This week’s cover artist, Candace Farmer, 64, is an East Lansing-native and former financial aid professional for Thomas M. Cooley Law School and legal secretary for Kraft Law Firm. But she’s left that career path behind, deciding it was time to follow in the steps of her family, which she said is full of “makers,” and dedicate this chapter of her life to art. Now, Farmer is a full-time artist and member of Grove Gallery & Studios in East Lansing.
A lack of formal art education bothered Farmer, making her reluctant to declare herself an artist. But a fascination with the “transformative process of making,” Farmer said, kept her hooked. Farmer, who learned her trade mostly from observation, began making experimental artwork from materials immediately available to her: cloth, thread, yarns and needles.
“I wanted to make my own everything, from start to finish,” Farmer said.
What medium/media do you work with, and why do you favor them?
I like working with fiber, because it is accessible and I like to feel it in my hands. Add to that the texture of threads and color using dyes and screen-printed images — it’s magical.
Tell us more about “Crows Gleaning the Field” — what inspired it, how you created it.
Crows are so intelligent. My husband and I have a little place near Lake Michigan. Last year, I noticed a crow family living nearby, and started to pay close attention to their calls and interactions with each other. “Two Crows,” the shortened title, was the first of several images inspired by that family.
I used a technique called deconstructed screen printing on watercolor paper to create the background and then made my crows from discarded Lino prints. I like the way they strut across the imagined field.
What artist/art movements influence/ inspire you?
Jane Dunnewold, a pioneer in the art cloth movement, has been a strong influence on my technique, but I have been most inspired by the small art groups I’ve been involved with locally at Grove Gallery, and a Surface Design Group formed by Gretel Rutledge and Martha Brownscombe.
For someone like me, who was once reluctant to affix the artist label on my name tag, the confidence gained from these relationships has been invaluable.
What does the future hold for your work? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
I don’t really know how to answer this, except to say that my work evolves with each finished piece. I’ll continue to follow where it leads me, and as long as there are people who can relate to my vision I’ll be happy.
Grove Gallery Co-Op
325 Grove St A, East Lansing Summer hours: Thursday and Friday Noon – 5:30 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday Noon – 4 p.m. (517) 333-7180 www.grovegalleryandstudios.com