Sunday, November 20, 2011

Enews 09/18/11 War Rug Project Update 3

Barbara Koenen ::

Art Prize

The WAR RUG PROJECT @ the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) runs through October 9, 2011 .

Art Prize runs from Sept. 21 - Oct 5. Vote for me # 41731 during the first week.

Exhibition ends with a print pull on Sunday October 9 at 2 pm.


The War Rug Project installation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is comprised of 3 framed monoprints of the Silk Road War Rug monoprints from 2006 (right), three original war rugs (left), a book, cards and the newly made 9/11 War Rug on a platform. Two of the original rugs are 9/11 war rugs, and one dates from the Soviet occupation in the early 1980s. That carpet is the larger one on the right, and it was the inspiration for the Silk Road prints. Oh yes, and that's me in the middle, working away with the spices.

It was surprisingly moving to methodically render the twin towers, their windows, the jets and explosions in spices. It was a relief to make the flags and peace dove, with their big flat planes of color. And especially liberating to be able to make the aircraft carrier and the jets queuing up, all of which seemed quite free-form.

Of course I wondered what the weavers thought about the images they were slowly making. The explosions have become flattened and abstracted and the words, originally in English describing the events of 9/11, are long obliterated, as the pattern has been repeated for a decade by weavers who could never read them in the first place.

You can see the day-by-day progress here. And read about the 9/11 rugs here.

photo by Dianne Carroll Burdick.

The completed spice installation, Sept 11, 2011
The completed spice installation, Sept 11, 2011

"Twin Towers- Tribute Rug Carpet-9/11 2001- USA History" was completed on the morning of Sunday, September 11, 2011 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. It is named after the title of the original war rug's Ebay listing.

The spice installation took about 6 days to make, and It was great to be able to build it while the museum was open, and have many conversations with people while I was making it. Lots of questions about the origin of the patterns, the spices used (the blue is colored sugar), how the prints are made, and what keeps it there (gravity!). The finishing touch was to place the firecracker fringe border that Tim made underneath.

Wonderful enthusiasm from the security staff, who are now very concerned that something will happen to the artwork. They are correct! I was there for the first impact, when a little boy dropped his toy onto it. Oops! But, the imperfection lets the rug reveal itself for what it really is. Spices.

We will pull prints of the installation on the last day of the show, Sunday October 9 at 2:00 pm. Join us!

photo by John Corriveau

Demonstrating the popper firecrackers on the fringe for reporter Tori Pelz.
Demonstrating the popper firecrackers on the fringe for reporter Tori Pelz.

So many family and friends made their way to the GRAM on Sunday, September 11 for my artist talk -- it was wonderful to be surrounded by people we love on that day. My talk went well (from what I hear) as did that of my colleague, the painter David Gillanders. Thanks to curator Cindy Buckner, who combined us as artists who use war as a springboard for philosophical and aesthetic investigations.

Here are several articles and interviews about the project that you might enjoy:

Fragrant Re-imagining of Afghan War Rugs: An Interview with artist Barbara Koenen
by Tori Pelz, a reporter for the Rapidian who actually spent 6 months in Afghanistan in 2004. She interviewed me after my artist talk on 9/11, and I hope to return the favor soon.

On the local news -- WZZM

The GRAM video

photo by Jonathon Timothy Stoner

Art Prize

Art Prize is an open art competition and the public is the judge. It takes place from Sept 21 - Oct 5 throughout downtown Grand Rapids, and really transforms the city.

The first week has voting for all the artists (thumbs up or down), and the second week is just the top 10. Voting is free, but all voters must register in person (so you can see the art in person!). The Art Prize website has info about places to stay, artist, venues, voting and more. Here is a schedule of events, in case you are able to come up to Grand Rapids.

When I went last year I was amazed to see thousands of people walking all over downtown GR, and every one was looking at and talking about art. It is a phenomenal experience and fun for the whole family! If you come, let me know and we can try to connect (I'll be there on weekends.) And if you want to vote for me, I'm # 41731.

Sept 21 - 28 :: Art Prize Round One Voting
Sept 29 - Oct 5 :: Art Prize Top Ten Voting
Oct 6 :: Art Prize Winner Announced
Oct 9 :: War Rug Destruction / Printmaking 2 pm @ the GRAM
Oct 9 :: Last Day of GRAM exhibition


September 11, 2011 came and went, and it was good to participate in such a wide spectrum of remembrance. A number of people made a point of coming to the museum to see the 9/11 rug. Veterans, families, even scouts! The War Rug Project helps create a space for contemplation and inclusiveness, ambiguity and complexity.

Bear in mind the conservative estimation that between 12,000 and 14,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001. They are killed by crossfire, improvised explosive devices, assassination, bombing, and night raids into houses of suspected insurgents. Unexploded ordnance from previous wars and from U.S. cluster bombs continue to kill after the fighting stops.

As we remember 9/11, let's mourn for all the victims, and work together to make a real and lasting peace. And if you'd like to help, consider supporting one of these fine organizations.

photo by Dianne Carroll Burdick


Heartfelt thanks go to the friends of the War Rug Project. Your support makes a huge difference -- spiritually and financially. I could not do this without you!

Julie Banzhaf Stone :: Robert J. Tassone :: Chuck Thurow :: William Zbaren and Robert Sharoff :: Delphine Cannon :: Katharine Banzhaf :: Beverly Koenen (thanks Mom!) :: Duane Fimreite :: Janet Carl Smith :: Pat Casler :: Alicia Berg :: Michelle Boone :: Deborah and Glenn Doering :: Carrie Hanson :: Anonymous :: Jackie Kazarian :: Pooja Vukosavich :: Chris Gent :: Shirley Patton :: Kristin Dean :: Kristin Patton :: Carolina Jayaram :: Laura Samson :: Esther Grimm :: Karen Paluzzi Steele :: Carol Reisinger :: Dr. David Hinkamp :: Marguerite Horberg :: Dianna Frid :: :: Annie Morse :: Doug VanderHoof :: Neiman Brothers :: Tim Samuelson :: Alison Neidt Toonen :: Lynn Basa :: Mary Wittig :: John Vinci :: Jane Bretl :: Iain Muirhead :: Adam Brooks :: several anonymous donors!!

Special thanks to Samantha, Max and Daniel Koenen, who have been wonderful hosts to their Aunt. And to Elizabeth, who is an amazing mom to them and sister in law to me. And my little brother Rob, the captain of the ship. And of course Tim, my love and sweetheart.

I think we've raised the whole $5,000 needed for this phase of the project, but am still reconciling the Indie Gogo website with other contributions. Will start on gifts soon. If you'd still like to help out, click here to learn more. Many thanks to everyone!!

You are receiving this newsletter from artist Barbara Koenen because I thought you might be interested in my artwork. If that is incorrect, my apologies and please unsubscribe at the link below. Thank you!

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