the best buy (of those stores). The piece is surprisingly heavy, and I could inflict some serious damage with it, if I chose to. But I'll play nice. The color on the jpegs is slightly off - it reads more black and white than the piece actually is. I haven't worked with pins since 1997 and I'd forgotten how time consuming and tedious it is (ha!), but I do like the overall effect. The work shimmers, with light reflecting off of the silver pin heads and the metallic beads.

Kym Hepworth, Trapped Butterfly Dance, mixed media, 2008.

Robin and I have been watching a lot of music documentaries & films this year and we went through a mini Joy Division bingefest. In interviews, Ian Curtis's famous/distinctive/frenetic/epilepsy-inspired/ style of dancing, sometimes described as the trapped butterfly dance, was often talked about.

In mourning art imagery, the butterfly is a symbol that represents resurrection, or the soul's transformation and flight back to God. The symbol of a hand pointing up can symbolize the pathway to heaven, reward for the righteous, or life after death. Its opposite, a hand pointing down, symbolizes mortality or sudden death. In Trapped Butterfly Dance, a lead sinker hangs from each wing of the butterfly, a skeleton hand points downward, and pins surround the butterfly.

photograph of a hand pointing up on a gravestone

Detail, Trapped Butterfly Dance

At the age of 23, Ian Curtis committed suicide on May 18, 1980. It is some people's religious belief that if a person has not been saved and commits suicide, his or her soul is damned and will go to Hell. (Personally, I do not share this belief.) Certainly, in terms of Victorian religious beliefs, suicide would not be considered a "good death", and Victorian mourning art reflects the religious beliefs of the time in its symbolism. These are the 20th century/19th century associations behind the imagery of Trapped Butterfly Dance. I considered including a photograph of Curtis in the center of the butterfly, but, as the work progressed, I decided to make it less specific and added the teardrop bead instead.

Detail, Trapped Butterfly Dance

Other sources of inspiration include specimen collections of Victorian amateur naturalists, butterfly wing art, and, of course, the boxes of Lucas Samaras - the artist who OWNS pins. Here's a quote by Samaras: "When I began using these sort of aggressive materials, I suppose I thought of them as being...painful...and touching them or having them in my presence was a disturbing thing, but then after I began using them, they stopped having that quality for me...They were seductive, maybe...They would assert themselves somehow, so that our senses would be...played with." Yep!

Lucas Samaras, Box #1, 1962. (Source for photo and quote: Lucus Samaras: Boxes, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, copyright 1971.)

And here's a bit of trivia. Lead sinkers played a part in Lizzie Borden's alibi for the murders of her father, Andrew, and her step-mother, Abbi. When Lizzie was questioned about her whereabouts at the time of the murders, she stated that she was in the backyard barn looking for lead sinkers for a fishing trip. And then she ate some pears in the loft. But I digress...

Detail, Trapped Butterfly Dance

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Little Journeys - Brown Art Gallery at Swilley Library, Mercer University

Here is the link for Little Journeys on the Swilley Library website.

Little Journeys
October 24-December 12, 2008

Brown Art Gallery at Swilley Library (lower level)

Mercer University - Atlanta Campus

3001 Mercer University Drive

Atlanta, GA 30341

monday-thursday: 7:30 am - 10:00 pm; friday: 7:30 am - 8:00 pm; saturday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm; sunday: 1:00-9:00 pm
(678) 547-6280

Friday, October 24, 2008

Little Journeys, mixed media and beadwork

On Wednesday, Robin and I drove to Atlanta to install the show and today my solo exhibition, Little Journeys, opens at the Brown Art Gallery of Mercer University's Atlanta campus. The gallery is located on the lower level of the Swilley Library (3001 University Drive) and the show runs from October 24th through December 12th. If you're nearby, please stop in and take a look! Here is an image of the work, Little Journeys, that the exhibition is named after.

There are six 2008 works in the show and Little Journeys is a new piece. The fabric in the background is a piece of an old quilt that has been dyed black and then painted with graphite. The wreath references wreaths from 19th century framed memorials in which a wide variety of materials, such as wax, shells, dried flowers, bird feathers, hair, etc. were used. The hat pins, pocket watch, tintype, horse drawn carriage, and bifocal lens were found at different antique stores.

I bought the horse drawn carriage from a local antiques store, Habersham Antiques, here in Savannah. It was originally a very innocent looking brass pencil sharpener before I transformed it into a doombuggy.

In my Artist Statement for the Little Journeys exhibition, I quoted Emily Dickinson's poem, Because I Could Not Stop for Death:

Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The carriage held but just Ourselves-
and Immortality.

The poem's imagery is a primary source of inspiration. The work is also inspired by the poems and illustrations from the Danse Macabre of Women in which Death, personified as a skeletal figure, calls a woman (The Virgin, The Widow, The Bride, etc.) and leads her to the grave. Another inspiration is the folk ballad Young Charlotte and Frozen Charlotte porcelain dolls. The title of the show itself comes from Elbert Hubbard's Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sweet Dreams Mr. Poe

Sweet Dreams Mr. Poe is another mixed media work inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. The idea was to imagine what Poe's dreams might have looked like, and, somehow, I don't envision Poe dreaming about a box of kittens. Instead, I tried to create a doomed, apocalyptic, nightmarish atmosphere. Add a pinch of horror vacui and sprinkle a little anxiety on top. I was also inspired by Poe's short story, The Masque of the Red Death , although it was slightly after the fact. Shortly after I began working on the piece, I found myself thinking: red and black... red and black... what was that story?

Kym Hepworth / Sweet Dreams Mr. Poe / 2006 / mixed media /21 x 27 ½ x 2 in.

I chose the image of the volcano (on the bottom of Sweet Dreams) from one of Robin's lantern slides. My original idea was to sew the lantern slide into the piece and let my Technical Advisor (a.k.a. Robin) figure out how to install a small light behind it, inside the shadow box frame. However, I didn't want an electrical cord hanging out of the bottom of the frame. In the end, Robin scanned the lantern slide and enclosed the image inside two pieces of glass and I sewed it into the piece.

The images inside the eyes of the skull are scans of a burning building from one of Robin's old photographs. I like it because the windows of the house echo the shape of the skull's teeth. I covered the scans with red cellophane that originally wrapped a box of Valentine's Day chocolates.

The black border around the piece was inspired by 19th century mourning envelopes that I bought on eBay.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

SCAD Pinnacle Gallery exhibition - January 2008

In my previous post, I wrote about Pillow (Nevermore). An image of this work was used on the exhibition card for my solo exhibition, Silent Slumber, at SCAD's Pinnacle Gallery.

If you're interested in reading a review of the exhibition, Gothic Visions, written by Allison Hersh for the Savannah Morning News, here is the article.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pillow (Nevermore), mixed media and beadwork

The title of this work is Pillow (Nevermore). It is a mixed media piece made in 2006. The work was inspired by mourning art. It took the form of a pillow because I was responding to a euphemism for death – sleep, as seen in many variations on gravestone epitaphs, such as “asleep in Jesus” or “At Rest”. I wanted to juxtapose that idea against the regular sleep of dreaming and the subconscious. Another inspiration for Pillow (Nevermore) was the poem, The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. Like many others, I’m drawn to the atmosphere of Poe’s stories and poetry - a world of mystery and darkness, and an oppressive sense of time, memory, mourning, anxiety, decay, death, yearning, and unfulfilled desire. A short feature on my Poe-inspired work was published in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Spring 2008, Volume IX, Number 1, pages 71-3, Penn State Lehigh Valley.

The soul effigy, or winged face, came from a rubbing I did in a cemetery in Cape Cod, MA. The text originated from a photograph I took of an entryway gate with the word, Nevermore, engraved on it, located in the Garden District of New Orleans, LA. I used doll hair along the border of the pillow as a reference to hairwork in mourning art. Hairwork was a popular 19th century art form and women made jewelry, flowers, and wreaths from the hair of a deceased loved one as a remembrance or memento mori. Below are two images from my (very small) collection of 19th century mourning jewelry where hairwork is used.

I also used a human hair in Pillow (Nevermore). The single gray human hair that rests on the pillow refers to the ending of William Faulkner’s short story, A Rose for Emily. In the story a “long strand of iron-gray hair” is found on Emily’s pillow, next to the rotting corpse of her sweetheart, whom she had poisoned. Ahhhh…. ain’t love grand?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Memory Dress, mixed media

Above is an image of the first memory dress I made. I bought the doll gown at an antiques/junk shop and covered most of the surface with buttons. I attached a few trinkets to the gown - a doll arm, a cherub head, a small plastic King Cake baby, and a tiny 19th century tintype of two girls. I used the doll dress as a substitute for the female body and the materials helped to convey the ideas of the past, girlhood, and passing down traditional female gender roles. The idea for encrusting the surface of the doll dress with buttons and trinkets came from seeing and being drawn to memory jugs/jars.