Craft Redefined

Some of the features on this page require that JavaScript be enabled.
view previous artwork view next artwork
Cygnus Spiral Arm of the Milky Way
land of living skies, land, sky, Cygnus clear sky, big ideas, Spiral Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, constellation, Saskatchewan night sky, spiral arm, land and sky, radio mappings, spiritual, spiritual perspective, macrocosm to the microcosm’, critical observation, thread, drawing with thread, cotton stitching, rhinestones on canvas, power of the univers, outer space, mystery, critical observation, microcosm, macrocosm, looking inward, articulating ideas, personal connection, interrelatedness, interrelated, social/political, fabric, cotton, stitching, constellations, astronomy, land of living skies, night sky, distance, time, spirituality, light years, cycles,line, pattern, texture, rhinestones, the Milky Way,
description

Saskatchewan is known as the “Land of Living Skies”, something that Cole is reminded of every day. In many of her works she deals with the land and the sky, including the clear night sky. “You’re forced to develop your own way to work. It’s less limiting here, the big skies and big places make room for big ideas,” she said in a 2005 interview. (Linklater, 2005)

Cygnus constellation Cygnus Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy certainly qualifies as a big idea. This work, from the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, was part of a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of work for an exhibition titled, On Into the Night. Cygnus is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, part of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is sometimes visible in the Saskatchewan night sky. The arching appearance of the spiral arm looks somewhat like the neck of a swan, hence the name.

Radio mappings have revealed the structure of the Milky Way as disc-shaped, about 100,000 light years in diameter, with the sun located about 25,000 light years from the core, and performing an orbit around the core about once every 250 million years. This kind of distance and time is mind-boggling and certainly makes an earth mile or minute seem insignificant. For Cole, a deeply spiritual and intuitive individual, her work demonstrates the power of the universe and the unknown.

start quoteI am absolutely sure that my work comes from a strong female-centred woman's core.end quote-- Martha Cole

Cygnus Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy and the other works in the  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  are a continuation of Cole’s early  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)  paintings, and she uses many of the same materials: canvas, cotton thread,  conteA white or coloured chalk medium.  and rhinestones. She used a graph component in many of these works to suggest the size and scope of outer  spaceSpace can be the area around, within or between images or elements. Space can be created on a two-dimensional surface by using such techniques as overlapping, object size, placement, colour intensity and value, detail and diagonal lines.  and to explore phenomena represented there. The dark black  canvasCommonly used as a support for oil or acrylic painting, canvas is a heavy woven fabric made of flax or cotton. Its surface is typically prepared for painting by priming with a ground. Linen — made of flax — is the standard canvas, very strong, sold by the roll and by smaller pieces. A less expensive alternative to linen is heavy cotton duck, though it is less acceptable (some find it unacceptable), cotton being less durable, because it's more prone to absorb dampness, and it's less receptive to grounds and size. For use in painting, a piece of canvas is stretched tightly by stapling or tacking it to a stretcher frame. A painting done on canvas and then cemented to a wall or panel is called marouflage. Canvas board is an inexpensive, commercially prepared cotton canvas which has been primed and glued to cardboard, suitable for students and amateurs who enjoy its portability. Also, a stretched canvas ready for painting, or a painting made on such fabric. Canvas is abbreviated c., and "oil on canvas" is abbreviated o/c.  (Artlex.com)  fabric adds an air of mystery to the work. The thread patterns create a sense of energy and the rhinestones reflect the light. They both work to activate the  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. (artlex.com) See also texture.  and draw our eyes through the image of the night sky.

From the ‘macrocosm to the microcosm’, Cole is intent on critically observing her world. “I am interested in developing a personal sense of connection both by networking on a social/political level and by trying to find the interrelatedness between myself and the Earth and Her cycles” she once wrote. “I want, by looking inward and at my immediate world, to understand/feel my position in the cosmos. One of the ways I try to make/articulate these ideas is through my work.” (Cole, 1990)

additional resources An Art Maker and a Culture Maker
Duration: 1:51 min
Size: 8162kb
Cygnus Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy
Duration: 2:03 min
Size: 9031kb
Elemental Series
Duration: 3:24 min
Size: 15038kb
Her Process of Quilting
Duration: 3:06 min
Size: 13073kb
How She Went from Sculpture to Fabric
Duration: 1:50 min
Size: 8177kb
Religious Symbolism in Her Work
Duration: 1:35 min
Size: 6959kb
Strong Grounded Woman's Presence
Duration: 1:03 min
Size: 4506kb
Why She Works in Fabric
Duration: 2:04 min
Size: 8499kb
Things to Think About
  • How have artists represented spirituality in the past? Find examples of artists who are thinking about spiritual ideas in their work. How does Cole suggest spirituality in this work?
  • How does Cole reference science and scientific practices?
  • Cole says, “The thing I love most about Saskatchewan is that, because of the small population and our cooperative history, we all think that individually we can make a difference” (Linklater, 2005) What do you think? Take some time to learn more about the cooperative history of Saskatchewan.
  • Think about icons that represent places like the prairie grain elevator. Would you be upset if icons that represent your sense of ‘place’ were destroyed?

    Many people around the world like Cole are bird-watching enthusiasts. What is the charm of this activity? What purposes could it have? What is it about a meadow lark (seen here) that would inspire someone to live near its terrain? In what ways could bird watching be connected to Martha Cole’s sense of “connection”?

    Meadowlark
Online Activity
Hello, you either have JavaScript turned off or an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.

Discover how old you would be on the other planets in the solar system by exploring this website at Views of the Solar System:  http://www.solarviews.com/eng/edu/age.htm.


By exploring the Views of the Solar System website, discover how much you would weigh if you lived on the other planets in the solar system at: http://www.solarviews.com/eng/edu/weight.htm.  

Studio Activity

Space aliens

Learn about the solar system and the universe. Keeping in mind the knowledge gained,  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  creatures that might be able to live on particular planets or in unearthly environments.

To learn more about the solar system, try:

Solar System

Now,  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  an alien from outer space.  Here are some more links to help you think:

Design a website

  • Create your own website using knowledge you have gained on a particular subject.

Calligraphy/book making

Martha Cole is greatly involved in book making as well as her fabric art. In one of her books, On This Day, she invites her reader to consider his/her inner self and pay attention to little things that can make life a better place to be.

  • Think of things that you can do for yourself or others to improve your relationships with yourself and others.  Put them into words.
  • Make an image to accompany your text.
  • Assemble yours and other classmate artists' images and thoughts into a book that all can be used as a reference for living.

Cole also wrote a book A to Z: Amana to Zorya. These are names of goddesses or women she admires for their strength and leadership abilities.

  • Choose an idea or  symbolVisual image that represents something else.  of something or someone who is important to you. For example, if your grandmother likes flowers, use her favourite flower to represent her, or if your uncle likes antique cars, work with an image from an old car to say something about him.
  • Use black paper and iridescent paint and pencil crayons to create images than will represent these choices.
References

Cole, Martha. Power of Place. Martha Cole. 2007.

Cole, Martha, Title unknown. Grain - Literary and Visual Arts, Spring 1990, pg. 79.

HerStory 2000: The Canadian Womens Calendar (Silver Anniversary Edition). Network Magazine of the Canadian Womens Health Network, 2000.

Linklater, Kristen. Elevating look at Prairie Survivors. Regina Leader Post, Sat. July 9, 2005.

Martin, Randal. Art in Fabric. The Waterfront Press. Oct 12, 2000.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning