Thursday, February 12, 2015

remembering our future death

saffran  "palpable nothingness"  13" x 13"  photograph  2015  price upon request

saffran  "a moment of momentous decision"  13" x 13"  photograph  2015  price upon request   
These two photographs, along with other new works, will be part of my solo show installation entitled "remembering our future death", second floor gallery at Studio Place Arts (SPA)   in Barre, Vermont: March 3 - April 4.

The opening reception will be Saturday, March 7:  5 - 7:00 pm a change from the original date.  There will be two other openings that night as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reimaging Femmage

Girls Don't Need Book Learning  will be part of  Reimaging Femmage at the Foundry Art Center in St. Charles Missouri February 20 - April 3, 2015.

Juror Lisa Melandri, the executive director of Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, selected works by women from all over the country whose art puts a contemporary face to the tradition of femmage.  

Femmage is a term invented by artists Miriam Shapiro and Melissa Meyer in the late 1970's to describe art made by women with methods historically assigned to women, such as sewing, cooking and applique.  Leader of the feminist art movement Shapiro, along with Judy Chicago co-founded the Feminist Art Program at California Institute of Arts.  

Shapiro was active in the fight to have work by women artists exhibited in museums that typically only showed art by men.  Associated with the women's rights movement for political, social and artistic parity with men, femmage became a call to action.  

I only wish that I could say that the efforts of our fore-mothers affected a substantial gain for women but, according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, even though 51% of visual artists are women, only slightly more than 1/4 (28%) of them have been spotlighted with solo shows in museums.  A recent statistic. 

I am honored to be part of a show that keeps the conversation going and reminds us that all is not created equal.

michelle saffran  A Girl Don't Need Book Learning  photo-collage apron, approx 34" x 44" paper and mixed media  2012  $1,000
detail of recipe card placed in the apron pocket - found text and photograph

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Art of Place - Chandler Center for the Arts

Opening January 17, 2015, the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph VT will host the Art of Place.  The show called for artist's depiction of location that was not necessarily based in a literal interpretation, but more the idea of place as a starting point for inspiration and source material.  Details about the show are at the bottom of this post.  I regret to say that I will be out of town for the opening but I do hope you will go and send me pictures!

Two of my pieces were selected for the show:

Michelle Saffran "Peter 1972 #2"  sewn photo-collage  37" x 39"  2015

Michelle Saffran  "20960 Mada Street"  sewn photo-collage  19" x 37"  2012
The show was a perfect fit for my interest in memory and its re-creation of the past.  For those of you who have been following my work you are already familiar with my thoughts on memory, experience and identity.  Below is the statement that I submitted with the work.

As we navigate the world our senses become entwined with the physicality of each environment we 

pass through. The co-mingling of kinesthetic experience with the reality of a place become stored in 

the mind and body as memory. Each experience of a place contains elements of the past, the present 

and the future, all within the same instant. I am interested in the photographic image as a means for 

collapsing and unifying discordant time and as a site for recollecting the experience of place, and 

how that becomes as an element of personal identity.

Central to the work is the necessity of altering the surface of the photographic print. Primarily this 

mark making has taken the form of thread on paper. The act of slicing, sewing and collaging 

photographs into a new image allows for the telling of a narrative that may recall an experience but 

represents it in a “not quite right” manner. An unsettling process that takes the familiar and throws it 

to chance; an uncanny disturbance between what is real and what is imagined. The denigration of 

the image takes a photograph of something known, an image that is traceable to a physical location, 

and rebuilds it into an unfamiliar scene that offers an indexical relationship to the real.

The source photographs for “20969 Mada Street” and “Peter 1972 #2” are snapshots that I took 

when I was a child, the former being of my grandmother's house and the later being a portrait of 

my brother.

Art of Place

January 17  6 - 9  opening reception with food, music and cash bar

January 18  11am moderated artist panel discussion 

March 8 show closes

Chandler Center for the Arts

71 - 73 Main Street, Randolph, VT  05060

Office phone:  728-9878

Gallery Hours

Fridays 3 - 5

Saturdays and Sundays  12 - 2

Saturday, November 29, 2014


michelle saffran             Nest            photo-collage    29" x 30"   2014   $800

Nest detail 1

Nest  detail 2

Nest detail 3

Sunday, November 9, 2014

the art of dying opening

Installation photos from the Chaffee Art Center taken at the end of the evening.

Interstitial Space #7, #8 and #9


Razor's Edge


Even though its a rare day that goes by when I haven't found myself thinking on the meaning of the phase of life we call death, I wasn't prepared for the intensity of participating in an exhibition centered on that theme.  

The art was heartfelt and sincere; the audience was inquisitive and engaged.  Every floor of the large Chaffee Mansion Gallery was filled with art:  a spoken word recording station, writing, music, sculpture, photography, handmade books, fiber arts and painting, all explorations on the meaning of death in our lives.  It was humbling.  It was amazing.  

For once I didn't feel like the odd girl out - the weird one who spends her time thinking about death and the afterlife.

The show runs until December 5 and I strongly recommend you make the trip.  It is worth the drive.

By the way - on the very dark drive home, traveling through a blackness made even darker by the lack of moon and spitting rain, a coyote ran across the road in front of the car.  He sprinted, head down, right in our path - fortunately Bruce saw him and braked in time.  This is only the second coyote I have ever seen . . .  Gives me the shivers.

Monday, November 3, 2014

art of dying

Six of my pieces:  Razor's Edge, Flow, Resurrection, Interstitial Space #7 and #8 and #9 are part of the Art of Dying show at Rutland's Chaffee Art Center which opens this Friday, November 7 - 5:00 to 7pm.  Follow the link for directions/map and more information.

This is the statement I submitted to the Jury for the show:

Last fall my neighbor shot a coyote and strung it up in the entrance to his barn. Each day as I passed the farm the presence of this animal pulled at me in a sad and curious way. My uncomfortable feelings did not come from a moral judgement about hunting but from a deeper more mysterious place. I had been exploring the ideas of death in my work for several years, specifically what happens to a being's vital life force (whether it is called a soul or identity) once it dies. This coyote became a symbol of life and death for me. The resulting photographs offered a way for me to visually synthesize my thoughts and speculations on what happens after death.

The group of photographs I have submitted for consideration for the Art of Dying show chronicles my investigation into where the living go after death.

Because I can't know with certainty, or even uncertainty, what happens after death I have centered my work on the idea that death releases a soul into a liminal space – an interstitial world – where it deconstructs and becomes part of a universal flow of energy that surrounds everything.

The series begins with the coyote itself in two forms: the whole animal in ascension called Resurrection and a second piece, Flow, in which the animal disintegrates and enters a universal force field that surrounds all life.

The other images presented here, Interstitial Spaces #7, #8 and #9 aim at visually representing the emotional atomic energy I associate with an unknowable place that exists after death. The final piece submitted, Razor's Edge, describes the moment of death wherein the soul has yet to progress into the interstitial space and is still suspended in a mortal world.

All of this work is meant to be experienced on an emotional level and not meant as an academic or theological statement on the issue of death and the afterlife.

detail:  Saffran 2013  Flow

Saffran 2013 Razor's Edge 39" x 65"

Monday, September 29, 2014

personal histories book arts show

The year long tour of the Personal Histories book arts show has begun.  To see the artists and their work included in the show click here:  personal histories. My submission is a book I made in memory of my mom.

Possibility               Michelle Saffran 2014           accordion fold book  6" x 42" when extended