Shades of My Mother in the Basement

I have written about Aylin Green before, and am a fan of her work, so I feel bad about getting around to this blog post on the last day of her exhibit Lovers and Other Strangers at the Fleetwing Gallery in Lambertville. The good news is, she’ll be teaching a four-session mixed media art class at the Fleetwing Gallery in February and March.

I took an altered book workshop with her at Grounds For Sculpture about a year ago, and she brings wonderful materials to work with, including women’s clothing patterns from the 1970s.

These patterns, and the way she uses them in her mixed media works, resonate with me because it brings me back to my childhood in Brooklyn. My mother, who studied at FIT, was a clothing and handbag designer, dressmaker and interior decorator, as well as an artist. She would spend long days down in our basement, surrounded by sewing machines, a dressmaker’s form, and cabinets and closets full of fabric and spools of thread, crafting her work. The complete opposite of me, my mother is extraordinarily neat, and cuts and stitches and draws everything perfectly. Even in her cooking, everything is neat and careful and accurate.

My mother excelled in art as a student, and was sent to a special high school for art where she received rudimentary training. She always drew and painted and worked in pastel with extreme accuracy, often copying the works of Renoir and Degas, Monet and Manet, her favorites. She has little interest in contemporary art.

Although my parents sold the Brooklyn house decades ago, our basement there was a wonderland. In addition to my mother’s workshop — it included the laundry room as well, because that, too, was part of her work — there was a large playroom with knotty pine paneling, linoleum flooring and a copper false fireplace where we celebrated Jewish Christmas. There was a bar, as was de rigeur in any 1950s-style basement, and my brother and I would turn the barstools on their side and ride them as cars.

My father built all of this, and the third room was his workshop. He, too, was extraordinarily neat and organized, and all the tools hung from a space on the pegboard that had been outlined in magic marker. He had a bench and a vice, and I remembering borrowing his vice to file the peach pits I would turn into rings. Remember peach pit rings?

At the very end of his workshop was the projection room, where, from a 16mm Bell and Howell projector, he screened the likes of Disney’s Our Mr. Sun.

So this is what Aylin Green‘s art does for me; see it, take her workshop, and let me know what it evokes for you!

Here’s what Aylin writes:
“I think it is interesting that the sewing patterns can evoke such particular memories. That is one of the amazing properties of working with “found” materials.

“What is also interesting is how they evoke a sense of time past. For me, this particular body of work is an exploration of personality and relationships and the way they are affected (or not) by time. Looking at the imagery, the clothing and accessories give the sense that the people came from a certain time period – 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, but the feelings and interactions among people do not change much. The patterns become the environment that they are both a part of, and need to navigate.

“The classes are set for Feb 19, March 5, and March 19 from 10 am – 1pm and are only $120 for all 3 plus materials. Registrations can be made by emailing me. There are only 4 spots left.”

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