Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Cool Fish

This is a Pallid Sturgeon at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery in Neosho, Missouri. The hatchery (which has been operating since 1888!) grows the endangered Pallid Sturgeons and releases them back into their natural habitat. This fish is so surprising. It's huge, and very unusual looking...prehistoric, actually. But it's also friendly and recognizes its keepers. The hatchery's manager, David Hendrix, met us for a tour of the facility, and I felt like a little kid meeting the "mama" sturgeons. The (unofficial) blog for the hatchery has all kinds of cool information about their activities.

Dec. 9 is the grand opening of their new visitor's center, modeled after the original center which was torn down some time ago. I love that it holds to such high aesthetic principles and connection to history. The visitor center lobby is full of historical murals and kids' activities (like a huge aquarium with a plexiglass dome that allows you to stand up "inside" the aquarium like you're in there with the fish...yeah, it's THAT cool.)

I designed a T-Shirt for the Friends of the Fish Hatchery to sell in the gift shop. Here's the one they chose, with a signature rainbow trout, the new visitor center, and the iconic stone arch that's been there since 1888:

I did several versions, and would love to get this one produced too:

Here are the Pallid Sturgeon "minnows" (each about a foot long):

And here is one of the "mama" Sturgeons sticking its head out of the water when we arrived:

Oops, that was the wrong picture...that was a picture I took of myself for the Joplin Globe, but it was so funny, I thought I'd leave it up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer fun

It's summer in Kansas and the cicadas are buzzing. The scenes by the highway are lush and green with a few dead and dried limbs in the trees. I know the physical reality of this wilderness would is hot and itchy, but the view brings something else to mind -- restfulness, escape, the feeling of walking blissfully through the landscape, smelling the vegetation and the sun-soaked earth, and being completely at peace.

I see similar "spots" regularly when I'm on the highway, but they're usually gone before I can snap a picture (especially if I'm driving :)) I do occasionally stop the car for a special moment, like this vulture...

...but mostly I just take pictures when I'm a passenger in the carpool, and hope they spark something in me later, like the landscape above, which inspired the sketch below.

Although I was frustrated in the making of this sketch, I've gone back to it several times in the last few days. There's something kind of wild and messy about it that I like. I think I'll base a quilt on it soon, just need to get more fabric in the right colors, I think.

The clouds in Kansas in the summer are brilliant.

And so are the kitties...

Love and inspiration,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TEXTURE on display

Hi friends. "Texture," a collaborative show with my dad and stepmom, goes on display this Friday in Carthage, Missouri. The show's title comes from a time in college when a friend, Millie (are you out there?) and I wanted to get the sculpture and textiles departments together for a show. We were so inspired by the contrast in materials, the link of sculpture with the masculine and textiles with the feminine, and the title itself (textiles and sculpture, get it?). Although our enthusiasm never coalesced past a grant proposal, I remember it with fondness and pride. Now I finally get to use the concept.

The piece we used for the postcard (above) is a "collaboration by mail". I started it with simple quilt rectangles of somewhat abstracted birds on telephone wire. Lee Ann got it in the mail, saw birds on vertical sticks with leaves, and sewed the rectangles together, adding felted bird forms and appliqued-yarn vines. Dad turned it into an aviary made of twigs, ornamented with bird "claws" which are actually firing cones from the kiln. I'm really looking forward to the show's opening (I haven't even seen the collaborative piece in person yet.) Here are the show details:


a presentation of textiles and sculpture

by Jack & Lee Ann Sours & Suzie Sours Israel

Opening reception:

Friday, May 28, 6 - 8 pm

at artCentral, 1110 E 13th Street,

Carthage, MO 64836

Pottery, weavings, stone sculpture,

and organic form quilts

will be on display May 28-June 13.

for info:

Here are my pieces that'll be in the show. I'll videotape the gallery and post it, so folks can see what it looks like!

Stylized Clouds, Linen & Thread, 2010, $100 Birth, Linen & Thread, 2010, $400
Longing, Linen, Silk, and Thread, 2010, $350 Edge of Darkness, Various Fabrics & Thread, 2009, $130
Mystery, Linen & Thread, 2009, $250 xxx6

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'm experimenting with the settings of my blog so it automatically emails people when I publish this post. So if you're getting this in your email, then you're one of 10 people who I really wanted to see this (because I can only add 10 email addresses :).

Dad and LeeAnn (my stepmom) invited me to be in a show with them at the Art Central Gallery in Carthage, MO at the end of May. Here are my two latest, finished quilts for the show.

I'm trying to come up with a title for the "field" quilt, above. It makes me think of seeds under the ground, germinating and preparing to pop out of the ground when spring comes. It also is a very comforting scene to me; there's something that feels safe and secure about it.

I'm pretty sure the one above will be named "Longing". This scene was taken from a snapshot I took while walking around the grounds at Canaan Farm, where I work, over the lunch hour.

Monday, February 8, 2010

More roadside inspiration!

I'm waiting for my latest quilt to come out of the dryer {note from the future: by the time I finished this post, it was dry. There's a picture at the end of this post} which is kind of like waiting for a kiln to cool so you can see how the glazes came out. This anticipation is one of the gifts of art. Another gift of art is how my vision literally changes when I'm working on a representational piece...for example, when I was starting this quilt, I obsessed about the tops of the trees that edge the fields, as they pop up above the rest of the treeline...and I started seeing those shapes all over the place, for the very first time, in a different and wonderful way. It's a subtle, but very real and sustainable, rush.

The Field:
Passing this field on my daily commute, I began to notice the way the furrows undulate and describe the shape of the land, creating a beautifully balanced pattern. Here's a quick sketch I did on the roadside (with cold fingers and my hazard lights blinking.) I took photos for reference too, but the photos don't capture it the way I see it...kind of like a cubist painting with the perspective flattened out.

In this photo, there is a lot more (and in some ways a lot less) information than in the sketch. But the photos are very useful while designing and creating a quilt. Below is the sketch I did in studio to prepare for making the quilt. I used the location sketch for the spatial energy, and filled in details with the photos.

Here are some shots of the process as I layed out the fabric and began the sewing and cutting.

You can see the laptop in the background, with the photo on screen, which I refer to while sewing and cutting...I like the irony of using high-tech "shortcuts" to create such a touchy-feely surface!

And here's the more-or less finished piece!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Broccodile

Here's a fun project that I did over Christmas vacation...a baby blanket for my 1-year-old nephew Brock, also know as "Brockoli" and "Brockodile". First, I made a montage using images from the internet, then printed it out in pieces...

Then I sewed several layers of jersey fabric over quilt batting and pinned the printouts to it, sewing over them to create broccoli and crocodile shapes. Then I tore away the paper, leaving the shapes stitched in thread.

The cats love to sit on anything I'm working on, especially something soft and cat-sized, like a baby blanket :)

Then I cut away layers of fabric to reveal different colored parts of the pattern.

And lastly, I throw it in the washer and the dryer to get the edges to shrink and tighten into a cohesive-looking whole. Here are pictures of both sides of the finished blanket, different due to cutting away fabric in different areas: