Not everyone would call computers and glitter "serious" art materials. But for artist Vickie Meguire, both are parts of a beautiful whole.
"I don't designate materials in terms of a fine artist's materials ... and craftsperson's materials," she says from her home in Montana. "Whatever works!" she adds with a laugh.
Meguire's new installation at Colorado College's Coburn Gallery, Vickie Meguire: Body of Pattern, features life-size paper kimonos, suspended from the ceiling or walls and covered in ornate patterns. To construct them, Meguire first creates dynamic patterns and tessellations on her computer, pixelating the swatches into boxes of color, then prints the sheets. She wrinkles, irons and sews them before decorating them with fabric paint and lines of glitter. The overall effect creates a mixture of curiosity and deep serenity, despite "glitter" not often being associated with the latter.
"When you see them, it has this shimmering effect," explains gallery curator Jessica Hunter Larsen.
Larsen says the glitter lines and fabric paint only comprise part of the puzzle-like designs adorning the flat, T-shaped kimonos that sway gently with the breezes in the gallery. Much of Meguire's work focuses on the manipulation of patterns.
"Creating a pattern isn't so much of my work," she says. "I [just] decide where I want to put it."
This can be a complex process, especially considering that Meguire has thousands of patterns loaded on her computer.
"What I like about the computer," she says, "is that you can very quickly pursue your ideas without waiting for your paint to dry."
Meguire's patterns range from recognizable cultural symbols to natural images, though many are complicated abstractions. Mediating the random quality of natural icons with the computer a pattern machine is another uniquely Japanese trait in her work, a product of months she's spent in Japan.
"[She finds] this interesting balance between the sense of decoration and ornamentation that's on the work, and then this deeper sense of contemplation and spirituality," Larsen says.
Ornamentation and decoration are not often considered high art, says Larsen, but Meguire challenges this concept. Her love of Japanese art, celebrated for the beautiful designs that adorn everyday objects, influences her work.
As an art teacher (now retired), Meguire taught her students to write haiku poetry. She's written her own, as well; on a visit to Japan in the early '90s, actually, she entered a haiku contest on a whim and won. Now she adds her own haiku to her installations, allowing visitors to pull paper slips of the poetry from a basket.
"She really does create this beautiful place for contemplation," says Larsen, who expects viewers to spend a good deal of time soaking in the serene aura and working with the patterns on the kimono. "You realize that you are very much enjoying something that has glitter on it."