Heather Ujiie: Fairytales, Monsters and Hybrid Creatures

detailbluemonsterUjiie’s large-scale digital prints present a unique blending of the classical and contemporary. Her solo exhibition, titled Heather Ujiie: Fairytales, Monsters and Hybrid Creatures, runs from Sept. 25 until Jan. 8, 2017. The show’s opening reception will be celebrated on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 2 to 4 p.m., and will feature an artist’s talk that everyone is invited to attend.

“Many of the pieces in this exhibition were inspired from a kind of ‘data’ mashing of both western and eastern world history and religion,” Ujiie said. “This past year, I have been fascinated by the northern Renaissance Christian painting by Hieronymus Bosch’s: The Garden of Earthly Delights, as well as Persian and Indian miniature paintings, some of which depict polymorphic gods and demons.”

Ujiie’s textile work is a synthesis of several methods of artistry, including hand painting, drawing, stitching, and printing with innovative large-format digital printing.

“I love the visceral quality of paint and material investigations, but I also love technology,” she said. “Digital printing, laser cutting and smart textiles are all tools that interest me in creating more innovative work.”

Conversely, Ujiie said she enjoys sitting in her studio painting with gouache, a heavy, opaque watercolor paint, which produces a less wet-appearing and more strongly colored picture than ordinary watercolor.

“Combining the two methods of working — scanning my hand painted pieces, and then digitally manipulating and printing them on different substrates — is very gratifying,” Ujiie said.

Ujiie’s fascination with the intersection of art and design impelled her to create a one-of-a-kind garment – or perhaps, persona – made almost entirely from paper. She said she wanted to “reference the temporality of our existence in the world, but also to make something beautiful, and almost functional, out of a non-traditional material.

“Thematically, I am also interested in mythic tales of female heroines, who represent both the male and the female in terms of empowerment, beauty and seduction. I wanted this piece to conjure up current notions of what it is to be female, and also suggest a kind of fairytale like creature in an enchanted all white forest,” Ujiie added.

Additionally, Ujiie will lead two programs at HAM this fall. Mask Making with Heather Ujiie will run on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. for children ages 6 and up with an adult; and Ujiie will offer a lecture and guided tour for adults on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. For more information, please visit www.hunterdonartmuseum.org.

Ujiie is a full-time Interdisciplinary Assistant professor at Moore College of Art & Design Art & Design in Philadelphia, where she teaches across several disciplines including textile design. Besides appearing previously at HAM, her work has been exhibited at the Racine Art Museum and the prestigious Wind Challenge Award Exhibition at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial Museum. Her commercial printed textile designs have had numerous clients including The White House private residences for former President George W. and Laura Bush.

Three years ago, Ujiie’s work was featured in “Nature’s Mark: Printing on Fiber,” an exhibition highlighting the work of seven artists.

She hopes this exhibition will pose questions about the nature of our identity in the world, and offer views of “a sacred space.”

“Since my work is a fusion of both art and design, I want my viewer to see the potential of a well-designed object or artifact, and realize it can question notions about the body, our environment, and place,” Ujiie said.

Image credit: Heather Ujiie, Blue Monster (detail), 2016, digital inkjet print on poly canvas, 72 X 260 inches, courtesy of the artist.

Andrew Hayes: Paper and Steel

CircuitAndrew Hayes may not judge a book by its cover, but he does judge it by the edges of its pages.

The artist prowls old book stores and antique shops searching for the perfect volumes for his work: Creating sculptures by marrying the rigid qualities of steel to the delicacy of book pages. Hayes gravitates toward older books with gold leaf or red on their edges.

“I don’t respond so much to the title or what’s in the book so much as the form or something that’s present visually,” Hayes said.

Hayes’s sculptures will be featured at the Hunterdon Art Museum in a solo exhibition, Andrew Hayes: Paper and Steel, which runs from Sept. 25 to Nov. 13. The show’s opening reception is Sunday, Sept. 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. and will feature an artist’s talk and demonstration. The event is open to everyone.

Hayes’s love of books and past professional experience as a welder informs his work. He uses steel to reshape the book’s pages creating a unique sculpture. “I take my sensory appreciation for the book as a material and employ the use of metal to create a new form, and hopefully a new story.”

To separate the book’s pages from its spine, he uses an ominous-sounding tool: an antique guillotine.

Book-cutting guillotines are disappearing across the country because they are becoming obsolete.  Hayes found his cast-iron guillotine, which dates back to about 1915, in a print shop at Clemson University. The artist can place an entire book in the guillotine and securely lock it to get a crisp, clean cut. He then starts playing with the pages to see how they work and how the steel might fit.

“The process is organic,” Hayes said. “I want to find a balance between the paper and the steel, and not allow one to overpower the other, although sometimes you do want the paper to steal the show because you want to honor it.”

Hayes grew up in Tucson, Arizona and studied sculpture at Northern Arizona University. He received a Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. While there, he met his wife, Kreh Mellick, an Oldwick, New Jersey native and artist who will have her own solo show running concurrently at the Museum.

Because of the nature of his work, Hayes’s art studio looks as if someone opened a metal shop in the middle of a library. Visitors are often attracted to the rows of shelved books. The longing to touch the books – hold them – seems instinctual.

“We have a relationship with books, with the way they feel and smell,” Hayes said. “They were made to be held. I think that’s what draws me to some of the older books because you can see that they’ve been handled. There’s a little extra history there; maybe the book’s a little beat up or there’s a spill on the side creating a nice surface.”

Hayes notes that he only cuts old books that were massed produced – “there’s no sinister intent,” he stresses. Sometimes, he will find something too beautiful or perfect to alter in any way.

“My favorite find was an old Webster’s Dictionary that has these really beautiful marble edges and finger tabs,” he said. “I like it so much because it’s just so beautiful. I keep it on my desk. I just couldn’t cut it.”

Image credit: Andrew Hayes, Circuit, 2016, steel, book paper and paint, 25 X 9 X 2.5 inches, courtesy of the artist.

Kreh Mellick: All the Woodsy Things

Tigers nestArtist Kreh Mellick’s work is influenced by a variety of sources from her family’s passion for collecting antiques to her great-grandmother’s sketch books and by Pennsylvania Dutch folklore.  But perhaps nothing is more surprising than the inspiration she felt after picking up an old book of machine drawings.

The diagrams of the machines were in black and red ink. The black represented the non-moving machine while the red showed the moving parts.

“I can’t recall the moment or even the particular image I was looking at, but I had this sense of the black being the real – the constant – and the red being the unreal or ever-changing,” Mellick said. “From that I started making these drawing with these two colors, and I was thinking of the image of the real world versus the spirit world and ghosts, and the relationship between those two things.”

Her solo exhibition, Kreh Mellick: All the Woodsy Things, premieres Sunday, Sept. 25. A reception, celebrating the show’s opening, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and will feature a talk by the former Oldwick resident. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served.

Mellick usually works with gouache on paper, often times cutting and layering the paper. Her figures are often ghost-like with decorative motifs and light, airy landscapes. Her works are often narratives inspired by folklore, nostalgia and a time passed.

“I want to be able to relate some kind of story that is vague or invites the viewer to say ‘Oh, maybe this is happening’, “Mellick said. “I like that there’s some kind of mystery involved.”

Mellick’s studio is located in an old panty hose factory near the Penland School of Crafts where she was in the core fellowship program and met her husband, artist Andrew Hayes, who also has a solo show at the Museum opening simultaneously.

Mellick’s work is also inspired by antiques collected by her family and her grandmother’s sketch books.

A lot of the time I just sit down and start drawing and sometimes an idea comes to me,” she said. “For a while I’ve been using these decorative motifs to fill the paper and that came from being surrounded by the kind of imagery of antiques that we’ve had in the house. My great- grandmother did these paintings on furniture and as reverse-glass painting. I would use images from her sketchbooks and embellish upon them. That is where some of these decorative motifs come from. So, I’m just in the studio working, working, working until something clicks into place.”

All the Woodsy Things runs until Nov. 13.

Image Credit: Kreh Mellick, Tiger’s Nest, 2016, Gouache and cut paper, 16.5 X 27.5 inches, courtesy of the artist.

Sept. 25, 2016 — Jan. 8, 2017

2016 Members Exhibition — Discover the talents of the Museum’s artist members.

Nov. 20, 2016 — Jan. 8, 2017

Member Highlight Exhibition: James A. DePietro

Susan Eisen: Meditations in Clay