Ann Saunderson: Work, Words, Wisdom

North Country’s Planning Committee is graced by many wonderful working artists. Among them is Ann Saunderson, who has been attending our workshops since 2005 and has served on both the Planning Committee and the Board of Directors.

Ann’s work is often inspired by the natural world, and by man-made adaptations to the natural world. Many of her pieces are filled with beautiful lighting effects, with rich color, and with evocations of her emotional response to the beauty around her. More recently, she has been working on a series called “Disasters” — a dark and disturbing series of images, which she calls “metaphors for the current chaos.”

Last month Ann was featured in an article in the Boston Voyager. (Click the title to read the entire piece.) She talked about her early life, her career as an art teacher, and her approach to getting work done. And near the end of the piece, when asked by the interviewer, she provided words of advice and experience that we would all do well to heed, whether in art or in life.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Courage. I wish I had courage. Even now, it’s so hard for me to get out of my studio and ‘put myself forth’. It’s just not who I am.

If you are just starting out, I think getting gallery representation can be difficult, at least here in New Hampshire. Applying to juried exhibits — especially those with themes that intrigue you — can help to get your work out there and give you a chance to meet with gallery directors. Having a group of artists who will critique your work, keep you posted about shows and exhibit possibilities, tell you to stop whining… and give you a kick in the pants… is a big help. Going to openings, introducing yourself to people in the know, putting work up on social media… it’s exhausting but it helps. Search out a good workshop, something out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet interesting people who’ll give you a different vantage point. Work hard! Make work! Lots of it! Cull what’s bad! Keep going!

“Landscape — Beware the Ides of March” — Ann Saunderson

“Landscape — Beware the Ides of March” — Ann Saunderson

“City on Fire — Cataclysm” — Ann Saunderson

“City on Fire — Cataclysm” — Ann Saunderson

Update from Adrienne Sloane

As guest blogger last December, I wrote about my project The Unraveling:

"Sometimes what is happening on the larger political context spills just a bit too much into my consciousness and gets released in my art.  A new work of mine in this vein, The Unraveling, is a knit American flag that I am in the process of unraveling over time, reflecting my views on the current administration." As the flag unravels, it reveals the U.S. Constitution.

Now over 16 months into this administration, the Constitution behind the knit cotton flag is gradually becoming more visible. This work is on display at the New Bedford Art Museum now through September 20. It will then travel to a special four-person show titled Crossing Boundaries: Material as Message at Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack, from October 7 - November 25, 2018. 

Click here to view a video of an unraveling event at the Fuller Craft Museum on January 21. 

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Adrienne Sloane is a fiber artist who lives and works in Massachusetts, but teaches and exhibits around the world. She first attended North Country Studio Workshops as an instructor, and has returned as a participant and as a volunteer on the Planning Committee. 

Memories from Handbuilding and Jewelry

Clay/Handbuilding with Syd Carpenter

Here's an example of Syd Carpenter's work, illustrating how she creates sculptural pieces representing landscapes and/or interiors.

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And here are some of the things that class participants said about the workshop:

"I was challenged to adopt another way of developing work."
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"This was a new way of working for me, and hearing Syd talk about how she takes available information and translates it into her work process was exciting."
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What inspired or delighted you?

"The freedom to work intuitively and spontaneously...pushing my comfort zone in clay sculpture...working from the concept of a personal map and abstracting those concepts into 3D sculpture..."
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Rings 360 with Tim Lazure

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"Tim simplified so many processes."
"I was delighted to learn a bit about metal chasing and was thrilled that Tim was able to give me some guidance about how to continue with that work at home."
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"The interaction with the faculty and other (very creative) students was inspirational, as always."
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"From rivets, to soldering, to tool making, he made it all seem accessible."

More Photos and Responses

Here are more memories from Bennington, January 2018. 


Mixed Media with Susan Webster

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"Susan intuited a direction that I need to take in my art and came up with an exercise that made me see the light!"
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"I enjoyed my fellow participants and the level of their expertise. I have found one of the best features of NCSW is the participants as much as the teachers."
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"I explored a size I never worked in, and new techniques with tools I have used before."

Drawing with Evan Crankshaw

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"Mind expanding, nurturing, yet progressive instruction. Good momentum each day."

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"Evan's exercises taught me to slow down as I draw sometimes, and to be strong and fierce at other times."

"I was delighted and surprised at the endless amount of support and insight and new ideas and solutions..."
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"A wonderful, warm group of attendees who were really thoughtful about where Evan was trying to take us."

More to come...

Looking Back at January 2018: Sculpture with Sylvie Rosenthal

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Power tools and hand tools, including the famous Holy Gallahad, were all put to use in shaping and carving three-dimensional wood forms. 

What the participants said they learned:

"Joinery, use of tools, practice, patience, sharpening techniques."

"Wood grain matters!"

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"Be creative, use positive and negative space, light and shadow, texture, shape...Be playful. Plan but be flexible. Don't be afraid of mistakes..."

"Sylvie gave inspiring assignments in terms of conceptual depth, and she encouraged exploration in student work."

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"I explored my own capacity to slow down, look, see, think. And I was constantly inspired by Sylvie and my classmates."

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Political Stitchery -- Guest Blogger Adrienne Sloane

Sometimes what is happening on the larger political context spills just a bit too much into my consciousness and gets released in my art.  A new work of mine in this vein, The Unraveling, is a knit American flag that I am in the process of unraveling over time, reflecting my views on the current administration.  Revealing the Constitution as it comes undone, The Unraveling is now on view at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA through May 20.  For more on the exhibit, click here

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Here's a detail of the piece, showing the U.S. Constitution as the flag unravels.

The Fuller Craft Museum has also been collecting examples from the pussy hat movement that contributed so much to the visuals of last year’s Women's March. Marking the one-year anniversary, Revolution in the Making: The Pussyhat Project opens on January 21, in conjunction with another fiber show, Threads of Resistance. As a part of the opening, the Museum plans to hold a Craftivism Roundtable Panel discussion on the role of needlework in affecting social change. Details here.  

In another very interesting project along similar political lines, I brought an old American flag with me on a teaching trip to Australia last March, when the American inauguration was still very much on everyone’s mind.  Inviting people to write their uncensored thoughts directly on the flag, offered me incredibly interesting opportunities to engage with how Australians felt about our election. I am now looking to expand my fiber vocabulary by embellishing the flag with free motion embroidery, which is why I signed up for Follow the Thread with Paula Kovarik in January.  I am so looking forward to the workshop.

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Adrienne Sloane is a fiber artist who lives and works in Massachusetts, but teaches and exhibits around the world. She first attended North Country Studio Workshops as an instructor, and has returned as a participant and as a volunteer on the Planning Committee.