Follow by Email

Monday, October 31, 2016

Masks for Hallows Eve

Time to channel our animal spirit and role play with our lighter selves.

Student work

Red White and Blue Pill Nation

Saw this little artwork at one of last year's Miami Basel satellite fairs, and I wish I had the name of the artist. It made me pause, laugh and, then, feel a little down. I'm looking forward to the fairs again this year. It is only 4 weeks away! I enjoy walking through tents with room after room of art.The little emotional roller-coasters and retinal feasts are exhilarating.

So many things can be said about this sculptural image:
a pill encrusted, 
bloated icon
We are on an island
A society of ills,
medicine and poison 
manufactured from the same
corporate charlatans
Addiction for everyone

OOOHhhh, how exciting to think that it is time for our civic engagement moment. Millions of us will exercise our vote and, through the confounded electorate, choose new leaders to galvanize us to unity, guide the war plan, safe guard our constitution, appoint the next (few?) justice(s) of the supreme court, inspire other leaders, deal with the environmental crisis, and negotiate as a global partner.
 Thinking this way reminds me of the artwork, again...
                                                        Our elections can make you sick.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Bone to Pick (up)

Beautiful bleached bones with wild flowers

My niece and I found these bones, (and teeth), in the pasture on our walk this fall. Did you know that of the 206 bones in our body the hardest, toughest bone of all is the mandible- the jaw?

check out my bone paintings on instagram @tillystrauss!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lazy bones

Our bones make up a dynamic system that supports movement, produces blood cells, stores minerals and regulates the endocrine system.
I was born with 270 separate bones and now, at age 55, I have 64 less... possibly 206 because they have fused together...making me old and creaky. Cranky too. So forgive me... if I sleep away the weekend.

Check out my instagram #tillystudio for more paintings of Bones

Friday, October 28, 2016

Bones in ink

After all else is gone, the bones remain. They last.
Relics and reliquary's come from the Latin word "reliquiae" which means "mortal remains". Across the globe almost every religion contains deep traces of a belief in the significance of certain bones. From the caves of our earliest ancestors to the building of cathedrals on bones of martyrs to the emblematic jewelry of the Eurasian gods, bones are seen to hold a mystic power to cure or divine messages from the spiritual realm. And it isn't just religious ritual. In the 19th Century scientists were swept up by Phrenology, an elaborate system of reading the shape and color of skulls to determine the spiritual supremacy of certain types of people.  While they were alive!
I've got a bone to pick
Check out #tillystudio on Instagram to see more of my bone paintings!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Vote and be thankful!

I'm ready for the election to be over. I believe we have shown the world our worst and it saddens me that the idealism of the promise of a melting pot of Americans is no longer the predominant view across the heartland.
Having spent time living abroad in a country under a dictatorship, I am truly thrilled to cast my vote. It is a privilege not everyone, much less a lot of women around the world, can claim to have. It was 144 years after the founding of this country that the 19th amendment to the constitution provided my kind access to the voting booth! This equal access was written on the bones of the suffragettes and should not be taken for granted.

Check out my instagram #tillystudio for more paintings of Bones

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall is the time for Bones

 We collect them, study them, measure and draw them. Though considered at first glance to be about death, I propose that the bones are more about life.
 They hint at the miracle of molecular creation, evolution, and the passage of time.
Contemplating the skull can be like looking into a mirror. Are we truly alive?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tracing my predilection for cardboard literature

2016 signage

My interest in the intersection of raw street signage and the tragic narrative of society victims goes back many years...specifically to my divorce. That is when I found myself on a new and precarious financial and social brink. In 2009 I photographed my teenage son at the intersection of our small town with a sign, haunting and hinting at our new sense of place.
 My son, July 2009
 I altered the sign to be more specific in 2010.
cardboard, ink, paint and collage, December 2010
 In 2011 I moved to Florida where the cost of living is a lot less than New York. Immediately I took notice of the many beggars standing at the highway intersections with their signs. I became entranced by the messages, the short stories, the written summaries, and the haiku-like poetry scrawled in cardboard and waved against car windows in an effort to tug our hearts and open our wallets. The authors seemed under duress. The signs were like flags and themselves were important to the beggars. They refused to part with them as if they would be powerless without the scrappy badge. The attitude reminds me of studio artists. We all are begging for attention. We are standing in situations of duress and with luck can find ink and a surface to create a story that, like a great work of art, whistles a wallet open.
February 2013

In 2014 I started making street signs in the style of great artworks.
After Brito

After Giotto

Friday, October 21, 2016

Edition of Anxious Truths

 It's pre-election time here in the USA, and of our two main contenders for the presidency, one politician paints the landscape as an apocalyptic promise, and the other as a glass ceiling to smash through. Science and statistics actually show that there has never been a safer or healthier time or place to be than right now and right here. We live longer and in more comfort than our ancestors...

So why are Americans so anxious? Our anxiety levels are off the charts. I see it everyday with my students and their parents. The media feeds it. Everyone seems to be on some sort of medication.
 My answer is to search out a set of symbols and re-create the poetics of street signage. Then, like a small loose-bound book, bind up the packet as a small gift edition. Contained in the "pages"' are the words and images that promise to measure the truth and realities of our current given situation.

It is my own cardboard literacy project. Ink and acrylic on cardboard bound by ribbon. Edition of 10

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cardboard bards

 Living in Miami means reading your intersections and experiencing a constant literary drive-by.
 This has led me to ponder signage, (I used to work for a sign maker) and the one or two line phrases that can shoot you into imagined stories.
 If we were reduced, (as these bards are), to telling our story on one piece of cardboard, what would you say?
How would you share the truth of your situation? I'm creating a set of visual symbols representing the truths in my life...
Next will come words and I will bind them together for my own cardboard literary statement!

Sunday, October 9, 2016


first draft of this image: Warding off Monsters
During the dark ages in Europe, monks in their fortress-like-monasteries, kept literature alive. They worked by candle light and burning whale oil to copy and embellish stories of the prophets and saints in Greek and Latin. These documents where bound into books and called illuminated manuscripts, not only because of the bright colors and glow to the pages. The name also references the capacity of the books to hold light, (education and wisdom), for the largely illiterate population living under fear and superstition. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Survivor guilt

Almost a thousand lives have been lost in Haiti. God please bless that island sometime soon. Their homes and schools are blown away, bridges toppled, and crops destroyed by a massive barrelling  hurricane and then... a day or two later the same Hurricane, Matthew, skates along the coastline of the USA, where we wait in fear of losing our electricity, running out of water and fighting over fuel, without daring to enter our land space. It just brushed past us. The worst damage was caused by storm surges coinciding with the high tides. How come we are the lucky ones, again?

Our strategies this time were simple: storing water in and keeping it out. Of course I am thankful. But I feel a little survivor guilt too.

Luther the movie

A biopic of Martin Luther made in 2003 , directed by Eric Till, and starring Joseph Fiennes, makes a good Hurricane Matthew diversion.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Taking another bite at Cranach the elder

Here are a  few paintings from a series I did a few years ago. Not knowing I was related to Cranach, I used his versions of Adam and Eve and embedded them into the paper made from cooked apples, branches and leaves with the shredded khaki pants of my sons and then I sewed collage elements into the composition.
There was a time element at play. Embedded photos had to bleed through the layers of the paper to give a ghostly presence.

Bits and pieces of apple tree were left inside the paper sandwich to eventually stain the surfacees.
Funny, how at the time I was obsessed with the Genesis story of all consuming curiosity and how now I am mulling over the violent and remorseless beheading of an enemy in the Judith story. What does that say about me? Or about my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather? He was a good businessman and painted for money. Once the church became embroiled in fractious doctrines, and there was a rise in iconoclasts who destroyed many of the artworks in the church, Cranach had to diversify. The portraits of Judith were made by Cranach for private patrons and carried private symbolism. I think my own Adam and Eve series calmed my anxiety about my failing marriage and helped me literally layer my own history into a genesis story of my own. The Judith beheadings baffle me. I am interested in the opulent fashion statements in each painting... and the soft self reflecting smiles of the slicing murderesses. I don't think the paintings I am doing are any good for me. They kind of give me an upset stomach.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The dark ages as a text page

A leap from the Romanesque to the Gothic inspired by the illustrative monks and the plundering crusaders. I am working on an art history text book where the story of each age follows my family lineage. This page fills in between the spaces, and gives my sons a good dose of dragons. They are boys after all.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Miami is so far away from home

Miami is a perfect place for the homesick, homesick, home sick. Everyone here seems to be a transient soul. Fleeing or floundering, bathing in the tropical sun and nursing our wounds, preening like the useless peacocks in my neighborhood, we come to gain traction by keeping our focus on the moment.
If only the economy were better in NY and there was a job for me up there. Miami right now is building and bursting and the work is good. So I will stay here for a while more making a nest with the other insects.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Riches to share

The company of two brilliant, funny, compassionate men...who make breakfast!
Creating a safe place (messes allowed) where a child can brim with glee over her art.
My son survived this crash of his.

I tell him a daily gratitude list is a priceless and painless way to change your life.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Curio cabinets

I love collecting seed pods and nests and all sorts of bits of nature from my evening walks. It offers a momento of the occasion as I study in awe the handiwork of other living beings. That said, I have to ask...Why do we kill and stuff the beautiful things in life? They ... collect dust... I have regrets.