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Archive for the ‘Personally Speaking’ Category

Patchwork Pundits Take On Politics

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

“In the nineteenth century, quiltmaking was often the only socially acceptable way for a woman to express her political views.” With that explanation, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum put out a call for politically-themed quilts, for an exhibit to celebrate “the tradition of activism and awareness.” The deadline for entries was in September, and the show ran from late October through much of January. So the Presidential Election was certainly a central focus.

I wasn’t able to get to Golden, Colorado to see the exhibit, but several quilters and artists whose work was featured sent me their jpegs and statements, which I share with you here. For “Political Circus,” Misty Cole began with traditional 1930s mosaic of squares and half square triangles for the classic Kansas City Star patterns of democratic and republican mascots. She details her process in a blog.

 

 

In “Cotton Grown in the USA”, a different sort of patriotism is expressed. Only 14″ square, this little piece is made entirely with cotton fabric grown and manufactured in the USA. Charlotte Noll used a grass-green background with improvisationally-pieced letters, and paper-pieced cotton bolls to punctuate her point of pride.

 

 

 

Barbara Hall calls her quilt, “When the Fish Return.” She explains that the Colorado River is “the southwest’s most important source of water.  Five states rely on this river to sustain cities and agriculture. But the Colorado River ends in Mexico.   Our overuse has created a loss of habitat and environment in what was once a thriving river delta in Mexico.  In 2014 in cooperatio
n with Mexican wildlife ecologists, water was released into the delta to try and revitalize the river’s natural habitat.  The project is being studied and monitored.  My quilt is a story of what might happen if the habitat reconstruction is successful.”

 

 

 

 

“Fleeing Drought – Is This Climate Change?” is by Sara Sharp. She explains, “Can there still be any doubt that climate change is really happening? Despite denial by some politicians, rising global temperatures are adversely affecting both humans and wildlife. Social unrest and human suffering have been caused by crop failures and lack of potable water. Both people and animals must travel far from their historic homes to compete for limited resources. This quilt symbolizes diminishing rainfall, resulting wildfires, and the altered migration patterns of birds who must travel further each year to find supplies of healthy food and water.”

 

 

“War Sucks” is a tour de force by the award-winning Kristin LaFlammeAn army wife, Kristin created it “as a way of processing my feelings about war during a period when my husband was fighting more than he was home.
No matter which side you are on or whether you are a combatant or a civilian, war sucks.” She explains how the process mirrored the experiences: “The fractured aspect of crazy quilting made sense for the background, as did the hint of stitching the seams back together created by the utilitarian embroidery. I allowed for raw edges (war is nothing if not raw) and added jumbles of knotted threads ripped from my fabrics after the wash. I used stenciled, splattered, scribbled, new commercial, re-purposed, discharged, uniform, and dyed fabrics. I worked the fabrics both before and after piecing them. The quilt is backed with an old woolen blend army blanket and I left the edges open and stuffed them with fabrics and yarns that could allude to bandages and guts. The overall quilting is intersecting straight lines that could be tracer fire or bullet trajectories.”

“My Home Peace” looks at the flip side of war in a traditional mode. This piece is by Peggy McGreary.

 

 

 

“Peace and Harmony” as shown below is also by Sara Sharp. It is dense with meaningful photo transfers: sheet music, quotes, conceptual terms that add up to a state of peace.

 

It is hardly controversial to posit that War is bad and Peace is good, and most quilters—and quilt lovers will come down squarely on the side of environmental protections. But I’m glad to say that the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum did include some slightly more subversive expressions of opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara Sharp is prolific! She also made “Barriers to Freedom” which was juried in as well. “Oppression, famine, and poverty cause people to flee their homelands,” she writes, “searching for a better life of opportunity and freedom. Some politicians and countries advocate building fences and walls to keep immigrants out of their countries. This quilt features passenger lists from the early 1900’s showing people, like my family’s ancestors, who were welcomed into the United States. In our time, we must again show kindness to provide bridges to safety for deserving immigrants.

This work belongs on my new website, United We Quilt: Sewing Justice. I’m hoping Sara submits it –and perhaps others–for that online gallery. The time has never been so dire for supporting immigration reform and for showing compassion to those who seek a better life.

 

 

“Burned”(18″ x 24″) is a liberal rallying cry to throw off shackles. Regina V. Benson  elaborates: In 1992 Lindsay Van Gelder stepped forward to confess that she had coined the tem “bra-burning” to describe a feminist protest during the 1968 Miss America beauty pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It appears that some women during that protest did threaten to remove their bras and throw them into a communal trash bin. As a young New York Post journalist, Ms. Van Gelder’s reporting of the event came to compare the potential trashing of these bras to the burning of draft cards at Vietnam War protests. That, combined with the title of the story, seems to have been enough to start this legend. The term was immediately picked up by other reporters and writers and grew into a viral metaphor –  the discarding of feminine shackles that stereotyped women in sexist and objective ways. This urban legend survives today and continues to fuel forceful imagery for daughters of the women’s liberation movement. This reporting did inspire many, actual, subsequent bra-burning events.” Benson continues, “I created this work as a triple entendre: one for the mythical legend of bra-burning; the second for the term “burned” as meaning to expose the myth itself; and the third for the actual use of burning techniques in my work to marry the medium with the message.”

 

Last in this review of featured quilts in Patchwork Pundits is my little 16″-square “Choice Nine-Patch.” Frankly, I was surprised that they took it, and wonder if it engendered any reactions pro or against.  It’s about Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.  Although it was made in 2002, I think it’s still highly relevent, especially with the president’s choice of a Supreme Court pick who has shifted the majority to the right, a judge who was hand-picked to roll back rights such as worker protections, health care, religious freedom and reproductive justice. Here’s my two cents, my artist’s statement, in poetry, as it’s meant to soften the divisive wedge between the so-called Pro-Life community and the Choice community:

 

Respectfully, this little Nine Patch references “The Nine,”

That highest court in all the land, the real Supremes, or SCOTUS.

The one case they decided almost all can call to mind—

The case that still stirs up debates that we can’t help but notice.

Check out the sac of little pearls–fish eggs, you know, Roe.

Wade in, and then explore the depths of privacy and choice,

Should women self-determine their own fates and families?

My stance is clear, as I hereby give cloth and thread my voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repair and Connect

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

That’s the title of an exhibit Kevan Lunney put together at the Capital Health Medical Center in Pennington, NJ.  This line-up of “rejuvenating work made of fiber and cloth” was sponsored by the hospital’s Art and Healing Committee plus Hopewell Valley Arts Council. And as the show just ended, I’m proud to share the fiber art pieces that rejuvenated my spirits with you here. Kevan is shown with her ground-breaking sculpture of neon and fiber, titled Repair.

Mary Schwarzenberger’s Sunrise, left, and Wavelength, right, feature sumptuous texture that presents the softest side of fiber. Mary manipulates ice-dyed silk in a process she found positi
vely meditative during a recent catastrophic illness.

Kathy Velis Turan calls her 1 by 6-feet-long piece The Long Road. It represents “the journey we all take from childhood to adulthood, in good and not-so-good health.” I love the tactile qualities of window screen encasing burlap, painted fabric, rope and more, with shrink-art-plastic vehicles along the way. Little Sophia, daughter of weaver Joli Martinez, couldn’t stay away, and was hard pressed not to touch.

I work in the shadows of the art quilting world, but Cindy Friedman works with shadows. It’s worth reading her artist’s statement for this piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michele Lasker combined lots of materials and techniques for her mixed media extravaganza:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elena Stokes stands in front of her art quilt, Tranquil Marsh–Wild Iris. Her statement is a poem:

golden light

breaks the chill of gray…

blinking open

lush violet

blooms in a tranquil marsh…

wild iris

My piece is about tranquility too–or rather, Tranquili-Tea, since the center pictorial is made with the foil-lined envelopes that encase snazzy tea bags, and the border is made with my grandmother’s tea towels. My statement is a poem, too.

Serenity, a remedy:

Unwind, and slow down time.

Fluidity for every sense,

Renewal so sublime.

 

Recall, reflect, and reminisce.

Adapt, de-stress, grow calm.

Take tender pleasures such as this

As spirit-soothing balm.

 

Overdressing!

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

If you’ve read my last two blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a textile poster, pieced and appliqued out of trash–used packaging. A lot of the assembly came about in flip-and-stitch sections, with quilting to flatten everything down onto felt, then onto a backing.

The problems I saw were a jumble of clutter and a lack of cohesiveness. Many thanks to everyone who left a comment with a suggestion. I considered every single one. And I was determined to move on to address the problem, to redress and resolve those issues, and others brought to my attention, with paint.

 

 

 

Paint day 1–Brushwork, dabbing, sponging, dotting the fuchsia matchsticks—! or i?, adding a soft color to the f in RefUSe:

Better. But still, not half as cohesive as I’d like. On to Paint Day 2, now armed with my favorite paint tool, the Gelli Gel Plate–for mono-printing, and a few high quality tubes of acrylic. Continued to daub, sponge, and brush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting there, now, I think. It’s a lot more impressionistic, which helps to blend the sections for the cohesion I’m after. A lot more yellow, yellow-green, and orange tones, for warmth and sunniness. I’m thinking most of what Joan had to say: “I would use paint so it would have the look of a wall that multiple posters have been ripped from and covered with more posters. I would soften some, completely paint over areas and leave some bright…”

I’ve darkened the S in RefUSe, and the outer edges of the second e–which seems to need a bit more darkening to be readable…Not that ReUS doesn’t have some merit as a message. It’s about “us” doing our part. And hopefully, this message won’t be interpreted as a plea for nationalism over globalism, cuz this citizen really doesn’t cotton to the America First slogan we keep hearing over and over…

OK, focus on your art, Eleanor. We’re not trying to be controversial this time. Honest.

Addressing, Redressing

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Composed. Meaning that I’ve put all the elements together for my latest work in progress, and the composition is complete. Brother — or should I say, Bernina, did I have a time quilting those bubbled, melted woven plastic pieces, which was a bag of beet pulp for horse feed (thank you Ms. Vola). See my last post, Bubble, Bubble, Melt & Muddle. Went through a lot of needles, needless to say. Packaging from other used products–coffee bags (thank you Emmetts and local coffee shop), tea bag envelopes (thank you Carl, Barb, Lesley, and Liz),  and foil enclosures for items like smoked salmon and Alka Seltzer tablets, constitute the rest of the surface. Oh, and I threw in some plastic mesh citrus bags.

Yep, this is part of my ReUse series, made from my stash of trash. A green quilt, to be sure. The text riffs on the word Reuse, as in recycle. Ref-use, meaning garbage. And Re: Use, referring to our use of dwindling resources. Maybe even Refuse — to be a user, a conspicuous consumer.

So here I am. Piece needs some work in straightening and finishing the edges.

Considering crossing some of those fuchsia dashes. More is more??

Nuh-uh. What this piece REALLY needs is what my sewing studio needs: some serious decluttering.

See, I’m not showing off. Or fishing for compliments. Quite the contrary, I’m at a hypercritical stage, and fairly desperate for ideas and direction.

Let me interject here that this piece answers a call for entering 32″ x 48″ textile posters from Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA). So, much as I’d like to severely crop it–which would be in service to the art, that would be a big capitulation of this opportunity for exposure.

Trial by computer: I translate the image to black and white, to view the contrasts and overall composition in a simplified way. I also added a border, to represent a binding all around:

Which tells me that there is just too much variance of contrast–too much piecing, making it jumpy and jarring.

I’ve decided to use paint to reduce the patterning. Excited about using a brayer to capitalize on the bubbled and quilted textures, for an effect resembling crackling. With hopes that the paint doesn’t crack off or flake…Will I need a primer? A sealant? I’m thinking of a whitewashing effect. Not necessarily white, but swathes of a single shaded color to blend areas of random piecing. [Note to self: Next time, keep crazy quilt patchwork to blocks, to contain and restrain the craziness. And make me less crazy.]

I’m no wiz at photo-editing to preview how this might look, but I have an “add flash” feature to show how lightening the whole thing might look, and I’ve added a light green border to stand in for binding:

Better, I think. Paint will also cover up any exposed brand names or logos of companies whose legal departments have nothing better to do than threaten artists and exhibitors.

The good news is, with this shiny, plasticized surface, I can easily sponge off newly-applied paint that doesn’t do it for me.

Friends, when I say I welcome comments, that is an understatement. Very grateful to get your artistic perspective. What do you think I should do?

The Invention of Wings, from a quilter’s POV

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

HarrietPowers-1

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd, is a wonderful book for lovers of literature, history, and quilts. The author explains:

“I was inspired by the quilts of Harriet Powers, who was born into slavery in 1837 in Georgia. She used West African applique technique and designs to tell stories, mostly about Biblical events, legends, and astronomical occurrences. Each of the squares on her two surviving quilts is a masterpiece of art and narration. After viewing her quilt in the archives of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., it seemed more than plausible to me that many enslaved women, who were forbidden to read and write, would have devised subversive ways to voice themselves, to keep their memories alive, and to preserve their African heritage.

“In the novel, Charlotte is the Grimke’s rebellious and accomplished seamstress, and I envisioned her using needle and cloth the way others use paper and pen, attempting to set down the events of her life in a single quilt. She appliques it with strange, beautiful images—slaves flying through the air, spirit trees with their trunks wrapped in red thread—but she also sews violent and painful images of her punishments and loss. The quilt in the novel is meant to be more than a warm blanket or a nice piece of handiwork. It is Charlotte’s story. As Handful says, ‘Mauma had sewed where she came from, who she was, what she loved, the things she’d suffered and the things she hoped. She’d found a way to tell it.’

“Above all, I wanted Charlotte’s story quilt to speak about the deep need we have to make meaning out of what befalls us. I wanted it to suggest how important it is to take the broken, painful, and discarded fragments of our lives and piece them into something whole. There can be healing, and power, too, in giving expression to what’s inside of us, in having our voices heard and our pain witnessed. As writer Isak Dinesen put it, “All sorrows can be borne if we put them in a story or tell a story about them.”

Bet many of you will agree that putting sorrows — and joys — and deep feelings — and memories — into quilts can be equally therapeutic.

 

My Choice Nine Patch

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

“In the nineteenth century, quiltmaking was often the only socially acceptable way for a woman to express her political views.” This was the way that the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum introduced their call for entries for the show that just opened at their new venue in Golden, Colorado: Patchwork Pundits Take On Politics

Now, this is a daring topic. When I visit quilt guilds around the country, the general understanding is that politics and religion are off the table. I have found that traditional quilters, who make up the majority of quilt guilds, tend to be politically conservative. Similarly, they strive to follow the rules of quilting, seeking well balanced, well-executed, beautiful patterns and palettes.

Art quilters, on the other hand, are expected to embed their compositions with deeply held concepts and ideas—often progressive and sometimes provocative, and to choose techniques and materials that are in keeping with the ideas expressed.

I was lucky enough to be juried into this exhibit at the RMQM, with a small quilt–only about 14″ square, that I made many years ago. It’s that most traditional of quilt blocks: the Nine Patch, but I threw in some curves, some imagery, and some unusual materials–including two pennies minted in 1973, to represent my two cents’ worth.

Choice Nine-Patch

Choice Nine-Patch

My statement, in the form of verse, expresses my hope that Roe v. Wade doesn’t get reversed:

Respectfully, this little Nine Patch references “The Nine,”

That highest court in all the land, the real Supremes, or SCOTUS.

The one case they decided almost all can call to mind—

The case that still stirs up debates that we can’t help but notice.

Check out the sac of little pearls–fish eggs, you know, Roe.

Wade in, and then explore the depths of privacy and choice,

Should women self-determine their own fates and families?

My stance is clear, as I hereby give cloth and thread my voice.

My little art quilt was made 14 years ago, but the struggle for reproductive choice, as decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, has never abated. Roe v. Wade hangs on by a thread. It seems to me to be the number one defining issue of this election, both for the presidency and for the Senate that advises and consents on the president’s judiciary nominations.

In any case (except a Court case), this “patchwork pundit” is proud to have my politics hanging on the walls of the RMQM.

 

Swimming with the Big Fish

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

I’m flummoxed but grateful that my piece, Swimming Upstream, was juried into the show, Connected by Stitch, the first Pennsylvania regional show by the international Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) at The Gallery at Penn College for the next 6 weeks. And I feel privileged to be among some mighty fine fabric artists.

at-gallery2

 

Let me share just a few of my faves in this show. I loved this little underwater paradise, a colorful, crocheted coral reef on a bed of quilting. It’s by Stacey Hortner. She’s since made this in monochromatic beiges, to express her concern over the bleaching of coral reefs, due to the massive amounts of CO2 mankind has imposed.

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Another fun piece, with a message, is this one by Peggy Hracho. It’s got an abundance of felting, embroidery, quilting. The little girl is exhorted to “go for it,” i.e., touch the art quilt–something most quilt venues don’t allow.

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Very exciting for departing from the usual shape and look of a quilt, is by Meredith Re Grimsley. It’s a life-size self portrait, painted and quilted, remarking on the fact that the dress no longer fits; the artist now occupies a different place in her work and in her life.

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Finally, before I hit the sack, gotta launch one more photo, a ship by Meredith Eachus Armstrong. Fabric and wood, sculpture more than quilt. dscn0901

This Meredith, more than any other Meredith or any other person, is responsible for making this wonderful show happen. Kudos to her, from me and everyone who agrees that non-traditional contemporary quilt art really floats our boat.

Swimming Upstream

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

swimgupstreamel

I am a bottom feeder who cannot pass up a slab of rusted metal in the street, the cardboard wrapper for some fancy smoked salmon, texture and patina. I have a box of such hard found pieces. I also have an accordion folder and loose piles of fancy papers, tear sheets, beautiful calendar pages…thank you, Sammie Moshenberg! Thank you, Barbara Adler for that glittery packaging from smoked salmon! From the time I was a girl, I collected my father’s lithography samples from when he worked for a printing company.

The obvious thing to my mind is to combine papers and metals into a collage. But I challenged myself to make unrelated materials play together. One way to do that was to use color—salmon and it’s color complement, light blue—as a way to breed the hard with the soft. Some of the papers had been given  a wash of paint, obliterating a clutter of text and integrating them into a cohesive grouping.

I thought the rusted metal held secrets, and history, and I looked to fabrics with not just color coordination but also unfathomable text and visual texture, to continue that narrative of mystery. Thank you, Lonni Rossi! I quilted them to provide a more stable background, and connected by stitch the ephemera, the old and new papers, with the cotton fabrics. Unsure of where I was going, I arranged and rearranged the composition, and when I thought I was close, I still had challenges of mounting the disparate pieces for durability of display, deciding to pull it over stretcher strips, screw spacer strips to support and elevate the metal piece, and camouflaging the screws with spirals of copper wire.

I was definitely swimming upstream, my title for the piece…. like the salmon, expecting only to get screwed by the all difficulties, and die in the end, that is, to have this project end up in the trash.

But on the other hand, I wasn’t floundering. The work had a nice flow to it, and I never felt I was fighting the current. Maybe that’s because my art quilting has not followed a single direction, despite my deep respect for artists who work in a series. I’m not a serious artist, and I can’t take my work or myself all that seriously. But I have to say, finding connections of line, and a balance of shapes is a very satisfying exercise for me. Perhaps, after all, this mixed media piece may not be a one-off; I just may return to the river where hard and soft textures and disparate elements combine. I’m not fishing for compliments, but I sure welcome feedback!

swimups-detail

 

Sew Resplendent!

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Visiting with the Columbine Quilters in Colorado, I got to admire the many talents of one member in particular, Pam Ballard. Pam brought her spectacularly unique sewing machine to my workshop, and I’m so glad she did…

1,PB

1

This sewing maven graciously allows me to share her method to machine embellishment:

  1. Tape over all openings to prevent paint from seeping into the machine workings.
  2. Dilute nail polish (in this case, a chartreuse color) with acetone (nail polish remover) in order to lighten it. Apply with a sponge in up and down movements.
  3. Use Sharpie Poster Paint Markers (not permanent ink) to doodle and draw.
  4. Pam just reminded me:  take your machine outside and spray with clear acrylic sealant to seal the poster paint markings. BTW, this is the reason for the poster paint markers—the permanent ink Sharpies would bleed, she found.
  5. E6000 glue is her recommendation for adhering tiny jewels and other bling.

2front,detail

3front

 

back

side

Nail polish in different colors applied to various presser feet makes the one Pam wants to use stand out in the drawer.

presser-ft

Pam will lend other workshop participants her tools, knowing that as they are clearly identified with her colors and glam touches, she’ll get them back. Also when traveling, Pam stores the spools and coordinating bobbins in translucent pill bottles…a clever organization system if ever I saw one.

tools

No doubt by now you’ve noticed that Pam is partial to a certain color palette. She made the Wonky Nine-Patch blocks in my workshop, and plans to combine them with her hexies in a complex master-work of an art quilt.

PB,hex

 

Little gators are her mascots and muses!

 

top

top,alligator

Is this not smashing?! Would you ever consider pimping…er, primping your machine?

I really don’t do “pretty”

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

As usual, it was a class–long ago–that started me on a new art quilt. In Lesson 2 of About Style, Pamela Allen assigned us online students to “cut various long skinny shapes out of different fabrics and ‘grow’ your plant in the same way Nature does.”

Rather than “grow” a tree from my imagination, as Pamela does, I relied on photos I took on a trip to Lisbon, when the jacarandas were blooming gorgeous.

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jacaranda1

Started with a background on a quilt sandwich, anticipating a small art quilt:

background

Next, I brought in the trunk for a pretzel-like tree, with a bunch of lavender prints:

jac-1

“Grew” the tree with other, similarly colored fabrics in various shades and tints:

building

Oh, this could be a really pretty picture, a la my photo. I could balance the lower left side with flowering shrubbery.

But then I remembered: I don’t really do “pretty.”

#1, there are so many fabulous art quilters who take “pretty” to levels I could never dream of.

#2, “pretty” can be pretty boring.

Around this time, my sister Carolyn was shopping for a new car. As a wife, she had always deferred to her husband’s choices in this department. As a widow with a new-found sense of her capabilities for research and decision-making, and within short order, she she walked into her local Honda dealership, test-drove, and bought a Honda Accord.

So, in accordance with those trees that grew in a high-trafficked, urban setting, and with tremendous pride in my sister’s taste and independence, I slapped a Honda under the jacaranda. And made my getaway from “pretty.”

jac-honda

Stay tuned to see how this art quilt is going, and growing. As always, comments are much appreciated.