Why Burlap?

Artists use paint, wood, metal, and any medium to express their innermost thoughts, visualizations, and deepest feelings. Käthe Kollwitz carved images into wood and metal plates depicting the horror of hunger and war for the working class. Marina Abramovic creates performances to elicit many different emotional interactions between the artist and the public. Vincent Van Gogh pushed paint around with SO MUCH emotion, tension, and tenacity that his artwork is clearly felt with every brushstroke.

As I grabbed a shovel and plunged it into my garden this spring, it became more clear to me why I enjoy using burlap. Working the garden’s surface by puncturing into the uppermost layer, turning it over, and revealing the black gold that lays underneath gives me so much pleasure. Creating a new canvas with burlap fills me with this same satisfaction, love, and pleasure.

A crisp bleach-white canvas makes me feel like I’m on foreign ground. That is not my world. I’m at home with imperfections: loops, snags, holes, and beans spilling out. I feel a golden richness with burlap that I do not feel with a gessoed canvas. The textures and character of burlap remind me of who I am – an ambitious workhorse with a history of adventurous travels. It is one of my vehicles of expression.

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