Feature Friday with Muir Hughes

Muir Hughes is the artistic force behind the blog http://muirhughes.wordpress.com .  In it, she reveals not only her artistic style, but also the wonderings of her mind and the feelings of her heart. When you read her postings, you can’t help but feel that you are entering her private world, getting to know the soul of an artist, and becoming an adoptive parent to all the endearing creatures she creates.

You can catch a glimpse of that creativity in her writing:

“I make lots of things from fabric. I use mostly recycled materials and let them form themselves into their secret desires. I love to watch the transformation. Some things are created from scratch and others are manipulated, altered and re-made into new and fantastic art. I like that no two things are exactly the same, I like that they end up in a new place with a new person to begin a new life outside of my sewing machine. I want them to bring joy and blessings.”

In a recent post to her blog Muir reveals that there are at least 1,000 animals inside her that she is going to set free with the help of some fabric and her sewing machine.  Please read our interview with this unique artist below:

Muir, you committed yourself to make 1,000 animals to “set them free”.  That is a big commitment!

Q.  What was the first one you made and how did it come into being?

A.  I’ve been designing strange animals with heart for the last 10 years. The idea for the 1,000 animal project came in early March. I began on March 17th with a collection of birds. I was in the middle of a special dress order and not able to devote much time to them until I was in to April. Since then, I have been working for at least 4 hours daily on them, sometimes more.

Q.  How much longer do you think it will be before you make the last one?

A.  My deadline is the last week of June. They will all go up as an art installation at the new RayRay Gallery in downtown Chico on July 2.

Q.  What are you going to do with all of them?

A.  Document, display, and hopefully sell all of them.

Q.  How has this goal affected your life?

A. On the more mundane level, my house has taken a hit. There is more than the usual chaos with piles of fabric, scraps, odds and ends strewn about the place. Physically, my body suffers at times, especially my shoulder and hip. Creatively, the strict deadline has actually spawned new design ideas and infused a new life into my work. I also have a new respect for numbers. 1,000 in this context is a big number!

Q.  Your artistic focus seems to be on making clothing and animals from fabric.  How and when did this interest in fabric and sewing emerge?

A.  I’ve always created art with anything I could get my hands on. As a child, bits of cardboard, wax, cotton balls became my medium as that was available. Later I focused on painting and sculpture. I left art for a career path in State Parks and it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my son that I realized how badly I needed to return to creating. I wanted to work with a non-toxic medium and fell head over heels with all textiles.

Q.  I find it interesting that you say you let your recycled materials “form themselves into their secret desires”.  How do these materials “communicate”, so to speak, their desired form to you, since you are the one that brings those wishes to life?

A.  I think when we are in resistance, attached to a rigid idea of our work or the final outcome, we get a little stuck. When those ideas fall away and we let inspiration come, it’s as though it moves through us rather than emanating from us. When that artistic flow works best, I’m just as surprised by the outcome and feel like a lucky observer of the relationship between the piece and a viewer. I’ve been selling these creatures at the Farmer’s Market and craft fairs for 9 years and it’s wonderful to see somebody walk by and take pause. They may find solace or humor or distaste, but they’ve felt something.

Q.  When you are choosing certain materials to create with, what is it that attracts you to certain fabrics, textures, etc, and not to others?

A.  I really like recycled materials. It could be fabric that a grandmother bought to make into something someday and the dreams for it have grown and changed. It could be a linen dishtowel that someone brought home from a once in a lifetime adventure, or one special little bit of lace that a child was holding for a doll or even a wedding dress. I like the honesty of these articles. They’ve been around, seen a little life and are ready for a transformation.

Q.  I see a lot of recycled materials used in much of your art.  What kind of meaning does that type of product add to what you make?

A.  There are so many available materials. If we recycled what is currently out there, being shipped to the landfill I don’t think we’d ever run out of supplies.

Q.  What is your favorite type of creation, the one you feel is most rewarding for you to make or most special for the person who receives it?

A.  Anytime a piece speaks to somebody, I feel very grateful. My animals are meant to be reflections of our humanity, our quirky frailties and my hope is that if we can accept them we can begin to go easier on ourselves.

Q.  You create beautiful things that are appreciated by many.  Besides your very personal art, what else do you find beauty in?

A.  Our shared stories of life, expressed in literature, art, kindness or simple daily experiences, the things that tie us together and help us feel a little less lonely.

Thank you so much, Muir, for sharing a part of yourself with our readers.  We know that you have already made 420 of those animals, so there are ONLY 580 to go!  We will keep track of your progress, so we can celebrate with you each step of the way.  We would definitely encourage our readers  to visit your blog http://muirhughes.wordpress.com and your Etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/muirhughes so they get to personally know you and your very original creations.  That is the only way they will fully appreciate your passion for what you do.

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