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.