Artist Profile: Cindy Hoppe, the Prairie Fibre Artist

Submitted by: Kimberly Murgu, SCC Festival and Curatorial Assistant

Cindy Hoppe Wearables
Cindy Hoppe has worked in a variety of media over the last 40 years, and for more than 25 of those years, she has placed her focus on fibre art. Cindy works with recycled materials and incorporates machine embroidery with hand knitting to make beautiful wall hangings and garments. Using sewing machines and embroidery thread as her drawing tools, she gets to enjoy creating both public and liturgical pieces of art. One of her biggest enjoyments with this medium is the challenge she faces when reflecting the colours of our beautiful Saskatchewan landscapes, using only cloth and thread.

River Runs Through It, back
Cindy has completed 3 out of 4 years of a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Saskatchewan. She decided to discontinue with her degree upon finding that university classes seemed to be more about talking about art, than actually creating art. Since then, her artistic career has taken flight. She has participated in shows all around Saskatchewan and Alberta; including having her work shown a total of 9 times in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s juried show “Dimensions” since 1986. Also, her wall hangings are available exclusively at the SCC Fine Craft Boutique at Affinity Gallery.

For most of her career, Cindy has worked alongside her mother Myrna Harris. Myrna was also a felting artist, although she also worked in painting, pottery, photography, felting, weaving and spinning. Cindy worked in pottery with her mother for over 10 years, and has accompanied her in every new medium that she started. From painting, pottery and photography, to weaving, spinning, dying and felting, Cindy was always learning beside her. Myrna passed away in August of 2009. Cindy’s comment on her relationship with her mother is: 
“We were each other’s touchstone for support in a vast prairie, where few understand the looping path it is to be an artist.” Cindy hopes to build the same level of connection with her own daughter and step-daughter.

Cindy is currently working in felting. She creates wearables, vestments, and wall hangings. Her wearables are mostly made from recycled materials. She uses leftovers from past projects as a seed for something new, and sometimes photographs will spark a patchwork project that turns into a jacket. Cindy enjoys taking interesting remnants of past work, and giving them a new life.

Cindy is inspired by daily walks and photography by prairie artists. She creates wall hangings for the home and church, and usually creates pieces in a series, finding growth and improvement over several pieces. Combining the techniques used for her wearables and wall hangings, she also creates vestments. These vests are sometimes inspired by scripture, but always inspired by nature.   
Cindy Hoppe Wearables
Desert Blooms
Cindy also creates on commission. She makes custom wall hangings, church hangings, jackets and stoles. Her wall hangings are densely embroidered and quilted to give a detailed close up view on ones wall in their home. In contrast, her church hangings are on a much larger scale, so they are not as intensely worked on. She uses photos of the church to ensure she captures the right colours and feelings for the piece. Some of her jackets have included detailed dragons, parrots, trees, and even pianos. Her stoles are made to be reversible, and two common themes are lent/advent, and Christmas/Easter. She enjoys using context from meaningful scriptures to give personal meaning to each owner.
Cindy Hoppe Wearables

What is Mixed Media?

Submitted by: Maia Stark, SCC Gallery Assistant

In a gallery exhibition you may occasionally see the media on the label listed as “mixed media.” This may seem obvious to you, as you inspect at the piece; look, there’s string, paper, paint… and you may ask yourself, why not just list the various materials? What is “Mixed Media,” and why is it a category unto itself?

“Mixed media” includes any artwork (2-dimensional or 3-dimensional) in which more than one medium has been employed. This could mean that one uses not only paint, but can include found materials like mud, grass, magazine cutouts, stencils, pennies, charcoal, etcetera. The Saskatchewan Craft Council defines mixed media as “includ[ing] any object which integrates two or more mediums in the structure and design of the object” (SCC). This can include collage, assemblage art, altered objects, altered books, cards and journals (mixedmediaart).
Anselm Keifer’s famous work Your Golden Hair, Margarete (1981), employs oil paint, emulsion and straw on canvas (Ibiblio).
Mixed media, though appearing to include a wide range of works, is in fact rather specific when we consider similar categories of artwork. Media, when referring to mixed media specifically refers to media of materials, not media of popular culture. Consider the distinction between mixed media and “multimedia.” Multimedia art implies a broader scope, “combining visual art with non-visual elements (such as recorded sound, for example) or with elements of the other arts (such as literature, drama, dance, motion graphics, music, or interactivity)” (Wikipedia). Mixed media art will specifically use various materials, either traditional or found objects, which support the intended idea for the piece and can potentially attain a wide range of self-expression.

Mixed Media is not a strictly contemporary category of art. The term has been present in discussions about art for over a century, since about 1910, popularly associated with mixed media paintings by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Collage in particular, a sub-category of mixed media, increased in popularity among the Dadaists and Surrealists in the 1920’s and 30’s. This work signaled a rebelling against traditional norms, incorporating popular media to create political artwork which aimed to criticize and focus attention on particular issues. For example, Hannah Hoch (1889-1978) was a pioneer of collage and photomontage work, many of her pieces sardonically critiquing the mass culture of the beauty industry, institutional sexism, and racial discrimination by subverting images of fashion and advertising (Wikipedia).  
Cut With the Kitchen Knife by Hannah Hoch, 1919 (source).
Creating work with mixed media rejected certain traditional models, which were built on systems which only allowed certain privileged individuals to make art. For example, when art is defined as work which is made with high quality materials, those who cannot afford such materials, or do not have a spacious studio, or do not have an specific type of art education, are excluded from the title of Art-Maker. Mixed Media not only questioned what art is and can be, but opened up the title of “artist” to a wider range of makers, further blurring the line between “high” art and “low” art, between “fine art” and “craft.” Mixed media artwork allows for a tactile sense of the artwork, which can help the audience relate to physical objects and items in a personal way. A Saskatchewan license plate with paint and strips of leather can trigger a memory, a knowledge of the prairies in such a way that a painting or photograph of the same aesthetic shape cannot. 

Paula Cooley’s current exhibition explores the use of mixed media with her ceramic work, incorporating non-ceramic elements in a playful and colourful manner. “Mix” runs September 5th to October 18th, at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Affinity Gallery at 813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK.

"Mix" Works!

Submitted by: Stephanie Canning, SCC Exhibitions and Education Coordinator, on behalf of Mel Bolen

After a year of innovation and hard work Paula has succeeded in blending an exhibition of clay and other materials into a coherent statement. 
De La Mer 2

This is a daunting task to undertake and at times it feels like you're completely alone in the studio with the unfinished, evolving concepts and pieces. Paula's determination and good eye for design enabled her to challenge herself to incorporate steel, found objects, and glass into very strong pieces.

I often think of a breakout exhibition like this as a gift, a birth, a celebration. We are treated to someone's inner-self, their bravery and vulnerabilities. Paula gives us this gift. Clay drawings I call them, open vessels with their extremities flying off in a brush stroke shielding hidden treasures. Amorphous clay shapes struggling to free themselves from steel and wire. 

Seed pods blossoming from a tangle of metal stems under the watchful sentinels of flat steel and colored glass coddled in raw and ochre clays. The entire west end of the gallery is filled by a huge assemblage of steel and translucent clay cylinders that mimics our Prairie cloud formations, snow flakes, and northern lights as the sun sets and light changes behind the piece.  What a kinetic surprise!  

Lucent (detail)
To complete this inter fusion we have constructs that make statements about the fragility of our environment, and the restorative power of nature.  This is the Mix that I feel Paula has cultured, nourished and successfully presented to us.

Mel Bolen, Curator

Mix can be viewed at the Affinity Gallery, 813 Broadway Avenue, from September 5-October 18.

Reception: Friday, September 12, 7 - 9 pm.

Book Review: How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery by Edward Winkleman

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant

If only every potential career had such a well-laid out, thoughtful, and truthful guide book as Edward Winkleman’s “How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery.” If you have the passion and the drive to open a retail gallery, this is a helpful guide. Winkleman writes as though he's speaking directly to you, and he lays some things out so simply that I feel like I could go start a gallery right now!

A point Winkleman repeats several times throughout the book is this, “there are much easier ways to earn a living than by selling art. It is assumed, therefore… that enthusiasm and an understanding of the importance art holds for mankind play a major role in influencing anyone to open an art gallery” (26). Basically, do not open an art gallery with the sole goal of becoming wealthy. There are much better and easier ways to do so. However, as an art dealer himself, his argument is not that no one should ever open a gallery. I think he hopes to simply warn any possible new gallery owners to really consider their motives before beginning the task of opening their own business. Passion is key to loving your new career as an art dealer, he says.

This book functions as a business how-to for the art inclined. As Winkleman points out, “having a PhD in art history does not guarantee that you’ll be any good at managing a small business, just as having an MBA does not guarantee that you’ll develop an eye for the kind of art that collectors will want to purchase” (1). Both business skills and artistic understanding need to be held to be able to successfully run a commercial art gallery. This means you must both be an expert in the type of art you are going to sell, and be savvy enough to run a business with little outside help.

Winkleman discusses the basics of deciding on your gallery’s mandate, ensuring that you have the legal and economic matters covered involved in starting a business, how and where to find artists to represent, how to find and keep art collectors coming back, how to take part in art fairs, as well as many other topics in this 250 page book. As someone working for a not-for-profit art organization, many of the things he writes about are not applicable to my job. However, I do feel I now better understand the everyday work of the owners of commercial galleries, such as the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon or Slate Fine Art Gallery in Regina.

Interested in reading this book? We found it from the Saskatoon Public Library. Find it at a library near you here. You can also purchase it here

Winkleman, Edward. How to Start and Run a Commerical Art Gallery. New York: Allworth, 2009. Print.