Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the Streets

Last year I stitched a piece I called On the Streets in response to a challenge for my Fiber Art NE group.  You can read about all the pieces in the challenge here.

While I was happy with the outcome of the piece, I felt it needed something to make it grittier.  For the life of me, I couldn't articulate what that was .... until recently.  As I surfed the Web, I came across images of signs held by the homeless.  The images were part of a collection held by Willie Baronet, a Texas artist who decided to ask the homeless if he could buy their signs.  In turn, he has used them in his art and to raise awareness of the issue.  One way he's done so is by asking volunteers to gather in groups along busy roadways, each holding one of the signs; it's quite an arresting sight and a compelling piece of performance art.  You can read more about his work at .  

In my opinion, these signs were exactly what I was looking for and Willie graciously granted permission for me to use images of the signs.  Here's my revised / updated On the Streets.  What do you think?

-- If you want to know my opinion, here it is:  I'm drawn to the harsher reality that appears in this piece.  However, I do think I'll make another thread sketch as before, but with more charcoal next time.  


Natalya Aikens said...


Michigoose said...

Love it...But I'd like to see the outline a tad heavier...with the signage, it gets a little lost...Maybe bobbin stitching with pearle cotton the next time around?


norma said...

I agree with Lisa. I think that the signs could be paler and the outline heavier, but it is a powerful piece.

Kristin L said...

I think you are well on your way. I like elements of both pieces, but teh second one seems a little "neither/nor." The signs make it grittier and tell the story more immediately, but they are still pretty organized on the canvas, and the white showing through comes across as almost clean. So, it's neither fully gritty, nor "pretty." The first on, on the other hand, is very stark, which I think tells a compelling story, but it seems a bit timid with the stitching all the same weight and the pale charcoal, so it's neither strong, nor weak. I think you could probably take ideas that you've learned from each and create something that IS both powerful and gritty.

my croft said...

also, too many signs of the same weight/value. maybe think about having fewer signs, or having some or all of them be background -- the story here really is the human plight --yes? -- so my feeling is that the figure should dominate.

In the first version, it was not immediately evident that the sketched figure represented someone who is homeless. If the signs are less dominant, the viewer has to engage with the piece, discover it bit by bit, and then assemble the bits to figure it out.

In the second version, the figure is so obscured that the piece seems to be about the signs -- which is another choice. But if you choose that, then the figure is a distraction.

So I guess I'm saying that I agree with Kristin, that the next version will move you closer to a powerful tension among the elements.

This is something that I've noticed in your work -- that the elements all seem to be of equal weight, so it can be difficult for me, as a viewer, to assess the central point of some of your pieces.