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Turbines, Turbans, and Drums

Posted by Deborah Bergman on

Joanne Rollins for physical element (Summer 2016) wearing lots of cool stuff, including my Drum Concert (see below) crepe de chine wrap, as a turban. Not a turbine. That's actually relevant. Photo: Amanda Hatheway.

So I texted Jo Carter, the proprietress and curator at physical element, in Portland, where you can currently find my stuff.

"Which one is that?"

"Drum Concert," she shot back

I  smiled to myself.

When people look through my silk collection (fine arts photographs, printed individually on large silk rectangles and squares, worn however you like) they sometimes ask, "what's that one?" (pictured below).  And this means Drum Concert  specifically. This image tells the  story of a Taiko drum concert. Visually, it flows with the rest of the collection. The content diverges.

Everything else in this collection has to do with water and power. Either it's plummeting to the ground or it is being directed, and harnessed in absentia, by a massive turbine (not a turban). The curves and power of the abstracted turbine blades infer the power of a river by default.  Meanwhile literal raindrops filter across their weathered steel.

Drum Concert: inkjet print available in silver paper and plexiglass mount, or silk.

Drum Concert: inkjet print available in silver paper and plexiglass mount, or silk.

The drum concert is neither of the above. However, it was the first image I ever printed on silk. So it's actually the source.

It wasn't an image I ever intended to create, either. In Summer 2014 I was in the middle of a three- day weekend workshop with the amazing Aline Smithson whose many numbered assignments were partially designed to keep a person imaging around the clock.  So, Saturday night, I was still looking for 1) something loud, and 2) to tell a story.  Driving home, I heard a drum concert beginning in the park: done and done.  

Eventually I printed the image, then draped it carefully it across the arm of my living room couch.  It was huge. As I stepped out of the room and looked back to gauge the full effect, I was reminded of what a singular contribution graphic black and white can make to, well, almost anything.

I saw it would make a great duvet or throw.  So I found a resource for printing in silk and added a few other images while I was at it.  It was already something I had been meaning to do.

About two weeks later, a nondescript little white box came back in the mail.

Once I'd opened it, I sat down a minute to think.  Because while they certainly did not look exactly like photographs, all the tests looked almost startlingly good.

And that's how Drum Concert ended up in this collection:  the one that doesn't quite fit, but belongs.  Because it's the one that started it all.

You never really know what's coming next, or where something is going to go (even if you think so). Which is, it occurs to me, why a good versatile silk wrap can come in handy.

This one looks pretty good covering a small end or altar table.  I've done that.  It looks great draped any number of ways on the body.  And despite its large size (60x42") it also makes for a damn fine turban.  

What will they think of next?

I can't wait to see.

Right now, yes, you can find deborahbergmandesigns at physical element (  in NW PDX OR,. the town where I live and which is currently cleaving into two: the city that it was, and the one that other people who are just arriving imagine it to be.  It's a transitional moment.  We're on the brink of something.  No one is really sure what that something is going to be. You might want to feel what that feels like while you can.

Speaking of things splitting in two, I am in the process of posting the silk collection on this gallery site for my out-of-town customers.  It's certainly an interim solution, but a fairly efficient one.  I am currently creating a dedicated e-commerce site for the dbd silk line, which will be its real home. That's fun, and it shouldn't be too long....

SunTzu Desmond, photo by Susan Bein. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of this silk line is how it lends itself to collaboration with other artists.

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