Gin Stone is a mixed-media artist and ardent environmentalist living and working on Cape Cod. She uses rope, reclaimed fishing gear, dyes, cyanotypes and found objects in both her humane taxidermy and sculptural pieces.
I use a lot of hand dyed reclaimed longline fishing gear as a medium. Most of that material from scientists and alliances who collect the used material from fishermen in hopes that it will not be discarded in the ocean’ or a landfill.The longline or rope is cleaned and hand colored with fabric dyes, then painstakingly attached to forms. The fiber can be manipulated in many ways to mimic different types of fur, scales, or feathers. An array of materials go into the finished work including found stone, sculpted shell, driftwood, and salvaged artifacts.Incorporating myth and the mythology of antiquity keeps me from growing restless in my practice. I combine human and animal forms to create chimera that represent ancient goddesses. I give my animals the ability to create their own myths as well, with individuals wearing ceremonial headdresses and tribal shell-work or some branching out into royal hierarchy. Some new pieces feature many tribal aspects, and in that I reference any ethnic groups individual cultural vibe.I look to the work of The Quilters of Gee’s Bend as inspiration for pattern and color.
Notes on fishing gear use:
Using the fishing gear was a result of a long process of experimentation with found materials whose genesis began with painter’s block and long walks on the beach to clear my head. I began picking up bits of rope, line and marine debris for future use as color inspiration. I then started using the debris as ‘paint’, creating landscapes on a flat surface. I discovered the abundance of used fisherman’s longline gear discarded locally as a dye-able material, thus expanding my color palette. Using the dyed line on a flat surface for color studies led to finally combining this knowledge with my love of natural history, science, animals and myth to create 3-dimensional sculptures that tell a story.
This humane taxidermy work represents many things to me: the reuse of fishing gear that would otherwise go to a landfill, and helping raise awareness of the plight of our oceans, now increasingly filled with discarded gear which entangles marine life. Nearly ten years after my initial use of the material, longline fishing gear is rapidly disappearing from the local landscape, due to both the decline in small commercial fishing fleets due to previous decades of overfishing and the resulting regulation on lack of cod population. A second frequently overlooked reason for the demise of the fleets and it’s gear is the gentrification of the Cape.
Notes on Stone’s series work:
Many of the chimera are created from the mythology from across cultural platforms, ancient Egypt, Greece and Asia. They are our myths incarnate. Frequently I allow my singular creatures, or ones that are of a single animal source, to begin to create their own mythology. I now have a series of bears that have their own tribal roles like the medicine man and tribal chief.
Chapters of the work’s narrative and corresponding installations:
The Natural History Museum Installation: ‘Creature Comforts’
A large body installation utilizing the entire Kathryn Schultz Gallery of the Cambridge Art Association. The installation, ‘Creature Comforts’, was a fully immersive natural history style diorama complete with ambient sound created by the artist with special audio software. This was a fully self-curated program from start to finish and invited three other artists including a large format photographer to create the final installation. It was widely considered by peers to be the most cohesive and detailed installation the gallery had hosted to date.
Chimera and Human Myth Incarnate
“Artemis”, “Freyja”, “Bast” and “Huli Jing” are goddess chimera recreations made to embody the female deity. A social commentary crossover piece arose in this series titled “Mother’s Milk – Spilled”. Tiger headed woman with 6 teats crying out in emotional pain in reaction to school mass shootings. Her milk lays around her in puddles of bullet casings.
The Way of the Animal Powers
The animals now become the myth makers in this series. Totemic additions and ornament to the animals create their own storytelling and mythology. “Scarred Silverback w/ Ceremonial Headdress” shows a bear of age, a battle scarred face with one eye replaced with an early 1900’s Indian head nickel and a headdress of squirrel and grasses. Near his neck is hung a shell ornament. Crossover pieces include metaphor and allegorical work such as the “Sacred White Buffalo Gilt with Gold and Commercialized” and “Hare-Tethered”, a rabbit trying to break free of the flat plane of the wall but is restrained by rope.
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