Traveling for their Art
A pair of bloomers with lace ruffles catches the eye of Monika Knutsson as she strolls by a busy stall at a Brocante in Paris. Liam Hughes waits in the rain for the tide to roll out in County Waterford, Ireland in hopes of discovering another shard from a 19th Century plate. Chris Beck stands at the airport check-in desk being forced to choose between getting home or leaving behind 100 pounds of metal treasures from an old depot in upstate New York.
Sometimes inspiration comes from unusual places, and some artists build their life around the hunt for new ideas and newly found treasures. Whether it's old buildings in their hometown or an exotic market on the other side of the world, there's something to be said about a person who can see opportunity in a swatch of discarded fabric or an oddly shaped piece of wood.
Meet six artists who integrate travel into their creative process. Each will be appearing at one or both of the One of a Kind Shows in New York City and Chicago. One of a Kind brings together the most exciting artists in the country for an unmatched, handmade shopping experience.
Chris Beck - Metal Sculpture
"Stop the bus," Chris remembers saying after spotting another metal "treasure" among the random roadside trash near Juarez, Mexico. Not even a church-sponsored mission trip could keep him from scanning the desert for remnants to be used in his metal sculptures. "Fortunately, most of the people I was with were used to 'me,' so they were pretty forgiving. But when you're tired and hungry and in a strange place, the last thing anyone wants is a careless scavenger combing the trash-laden desert for that one golden ticket."
Chris has carved a path from his home state of Georgia to as far north as Boston, as far south as Miami and all the way west to Santa Fe in search of forgotten metals... tin roofs going back to before the Great Depression, a linkage from a Model T Ford, wrenches dated 1899, a caster bracket from an English sideboard. "I find this stuff laying around, tucked in a bucket in a farmer's barn, or abandoned in a burned out farmhouse. It's everywhere, you just have to be willing enough to want to get it."
Somehow from these dusty and discarded sources, Chris manages to fashion hopeful metal birds and flowers and clothing. Preview his work at www.chrisbeckart.com.
Monika Knutsson - Gilded Lace
Monika is no stranger to the flea markets of Paris and Berlin. "The French in particular have an appreciation for lace and its history," She told me from her New York City studio. "When traveling, or even when exploring New York City, I always look out for how lace was once used, either in museums, flea markets, or antique stores."
Finding and researching old lace is only the beginning for creating Monika's wearable art. "I find pieces of lace, and I then dip it in 24K gold or sterling silver, thus preserving the lace and giving it once again a purpose."
Preview her work at www.gildedlace.com.
Liam Hughes - Shard Jewelry
"I know more about china patterns than my father ever thought I would," jokes Liam as he holds an old plate covered with a brown and white scene. "My favorite dishes go back to the 1800s. That's when women in England were coming off the farms and going into the factories during the industrial revolution."
He hands over the plate. "You see where the pattern doesn't quite match up? All antique transferware dishes have that, but this patch here," he says pointing to an obvious flaw, "that's not supposed to be there. The woman who worked on this plate tried to hide her mistake. She wouldn't have been paid for this one, but the company would have sold it as a second."
Liam turns plates like this into beautiful pins and pendants. And keeps his supply of unique material fresh by traveling. "I spend my summers in Ireland looking for broken dishes. Then in the winter, I head to California and Arizona for art shows and shard hunting. Once you start looking for something like broken dishes, you start finding it everywhere you go."
Preview his work at www.LiamShardJewelry.com.
Emily Miranda - Jewelry from Natural Objects
Travel is never far from the mind of Emily Miranda. She transformed an old camping trailer into a backyard studio. “My dream trip is to take it on the road -- to pull my studio behind me as I wander and collect objects for my artwork!”
Among Emily’s finds are shells, alligator claws, beetles, and even lucky rabbit’s feet. She combines these items with metals, gems, rhinestones and pearls among other things to create bold, one-of-a-kind jewelry.
She’s been stockpiling ingredients for nearly her entire life. “I've been collecting shells and bugs and rocks since I was a kid. My first encrusted shell cuffs were made entirely out of shells I collected in Florida and Cape Cod. I've since run out and have had to order other people's finds from around the world. I'm definitely due for a new shell hunt."
Emily will be presenting "Shells, Bugs and Aberrant Pearls: The Glamorous Wisdom of Folly" from her booth at the New York One of a Kind Show at 1pm on Saturday, November 20th and Sunday the 21st.
Preview her work at www.emilymirandastudio.com.
Arra David - Home Accessories from Sea Stones
Take something, leave something has become a mantra for Arra David. He strolls the Atlantic shore and East Coast riverbeds collecting naturally smoothed stones he will turn into knobs, hooks, bottle stoppers, drink chillers and even wine glass stems. And for every stone he takes, he "plants" another.
"The waves are constant, tumbling the stones back and forth over each other every few seconds, 24 hours a day," Arra said. "What looks like a static rocky beach changes quite dramatically in just a few weeks. The effects of a storm are even more spectacular, with thousands of tons of stones moved magically overnight."
Arra is also careful to ask permission before removing stones. "We are regularly greeted with great enthusiasm. Some beach owners even help collect stones for us in advance of a harvesting trip."
Preview his work at www.sea-stones.com.
Stephanie Jones Rubiano - Mixed Media
"I always make an effort to collect images, old documents and objects for my artwork when I am out and about," tells Stephanie. She travels coast-to-coast teaching at art retreats and collecting items for her enchanting assemblage art along the way.
"I found one of my favorite images of a little girl on my first trip to New York City. A friend took me to one of those antique/garage sales they have on the weekends in parking garages. I loved wandering from level to level in search of treasures. The picture was in a large box of photographs that was among the overflowing boxes a man had just unloaded from his beat-up van."
A single piece of Stephanie's art could include a photograph from the Pacific Northwest, a shiny crown from the Midwest, and butterfly wings from South America.
Preview her work at www.stephanierubiano.com.
About the One of a Kind Show and Sale
After 36 wildly successful years in Toronto, nine in ChicagoÑthe One of a Kind Show and Sale added New York City last year its holiday shopping extravaganza featuring fine artists, artisans and designers from across the globe.
This family of shows, produced by MMPI, is dedicated to bringing the very best fine art and fine craft to an art collecting and shopping public. The One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago debuted in 2001. The One of a Kind Canadian Craft Showª was founded over 36 years ago and today is one of the largest high quality consumer craft shows in North America, attracting more than 150,000 attendees over an 11-day period.