Skip to main content

On Deborah Doering's intercontinental art collaboration

I attended quite a special event on Thursday night, in a striking venue. Artist Deborah Doering (pictured above, right) held a fundraising party/installation on the 84th floor of the Sears Tower, the monolithic quarter-mile high skyscraper that dominates the skyline of downtown Chicago. The event was to publicise and benefit a collaboration that she is initiating with a group of women artists in South Africa. These South African women, many of whose families are affected by AIDS, made these large tapestries which in the past few years have been purchased and exhibited all over the world.

The Keiskamma Altarpiece, a tapestry based on the Isenheim altarpiece

This group of women from the Keiskamma Valley have agreed to collaborate with Deborah by turning sketches and paintings created by Deborah into tapestries. The aim is eventually to install the finished tapestries in 100 public institutions across the globe.

It's an amibitious project, but Deborah is already being helped by a patron of hers, Dr. Grace Carreon MD, who arranged to host Thursday night's event in the beautiful office space of Dr. Bhavesh Patel, MD. Throughout the space, which has marble floors, wood panelled walls, and inner rooms created from boxes of glass, Deborah and her husband Glenn had installed dozens of small paintings and drawings, arranged in rows on the glass walls or placed across the boardroom table. About six giant LCD screens were simultaneously playing a video showing the work of the Kieskamma Valley artists. Guests could walk through the huge office space, look out of the window at the vertiginous view of the city, spend time looking at the art on the walls or the desks, watch the video displays for a while, and then partake of food and wine in the lavishly furnished kitchen area.

And in the cube-room at the centre of the office, guests could create small paintings themselves using the stencil-stipple-paint method that Deborah often uses to create her work. The following slideshow gives you some idea of the evening's events:

The first phase of the project is to try and raise $5,000 to cover part of the costs of visiting South Africa. The plan is for Dr. Carreon to accompany Deborah, so the trip will be part art project and part humanitarian project. The project has the provisional title 'Facebook Too', and I wish Deborah and all involved with it the very best of luck. For more information, visit Deborah's website at
 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader


Popular posts from this blog

On my 300th blog post


It's my 300th blog post. And I seem to remember that in my 200th blog post I said that I would start quoting from John Ruskin's "Praeterita", after which this blog was named. Well, better late then never, so quotation number 2 is below.

First, though, some thoughts on this blog and blogging in general. I started Praeterita at the end of last year after reading a book by an art-marketing guru called Alyson Stansfield that recommended it as a means for artists to publicise their work better. But from the start I thought it would be more interesting to talk in a discursive way about my wider interest in art, and artists, and the history of art. After a desultory beginning where I only posted once a week, my blogging habit has now grown to the point where I am posting sometimes twice a day, and more than 45 times per month (helped enormously by the Blogger feature that lets you save blog posts with a post-dated timestamp, so that you can put posts in the bank to …

My worst open studio

Most open studios are notable for nothing really happening. You sit there waiting for people to come into your studio, eat all your nibbles and guzzle the free drink, and then leave after a cursory glance at your work. Usually, the worst thing that happens is that you get stuck in a boring conversation with a dull person,

But there was one time a few years ago when I got into one of these conversations, and quite quickly the person I was talking to started to make homophobic remarks about another artist in the building. After a few minutes, I decided I'd had enough and asked him to leave. He seemed genuinely surprised that I had any objection to what he was saying, which in retrospect makes me even angrier if he thought he had a sympathetic ear.

He asked me why, and I told him I didn't like people talking that way, and I said: "This conversation ended 30 seconds ago." So he left.

So, nothing dramatic like Jackson Pollock getting drunk in a fancy New York apartment a…

Van Gogh on Degas

From a letter dated July 31, 1888:
“Why do you say Degas can’t get it up properly? Degas lives like some petty lawyer and doesn’t like women, knowing very well that if he did like them and bedded them frequently, he’d go to seed and be in no position to paint any longer. The very reason why Degas’s painting is virile and impersonal is that he has resigned himself to being nothing more than a petty lawyer with a horror of kicking over the traces. He observes human animals who are stronger than him screwing and f—ing away and he paints them so well for the very reason that he isn’t all that keen on it himself.”
Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader