Daniela Tiger – To create and grow
Daniela Tiger’s background is in social work, but more recently she has been re-imagining her pathway and focusing on a love of art and craft. She is a recent graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, where she explored several disciplines, but always felt most at home in the fiber studio.
Here, Daniela talks about her fascination with the lives of others and how this has led to integrating portrait photography into cloth.
The hand of the cloth
As a young child I was inspired by my Hungarian, aristocratic grandmother. She lived on her own, and was very deliberate about everything that she did, and everything that she believed to be proper. She made all her own clothes on a tiny black portable Singer machine (which I still have). This machine could go forwards and backwards with one straight stitch. She created the most elegant outfits with this tiny workhorse. She helped me appreciate the hand of the cloth. She made hamburgers for us, but only by buying the best cut of steak and grinding it herself. She never had a hair out of place as her hair was permanently upswept in an up-do. She was so elegant, the personification of the European Aristocracy, but also knew how to have fun. She taught me how to blow into the paper of a straw when we ordered our coke so that the paper could go flying across the restaurant.
As most creative people, I have been making things ever since I can remember. I loved arts and crafts and would see the potential in the detritus bits and pieces. I see that my son has inherited this love. As you enter his room, you are convinced that it is a hoarder’s space. As a young girl, my mother encouraged my ‘arty’ ways, and so I was enrolled in many after school courses, ceramics, jewellery making, etc. But when it came time to choose a career, I chose a safer pathway, and became a social worker. With an MSW I had a rich career helping children and families find their way. Still while I worked, and raised my family, I took courses part time at art schools in and around my city since this pleasure remained. More recently, I have been fortunate to be able to stop working for a paycheck and began taking my art studies to a more serious level. I have just recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design University.
Never too late to learn
One of the most significant things I have learnt from school is that it is never too late to learn. It is so important to be aware and really look and record what is in the world around you. I do carry around a small sketchbook, small enough to keep in a purse or pocket and try to record or sketch something new every day.
Although I loved exploring all the different studios at OCADU, (woodworking, plastics, jewellery, metal,) my home was the fibre studio. It is its tactile nature that creates a visceral response, one feels the cloth and either recoils from its texture or wants to roll into it!
As well, I am an avid traveller and love taking photographs. I think that my social work background has bent my studies towards the direction of cross cultural explorations. I am endlessly fascinated by how others live, and what makes families work. As I worked to combine these interests I discovered this technique of integrating my portrait photography into cloth.
This body of work is a series of silk hangings that have been naturally dyed with tea. I have chosen specific photographic portraits from my global travels, removed the colour from the photos and printed them onto water soluble paper. Then I used free motion stitchery techniques to merge the images onto the silk. I would then dissolve some of the paper, while leaving some behind letting the ink stain the paper and the silk. I believe this is a contemporary way to use my skills as a free motion stitcher as well as my work in photography. Too, it is my belief that one way to create new interesting work is to combine techniques and mediums. This technique came to me after trying many different ways of conveying my concept.
An emotional connection
It is very important to me to begin with a concept of what I would like to say, and then work through trials of techniques to find the one that conveys it best. In this case, my hope was to create an environment that would encourage the viewer to get caught up in ‘the other’. To help the viewer learn a bit into our shared world by creating curiosity and an emotional connection. I was preoccupied with an African saying I discovered from the Ubuntu people; “I am because you are. Our humanity binds us”.
I believe that the future of the human community lies in our ability to create and grow emotional bridges across cultural boundaries. For over 30 years, I had the privilege of listening to intimate personal stories of human struggles and despair. Everyone is wrestling with issues of identity. It is my feeling that our common humanity can bind us as we search for the answers to identity and meaning.
Although this body of work is not technically one of quilts, I do believe that years of belonging to a quilting guild and attending quilting technique workshops informed my work. Too, my explorations in plastics, wood, silver, ceramics, helped me develop new ideas about how different medias respond to touch, and find their form. I would encourage any aspiring creative person to explore as many different mediums as possible. Each exploration will inform the process. For this body of work I was influenced by a ceramicist; Susan Low-Beer. Her work is stunning. I was particularly struck by her figurative series, where she sliced elements and then re-positioned them back together, creating tensions in the joining of the forms.
Rich with colour and texture
Too, I am moved by the figurative of Magdalena Abakanowicz. Her figures, on a much larger scale than Low-Beers are striking. To me, they suggest the interplay and the connection of human nature.
I am fascinated by the work of photographer; Julie Moos, who created a series of photographs that had two people sitting side by side staring at the photographer, one a long time domestic of the other.
What is our connection to each other? Another influence was the novelist, Thrity Umrigar who wrote: “The Space Between Us”, exploring the convoluted interactions between the live-in domestic and the woman she serves.
I love the paintings of Friedrich Hundertwasser. His work is so rich with colour and texture that although it is paint on canvas, I read it as fantastic textile work. Although my series ultimately became a work without colour, I do love the happiness that bright colours convey and certainly can see myself working my way back to colour.
With reference specifically to fibre works; the embroiderists; Alice Kettle and Audrey Walker are very inspirational. Mary Fisher’s explorations in figurative work with reference to her work with African women and dealing with AIDS is remarkable. And of course, no exploration in fibre work is complete without a nod to iconic Louise Bourgeois, such a pioneer!
Currently I am working with Jane Dunnewold in an art mastery program where we are exploring various ways of introducing colour and texture to cloth and I love the saturated tones created by dyed cloth.
Open to stimulation
I would suggest to any aspiring artist, keep looking, and be open to the stimulation around you, wherever you may find it. You never know what might trigger the next great thing! Currently I have a quilt on exhibit in Tulsa Oklahoma in the Sherwin Miller Museum. It is part of a collection of quilts by Israeli artists, entitled ‘The Faces of Jerusalem’. Quite some time ago, I came across this call for entry and responded to it. I believe that I am the only non-Israeli in the show. This group of quilts have been touring the U.S.A. for 18 months! Therefore, another suggestion I would make is keep your eyes and ears open for calls that speak to you. Your work will be successful if you were moved emotionally to create it. www.jewishmuseum.net/exhibitions/current-exhibitions
I work very hard to keep my blog current and visually appealing. This is where I post the work that I create either for myself, commissions, or shows. www.danielatiger.blogspot.ca
Our cyberspace offers up the opportunity for stimulation and community that is beyond imagining. I love surfing suggested websites and connecting with like minded individuals around the globe.
For more information please visit: www.danielatiger.blogspot.ca
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