5 Botanicals now available spiral bound

May 6th, 2010

All five of my botanical books are now being produced with spiral bindings for durability and ease of use in the field. Iceland, Illinois, Italy, Ireland and most recently Florida wildflowers. You can order the books at LULU.com.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=bea+nettles Samples of the images can be seen on my website here:http://web.me.com/nettles3/Pay_on_Demand_Books/Plontu_Handbokin%3A_An_Artists_Guide_to_the_Wildflowers_of_Iceland.html

Big Girls opens at Rick Wester Fine Art May 20

April 30th, 2010


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, New York – Big Girls: Large Format Photographs by Women Photographers at Rick Wester Fine Art (RWFA) features a variety of compelling large-format photographs by women artists. On view from May 20 to July 30, 2010, the exhibition encompasses a host of themes within the theme, including portraiture, figure studies, abstraction, autobiography, and fantasy.

Ranging in age from their early 20s to their 60s, the artists are Meghan Boody (US), Sandi Haber Fifield (US), Sharon Harper (US), Mona Kuhn (Brazil), Jocelyn Lee (US), Bea Nettles (US), Heli Rekula (Finland), Melanie Schiff (US), Erin Wahed (Canada) and Pinar Yolaçan (Turkey/US).

“The impetus for the exhibition was to create a showcase around several works collected by the gallery and my personal collection,” says owner Rick Wester. “The concept had its genesis in 2002 with the acquisition of Jocelyn Lee’s Untitled (girl with long hair standing in water), and continued to grow over the years.”

Works on view range from a site-specific grid installation of 21 photographs by Sandi Haber Fifield, Looking Inward / Looking Out, 2 (2010) that will be situated in odd places near the gallery’s ceiling in diagonally opposite corners, to a handmade accordion book, Hair Loss (2007) by Bea Nettles — the longtime doyenne of alternative photographic processes — that documents the loss and eventual regrowth of her hair due to chemotherapy treatments.

Photographs that look to the female figure as symbol and allegory include; Heli Rekula’s Overflow (2004) from the performance series Desire, where the artist photographs herself being showered in a white milk-like liquid that forms a second skin over her muscular physique; Pinar Yolaçan will debut two works from her ongoing project, Mother Goddess. Yolaçan looks back in time and creates nearly life size odalisques of large women dressed in skintight, full-length body suits. Based on prehistoric mother goddess figurines excavated in the Hacilar region of Turkey, Yolaçan’s figures are uncomfortable and shocking in the way the body suit both constrains and reveals the model.

Other highlights include Sharon Harper’s large-scale minimalist compositions of the night sky from her Moon Studies and Star Scratches series (2003-2009), and from the youngest contributor to the exhibition, Erin Wahed, saturated prints of otherworldly abstract landscapes.

The exhibition opens on May 20 and runs through July 30, 2010. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10-6pm, and Saturday, 11-6pm. For further information and images, please contact Sarah Stout at +1 (212) 255-5560 or rwfa@rickwesterfineart.com.

Roadside Attractions: An Artist’s Guide to Florida Wildflowers

April 14th, 2010

roadside.jpgMy fifth botanical book is now available at LULU.com. It was created this March in Florida and contains the early spring flowers. It is coil bound with a laminated cover. You can see previews of the images here:http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/roadside-attractions-an-artists-guide-to-florida-wildflowers/10286884

Sewing Basics Workshop was highly productive

April 10th, 2010

gslis-sewing.jpgToday I led a group of enthusiastic workers who made three books by mid-afternoon. This was sponsored by The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois and held in the Oak Street Conservation facility. Thanks to those who drove so far to attend and to my assistant Yasmeen Shorish.

Exhibition and Lectures at Harn Museum in Gainesville

March 29th, 2010

I have just returned from delivering several lectures in Gainesville, Florida (where I was born) in conjunction with my exhibition “Life’s Lessons: A Mother’s Journal” at the Harn Museum. This is an installation shot with me talking with the docents. The newspaper article appeared on the day before the main lecture held in the Harn auditorium.

2 upcoming workshops in Illinois

March 16th, 2010

Registration is now open for 2 spring workshops. A basic sewing one in which you will learn to make 3 books, and a box making day for parent/child. More info can be found here:

Return Trips will be shown at AIPAD, NYC March 18-21

March 14th, 2010

You can see a selection of my images in Rick Wester Fine Art’s booth number 213 if you attend this convention in NYC.

If this book looks like hell, it is supposed to. Basso Loco: Dante’s Descent

February 23rd, 2010

After spending some time this fall in Florence, I became interested in reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, especially the Inferno. This book was inspired by the poem which is filled with imagery, and although frightening, it offers hope. Something we all need in February.

Parq Magazine article about Mountain Dream Tarot by P.R.Winstanley

February 12th, 2010

This is the translation of an article that appears in this month’s Parq Magazine out of Portugal. It was written by P.R.Winstanley. A PDF of a portion of the magazine can be downloaded at their site:www.parqmag.com
The Mountain Dream of Bea Nettles
Text: copyright Roger Winstanley

In 1970, at Penland Art School, North Carolina, American artist Bea Nettles created the first ever tarot deck entirely made up of photographic images and this deck captures for us something of the atmosphere of a young, creative community at a pivotal time in American history.

Astronomically, the Age of Aquarius is a wobble in the earth’s rotation every 2,160 years. However, historically, the Age of Aquarius for most of us is those few years in the late 1960s and early 1970s when all things “occultly marvellous” as Theodore Roszak, counterculture historian called it, exploded in popular culture, especially music. In these few years, pop culture saw an unprecedented mystical revival flourish. Cult Magus Aleister Crowley appeared on the cover of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heartsclub Band, alongside Edgar Allen Poe and Carl Jung. Eastern gurus such as Sri Mahavatara Babaji and Paramhansa Yogananda became cultural references for many and astral travel, the I-Ching, tarot cards and the third eye became the height of fashion.

The same year that The Beatles launched their seminal album, American artist Bea Nettles entered Penland Art School as a printmaking student. While there, surrounded by artists and (as she told us) “people with long hair who bought their clothes in thrift stores”, and with the Vietnam War at its height, she discovered photography and became unofficial artist in residence. In the summer of 1970, she bought a black taffeta dress with white stars and in a dream that night, came up with the idea of recreating the tarot archetypes using the medium of photography. She was 23 years old and worked on the project for the following 5 years, photographing in landscape settings of Penland, using fellow artists, friends, colleagues and family as models. A weaving teacher with long flowing hair doubled up as the Moon, a ceramicist posed naked for the Star, and she photographed herself in the taffeta dress as the Queen of Pentacles. This was years before digital photography and photoshop had even been imagined and all the images were composed manually, with some cards made up of 5 negatives superimposed to give certain magical effects of things flying or suspended on clouds. In some cases negatives were retouched or the photographic prints were painted. She created the first ever entirely photographic tarot deck which captures for us something of the flourishing artistic community of the time around a traditional art school in North Carolina.

Art photography at the time was almost entirely black and white, small scale, with a lot of emphasis on 35mm “street photography.” She studied with the photographers Robert Fichter and Jerry Uelsmann at the University of Florida, as an undergraduate, both of whom were very experimental in their approach, and her and her contemporaries were beginning to take an interest in Warhol’s iconic images of celebrities and Pop Art. However, at the time, Bea was more interested in the narrative photography of Lucas Samaras. Her teacher, Uelsmann taught the darkroom techniques of using multiple negatives, or blends, which she used to produce these images. From Fichter, she realized that she could paint on photographs and negatives to get certain effects, images which may seem rudimentary to us now, but which at the time were new and experimental. The Mountain Dream Tarot was an opportunity to experiment with these different mediums. As she told us; “if you needed an eagle in an image, you had to find an eagle to photograph…the same was true with flames, water, boats, swords, and all of the other props. I worked in standard black and white darkrooms and shot the images with my medium format Yashica D camera, processed the film, and printed either in Penland’s darkroom or my own. The photographic prints were then hand coloured and/or painted onto. The cards in the original deck were machine-stitched between 2 sheets of frosted mylar.”

The Mountain Dream Tarot was first printed in 1975, in Rochester, New York State. Only 800 copies were made, with Bea helping to assemble them all, gluing labels and boxing them up. Many decks were given away to friends and models and by the end of the 1970s, few were left. Some years later, it was included in Stuart Kaplan’s Encyclopaedia of Tarot, deemed historically significant for being the first ever photographic treatment of all cards in a genre which had been in existence for over 500 years. It became highly collectible and in 2001 was republished. The passing of time has not dated these images, which appear to us more and more haunting, more magical with each passing year. We are transported back to an idyllic artistic community, with art school friends acting out tarot archetypes, the Vietnam War happening elsewhere, the American art scene in upheaval and a way of working with photography which appears to have vanished forever.

Art & Culture interview is now online

February 9th, 2010

An interview with me appears at this online journal of the arts:

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