Category Archives: Everything Else

You are invited: Unexpected Art Exhibition

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Art often shows up in unexpected places. A brass doorknob, a painted feather, or a pacemaker can become an evening dress — if you know how to look at them. Artist Becka Rahn dug deep into the collections at The Museum of Russian Art, The Bakken Museum, and Hennepin History Museum to find items that have been hidden away, unnoticed, or overlooked. Drawing inspiration from these forgotten objects, Becka created new surface designs which were digitally printed onto fabric and paper, transforming unexpected items into new pieces of art.

About this project
Several years ago, I was approached by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum for a project that they were working on in an effort to bring some new life and relevance to their collection. They asked artists to respond to a piece in their collection, and these pieces and corresponding artistic responses (poems, essays, art) became an online exhibition with an objective of presenting a new way to look at old objects. Several years later, inspired by the same idea of an artistic response to a museum piece, I created two more designs, drawing from a woodwork detail and a feather fan from the collection at Hennepin History Museum. I loved the idea of looking for museum pieces that were overlooked, forgotten, ignored, or even maybe were just too odd to be on display in a typical exhibition and finding a way to put them in a spotlight.

My work for this exhibition continues the idea of an artistic response to an item from a museum collection. I worked with curators and staff at each of my museum partners — The Museum of Russian Art, The Bakken Museum, and Hennepin History Museum — to choose quirky pieces from their collections. In response to these pieces, I created original surface designs that were digitally printed on to a variety of fabrics. The designs were created from a variety of sources: photographs, hand cut paper, and original illustrations. I designed and sewed a garment from each original fabric design, choosing a silhouette or style to compliment the inspiration piece.

In 2016, I received an Artist Initiative Grant from the MN State Arts Board and that is what has made this project possible. An important component of that grant was doing hands-on art activities with members of the community. With the grant funding, I was able to purchase six laptop computers, giving me a mobile computer lab to use for workshops. Grant funding covered the materials costs so that we could make these workshops affordable for both the participants and the partner organizations that I was privileged to work with. I also had the support to create a body of work and put together a solo exhibition of that work. As an artist, I can’t put a value on that kind of opportunity. Many thanks to the MN State Arts Board and the voters of Minnesota, who make this Legacy funding possible. We live in an amazing community.

The opening reception is Thursday January 26 from 6-8 pm and if you are in the Minneapolis area, I hope you can make it. I will also be doing 3 mini-workshops in the gallery throughout the run of the show. More details about those will be posted soon, but you can come and make your own origami dress just like the ones that will be in the exhibition.

Digitally printed faux suede from a photo of an antique feather fan.

Digitally printed faux suede from a photo of an antique feather fan.

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Fabric design inspired by a Geissler tube from the Bakken Museum collection.

Heroes don’t always wear capes.

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A few weeks ago someone on Facebook posted a thing from Singing in the Rain. I forget the thing and even the context now, but my mom commented that it was her daughter’s favorite movie. And she is right. Hands down, 100%, no question, my favorite movie of all time. Halloween2015I wanted to be a costumer because I wanted to make costumes for movies like that. (Nevermind that I was a generation too late.)
In fact I commented back on that post that among my top five movies were Singing in the Rain and When Harry Met Sally

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.

Fierce. Confident. Unapologetic. Sharp. Witty. Imperfect. Creative. Royalty.

I feel like a deflated balloon today. On one hand it seems completely dumb to me to write a post about celebrities; people I have never met. But we all have heroes we’ve never met: historical figures, fictional characters, family legends. And I think we need to have people that we admire to help us figure out how to be the kind of people we want to be. These two were the kind of people I want to be.

The thing I admire most about both is how brave they were. Both stepped in to blockbusters at age 19 and lived in the spotlight for their entire lives. Through divorces, drugs and all kinds of things I am certain you would never want to share with a million strangers on the internet. But they both shrugged and said if you are going to point that spotlight at me, then I will talk about something important. Mental illness, ageism, sexism, equal pay, objectification of women, addiction. I never want that spotlight, but I hope that I would have the guts to use it to talk about something important too.

I had a funny conversation with a group of middle school girls in a class last year when The Force Awakens came out. The girls didn’t understand why they had to make Luke and Han and Leia soooo old in the new movie and when I told them that the original movies came out when I was a kid, they just couldn’t wrap their heads around that.leia I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater when I was 9, because my dad thought my sister and I would like the Ewoks. (He was right.) I am not a huge Star Wars fan, but I don’t know a single girl my age that didn’t want to be Leia. We all wanted her hair. We all wanted to ride around on a speeder and shoot like the boys. We all wanted to tell Han Solo he was being an idiot and hug Chewie. She was the princess that kicked ass and not one that needed to be rescued. There are a few more princesses like that now. (Thanks Joss and JJ.) I have seen and read interviews that Carrie was a little uncomfortable knowing that she was the slave bikini pin-up poster for a whole generation of boys but we girls knew she was so much more than that. And Carrie was. Turns out maybe Leia was too.

As a very comfortable and determined introvert, Debbie Reynolds was just pure effervescence to me. I can’t watch her without smiling; a little part of me wants to be her in another life. A friend and I have a theory that when you know your day is going to suck, that the best way to get through it is to put on your very cutest shoes and your favorite dress, be fierce, and power through. I think you also have to put on a little Debbie Reynolds. I watch Singing in the Rain at least once a year, every year. She was pure love and determination and will always be my hero. debbie2

 

Lots of work.

Argh. It’s great to be busy. I haven’t been able to post as much here as I want to lately. I have all kinds of things planned, but the things with deadlines have been taking the top of the priority list. In the meantime, here’s a little look at one of those things. I got a grant from the MN State Arts Board this year to do an exhibition and series of workshops. With grant funds I was able to purchase a mobile computer lab (aka 6 Chromebooks) so I can teach classes and do activities with people who don’t have laptops. This is awesome. I have started the workshops for the project and I made this video about the recent sessions at the Museum of Russian Art.

Hold that pose.

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Happy Halloween!

I’ve got stickers!

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And I don’t mean the sticky paper kind. Apple has a new thing for iOS that lets you put super-sized emoticons on your iMessages and they call them “stickers”. And when you are an artist (and a geek) and you are married to a guy who writes software for a living, it means that you get to have sticker packs released the day the feature goes live! I am so excited.

I have been working on these for ages very quietly behind the scenes and I have 3 “Sticker Packs” that are up in the App Store today. We were all tapping our fingers and waiting for the approval emails yesterday.

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One set is the much sought-after yarn emoji“I Love Yarn” is a whole pack of knitting and crochet. Smiling yarn balls, an angry tangled skein, stitch markers and more.

“Sew It Up” is all sewing machines, scissors, pins and my friend the seam ripper.

“Black Kitty” is a gift for a friend who just lost his sweet black kitty, but also for my mom and sister, who both have goofy black kitties.

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Here’s a little bit about how stickers work and here is a good article about how to install them. I have more design ideas that I am working on, naturally. These are really fun to do.

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You can get them in the App Store for $.99 each. I added a tab to my menu bar up there at the top of this page that says “Shop” so there is always a link to them and any future sets I do. (It also has links to my Etsy shop and other places to get my designs.)

Who me? aka How to direct people to your social media sites.

I taught a class a few weeks ago about social media for fiber artists. We were at a conference, which is a great place to network with people who have similar interests and passions. One of the things we did at the very end of class was to pass around a sheet of paper for everyone to share their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media handles. I volunteered to gather up all of that information and email everyone a list of links so they could all follow each other. It would be like a jump start for your new social media account.

It wasn’t until I sat down to put it all together that I saw the flaw in my plan. Nobody knew how to share their handle or contact info for these various sites. For about half of the things that people wrote down, I couldn’t find them no matter how much I searched. I felt terrible. If you are an experienced user on any of these sites, this may seem like something that’s obvious to you, but I realized that nowhere is there an explanation for newbies that says “this is how you tell other people how to find you”.

So here it is; a quick-and-dirty guide to how to share your stuff.

Facebook Page

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.33.40 PMThey just redesigned the Facebook Page a little bit and now this information is super easy to find.

Go to your Facebook Page. Look on the left side under your profile picture and you will see the name of your page (ie Becka Rahn: Fiber Art). Right underneath that in lighter type it says @yourusername (ie @beckarahn.fiberart).

In the screenshot you can see it pops up a little help text box (black) if you hover over that username. By default, I think the username is a string of numbers, but you can change it to be whatever you like by going to Page Info in the About tab (which is further down on that left sidebar).

Note: this is not the same as your personal Facebook login username. If you want someone to get to your personal profile, they can just search for you by name or email. This is the way to get someone directly to your business or artist page.

If someone searches on Facebook for @beckarahn.fiberart they will go directly to my page. Or I can give the address as www.facebook.com/beckarahn.fiberart

Twitter

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For Twitter, your handle shows up just under your name. When you are logged in to your account, look just to the right of your profile photo. You will see your name on the top and below it @username (ie @beckarahn). Your account will be found at www.twitter.com/username (ie twitter.com/beckarahn) or someone can search on Twitter for @username and find you.

Instagram

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For Instagram, it’s even easier. The name that shows up there in the top center of the screen is your handle. So you are @username (ie @beckarahn) if someone wants to search or you can be found at www.instagram.com/username

 

 

Pinterest

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Pinterest makes you look just a little bit harder. If you log in to your Pinterest account, first click the person-shaped icon to look at your profile. It’s at the top right of your screen.

 

Then click the pencil icon in the top left corner of that profile screen, right above your name. Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.20.19 PM

Clicking the pencil will pop up an edit box and if you look about halfway down you will see the word Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.36.18 PMUsername. That’s the link to get to you: www.pinterest.com/username

 

Etsy

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.38.35 PMDon’t know your etsy shop’s direct link? Go to your shop and look in the very top of the browser window at the address of the page. It will say https://www.etsy.com/shop/username (ie www.etsy.com/shop/beckarahn).

You can also use username.etsy.com (ie beckarahn.etsy.com) and that will get you there too. Sometime searching for your shop name in the search box isn’t 100% reliable. By using the full address, you can be sure someone will get there.

Putting it together

So for example, if I were going to put my social media links on my business card, it would look something like this:

  • www.beckarahn.com
  • beckarahn.etsy.com
  • Facebook: @beckarahn.fiberart
  • Twitter/Instagram: @beckarahn
  • Pinterest: pinterest.com/beckarahn

If I wanted to add clickable links to an email, website post or anything else I’d use:

  • www.beckarahn.com
  • beckarahn.etsy.com
  • www.facebook.com/beckarahn.fiberart
  • www.twitter.com/beckarahn
  • www.instagram.com/beckarahn
  • www.pinterest.com/beckarahn

Know you’ll forget it?

WalletCard

Right-click or option-click this image to download it. Print it, write in your information and tuck this in your wallet. Or take a photo of it and store it in your phone. Then you’ll always have it when you need it. Like when you take a class with me and I pass around a sheet of paper for you to write down your links.