These new works further my interest in re-purposing vintage quilt blocks. I like the idea of using old pieced blocks that some other woman made, but never finished as a quilt. It’s an opportunity to complete an untold story, while tracing the literal thread back through generations of unsung women makers.
The process of making is my meditation. Over several decades of working I’ve assembled an active visual language, which I continue to expand. The geometry of the quilt blocks is an inherent part of my language, as is the use of circular images, gold leaf, and plaster/spackling. A completed piece is a prayer of thanks offered to the Universe
Inspired by the Masters
The exhibition, Inspired by the Masters, features fourteen pieces; each a complex combination of rescued vintage needlework pieces, including needlepoint, quilt blocks, Crewel embroidery, and punch needlework. The vintage pieces are collaged with hand dyed and printed fabrics, many of which were created to match or mimic the patterns of the original needlework. Each is backed with industrial Eco-felt and machine stitched/quilted.
Inspirations ranged from Matisse still life paintings, to the work of Frieda Kahlo and Mary Cassatt; each intertwined with my experiences of vibrant color and pattern discovered on teaching travels around the world.
I am drawn to old quilts, especially those constructed from bits and pieces of salvaged clothing. They are, perhaps, one of the original inspirations for recycling.
The original inspiration for this series was a poorly constructed, vintage baby quilt in a traditional pattern- of which there are hundreds. Looking at that quilt so soft and worn, and now discarded as past its prime and ruined - I wondered what would happen if I worked into it with materials that were intrinsically at odds with quiltness. Spackling to stiffen, colored pencil to prevent washing, and sand to roughen the touch. Impossible to stitch.
The reworked quilt is symbolic of transition and paradox. Once soft, now stiff and scratchy. Once a quilt - what is it now?
Quilt/Not Quilt? Beautiful or not?
And in whose opinion?
Feather and Bone
These pieces originate as photographs taken with a digital microscope. The close-up shots of the feathers are detailed and dramatic when viewed through the microscope lens. A second set of images was generated from photographs of the skeletons and bones of some of the largest mammals on Earth, including the python, rhinoceros, and elephant. Photographs are cropped, becoming abstract compositions with clean and elegant lines.
I upload photos to Spoonflower.com - a print on demand fabric site. The feather images are manipulated to change color and pattern so that the end result is an intricate and elaborate riff on the inherent complexity of the original feather. Once the fabric is delivered to me I continue to dye it, overprint, and stitch. These assemblages are a comment on how “short-sighted” human beings are when it comes to the planet’s resources - and an encouragement to look deeper and more closely at the world around us.
The Lyrical Thread series began as a question: Could I hand stitch through a canvas surface covered with plaster-like spackling? I was drawn to the hard surface of the spackling, and the ease with which I could alter it - so very different from cloth! A set of explorations confirmed that in addition to using pencil, sand, screen printing and lamination, I could indeed, stitch onto the matte ground.
Working the surface was symbolic. Difficult to master, the end result only hints at the creative struggle. Seeking grace under pressure. A worthy goal.
This series was created in 2011 in response to the realization that we humans require centering. That is, attention to our inner thoughts and impulses. Musicians practice Etudes, or musical studies. Some people pray. As an artist, my daily practice is studio work. The pieces included for your consideration are part of a 48 piece set, shown at the University of Louisville in 2011. Individual pieces from the series are included in other traveling exhibitions. The most notable of these is the FiberArt International exhibition, which originated in Pittsburgh and is traveling for two years.
2009 - 2010
Large, digitally printed fabric panels collaged with screen printing using paint and sand, lamination, backed with Ecco felt and stitched.
This series references the waning populations of wild life on the planet, and the human disregard for the same. The series was shown at the Boger Gallery and also at the Schweinfurth Center for the Arts. One piece was also shown at the Smithsonian Textile Museum in an exhibition entitled Green and another won two Best of Shows at regional exhibitions around the US.