Artists-in-residence explore power of communication with their fabrics, images in Breckenridge
Emma Oliver, Tara Homasi offer workshops with Breckenridge Creative Arts
Two artists have begun their residency with Breckenridge Creative Arts this month, and both are excited to connect with the community and draw on it for inspiration.
Emma Oliver is a sculptor and textile artist from Marblehead, Massachusetts, while Tara Homasi is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist based in New York. Regardless of medium, each center on communication as a theme, and they’ll be featured at the at BreckCreate’s annual instructor exhibit in December to show off their work.
This Oliver’s second residency. Her first was July 2018 at the Icelandic Textile Center in Blönduós, Iceland. As someone who knits and crochets cozy wearables, it was a good fit with the warming and comfortable hygge culture — despite the long hours of sunshine.
What: Instructor and staff exhibition
When: Dec. 9 to Jan. 8
Where: Old Masonic Hall, 136 S. Main St., Breckenridge
Cost: Free. Visit BreckCreate.org for more details.
“It’s totally a different place than anywhere else I’ve ever been, it’s like being on Mars,” Oliver said. “Everything is beautiful. You’re in a volcano, you’re also in a glacier. It’s just the most complicated and wonderful place I’ve ever been.”
Communication, boundaries and vulnerabilities are a common thread in Oliver’s work. In Breckenridge, she’s made a two-person sweater that has the wearers stuck together. She’s also working on an illusion knit. When looked at straight on, Oliver said nothing but stripes are visible, but text or imagery then get revealed at different angles.
Oliver got into fiber art as a coping mechanism. She was into pottery since she was young and attended the prestigious Alfred University in upstate New York for ceramics. The tactility and expressiveness of clay is what attracted her to it.
“I like the uncertainty of what it is going to do, either in a kiln or when you glaze it,” Oliver said. “Things change all the time. There’s something nice about the unpredictability of that. And playing in mud is fun.”
Yet, knitting hats and making mittens as a school stress reliever, she switched into the more sculptural work because she had more freedom of materials. She now usually has three to four pieces — sweaters and sculpture — she’s working on simultaneously. She said crocheting is hard on her hands, so she’ll alternate to knitting give her physical relief.
Interested by bumper stickers and wordy T-shirts, Oliver explores how to get messages across nonverbally. The lines Oliver uses are frequently overheard during moments of people watching, but with the pandemic she transitioned into uses quotes from movies, lyrics, shows and books.
Teaching is also one of Oliver’s passions. She got her master’s degree from Illinois State University, where she was a teaching assistant throughout the program. She also taught 3D fundamentals at Shanghai Normal University in Shanghai, China last winter.
Oliver will get to use those teaching skills during weekly workshops from 2-5 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17 at the Robert Whyte House, 127 S. Ridge St. She’ll teach the basics of crochet with the goal of making granny squares. The squares can be used to make other objects, and Oliver said people could attend multiple workshops to build upon the skills learned.
On Dec. 3, in conjunction with BreckCreate’s Handmade Holiday event, Oliver will have a unique workshop that instructs beginners on how to crochet a Christmas wreath ornament.
Oliver has open studios most Thursdays and Fridays now through Dec. 16 from 2-5 p.m. at the Robert Whyte House. She will also participate in the campus’ Second Saturdays at 10 a.m. on Dec. 10.
Meanwhile, Homasi’s art is less tactile and more digital. She is interested in the intersection of media, misinformation, censorship, control and the internet, Homasi received a master’s degree at Queen’s College in New York in social practice art, which Homasi describes as a combination of art and activism. Instead of making objects for galleries, her main material is social and political issues in communities.
For example, she has a series of pieces that focus on newspaper clippings that she has doctored to change the meaning and turn into a form of poetry. It was inspired by the idea of history being written by those in power, as well as her personal experience with the fallibility of one’s own memory.
It is inspired by censored news in Iran, too.
“They censor everything, and it is really hard to access truth, basically,” Homasi said.
Homasi also has a series that uses Google Maps’ Streetview as a medium. She takes screenshots of the images of streets and sidewalks, manipulates them to add random pedestrians or objects and puts them back into the platform for people to stumble upon.
Homasi said she has uploaded almost 2,000 images to the service and claims they have been viewed 8 million times.
“I’m using Google Maps as an alternative exhibition space with an audience that I don’t know, and they don’t know me either,” Homasi said.
Though she wants to do some work with Google Maps in Breckenridge, her main focus of the residency will be a painting that she started at her most recent residency in Oregon. She said the painting’s topic is on the recent protests in Iran.
Homasi’s workshops will be different and involve transforming pieces by hand. Participants are given newspapers, magazines and books that they can alter themselves. Homasi said, for example, they could choose one page or image and paint over it or scratch off the ink to create something new.
Homasi has the same schedule of Second Saturdays, open studios and weekly workshops as Oliver, yet they will be located at the Tin Shop, 117 E. Washington Ave. Visit BreckCreate.org to register for workshops by either artist and for more information.
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