Michele K.

I am French, born a few years after the war. I had a happy childhood until the death of my father when I was 11. I used to play with material and to disguise myself. I always loved making things and reading
After my classical studies, I worked as a teacher, then as a librarian. I married with an Irishman. We have had 4 children and have been very happy together. He died 9 years ago. I am now retired and living in a beautiful area of the west of France called Brittany, a Celtic land.

Through all my life, I have never stopped working with material, making "useless" stuff or sewing garments. I love working with my hands.

I used to work very spontaneously but little by little went to more preparation in what I do. I collect pictures, take photographs according to a theme and try to make a few drawings before I engage working with material. I often make lots of trials before I feel I am on the right track. I dye my material and am very interested with the associations of colours, trying to translate atmosphere through them.

Layers, pleats and overlaps are often used in my work.

I am inspired by the landscapes around me and the Irish landscapes. Seashore, rocks, stone walls, rain. What is monotonous for some people is seen as subtil for me. I like to spot and valorise the nuances.
At the moment, I like working with the shades of yellow, green, grey, purple and white. 

Barbara D.

History

Fabric and fibers surrounded my early life in Oregon.  My mother taught me, perhaps without even realizing, that there was a peacefulness and quiet pleasure found while sewing and knitting.  I learned this early and fabric has been a constant part of my life – even as I moved to Wyoming to start my own family and finally, as I circled back in Oregon to re-create myself later.  I’m an outdoor person at heart however; the satisfaction of creating my artwork during the cold winter months gives me a growing sense of satisfaction and a desire to enhance it going forward.  I’m a wife, a mother and grandmother, a friend.  As I get closer to retirement, I believe producing art will be a strong component of the next phase of my life.

Process 

Many times, it’s a challenge for me to begin a project, however; once I get going they seem to develop and I try to be mindful in allowing that evolution to occur.  I admire those who can translate their mental vision EASILY into a finished piece.   I have no formal training in the arts hence; I realize my confidence wanes from time to time.  I’ve absorbed skills and developed my talents – step by step - through taking classes – by reading books and watching others.  I work abstractly for the most part, using a deep color palette with strong lines.  I primarily use hand dyed fabrics as I find my own fabric bestows a unique quality to each one.  I make an effort to create pieces, which have balance in their composition and are visually pleasing. 

Content 

In deciding what is important to me and then, what I want to convey through my art, I must say it’s BALANCE and variety.  I strive for them in my life and have the sense of making those elements go from my mind … through my fingertips and into my work … it’s just not quite that simple !  On a personal note, I strive to add grace, balance and vitality to my world and those around me.  If someone looks at one of my pieces and sees even one of those elements, then I will have succeeded.

Mary L.

I am the second born of nine children from the marriage of a bipolar professor/ want to be Jesuit priest and a WW2 Army nurse who valued family and motherhood above all in life. My father taught me compassion and the faith to question all in spirituality. My mother taught me compassion and the skills to construct my own unique garments for my wardrobe. Later in life, I took a quilting class and discovered the joy of piecing bits of various fabrics to form complex designs. I fell in love with the meditative process of machine quilting them. As I approached mid life, my world crumbled with the deaths of five family members within a two year period. My quilts became my way of expressing and processing the grief. I began an intense exploration of spirituality at this time. The two interests became intertwined and art quilts literally poured from my soul for years. I began showing my work and teaching others how to use visual journaling to heal from sorrow and grief. Learning to slow and wait for messages/images to unfold so I can create while being present in the now has been the greatest gift of my journey at this junction.

Creativity has always been a part of my life. I have studied and explored it in many ways including garment construction ,quilting, drawing, painting, fabric dying, knitting, beading, collage, and visual journaling. During a very difficult and emotional time in my life, I discovered art quilting as a contemplative way of expressing feelings through the use of color and texture. I found courage and peace as I opened to allow images of grief, joy and healing to unfold in my art work. It was when I began sharing my work with others and teaching, that I knew my work had become more prayer than art and that it was a way of encouraging others to share their life stories and heal.

Content

After several years of retreat and silence, my muse is knocking on my door once again. My work is about exposing raw emotions with bold colors and textures. Creating such work requires using tremendous emotional energy which I chose to diffuse in physical fitness endeavors lately. My soul is rested now and I am once again ready to explore my questions about why I was born into this world and how I can connect more deeply with others and the world around me. 

Carla D.

My childhood was spent as an only child in southern California.  I loved to draw, climb trees, ride my bike and roller skate.  In elementary school I was labeled as an "artist" but I was a quiet and shy person who didn't know what being an artist meant.  In high school I took as many art classes as I could but in college I didn't feel that I could ever make a living making art so I became an education major.  I used to walk by the art department and yearn to be there but still didn't have the self confidence to make a change.

During the first two years of college, I met my first husband.  We both moved to LosAngeles and while he went to UCLA, I found a job working with pre school children.  When my future husband finished his degree, he decided to go to the American University at Beirut, Lebanon and I went with him.  We were married in Beirut and I worked in the church office as secretary.  I enjoyed living in a completely different culture and Lebanon was a beautiful country.   I found the people to be so hospitable but it was right after the 1967 war with Israel so towards the end of our stay, things began to become tense.  

After Lebanon, we moved to London, England where my husband was in a Ph.D. program and I worked for a weekly magazine, Middle East Economic Digest.  I kept the library in order, and even did a little writing for the magazine.  But once a week I went to pottery class and enjoyed working with clay and doing something creative again.  After working at MEED for almost two years, I heard about a three year course in Devonshire.  I was able to get a grant to pay my tuition and spent two years in the Art department at Dartington Art and Design school and then another year at a teacher training school.  The first year at Dartington was OK but the second year was exciting.  I had a studio space and I worked hard doing bold work making shaped canvasses and even a double sided canvas with a constructed hole so the viewer could see through the canvas.  I have many good memories of my time there.

After the course was finished, I had to make a decision about whether to stay in England or to go back to the States where my family was.  My marriage had ended so I decided to go home.  Instead of California, I decided to go to Seattle, Washington where I met and married my second husband.  We managed a condominium while my husband finished a math degree.  I was able to take some painting classes and a sewing class and I bought my first Bernina sewing machine.  Then we went to Texas where my husband worked with the space shuttle program and I gave birth to two boys.   

After three years in Texas we moved to Massachusetts where we completely remodeled a house.  I did the designing and went room to room organizing what needed to be done.  We worked most weekends and any holidays fixing up a house that needed almost everything.  We did take family time but it was so hard and sometimes it meant going to the hardware store and hearing the groans from the kids.  While living in Massachusetts, I started quilting.  I made a few quilts using patterns, but didn't find that very satisfying.  When I saw an art quilt at a show,  I knew I would never make a traditional quilt again.  When we moved back to Seattle in 1991, I joined Contemporary Art Quilt Association and started experimenting with water soluable material and thread, dyed batting and cutting through layers to see batting and the back layer.  I also took drawing and even taught it for awhile.

But life happens.  I had to get a paying job so I went back to school and became a medical assistant in a dermatology office.  It was important to me to help my kids pay for college.  Art went on the back burner but I used my organizational and people skills quite effectively.  When my husband was laid off in 2000, I was very glad that I had a good job but I missed making art.  After almost twenty years, I rejoined CQAand am now making art quilts again using some of the methods that I had used before.

Process: 

My process has to do with layers and seeing through one layer to another.  I use water soluble material, small pieces of fabric held by a grid of thread.  The top layer is lacey and I like the shadows that can happen and being able to see through the top layer to the second layer.  I want to start painting on plain fabric for the second layer to make the quilts even more interesting.

Content: 

The natural world has always been important to me.  I love water, rocks, animals and COLOR.  My garden gives me tranquility and inspiration.  Since I use small pieces of fabric, I have become interested in mosaic which could open a whole new world.  I love the Roman floor mosaics and am still fascinated by middle eastern culture and their mosaics.  The idea of small pieces coming together to form a large form reminds me how important small actions can matter. 

Julia J.

As far back as I can remember I was encouraged to try new things. It didn’t matter if it was: food, a craft, hobby, sport, an instrument…anything! My parents were firm believers that I needed to experiment, learn, figure out how things work.  “How will you know what you like or what you’re good at unless you try?” We didn’t have to master whatever that flavor happened to be at the time. We simply had to do the best we could and not quit. Now wife to a fabulous man of 8 years, mother of four and a grandma I still find myself doing the same thing. I love to experiment, figure out how things work and to teach & encourage others to be brave enough to do the same. 

Having this diverse ‘experimentation’ background I’ve worked in many fields andwith many mediums. I have found my passion in the fiber art world where I get to create pieces using my own hand dyed, painted and printed fabrics utilizing a multitude of techniques.      

My current work focuses on the vast industry of the railroad system. With a large spectrum of experience to draw from, I used to build model railways with my father, and my love for the outdoors, grandparents stories, people and places that have withstood time I find this series to be a natural fascinating choice. I most appreciate the subtle diversity in my textile work and find this topic to challenge me.

Susan S.

History

Although my academic training is in music composition and business administration, fiber arts has been my avocation as far back as I can remember.  I have a needlepoint that I made when I was 5 or 6, and in primary school I was encouraged to knit gifts for my teachers.  I discovered quilting in 1982 and have become passionate about it.  As a lifelong learner,  I have been fortunate enoughto take workshops from many teachers, and have undertaken a City and Guilds Level 3 certificate in Patchwork and Quilting.  I was raised with a philosophy of setting high standards for my work, and this carries over into my quilting.

Process

It takes me a while to get going on a piece.  I usually think about it while walking or cycling, hoping for a spark of inspiration.  Sometimes I will think about places I have visited, or look at photographs that I have taken to get some inspiration.  I then develop a verbal description of my vision, as I am much more comfortable with words than with drawing.  If I am creating something representational I will try to find a photo that I have taken of a building or scene, and then trace it to get a line drawing. I use a variety of techniques depending on what is best-suited for the design.  I add elements such as machine embroidery, decorative machine stitching, couching, painting, and photo transfers to further enhance the quilt.  Most of my work is created using a domestic sewing machine.  I enjoy teaching others about patchwork, quilting, and sewing.

Content

The subjects of most of my wallhangings are based on landscapes, nature and buildings.  I enjoy portraying the attractive and interesting in the world around us, especially works inspired by places I have visited. I also enjoy creating works with a Judaic theme.  My work often includes lettering and words.  I enjoy working with strong colors and striking images----there is very little pastel in my work.  Much of my work is small, although it is not “miniature”. .  I have been creating 15” square quilts the last three years as part of a group called Fifteen by Fifteen. The group has exhibited its work in France, the Netherlands and Taiwan.  I also enjoy designing mailable fabric postcards. My largest pieces are about 36” square.

Jane M.

I always loved making things, and I wanted to know how things worked. I studied at university and became a successful professional engineer/ manager. My job was highly innovative, solving problems, and working in teams. I always knitted, sewed and made things, and got lots of pleasure out of creating things. I am a keen walker and cyclist.

After our daughters left home, my husband and I moved to live and work in the Netherlands. Here I was introduced to felting and my passion was ignited. I studied on line and via workshops and felting literally took over my life.

I love wool, it is such a wondrous natural material. You can make exquisite textures with felted wool and other fabrics. I think see things differently than many other people. I am an experimenter and an innovator crossing over techniques and ideas. So now I combine my love affair with wool with abstract interpretations of the real natural world.

I have had for years an interest in old industry. How it worked, compared today and how it disintegrates with time and becomes almost invisible. Where I live now was the start of the U.K. Chemical and steel industries and in the 16th century the start of the Alum industry. The first chemical industry in the UK. These once dirty dangerous and smelly sites are now almost invisible: the countryside has reclaimed the shape changed land.

For centuries Alum was an essential ingredient in natural wool dying, which was fundamental to the wool industry, which was critical to the UK economy. Today there is a huge resurgence in natural dyeing. My passion is to interpret our beautiful yet exploited local countryside hiding it's secrets of the long ago alum industry and the memories of its industrial past, using natural fibres, felting and dyeing.

Micaela F.

Still longer than 3 paragraphs, and sounding a little more “full of it” than I would like. More edits needed.

HISTORY

Change is the constant in my life. The quiet, empty prairies and plains of Nebraska and Texas, the history-laden environs of Germany and France, the hustle and bustle of the Chicago and Toronto, the tropical warmth of the Caribbean, and the pastoral countryside of rural Ontario, have all been home. I relish their diversity of environment and culture, even their extremes. Embracing difference, and striving to welcome change, has certainly influenced me and is a source of inspiration and direction in my art.

A few early experiences were, I believe, the foundation for my love of textiles. At age five, I luxuriated for months in a “Cinderella” gown fashioned by my grandmother from an old orange and white silk parachute. At six, I explored Versailles and was spell-bound by the Queens Bedroom, its opulent tapestries and embroidered silks. Among my family – from great-grandparents on down – were talented needle workers and hobbyist painters. From an young age, I was sewing and thoroughly caught up in many facets of visual arts and design.

My academic studies and work have included printmaking, fashion, textile history and conservation, interior design, graphic and exhibit design. It took many years and a few institutions to acquire the knowledge, skills and confidence to finally identify myself as an artist. Currently, I work as the curator of a community museum, which holds a tremendous textile collection, and my home studio includes facilities for printmaking and fibre art.

In the past ten years, my work has been shown work in more than 30 exhibitions, including one solo exhibition, and has received juror’s choice awards. I have work in private collections, and in the permanent collections of the Great Lakes Quilt Centre at Michigan State University Museum and at the University of Waterloo. In 2010, I worked as a textile conservation consultant at the Baha’i World Centre, a World Heritage Site, in Israel. As a member of local and international guilds and arts organizations, I assist in developing exhibitions, creating promotional materials, and have acted as a juror.

PROCESS

I’m impatient. I love to work late at night. I (usually) enjoy the surprise of experimentation. Inspiration and ideas often come from musical or written/poetic sources – stories – the every-day and the dramatic. Visual inspiration comes from ephemeral events – how light falls, or an unexpected colour juxtaposition. I prefer to record brief written overall concepts, but I don’t often use sketches except where I might lose track of an idea.

Grids, pattern repetition, juxtapositions or gradations of colour, and silhouettes are part of my compositions. With textiles, my preference is to work improvisationally, experimenting and building layouts until I feel I have found the right way to convey the concept. In printmaking, there is more structure, and the concept needs to be more solid. Using collagraph plates and printing on muslin, I can create beautiful textures and patterns. And they are more environmentally friendly than etchings. I do love the physicality of printing, the sound of ink on rollers, or wiping ink off plates, running them through the press, revealing the final print. The surprise comes in subtle differences revealed in each print, and in results of combining multiple images. Hand dyeing, piecing, working with scraps and leftovers are favourite processes. Dense hand stitching which alters or moderates the underlying fabrics is something I’m drawn to because of its slow, quiet, meditative nature.

In my “spare time”, I collect vintage quilt tops, the rougher the better. I cherish the stories that are told in the work and patterns of a utility quilt – frugality, necessity, an imagined history.

CONTENT

Understanding why one cares about something, reveals a clearer understanding of the “what”. In considering what I truly care about, what I want to express in my work, I believe it comes down to one thing – Connection. I believe my passions and inspirations – history, material culture, ancestry, family, human rights, oneness/diversity/contrasts – express a desire to be connected. The complex nature of the diversity of humanity, of its history, of the need to express, through struggle and celebration, the uniqueness of a people or culture, can best be appreciated when there is a longing to be connected to it. That connection is often built or expressed through art and craft. Perhaps the same is true for individuals and for their aspirations. How are we connected? Are there connections of the soul – between souls, to the spirit world, across time. And how can we know? Perhaps this is where my current intrigue with the concept of light comes in to play. Light brings understanding, eliminates the dark, reveals and makes connections possible.

And in a life of constant change, delightful as it can be, connections can be tenuous, but they are vital.

Sharon C.

Sisters, Oregon

I have always been drawn to textiles and creating.  For most of my life, I have dabbled in creative activities and experimented with art forms such as sketching, watercolors, and collages, and later on surface design.  Today, I blend those art forms into my quilts.  Using a variety of techniques, I combine my own hand-dyed and custom-printed fabrics with an interesting array of commercial cottons and batiks—a technique I refer to as “mashup art.” 

My mother introduced me to garment making as a young teen, and I had visions of becoming a fashion designer.  But my life took a divergent path—I married, had children, and when I did take advanced training, I opted for a degree in Anthropology.  I realize now that I should have studied art and textiles, but at the time I didn’t even think of it as something viable.  And I only discovered quilts by accident—when I decided one day as a stay-at-home mom that I wanted to create a wall hanging out of cloth.  From there, I began making traditional quilts for my home, but was always drawn to modifying the patterns or drawing up appliqué pieces from my own imagination and to suit my sense of aesthetics.  I now think of myself as a multidisciplinary textile artist with a love for incorporating various artistic works into my art quilts and a passion for fabric and design.  

I like to create fiber art on both a design wall and a computer.  In a broad sense, I hope to intertwine organic and visual arts in my work.  Marks, lines, and color with a subtle touch of texture are prominent throughout my quilts.  For my computer graphics work, I like to blend or combine what I think of as disparate images and play “what if.”  I’m often surprised with the complexity of the results.  

I’ve been asked about the cognitive process of my work but try not to think about the how and prefer to focus on the results.  I don’t want to be labeled with any specific style and feel my work is totally intuitive and often experimental.  Color, line, and texture are frequently the impetus for beginning a quilt.  Although I do not consciously create series work, using scraps or experimental techniques from previous projects may give my work a sense of flow.  

I have exhibited my work in juried shows in Bend, Oregon as well as The Clearwater and Twigs Galleries in Sisters.  My art is also held in numerous private collections and has appeared in publications such as Art Quilting Studio and will soon appear in an upcoming article for Quilting Arts Magazine.  I am an active member of the Central Oregon Studio Arts Quilt Association (SAQA).

(as of December 12, 2016)

Darlynn E.

HISTORY

    I can’t ever remember not having a fondness for fabric. I would sit by my mother’s sewing machine and watch her create beautiful clothes for myself and two sisters. When I was about nine she bought me my own Singer toy machine and my creative juices started flowing. As I grew up and went to college I took my machine with me and designed all my own clothes. After I graduated I married, had three daughters and continued to sewchildren’s clothes and home decorating projects. When I was pregnant with my last daughter my husband became ill and passed away. I was able to go back to teaching and put my creative sewing projects away. Twenty five years later I retired and once again took up my love affair with fabric. Only this time my new passion was designing art quilts.  I feel like I have come full circle. 

PROCESS

    Working abstractly and creating my own designs is my favorite way to work. I like collaging, layering, and fusible applique more than I like piecing. My ideas usually come from something I have seen, a book I’ve read, or a class I have taken. I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I am going to do next. Sometimes this translates into drawing and sketching first, and sometimes I just begin cutting and creating on the Design Wall. Either way I seem to know when I have it right. 

CONTENT

    I’ve taken many classes and tried many different processes because I love learning new techniques. My focus has settled into dyeing my own fabric and working in abstract designs. As I was not an art major and did not have the basic background in the elements of design, I find myself focusing on the different elements in pieces I create. Some of it is instinctive and some of it isn’t. It thrills me when I create a piece that is both visually aesthetic and balanced in all the elements. 

Sue K.

This was a very interesting process, to edit from 1000 words to less than 500. It took me several sessions. The most interesting part of it was looking back at the original and seeing what I left out of the final version. This felt very much like the decisions I have been making recently in my home, going through many years of accumulated possessions and getting rid of lots of things that had been with me for decades. It feels good. I think however, that I will need to revisit it from time to time as I evolve as an artist.

History

I am a native Californian, living now in Sonoma County. I was the eldest of three children, each of whom was creative in our own way. Our parents encouraged us to pursue our dreams. I have been interested in textiles since I learned to sew at an early age. I have never lost my love of sewing and making things. I have been married for 45 years and we raised a wonderful daughter and son. I had a long career in local government engineering, from which I have recently retired. Through the busy years of working and raising kids, there was seldom time or space for me to focus on making. Still, I did it where and when I could. I am excited to be at a point in my life where I can indulge my passion.

Process

I am an improvisor. I am willing to try and fail. I often abandon a project that isn’t working and just move on. I love fabrics and have a large collection which is very eclectic. In making art I love to explore. I look for unusual combinations. I like to juxtapose old and new. I use antique sewing machines to make modern art quilts; my camera and computer are indispensable, and I like using heat tools. The processes I use consistently include piecing and quilting, mono-printing, thread sketching, collage, fused raw edge appliqué, photography, various methods of image transfer to cloth. I like beading and embroidery and do some hand-quilting. I am always looking for more ways to color and embellish fabrics, using dyes, paints, prints, stamps and stencils, and found items.

Content

My style and content are also eclectic. I favor abstraction over realism in my work, but not exclusively. My art expresses my wonder and delight with life, particularly in my visual experience. I celebrate colors, patterns, shapes and textures. I am always inspired by the natural world, but also have a fascination for the constructs of man--language and humor, history and science, mathematics and machinery and the built environment.

Maria S.

Following is the revised version of my statement.  I had to make a few decisions and hope to commit to them.  Well, at least for the time being.

Born in the US, I studied art in college for a year before changing to Accounting, which I saw as much safer and dependable.  After a few years of work and meeting my Swiss husband, I moved to Switzerland.  We had four children as I began to draw, paint and work more with textiles.  I found that my love of creating filled the loneliness of living in a foreign country.  Between work and family, I lead a very busy life, but my art has remained something I can’t live without.

I love to draw and paint in my sketchbook.  I love to translate my drawings into textures and textile works.  My current interest is usually a dynamic thing.  I often have a painting and a textile work in process concurrently.  The two complement each other.  And sometimes a third process (collage, paper or bookbinding perhaps) may come into play.  Deadlines for an exhibition motivate me to make decisions and finish up one project or another.

People are scary and unpredictable, emotions everywhere.  Interactions and relationships can be very rewarding but also upsetting.  I have been working through the portrait and emotion for the last few years.  The circle of life with its various stages, the many issues women have in society and the problems we all have to deal with as characterized by each one of us are all very important to me.

Debbie E.

I read this chapter and felt a physical blow when I thought about looking back at my history. I keep positive and move forward putting everything into running, friends, family and my art that I can see I don't let go of my emotions and I couldn't even write anything down for a week.

I have written my history now, born in the 60's one of three girls, all so very different. Mum was such a fun and outgoing lovely mum everyone loved her and losing her when she was 62 was unbearable. Met my lovely hubby at 26 who is a scientist and musician and is extremely supportive of my work, I had cancer at 29 and we couldn't have children but have spend so much time with my 9 nieces and nephews. When I was in hospital I was given a cross stitch kit and this started me sewing, and what an amazing journey this has been.

I love running it is a release for me and time to think and look at the world and changes in seasons.

I have written so much down and can also see some work through writing some of my life's experiences down rather than keeping it locked inside my brain, it has also made me realise how much I love music and this is a big part of my life.

For processes I love learning different techniques, probably trying to do too many instead of mastering a few! I love mixing dyes and using my hands on the fabric to create it different ways and waiting for the exciting end result. I get the urge where I just want to sew on my machine.

I do work in a few projects at once and have lately been finishing quilts or fabric and this feels good.

I care about family, friends, walking, running, creating, nature, music and all crafts and people.

Susan S.

This turned out to take much longer than I had anticipated, and at present it feels very unbalanced.  A lot of thoughts about negative aspects of my education and background kept coming to the surface in the biographical part which I felt was long and rambling….maybe it was a cleansing process.  I realized how much I have had to struggle with being told that I am not good enough, my work is not good enough, I do not do enough, and I will not get X done.  I rarely feel supported especially by my family.  I felt as though everything I want to accomplish has been an uphill battle, struggling against the negativity without a supportive “community” in many cases.  I feel that I have still not found my community.

The three sections were very unbalanced in terms of length.  The biography was long and rambling, but the Process and Content sections were short.  I am also not sure howand where to incorporate that I consider myself a good teacher, and I work in the hope of broadening my teaching base.  I am not sure if it is biographical or content-oriented….creating samples to teach others.

Mary L.

          On April 14, 1950 I entered this world in Detroit, Michigan and was named Mary Josephine Luquette after my two grandmothers and to honor The Blessed Mother. We were baby boomer kids in a Catholic family. There would be nine of us, 7 boys and 2 girls ( my sister was my birthday present for my seventh birthday). When I was born, my father was completing a master's degree in business administration and my mother was using her nurse's degree to care and nurture her family. We moved 6 times in Detroit and then left for Wilkes Barre ,PA when my father landed a teaching job. Two years when I was 16, we relocated to Gettysburg, PA for a different teaching position. Another two years passed before he was diagnosed as bi-polar and his highs and lows began to escalate which resulted in numerous hospitalizations and eventually 100% disabled. Shortly after his diagnosis my older brother was killed in a car crash. This sent dad into a major depression that he never recovered from and shifted family life from dad, the professor,.. to dad, the mental patient. It was expected that we all were to complete college so I completed a Liberal Arts Associate Degree from PA State. I returned several years later and earned a BS in Child and Family Services. I didn't hate school but didn't love it either. I found a job as a pre-school teacher and stayed with it for 15 years. It was during this time that I met my husband and we married after dating several years when we were both 35. It was not the best marriage but we stayed together because it was comfortable. I now am thankful in many ways that we did not have children.
Then came the shift. Year 2000 and I turn 50 and the world hasn't disintegrated into a ball of fire. I quit a two pack a day smoking habit. Then my husband was diagnosed with Hep C/ severe liver disease and a transplant was needed. I have emergency major surgery. Year 2001, June .. my brother Bob commits suicide, Aug....my job/company folds, Sept ...9/11/2001 and..... Dec.2001 my husband dies. Year 2002.... June 2002 my brother Bill dies from a heart attach at 45. Sept, I need a hysterectomy, Dec. another job loss due a company folding. April 2003 my dad dies. May 2004 my mother dies. During this time my sister announced that she was gay and introduced her partner to the family. Some of my brothers shunned her. The family was already falling apart with personal feelings of grief for each individual family lose and this announcement caused further breakage. As the peacemaker in the family, I continued to communicate and still do with all members of the family. I found a wonderful counselor that guided me through all the grief and helped me discover and supported the artist within me. I gained confidence in all areas of my life and felt transformed from the shy, non risk taking, model housewife that I had become. At the end of 2005 she moved across the county promising she would still be there for me. I never heard from her and my attempts at contacting her were meet with a request to buy her book. A friend suggested a retreat so I did. That turned into completing a four year program in spiritual direction ( non-denominational ). It involved one weekend a month of group and one on one personal intense personal introspective plus a good amount of silence. I was hired by the program and developed an art and spirituality class which I lead for two years. I left mostly because it wasn't financially sensible. During this time I went on a 30 day silent retreat where I stayed in small cabin with limited electric and water. I meet with a director daily and spent the rest of my time writing, creating collages, hiking and just being. The longer I was there, the less "productive" I became which was a good thing.


          I learned to sew as soon as I could hold a needle from my mother. I always enjoyed creating my own clothes. Like many sewers, I began to find the price of patterns, fabric , etc was much more expensive then buying off the rack. I discovered quilting in my late 40's as a way of staying connected to fabric. Following my life shift.... I could no longer deal with 1/4 inch seams and matching seams. My life now had no rules because everything I knew especially how I defined myself was shattered so why should my quilting follow patterns. I began art quilting to express my grief and spiritual explorations. Friends suggested I sell my work and enter them in shows. In the first art show I entered, I won first place! I began having shows and selling some of my work. I had also developed an interest in fitness started by wanting to lose middle age weight and firm up. I became a Y regular and developed friendships with elite athletes that pushed and encouraged me to try triathlons ( I was 60 at this time). First I had to learn to swim and did. I took the challenge and continue to love competing running , swimming, and biking.

          Three years ago, another shift. My sister was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and died at 54 after a 2 year fight. The blessing was that my sister and her partner had distanced themselves from the family including me due to their pain at not being accepted by the family and feeling partly responsible for the family discord. We reconnected after she was diagnosed and I was one of the few people she still recognized up to the end. I created one piece about her but not much more after. Running was easier and I threw myself into it and loved crossing the finish line for medals after months of hard training. I have learned a lot about myself through pushing beyond what I think I can do physically, mentally and spiritually. The other thing is that I need the social aspect that athletics offer. Working on my art means closing the door and turning off the phone. For years I wanted that silence but now I need the company of others because I live alone. I have felt guilty about not working on art but at the same time I know I can't force it. The truth is , I want to be done with grief art work and want to expand who I am as an artist. I, also, need to change jobs. I am burned out of mine but it is comfortable and convenient but boring and I am not growing. I just haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up... I feel strongly that it is time to change many things in my life and create more balance which is why I took this class hoping to clarify my goals for the next phase of my life. I am excited about where I am going next and what talents will emerge. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would call myself an artist and triathlete, I would have said they were crazy. I strongly believe that we all have so many gifts and abilities that just haven't been nurtured enough to surface. However, I am as guilty as the next person in quickly saying I can't when I haven't even tried something. I am working on it.

Process

          I work best on the fly. I pick up a fabric, have a vision in the shower, hear voices from fabric. I never do pre-planning, drawing, pre-planning. I get an itch and listen to the fabric and go with it. The piece develops at the machine as ideas come to me. I have taken classes in drawing, photography, collage trying to understand art principles with minor success. Usually I end up frustrated because I just don't get the concepts. I never got past the difference between seeing lines and shadows instead of trees and buildings. I know that with more practice I could improve but time is a major factor. I haven't worked on much lately because I hit a wall on creativity and would start pieces but not finish them. So much of my work had streamed from darkness, grief, recovery after major loses that emerged nonstop for years without effort. I have started a new piece during this class that is going well because I lose track of time and look forward to work on.

Content

          I love color! I have a natural ability to put colors together and wonder why people use color wheels to pick fabrics. For me it is so easy and fun. I tend to gravitate to bright fall colors. I didn't realize until one day a friend said they spotted a piece of my work across a room just because of the colors. I love abstract art! I appreciate traditional quilts and realistic art but they bore me. I love the process of picking out new fabric and bringing it home to wash and press and listen to what it wants to become. 

Carla D.

Since I was born more than two months early and only weighed 2 lbs and 12 ozs, my mother was told that I may not survive and if I did, I may be disabled.  Well at age 71, I can say that not only am I still here, I am doing just fine physically.  My mother, who was a straight A student in high school, married my father who had been offered a scholarship to study architecture at Stanford.  It was during WWII so he turned it down and joined the Marines and my mother never went to college.  She just wanted to be a secretary.  They married right out of high school but only lived together a short time before they divorced.  My mother did not know she was pregnant when she left the marriage.  She and I went to live with her parents. When I was four, my mother remarried a "nice" man who was uneducated and really not too smart.  She needed to get away from home and needed a "father" for me.  For many years I blamed myself for her misery.

I loved to draw and play outside climbing trees, ride my bike and pretend to be a horse.  I loved horses.  They were beautiful, powerful and could run.  In elementary school, I began to be called an "artist" and in high school, I was an art major but things at home were not good.  My mother had a "nervous breakdown" and quit working and my step father started making advances toward me.  I learned to avoid both of them, keep my head down and escape by being a born again Baptist.  I finally left home after two years of college where I met my future husband.  When I left home, I left the religion behind and moved to LA where I did another year of college before quitting because I didn't know what I wanted to do.  Big mistake.  My future husband (HK) went to UCLA and I went to work at a daycare center where I worked with an all black staff.  I loved those folks and still remember them fondly. 

HK wanted to go to the American University of Beirut for a MA in Arab Studies.  So off we went to Beirut and were married there.  Luckily, the minister needed a secretary, and so now I had a job.  It was right after the 1967 war, so we had to be sensitive about what the Palestinians were facing, but I loved living abroad and Lebanon was beautiful at that time.  We traveled to Egypt, saw the Roman ruins at Baalbek, and learned to live in a foreign culture.  I was in two play productions, and took an art class.  After nearly three years, HK and I moved to London where he started a PhD. program at the London University at the School of Oriental and African Studies.  I found a job at a weekly magazine that specialized in Middle Eastern news working in the small library and basically cutting up newspaper articles for the editors.  HK went off to Egypt for a year to do research for his thesis and I stayed in London and our marriage broke down completely.  I kept my job but took pottery classes, enjoyed the parks and museums, and had a few adventures along the way.  

Recovering from a bout of pneumonia, I decided to go back to California for a visit.  I also decided that it was time to meet my "real" father.  I knew where he lived and that he had three other daughters.  When I called him, he made me feel at ease and we met without my mother knowing it.  It was one of the bravest and best things that I have ever done.  He had done some painting but was a model airplane designer and builder.  

When I went back to London, I learned of an Art school in Devonshire so I applied and got in.  I was given a full grant to do a three year course that led to a teaching certificate.  Lucky me!  The first year at Dartington College was OK but the second year I took off and worked really hard.  I can look back and see the threads that are still in my work today.  I woke every morning excited about getting to school and working.  The third year was at a teaching training school and I came out top of my class after doing two teaching practices.

Now what.  The head of the Art Dept. of Cornish Art School in Seattle was visiting Dartington and said, "Why don't you come to Seattle?"  Ok, off I went.  I found a job working with at risk youth in a furniture refinishing shop with a boss who was an ex-bank robber.  Interesting.  

Then I met my husband in 1978 in a jazz club in Seattle.  I almost didn't go into the bar and when he spoke to me, I was so rude to him.  Thank goodness he persisted and I realized that he was really nice.  We have now been together for nearly 38 years and have two grown sons who are both wonderful artists.

While SD was finishing a math degree, we managed a condo on Lake Union which gave us a free apartment and a salary.  In between vacuuming and sweeping the parking lot, among other things, I took a painting class, a sewing class and bought my first Bernina.

When SD graduated, I was pregnant and off we went to Texas where he worked with the Space Shuttle program.   I did not like Houston, Texas.  Living with snakes, fire ants, flying cockroaches, heat, humidity, hurricanes, with no mountains or beautiful trees was not my thing.  

 Friends of ours moved to Massachusetts and we decided to follow them.  I have always loved history and MA has plenty of that.  We bought a fixer upper house in MA because we lost everything in Texas and proceeded to completely remodel it ourselves with a two young kids.  We had no idea what we were getting into!  We basically threw away most of the original house and redid all the wiring, plumbing, framed in walls after removing lath and plaster, taped and plastered new wallboard and completely redid the kitchen.  SD put a sign in one of the walls that said, "Love Amongst the Ruins" with our names and date.  After seven years in MA, we moved back to Seattle to be closer to family. 

Things went well. I had started quilting in MA and was excited by art quilts.  I joined Contemporary Art Quilt Assoc. in Seattle and met some really talented people. Then to put kids through college, I went to school to become a medical assistant and worked in a dermatology office.  My age was a plus and I enjoyed the job.  I took a drawing workshop with Betty Edwards and taught drawing for awhile.  I kept coming back to Art quilting but when I went back to work, the ten hour days and all the other things going on meant I needed to take some time off from quilting.

SD lost his job in 2000 and our lives changed.  We sold our house, my mother died, I had thyroid surgery and cancer treatment, SD lost another job and I almost lost my mind.  Later we were able to buy another house and we are happy again.  Art has saved my sanity more than once and as I was writing all this, I realized how interesting life has been and I don't regret a thing.  I am now a member of CQA again and want to make better work, hence this workshop.

Process:  My process has a lot to do with layers and seeing through one layer to another.  I use small pieces and like the shadows they make onto the next layer.  The small pieces are held together with thread which to me illustrates what holds my life and everything else together on the planet.

Content:  The natural world is what I start with but I want to do more than make pretty quilts.  The Native American idea that we are all related to each other and to Mother Nature is important to me. Also, the idea that small things matter and when you put many small things together, beauty and peace can be accomplished is also important.  Sometimes I feel disappointed and discouraged with the work, but I just can’t seem to leave it alone for long.  It’s an itch that must be scratched.

Susan M.

Embroidery was a childhood activity that I re-learned much later. Drawing I’ve done most of my life. On paper tablecloths at church suppers, blackboards, green boards, white boards; on lined notebook paper, in the margins, around the edges; on brown paper bags and archival surfaces. Drawing is big and wide; it’s hard to imagine real limits. In contrast, hand stitching is often a slow accretion of marks. It can be carefully executed or random and careless. I like both ways of working. The humble origins, simple, accessible techniques, and quiet physicality appeal to me. 

I move back and forth between drawing - with traditional materials, in sketchbooks and on large pieces of paper tacked to the wall – and stitching, usually on smooth, tightly woven surfaces that suggest an affinity with paper. I’m curious about what might emerge via an interplay of spontaneous approaches to drawing and a slower, restrained, accumulation of stitches. At times I find a bridge between the two; more often it is the slippage in translation that interests me.

These hand-stitched drawings are small, albeit vague, narratives, some personal and unashamedly nostalgic. Less visible is the background research that connects my history and interest in embroidery to a larger world:  private domestic lives, the ways that household practices relate to public expectations, the interface between what’s inside and what’s out. I like to pause to enjoy what’s interesting or beautiful about ordinary things: simple, domestic pleasures, the value of repetitive work. The landscape where I live also provides a theme and resource. I draw in response to its complexity, color, texture, the feeling of a particular moment, then stitch in response to a drawing, always trying to keep intent in check in order to maintain an openness to what unfolds. 

Micaela F.

PART 1: HISTORY

This was built from a timeline I had created for an art workshop in 2008 in which we were asked to write down one or two important things that occurred in our lives each year (or most years). A very interesting premise and a nice history to develop (and continue) to share with my family. For this lesson I edited the content (it was even longer!) and updated it since 2008.

It's a lot to put out there in the world... 

Omaha, Nebraska – 1952 For about ten years, we moved around a lot. My father was a test pilot (early jets) in the Air Force. We lived in Omaha, Hondo and San Antonio, Texas and Montgomery, Alabama. I have a brother – 5 years younger – a wonderful and slightly wild guy. In ’57 we moved to Germany where we lived for two years. I’m certain this is where I fell in love with textiles! We visited France, Switzerland and Belgium (World’s Fair) and many parts of Germany. Besides the exquisite tapestries and other textiles I saw in the Queen’s Bedroom at Versailles and other castles and galleries we visited, I recall picnicking in the Black Forest, delicious German gummy bears and wonderful sugared donut twists.

When we returned from Germany, my parents separated and we lived for part of the year in the country with my grandparents. I attended a 2-room school house. My grandmother made me a beautiful Cinderella ball gown out of an orange and white parachute. I wore it all the time, and swept her hearth continually. (I think the film Cinderella was made that year). We pick and eat strawberries from her garden overlooking the Missouri River. I draw and paint…. lots of horses. My grandmother was a china painter. I have drawings, paintings and china created by my grandmother, grandfather and by my great-grandfather. My mother was working in town.

Eventually, my mother remarried and we moved to a suburb of Chicago and a new life begins. Lots of new connections, a lovely extended family, but I’m also the “new girl” in school, with all that comes with that. Summers are spent at a quiet cottage in northern Wisconsin (and they still are.) Still drawing all the time. 

I was given my first sewing machine when I was about 12 years old, and from that time I designed and made all my own clothes! I loved to draw and sketch – especially clothing/fashion designs. I was given my first guitar – a beautiful cherry classical guitar (I can still recall the sweet smell of cherries)– and began taking lessons. My teacher was a big, cigar smoking guy whose studio was up over a shop and resembled what you might think of as a private detective’s office in an film noir – old wood, pebbled glass panels in the doors.

The next few years were a collage of many things – art, friends, music, “the 60s”, etc. Blessings of blessings! My high school acquires an entire printmaking studio was from France (complete with etching and lithography presses, stones, etc.) Having taken art in my freshman year, I was invited, along with several other students, to enroll in the new printmaking classes. I stayed in some form of printmaking for the next 3 years. That got me through school. The Chicago Art Institute became a sort of second home – visiting as many weekends as possible. I begin working on large paintings. Music was everything and kept me sane. This entire period of the 60’s was tremendously influential - living in Chicago during the civil rights movement, the Democratic convention/ protests and riots, as well as tremendous freedom and societal change.

1970 – Initially I thought I would go into fashion design and applied to Parson’s School of Design in NYC. In the end I attended Kansas City Art Institute for one year. It was a singularly discouraging experience – hated the arbitrariness and the egos – I probably was home sick, but didn’t recognize it at the time. I look back on a few pieces I kept from that period, the work is quite good. Hendrix and Joplin died that year.

I spent the summer before college at the Art Institute at Bournemouth, England –costume and pattern design -  loved the experience – but my bags, and hence all my work, were stolen during a final trip to Rome.

The next summer was spent in England backpacking and hitch-hiking (back when it was easy to do that as a single girl). It was solitary and inspiring - walking alone on the roads and seeking out beautiful vistas and wonderful architecture. Didn’t return to KCAI in the fall. Instead stayed in Chicago, got my own apartment, took a job in the city and bought a piano, and spent a year at Columbia College in the music program – loved it, but was still unfocused. Bought my wonderful Guild acoustic guitar, which I still have, though I play now less frequently.

A few years of adventures and detours in life, include the most influential decision I have made, which was to join the Baha’i Faith. Circumstances take me toToronto where I work for a few years. I make another attempt at a university degree (this time being more “practical” and studying economics, which it turns out I was pretty good at it), meet my husband and move to Martinique, where our children are born and where were stay for about 8 years. 

Back in Canada with young children, I am happy to be able to attend Sheridan College in the Interior Design Program, balancing that with raising kids. Lots of work, but good work, and plenty of inspiration. I love studying! Eventually I develop my own interior design business and focus on that until about 15 years. Not much time to sew my own clothes anymore, but I work with textiles – fabric and carpets - all the time with my clients. 

In 1990 my mom passed away. She was a loving mother, the ultimate hostess, a fabulous cook and loved to read and to stitch, especially needlepoint. This loss has had an enduring impact me. In the mid ‘90s, after some downsizing, we moved to rural Ontario (and a lovely Victorian house) so our kids could attend the newly opened arts-focused private school. With a smaller design market, I spend more time volunteering - working with youth and children, developing programs in spirituality, leadership, and the arts. Music becomes a central part of our lives again. Live music is played at home, we play in song circles, and are avid fans of U2. Their concerts are a wonderful application of inspiration, art and technology. I buy a red Gibson ES-135 electric guitar. Kids graduate and travel far and wide.

 In 2005 our family made a pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre in Israel. Many things begin to change. During the trip, I was inspired to let go of the design business, and refocus on developing a 2nd career in the arts – not necessarily as a visual artist, but in cultural heritage. I feel that my previous work and studies helped set this direction, but knew it would require heading back to school. What follows is 4 years of studies beginning with a 4-month intensive program in Textile Surface Design at Haliburton School for the Arts, in Ontario. Surprise! This set me on a new path! I fell in love with textile history and rediscovering fibre art, and became so excited that I wanted to study more.  

Next…5 semesters back-to-back, to complete the degree in Independent Studies with a Minor in Studio Art. I became reacquainted with printmaking, textile art (dyeing, printing, stitching) and studying traditional textiles from Africa, Japan and the Islamic world, concluding with a solo graduating exhibition in May of 2007. The exhibition was titled “one (more)” and is a series of 35 printed textile pieces inspired by my studies in sub-Saharan African textiles, Stephen Lewis’s Massey Lecture Series on AIDS in Africa, The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and U2’s “ONE” Campaign to eliminate AIDS and debt in Africa.

I continue in the Printmaking department at as a tech; create a studio in the attic of my house, work and apply to exhibitions. To complete my studies I spend another year and a half in a museum management program. It’s 4 hours away and for the second time my patient husband accommodates my absence – this time for 8 months.  

In 2009 I’m in an internship at the Stratford Perth Museum – just a few minutes from home. Seven years later, and after a couple of years on contracts, I am now the fulltime Curator of the museum. For the past seven years I have taken care of the collection – nearly 20,00 artefacts - moved the entire collection to a new museum, and worked to develop about 20+ new exhibits. We have a tremendous quilt and textile collection – about 100 quilts and 1,000 other textiles… a joy indeed!

It’s the first time in many years that I have a 9-5 job. Less time for my own creative work, but I fit it in. in 2010 I was invited to work for 2 months as a consultant at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa. I take care of some important artefacts in the textile collection, making mounts for storage and display and doing other conservation and repair work, and moving and re-housing other objects in the collection. Haifa feels like home. I would love to go back.

2011 – 2016. I belonged to 3 local quilt guilds and clubs – each inspiring in their own way – and was program coordinator for two years for a large guild. This year (2016) I only belong to one of them - a small group that meets casually in my town. Work at the museum is intense, time consuming – mentally and physically taxing. At the same time, I am also trying to focus more on my artwork. I’m currently a member of SAQA, and the Ontario Crafts Council, and a past member The Textile Society of America (sometimes too much money to keep up all the memberships). And I have a blog, but haven’t been able to keep up with it much this year.

In 2015 I worked (on behalf of my museum) with SAQA to develop an art quilt exhibition called My Corner of the World. It features Canadian and International SAQA members and is currently touring in Canada and will go to the U.S. and Europe in 2017-18. I’ve collaborated on the development of 3 biennial fibre art exhibitions called Fibre Content, co-curating, and developing the graphic design materials – promotional materials, catalogues, etc.

In 2015 I was invited to join a fibre arts group – Connections Fibre Artists. A well-regarded group, they have established a reputation with galleries and exhibit as a group on a regular basis. This is a great motivation for me now - wonderful fellow artists, great comradery, and it spurs me on to create new work. Working isolation, as many artists ultimately do, gets lonely sometimes, and this has turned out to be a lovely group.  The deadlines that come with exhibit commitments are sometimes a challenge, but they do have their benefits!

Recently I purchased a beautiful, used etching press. I’m only beginning to make use of it. The press itself has a lovely history. It belonged to Michael Robinson, a Canadian aboriginal artist. It is an honour to own it and work on it.

In looking back, I have shown work in about 30 exhibitions since 2007, had one solo show, received juror’s choice awards, a few commissions and sales, and have work in the permanent collection of the Great Lakes Quilt Centre at Michigan State University Museum and at the University of Waterloo.

I haven’t written much about my family… My beautiful daughter – a talented and generous soul - has a degree in music, and is completing a second degree as a midwife ( music being an unreliable business at the best of times). She is a light in my life, and is herself happy, with a kind partner, many rescued cats, and is a committed community activist. My dear son, is a wandering, adventurous soul. He’s returning in just a few days, after working in China for the past 4 years. He’s a thoughtful and kind man whose strength is understanding and working with people. A month ago, he was trekking in Nepal, and scuba diving in Taiwan – things he wanted to do before leaving China. My husband is an intellectually brilliant, kind and patient man whose profession is working with people with disabilities. His avocation is as a spiritual teacher, who always works for the betterment of the people around him. He encourages and supports my creative work. 

Behind the technique, know

that there is the spirit (ri)
It is dawning now;
open the screen,
and lo, the moonlight is
shining in.
- Suzuki’s Zen and Japanese Culture.

“Art is a supplication, the highest expression of which is unity. “ – Otto Donald Rogers

 

“Great God! This sea had laid up lustrous pearls in store;

The wind hath raised a wave that casteth them ashore.

So put away thy robe and drown thyself therein,  

And cease to boast of skill: it serveth thee no more!” - Baha'u'llah

 

PART 2: PROCESS

How do you work and what do you love to do?

Inspiration or ideas often come to me from a musical or written/poetic source, rather than another visual source. Even though the ideas most often come suddenly, the development and creation often takes a long time. I’m impatient and don’t often sketch or plan (though I have more since I began this program). I prefer to work intuitively, experimenting with layouts until I feel I have found a way to convey the concept (or at least be true to it).

Occasionally a concept or vision is clear…. it’s just a matter of “get it done”. These can be more challenging to complete, especially if they are large, because the element of surprise is missing. I already know what I’m planning to create and achieve, so there’s less mystery in such a piece… and I do love surprises.

I love to work late at night.

It seems that I work in opposites -  either with very low contrast, subtle fabrics and threads, or in high contrast, busy complimentaries. Grids, repetition; interesting juxtapositions or gradations of colour, pattern or texture – sometimes abrupt and complex, sometimes nuanced. I try to create movement in what otherwise might be static. Silhouettes are often part of my compositions.

I dye fabric – some synthetic dyes, some natural – shibori, snow dyeing, dip-dyeing and bleeding, direct painting, etc. Of course, the surprise that comes with the unveiling is the best part. I love to work with scraps and leftovers. And piecing…. lots of piecing! Printing multiple but varied images on my etching press using collagraph plates is a lengthy but gratifying process. I love the physicality of printing, the sound of ink on rollers, or wiping ink off plates, running them through the press, revealing the final print.

Dense hand stitching which alters or moderates the underlying fabrics is something I am drawn to more and more often. Sometimes this is accomplished with machine stitching, but is less enjoyable. The quiet, meditative nature of hand stitching is important, even though it is much slower.

Previously I have worked large – or very large, but the more I do hand stitching, the more often I try to work small. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I think will become increasingly enjoyable, and will, in fact, allow for new ideas and will certainly allow me to be more productive.

A unexpected revelation came in a recent workshop when I looked at a number of pieces in development. Even though the subject matter is quite varied, it all is, in some way or another, an expression of circles in a square. Some of these pieces are still at the stage where I don’t want to reveal too much about them, but the continuity of form was a surprise! Squid eyes, antique hot plates, the Vitruvian man, Jupiter, hay bales, Sami drums… more than that I can’t say yet… but they are all connected.

When I’m not working on “art” pieces, I enjoy making quilts with a vintage feel. I have a collection of 1930s unfinished quilt tops (mostly simple square-patch tops and rough utility quilts), and I enjoy having them around as visual stimulation. I love the stories that are told in the work and patterns of a utility quilt – frugality, necessity, an imagined history.

PART 3: CONTENT

What do you care about?

CONNECTION: History, material culture, ancestry, family, human rights, oneness/contrasts (ie: the complex nature of the diversity of humanity which is, at the same time, one family); the expression – struggle and celebration - of this complex diversity through craft from around the world – especially textiles; the concept of light eliminating the dark; connections of the soul – between souls, to the spirit world, across time. 

Sue K.

History

I was born in the morning of June 16, 1950, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the year, in the middle of the 20th Century, in Oakland, California. My parents were living in Berkeley while my Dad finished a degree in Architecture at University of California, on the GI Bill. Mom had graduated during the war years, and had taught in what they then called a Junior High School for a couple of years, but quit working to raise the kids. I have two brothers, one only 17 months younger and the other 10 years younger. They are both creative and imaginative men with varied skills.

I had a happy childhood, growing up among our parents’ families in their home town of Sacramento I liked school and was a good student. I always liked music and learned to play the piano starting at age 7. I was good at it, too, as a kid. Music was important to both our parents and has been to all three of us kids, and we were exposed to all genres. 

I must have been 7 or 8 also, when I started learning to sew. I had dolls, and wanted to make clothes for them. I started by draping and tying and pinning any pieces of cloth I could get my hands on, onto my dolls. My maternal grandmother, an accomplished seamstress herself, really got me started doing proper sewing. And I started, mainly, sewing with a machine. I learned some rudimentary hand stitches then, but I still prefer working with machines.

When I was bored and had nothing to do, I would whine to my mother “I want to make something.” She would say “Okay, go ahead.” So I did. All kind of things, whatever I could thing of. I saw my Dad do this too...he would suddenly get a brainstorm and just do it. My making habit has persisted to this day, with long time-outs for things like a career and raising kids, and all the other busy-ness of adult life. I went straight from High School back to Berkeley at age 17 and spent two years there paying my lower division dues. When it came time to declare a major, I made a bid for the Textile Design program. When the rejection letter came in mid summer (sorry, too many applicants, not enough space) I was so dissappointed I decided to quit for awhile. Instead, I did an 18 month course in Patternmaking, Tailoring and etc at a fashion design trade school in San Francisco. I was good at all the technical parts of fashion design, but not at desigining clothes. After graduation, I worked for a couple of years at a garment manufacturer in SF, during which time I married, but by then was living 50 miles north of the City and the commute was a real drag. So, I enrolled in Cal State U Sonoma, and completed my BA in English Literature, working part time as a secretary for a Civil Engineer. The CE discovered I had a talent for drafting and began teaching me how to put together various maps and plans used in his work. This let me to another job, as an Engineering Technician, and finally to my career job of 26 years, as the Engineering Director for the small town we live in. 

After 10 years of marriage, we had a daughter and a couple of years later, a son.  During the years they were young, a lot of my creative efforts were centered around them--Hallowe’en costumes, helping out with sets and scenery for school plays, making parties, holiday decorations, and so on. I didn’t have the space or time to do much art of my own. The kids are now both in their 30s, one married, one almost so, living and working nearby. We feel very blessed to have them close to us, and that they seem to enjoy our company. 

I retired a little over a year ago, determined to get back to what I always wanted to do in the first place, and have had some success. I’ve joined a group of art quilters, and spent a lot of time reading books and blogs and so on, in search of inspiration, information and a community to share my interests with. 

Which brings me to what I am today, an apprentice artist of a certain age.

Process

I like to go into a room full of materials and start messing with them. I like to pull fabrics out and touch them, and put them next to each other. I get bored and distracted easily, and move from project to project. I have lots of UFOs. I'm trying to think of them as the seeds of future projects.

I enjoy working improvisationally, just seeing what will happen. I would say at this point that the processes I have enjoyed most to date (in no particular order) are piecing and quilting; mono-printing; thread sketching; collage; fused raw edge applique; photography; image transfer to cloth. I use all of these processes fairly consistently in my work. I also want to explore more ways of coloring and embellishing fabrics, using dyes, paints, prints, stamps and stencils, but have not done much exploration in these areas yet. Now that I have my studio set up, finally I will have the chance to play with some other methods.

Content

I favor abstract images over literal or realistic ones for my own work. I am inspired by the natural world, its shapes, textures and colors; rolling hills, ridged rocks, patterns of erosion, seaweed, lichen, mossy fences, reflections in still waters, flowers, jungles, huge granite boulders,  undersea corals, dark skies and the play of light, pine woods, the golden-brown hills and oak woodlands of the part of California where I live; I also am inspired by the built world, structures, details, windows and doors, interesting types of construction, village streets, boats. Other things that grab my interest include music, mathematics, and good literature, though I read less now than I did earlier in my life.

Maria S.

History

Born in the US, I am the oldest of 10 children.  We lived in the Midwest in 5 different cities until I went to college.  I studied Art for one year before I realized I didn't have enough self confidence to follow through with it and actually pay my rent afterward.  So I changed to Accounting.  Safe and dependable.  After college I got a job in a hotel where I met my swiss husband who was doing an internship.  After a year I decided to drop everything and move to Switzerland (after all, I wasn't really interested in accounting or hotels)  But I did manage to work in Switzerland in a hotel before having 4 children.  I was then a stay at home mom which I enjoyed. Gave me time in between to sew and create which wound up saving my life in so many ways, actually.  It was my best friend in the many lonely moments in a foreign country.  It was the one thing I did for myself.

As my children were growing up I spent more time drawing and painting and found out how much I really love it.  I am still working in the hotel of our family business in the housekeeping department (very exhausting!) in order to "earn my keep"  And I have recently gotten a sweet granddaughter whom I will be babysitting part time when my daughter goes back to work.   So I find I am always fighting the time problem.  Sometimes I have more, sometimes less.  But the one thing I know is that I can't live without my art. 

Process

I have many interests as far a skills go.  I love to draw and paint in my sketchbook.  I love to translate my drawings into textures and textile works.  My main love is usually a dynamic thing.  I often have a painting and a textile work going at the same time.  When one doesn't work out the other may.  And sometimes when I'm stuck a third process (maybe collage, paper, bookbinding) may come into play.  Deadlines for an exhibition motivate me to make decisions and finish up one project or another. 

Content

I basically have two main interests:

I like nature:  being outdoors, walking in the woods, acknowledging the change of season, the color of flowers, leaves and landscape around me and those I see in my travels.  The color and emotion of the seacoast where I spend my summer, the overwhelming size of the mountains with their ever changing faces, the color and texture of rocks, sand, seaweed, and everything underfoot.  I am interested in the play of light in nature, the early morning sunrise, the long deep shadows of fall, the diffused light through fog, brilliant light of sun, dark of night, the moon and stars.  Nature exists around me, grounds me and keeps me safe.

And then there are people:  They are scary and unpredictable, emotions everywhere.  Interactions and relationships can be very rewarding but also very upsetting.  I have been working through the portrait and emotion for the last few years.  I chose this because it is really the more difficult of my two interests and something I feel I need to do.  The circle of life with it's various stages, the many issues women have in society and the problems we all have to deal with are something I feel I need to say.  I have made many works on this topic already and feel I am not really done yet.