January 17, 2005
Lynne Heller is a Canadian artist using of a combination of traditional quilting and digital images to create an art experience that is evocative and haunting. A few excerpts from the press release for her 2001 show, Found at 13 Moons Gallery in Santa Fe:
"Toronto textile artist Lynne Heller is at the crossroads of three cultures, digital technology and traditional sewing in her new exhibition of quilts based on Swedish oral histories. Heller brings a contemporary Canadian interpretation to 19th century tales about quilts made by Swedish women who returned from immigrating to America, bringing the New World quilting tradition with them...
...The Found group is based on a collection of stories about 19th century quilts by Swedish immigrants to America who returned home. They brought the techniques of quilting with them and transformed them using their own designs. Heller starts with wide borders, a unique characteristic of Swedish quilts, and abundantly layers lace, wool, silk, printed fabrics, organza, transparent, and quasi-transparent materials using a variety of stitching techniques. Each quilt takes its title from a poignant phrase in the stories about the particular original Swedish quilt that inspired the contemporary work of art. "When I read phrases like 'There had been order in this house' or 'Under an old piece of brown paper' or "One for a year, until she died,' I immediately had a sense of what the final piece would feel like even thought I had no idea what it might look like" said Heller. 'Most of the references to the Swedish quilts are more in tone and sympathy rather than any formal resemblance," she said.'"
The artwork to the right, '...and I have plenty to do...' (2000, 72" x 48") was inspired by this story: "Rivas, March 15, 1891
"The letters must be taking a terribly long time. I don't think mail is sent off to Europe more than twice a month from here. Thought at least that you would get my letter by Christmastime.
Now we know that the postal service is late so we must try to stay calm on both sides if we don't get letters as quickly as we wish.
"We still here in the same place as when I last wrote and I have plenty to do. A lot of starched shirts are worn here, and as the pay for a well-ironed shirt is quite good, I have started to do the ironing for certain people. For one shirt with collar and cuffs I get up to 25 cents, in Swedish money, 75 ore. When I have finished ironing one shirt I have paid for the day 's food. On account of the heat, I don't have the strength to do a lot of ironing but it still helps out. There is no one here who knows how to iron and now the whole town is curious to find out how I do it and I take all precautions so they won't steal the art from me as I would then lose my earnings. Then I only wish I had a Swedish girl here to help me.
Matagalpa, May 17, 1891"
Heller's recent work is more conceptual than the Found exhibit, yet it continues to explore the relationships of women within their world and their work. She describes the growth in her artistic vision: "The trajectory leading to my current focus started with a solely formal attention to quilts and considerations of structure and material. Making quilts over many years led to a specific concern with functional, heritage quilts. I became intrigued with the lives of the makers and the stories embedded in their work. It is through that interest in the people behind the objects that I have begun to work with sound, image and communication technologies—addressing the disconnect between our hopes and desires versus the concrete manifestations of those needs."Posted by sfenton at January 17, 2005 07:57 AM | TrackBack