Marci Rae McDade’s Residency
Before I took the position of editor at Fiberarts, I spent the fall
of 2007 at the Oregon College of
Art and Craft (OCAC), making new work as the Emerging Fiber Artist-in-Residence.
Those four months afforded me a much-needed opportunity to slow down and step
outside of the 9–5 job world. I had time to thoughtfully consider what I
wanted to make next and to learn a new set of skills from the OCAC faculty, staff,
and students, such as screenprinting, dye techniques, and weaving.
My most challenging residency project was a complex three-dimensional sound
environment (something I had never attempted before) constructed entirely of fabric.
The installation, called Dangerous Play, is a 2/3 life-scale fabric version
of a tool shed on the OCAC campus. Hung from the ceiling like a puppetry set,
viewers were invited to crawl inside the soft, darkened structure to listen to
a short sound bite selection of students making things in the different OCAC craft
The tool shed on campus at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, Portland, Oregon,
that inspired my 2/3 life-scale soft sound installation project, Dangerous
Play, during my OCAC residency in the fall of 2007.
The completed Dangerous Play sound installation project on display at
12 x 16 Gallery, Portland,
Oregon, in March 2008.
Dangerous Play, 2008; exterior walls are cotton velvet, hemp/cotton, and synthetic
upholstery fabrics;, hand-dyed and distressed, pieced and machine-sewn; the “roof”
is two 60" x 80" pieces of hand-dyed cotton gauze screenprinted with
a repeat pattern of shingles made from my digital photos, with cut felt accented
with angora yarn for the “moss”; 60" x 72" x 60".
Detail of exterior wall, roof, and moss.
The 6-minute soundtrack for Dangerous Play is comprised of 30-second
samples of students making things all over the OCAC campus, such as spinning yarn
in the fiber studios, hammering silver in the metal shop, and sawing boards in
the woodshop, to name just a few.
Visitors, like my son, Elijah [shown here], were invited to crawl inside
the darkened supple structure to hear the sound component in comfort.
Detail of a cloth sign screenprinted with natural dyes.
Interior view of Dangerous Play. The “floor” is a three-inch-thick
foam mat covered with ultra-soft, plush polyester fabric, and the “walls”
are lined with satin.
Detail from inside the installation of shadows cast by the felt moss.
The entire structure, which is comprised of four separate pieces supported
by lightweight plastic tubing, hung from the ceiling like a puppetry set.
Linger, 2007; cotton and synthetic yarn; basic brocade, loom weaving; 32"
x 16". The silhouette image in my very first weaving is from a photo of my
shadow on the sidewalk at night waiting at the OCAC bus stop. The photo was taken
with my cell phone.
Annie, 2008; figure hand-embroidered thread on cotton canvas; other elements
cotton velvet and flannel; pieced and machine-sewn; 40" x 36". This
is a portrait of Annie Heisey [annieheisey.com], the Fall 2007 OCAC painting artist
in residence. The 12" x 16" exhibition was a two-person show of our
Handsewn portrait detail of Annie, 2008.
Pieced and machine-sewn detail of velvet “shingles” from Annie,