Artist finds humor, inspiration during recovery
It was early summer and Andrea Avery was trapped in bed following massive leg surgery.
Too drugged to read without getting nauseous Avery, the workaholic manager of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery who usually spent her summers traveling the globe, now had a walker.
"A big thing for me was when I got a walker, that kind of took the wind out of my sails. It was like 'I have a walker?'" Avery recalled. "I don't have any family down here so it was kind of a really intense month where I was stuck in my apartment."
While stuck in bed Avery resorted to scouring the internet in search of inspiration for her thesis project, all the while stumbling across beautiful and bizarre images for her blog, The Procrastination File.
Avery launched the quirky Web site prior to her surgery to free up space on her computer.
"I'm a procrastinator by nature but it turned into this different thing where I was procrastinating on purpose," said Avery, "I thought if nothing else a few of my friends would thing it was funny."
After taking a brief hiatus from posting before her surgery, Avery turned to the Procrastination File as an outlet for her creative energy during her weeks spent stuck in bed.
"It ended up that I would just spend a lot of my time thinking about my thesis and researching, and coming across more pictures through researching," said Avery, "It was the only way to find humor in the crazy pain i was going through."
As she posted new images people would comment giving her a welcome bit of contact with the outside world.
"It was just fun to like put them up and see what people would say. Now it's something I have to do about every two days," Avery said.
Mobile once again after months of recovery Avery has done anything but procrastinate, staying busy with her graduate studies, curating an impressive run of shows at the gallery and working on her monumental thesis show.
Lately her focus has shifted slightly from bringing in nationally renowned artists like Patty Chang, Kako Ueda and Roxanne Jackson to the gallery, to working on her own show "Turn Our Faces West".
"The surgery kind of molded my thesis," Avery said.
Because it was light and portable the hand stitching work she did on dozens of aprons for her show lent itself nicely to the physical limitations she faced, Avery said.
The show, a massive and immersive sculpture made up of square-dancing petticoats, larger-than-life paper dolls, and her hand-sewn narratives, is shaping up to be a triumphant moment for Avery who said her humor and focus helped get her through this trying summer.
The show at the Inova Gallery, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd., runs through Dec. 11 with an opening reception Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.
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