"It's the same I've always offered: just do the work. And don't try to figure out what other people want. Figure out what YOU want your work to be, and what you want it to say. Where imagination is concerned, the average American is shortchanged--she's been dulled into quiet compliance by the forces of conformity. Inventive people (artists and scientists among them) think outside the box--that's where they're most comfortable.
Quiltmaking has historically been an art of conformity. I think it's high time that we relegate that fact to quilt history, and move this art form fully into the 21st century where it should take its place alongside other exploratory and creative media."
Karen Kamenetzky's art quilts appear to be a spiritual union between Gustav Klimt and the most exciting parts of botany. Organic cellscapes shimmer in jewel tones. Layers of hand dyed cotton, silk, cheesecloth, yarn, embroidery thread and tulle create layers that create an organic mystery.
Kamenetzky's artist statement reads: "I am a self taught artist. I began creating traditional quilts more than ten years ago but found I resisted following directions. I now dye all my fabric and enjoy playing with color and line. Currently, most of my pieces are inspired by microscopic/cellular and underground imagery. I am fascinated with imagining how hidden parts of the natural world affect the world we see."
A statement for the 2004 Art Quilts/New England show reads: "After viewing various plant cell images, the form of this piece took shape. It depicts an imaginary point of transformative change on a cellular level."
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."
IQF is America's largest commercial quilting conference. Karey Bresenhan, founder of the show, has posted photos of the winning quilts on her site, quilts.com . If you scroll down the list, there are categories for art quilts, both large and small. Many of the grand prize winners are also whole cloth art quilts. These are works which are painted and then quilted.
Creating a family photo quilt that is not sappy, sentimental and kitsch is a challenge. The tendency is to take a small emotionally significant photograph, (a wedding, a new baby, a deceased parent) and print that directly onto a piece of fabric. The problem grows from there: how to surround the photo: more photos? Sentimental fabric?
Immigration and Integration: A portfolio of work reflecting the experiences
of immigrants and their descendants in the Jan/Feb 2004 issue of Fiberarts magazine offers an array of image driven quilts that are powerful visions. They demand our minds as well as our emotions.
Andrea Kalinowski has created a quilt, almost 8 feet tall, that features one ghost-image of a 'Jewish immigrant pioneer' woman, which is superimposed over a patchwork of the stories and images of other pioneer immigrant women.
Olga Waters has followed used a simple photo collage technique in her quilt, Light Down Under. Using images of her family's past, Waters tells the story of fleeing Holland after world war II in search of a new life in Australia. The colors in Waters' work move from stark black and white to rich warm hues and swirling leaf-like lines.
Other images are abstract impressions or three dimensional works. The article is a treasure trove of ways to incorporate memory, but leave out the mawkishness.
In her exhibition statement for the ArtQuilts at the Sedgwick 2002, Cynthia wrote: "Women's publications were filled with a plethora of advice as well as endless lists that instructed the housewife how to do everything better. The favorite topic of these lists centered around keeping a husband happy. Strict adherence to these lists promised total fulfillment and wedded bliss, while sending a clear message that women were held totally responsible for the success of their marriage.
Some of the articles that Cynthia photo-transferred from 1950's-era 'ladies magazines' include gems like "Remember that a man also needs appreciation and flattery. If he gets it from his wife, he's far less likely to look for it elsewhere" and "Interest yourself in the things that interest him so you can enjoy them together." And my personal favorite: "carry your share of the domestic load. It means keeping the home clean and attractive, being a good cook and a thrifty shopper."
Stephanie Hansen is this week's interviewee at the Artists Loft of Soul Food Cafe presents The Self Portrait Challenge. The challenge which appears easy at first glance, but could offer lots of opportunities for artistic growth.
"How about, when you have nothing better to do, you lie on a big sheet of paper and get the girls to trace around you and then do a self portraiture using the body shape. I am doing this with some Grade 6 kids and I am about to get my Year 12's to do it as well. It is a real hoot!
Once you have the shape hang it up for awhile - answer some of these questions and then go for it using all your favorite mediums - language, collage, whatever takes your fancy..."
In her interview, Stephanie talks about her work and the importance of language to the visual arts. "My work is filled with the articulation of unpopular truth. A mirror on which I painted, "I am the most important person in my life. I am more important than my parents or my children," was actually fought over by two women in their forties, each one determined to take it home. But first, each one gasped and declared, 'I can't believe you said that!'"
For more of Stephanie's work, visit her website at: http://worthworks.com/
Any volunteers to coordinate an art quilt challenge around this??
Hilarious, poignant and wonderfully inventive: The Proverbial Challenge
"The Proverbial Challenge is a collection of quilts that depict proverbs and sayings. Each of the quilts was created by an American quilt artist in response to a challenge issued by Sam Hunter, creator of the Proverbial Challenge series. As you browse though the quilts, please take a moment to read the stories about the quilts and their makers - you will find wonderful tales of laughter, joy, inspiration, struggle, pride and honor behind these beautiful works of art."
Lots of beautiful images, which expand to a very viewable size! Plan to spend some time exploring these images.
Summer 2004 appears to be a good year for the art quilt - three major shows around the globe!
South African National Quilt Festival 2004 Quilt Competition Results. This exhibition features lots of categories ( scroll acroll the top of the page or down the left side) and small quilt images, which are clickable to get larger images of the quilts. Juried show
Art & Soul of Quilting Four pages of images with larger images available. Anderson Art Center, Kenosha, WI. Juried show
Art Quilts on the Ridge - A Summer Show of the Contemporary QuiltArt Association (Seattle, Washington) - Members Show
"Rather than stating a "theme" for this juried show up front, members were encouraged to enter their regular current style of work. Sometimes working to a requested theme for a show causes an artist to lose sight of their personal artistic vision. Here we see work by members of CQA that showcases the wide variety of styles and techniques in textile art that individuals have developed."
Chapter 3 of Robert Shaw's wonderful book, The Art Quilt, has been re-published on the internet. This chapter covers the beginnings and evolution of the art quilt. There are no illustrations, but this being a linked medium, there are some interesting and quirky links to people, places and things mentioned. One example: "Laury entered the quilt in the 1958 Eastern States Exposition, where it attracted the attention of Roxa Wright, then needlework editor for House Beautiful magazine." This exhibition is a long way from the Quilt National in Paducah.
This chapter, and all of The Art Quilt, are a great refresher course in why we are pursuing this medium and where we are going.
Now that I can sustain a creative thought for a few minutes, I am making headway on a kimono quilt that I began months ago. The inception of the design was influenced by kimono paintings by Miriam Schapiro. This also began, in a way, by echoing Magritte's The Treason of Images series of a pipe investigating the imagery of an object instead of the actual object: "This is not a pipe". This was a fiber construction of a painting of a garment; this is not a kimono.
That entry path was soon re-directed. The embroidery that is the focus of the main top panel began to build on more subtle associations in my mind. The landscape of the embroidery is Tuscany. Once I had the great fortune to have one of the brothers at the St Francis church at Assist Italy open the tiny back window that frames an incredible view of the Tuscan landscape. It truly was like looking into paradise. That line led me into thinking of icons and reliquaries
One of my favorite paintings from the National Gallery in Washington DC, Gerard David's 'Rest on the Flight into Egypt' found it's way into the work, along with lots of velvet, silk and sequins. This is turning into a statement about everyday saints though, so I am hearing my button collection crying out to be included. There also really is a scarlet background cloth coming - possibly with some rebuses.
Wow! It feels great to have a moment for art again!
Sharon Boggon has a pointer to an incredible fiber art project, Portrait of a Textile Worker. This is a 2 year art project, creating a quilted portrait of an unnamed textile sweatshop worker. The portrait will be made "entirely out of clothing labels. It will be approximately 8 feet high and 9 feet wide when completed." There a photo at the site of the planned portrait. You can catch a glimpse of the work in progress. The artist, Terese Agnew, is the creator of intricate embroidered quilts, such as "The D.O.T. Straightens Things Out".
Agnew is in need of tags to complete her portrait. You can send the tags from "inside your clothing to complete the Portrait of a Textile Worker... Most labels are useful, but I urgently need gray and black labels (I can use labels that are gray on either side if the labels is a solid woven material). Those featuring proper names of designers are especially poignant in this work." Agnew estimates that she will need tags until January 2005.
Want to know even more? The journal, Behind the Label, features on article on the project, which looks at some of the political issues and inspiration behind the project.
The story of the unidentified woman in the portrait is in an article from On Wisconsin.
image: Portrait of a Textile Worker by Terese Agnew (in progress)
Living Outside the Lines is a homage to quilt artist Ann Stamm Merrell, who died of breast cancer in 1999. The artwork is extraordinary, but most fascinating about this web site is the perspective of how an artist's work can change and evolve through major struggles of life.
Husband Gregory Merrell writes: "In April, 1993, Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer. This had a profound effect on her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It also had a major effect on her quilt making as she began to express more of her anger, frustration, despair, hope, faith and joy through her works. Her style changed significantly as a result of the diagnosis. Instead of the nice neat 'stay inside the lines' and 'do everything according to the rules' (well, mostly) type of quilt making that she had been doing, she quickly began to 'go outside the lines'. Gone were the nice clean edges. No more square corners and parallel lines."
The site features over 50 artworks, arranged in chronological order and grouped by developmental periods in the artist's life. The works begin with "Triple Rail Barn Railing", a very traditional piece, to emotional, gyrating pieces, such as The Blood of Christ, Adriamycin and contemplative liturgical stoles.
Ann's words are highlighted in her Quilt National 97 application"Much of the content of my quilts now deals with my faith, especially as it relates to cancer. Even in quilts without overt meaning, the design elements raw edges, quilting 'outside the lines', slicing through already finished sections speak metaphorically of my life post cancer. My technique is driven by the need to keep creativity present as far into the process as possible, and to eliminate as much (of what I perceive as) busywork as possible."
image:Boy Scout for Hire by Ann Stamm Merrell
Sarah McEneaney is a Philadelphia painter who creates "creative non-fiction" paintings of her life and environment. The works are small, and created in egg-tempera, a medium made famous by Andrew Wyeth and also used by the early Renaissance painters. Her images are realistic, in the sense that they are identifiable and use naturalistic colorings. But they are fantasies in the distortion and emotion that they convey. Particularly poignant are the paintings reliving her rape: June 15, 1998 I and June 15, 1998 II
McEneaney says of her work: "I have been painting for over twenty years. My paintings are autobiographical narratives. They describe life experiences, physically and emotionally. I paint looking out from within and back inside from my own particular place in the world. My aim is to be honest and straightforward in the subject matter I choose and in how I paint it, to make the personal universal."
New York Times article Self-Portrait With Epiphany states "Ms. McEneaney's works belong to a prolific tradition of painting that has flourished worldwide for centuries, in blissful ignorance or willful rejection of the vaunted vanishing point of High Renaissance art. It is a longer and wider tradition than that of Western realism, one that has arguably succeeded more consistently at achieving pitch-perfect balances between form and narrative — between the telling and the tale."
With the scale and the liberation of the expressionist realism, Sarah McEneaney's work might be a path of inspiration for fiber artists looking to create representational portraiture.
For those going to Philadelphia for the Art Quilts at the Sedgwick show, McEneaney's paintings will be showing at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art until April 4, 2004.
Still more on self portraits... June Underwood was kind enough to introduce the topic to her Ragged Cloth Cafe group and there have been many interesting thoughts from that list. June has been reflecting on the interest of the face as it grows older: "puddle faced", she calls it. What she is seeing is the reality of the lifts and furrows that we are all gaining each day, in contrast to the slick, shiny skin that we see in the mass media.
Painter Alice Neel celebrates these irregularities in the portraits that she made from the 1930s-80s. Neel's most famous portrait is probably the painting of Andy Warhol, showing the gunshot scars a murder attempt.
Terry Grant posted her wonderful self-portrait doll, which made me wonder why fiber artists appear to be more comfortable with representational portraiture as 'dolls', but often shy away from realistic portraits in 2 dimensions (not pointing fingers at anyone, just a general musing).
A wonderful example of portraiture in quilts that I missed before is Faith Ringgold. What was I thinking?!? Ringgold's quilts are poignant, funny, beautiful sermons on her life's experiences as a Black woman born in Harlem in 1930. They are also exquisite works of art.
image: Faith Ringgold, Picnic on the Grass... Alone, 1997
Linda MacDonald - This Is Not a Self Portrait
Lesley Riley - Self Portrait At 47
Therese May - Therese Quilt
Deb Richardson - Rediscovering Joy: A Self-Portrait in Red
image (right):Rediscovering Joy: A Self-Portrait in Red by Deb Richardson
Other quilters didn't want to examine themselves realistically, but chose to have symbolic representations of themselves:
Blueprints by Marcia Karlin ".. describes the process of making cyanotype prints as a metaphor for memory and the evolution of meaning and identity"
In Imagio Dei by Ellen Ann Eddy
A wealth of self-portraits by the Kansas Art Quilters
I have discovered the fun of the self portrait. It all began with my hometown's exhibit of residents' self portraits. I had only done one self portrait and that was almost 20 years ago. Since I have my tongue sticking out, I guess that was some foreshadow of the fun of the self portrait.
Artists have often done self portraits and some of their most memorable works may be this art of reflection. A short, illustrated paper by Jeanne Ivy The Exploration of Self; What artists find when they search in the mirror offers this insight: "Self-portraits, we have found, can be carefully staged to show the audience only what the artist wishes to project, or deeply revealing, inadvertently displaying feelings of anguish and pain. Self-portraits have been used to test new techniques, make a signature mark, launch into self-study, remember the past, and as a way to release emotion. Whichever way artists choose to construct their images, they are each forced to study their own personas both physically and emotionally"
Some collections & resources to reflect upon:
Self-portrait U.K. - Making a self-portrait
Rembrandt's self portraits
VanGogh's self portraits
Self portraits of famous artists through the ages
image: Serena Fenton, self portrait
With exquisite faces and figures that echo the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Lura Schwarz Smith has created a series of art quilts that meld painting and quilting so completely that to is difficult to separate the two. She describes the evolution of this process: "In college as an art major at San Francisco State University with an emphasis in painting and drawing, I became interested in the possibilities of fabric as an art medium, and for my final project in senior painting class I produced my first art fabric wall piece. It was somewhat three-dimensional, minimally quilted, used felt weight pellon for a batting, and was pictorial in content. I thought of it as painting with fabric, using mainly applique and soft sculptural techniques."
Save Our Quilts gives an interview with Smith. In this, she cites her influence from Jean Ray Laury and her Imagery on Fabric book. Smith creates original drawings (she's also a book illustrator) and then photocopies them to fabric and paints them using Versatex fabric paint. Smith also emphasizes the necessity to take classes and learn a variety of sewing/quilting techniques: "I could always use more technique. It’s stuff in your tool box and it’s always good to add to that. I feel that certainly I am still learning, learning, learning all the time. Every piece I do is a great learning experience. Lately I’m having a lot of fun with this free-form curved machine piecing. I fractured these spaces and built the texture freely. I had a lot of fun with that. I like to just cut fabrics and slap them together without templates and patterns. I developed that technique on my own. It’s very fast and direct. But especially in the beginning, taking classes was very important. I started with my guild taking local classes and learning so much. I like to work as quickly and directly as I can, so I love a lot of those techniques."
Jane Burch Cochran is a quilter who has brought together several backgrounds and influences to create her art quilts. Of her piece, Winged Victory (right), Cochran states "At 21, I visited the Louvre and will always remember the 'winged victory' in a stair alcove. Connie Iskin gave me the old, white organdy dress. I envisioned a winged victory figure with wings made from gloves." The quilt includes: old organdy dress, gloves, old embroidery, handkerchief, embroidered roses, various fabric, beads, buttons, sequins, paint, glitter. All of this is brought together with saying of women's victories in the over the past few decades.
Cochran further enhances her art by adding 'found objects' that have a personal connection: a glove from a grandmother; buttons from a friend. The pieces tie together in an evocative richness.
image: Winged Victory by Jane Burch Cochran
As a child, I lived in a house perched on a hill with sweeping vistas that were spectacular morning and evening: sunrise over the mountains; sunset over the lake. I thought everyone had that beauty around them. But as an adult, all my houses have been cozy little hobbit holes: charming, not expansive, slightly subterranean. As a result, I tend to surround myself with landscapes and vistas - both real and imagined.
Fiber lends itself to graceful landscapes. Layering of textures and colors are evocative. Margaret Roberts' landscapes are exceptional fiber constructions. The color is rich and the textures is plentiful, but never heavy-handed. Roberts is also generous in letting us peek into her sketchbooks and see how her ideas develop. How she collects photographs and sketches, then supplements that with fabric scraps and snippets of yarn. She is not the silent genius behind the curtain, but rather a growing, experimenting artist - and an inspiration.
image: Field Furrows by Margaret M. Roberts
Note: you might need to use Internet Explorer to get the site to open correctly. Fraser Smith is the creator of some phenomenal quilts. The coloring an patterning is lush. The drape of the fabric is so fluid and soft that it seems irresistible. You just want to caress the fabric. Unfortunately, Fraser's quilts aren't fabric. They aren't textiles at all. Smith is a woodcarver. His quilts are carved from blocks of wood and then intricately patterned and painted with dyes or watercolors. In the details of his pieces, he has caught the waivering of light and shadows that quilts get through the interplay of batting and stitching; the way each stitch pulls down ever-so-slightly the surface of the quilt.
Smith explains his process: "Understand, I do not carve exact replicas of cloth, but rather something that looks like what our 'minds eye' perceives as cloth. Consider walking into a room and seeing all the usual things that you would expect to see - table and chairs, a painting or two and ... well, what's this? Someone has hung an old tuxedo on a hook in the middle of the wall. You have to ask yourself, 'Why is this thing here?' At first, you see an incongruous object and you'll make some sort of mental judgment on that. Then you discover that it's a block of wood, and you have to immediately change that judgment. So in a way, on another level, it's like magic." magic = art = magic. We should all make a little!
image: Fraser Smith "Hibiscus" Carved wood & Silk Dyes 68" x 24" x 4"
Log cabin quilts have an immense appeal to me. The geometries and regular rhythms make them soothing to live with. They're the "comfort food" of the quilt world. But I love pictorial pieces. Flavin Glover has a method that meshes the two worlds to create pictorial log cabins.
A Peek Into Pictorial Log Cabins offers a variety of ways that you can make representational images within the confines of the log cabin tradition. She has some amazing compositions, including round fluffy shapes like sheep, and landscapes that are constructed from the regulation log cabin shapes and techniques. Her most famous pieces are her urban streetscapes, such as Row Houses (at right), where she has used the angles of the log cbin geometries to create houses, doors, windows and roofs.
For more insight, Glover has posted a pattern for making your own row house quilt (or being inspired by this work to push the boundaries even further!)
Judith Martin's extraordinary quilts are featured at creativity.com. She also maintains her own web site with a full gallery. Martin's work utilizes photographic, painting and embroidery to create representational expressive images in fiber. Intriguing is how her use of photographic images weaves into the other surfacing techniques, rather than standing apart.
Martin lives on a small island in Canada, where she creates art works that focus on the balancing act of most contemporary women: " "Quilt making is my art process. Its subject is my life story, which is typical of many women my age. I am married, have children and work outside the home. I have aging parents, an emptying nest, and several sets of friends. I live close to nature and I worry a lot. All of these things are the content of my art. If I could have chosen a process of how to express it, I would have chosen poetry or painting. The quilt language of traditional pattern and emotional colour has chosen me." (from creativity.com)
image: The Blood Shimmers by Judith Martin
I love Wendy Huhn's work. The humor is outstanding; the work is just downright clever! I read somewhere (or at least I think I did) that years ago Wendy decided that her drawing wasn't good enough. So she developed her own style, which took advantage of her sense of design and used mechanical methods of reproduction to get around the drawing problem. This harkens back to my thinking that "style is based on limitations" and is a good example that we could all celebrate our limitations.
Wendy comments on her work: "My humorous approach to life and art manifests in a number of ways. I think of myself as a visual scavenger of imagery. The stories I tell through my work reflects the way I view the world often a brass voice in a room of hushed tones. It is my wish that the viewer be drawn in, perhaps puzzle over and be amused by what they see."
image: 48 Feet by Wendy Huhn (Detail)
Elizabeth Barton's art quilts are one of Fiberarts magazine's current online articles. Barton identifies herself as a "failed watercolorist". Well... maybe... Perhaps in the strict two dimensional world of watercolor, there could be some sense in this disclaimer. But in the world of quilting, where things can be disassembled and re-arranged, layered and embellished, Barton's background as a watercolorist serves her well. In many of her cityscapes, Barton emphasizes watercolor's fluidity and creates bold imagery in this unforgiving medium. Her cities shimmer with the energy of Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie.
Barton's landscapes, while retaining a pastoral color pallette, jump with energy. Geoff's Shed (Art Quilt Sedgwick 2003) depicts a country scene rife with movement and activity. There are the fields, the barn red structure and hints of cats and windmills. But this is a working scene, not a quiet Andrew Wyeth retreat.
Barton also created quilts that are abstractions and color studies, all of which promise to be much richer in person than on the internet. Ah well. At least there is this glimpse into her wonderfully rich world.
image: Geoff's Shed by Elizabeth Barton
Therese May is a self taught quilter who has let restrictions on neatness pass her right by. Instead she has focused on the energy and expression of quilting. Her pieces are heavily embellished, almost folk art-like, though she admits an early influence of Andy Warhol.
In an interview with Quilters’ S.O.S. Project, May states: "I got my degree in art in painting and then I got married and had these two little kids and I just started sewing a lot and before I knew it I was making pictures with the fabric. And I've always been really talented, you know, in art but I was a housewife. I wasn't thinking about an art career or anything like that. I just thought I was having a good time with fabric." Eureka - the reason that we all should be creating art!
May's pieces are surprising large, given the intensity of the embellishment. Her page of works for sale at her website shows her small works at 19" X 22". Her larger pieces measure out to be 92" X 50". (She doesn't list the weight on any.) A video clip at Do It Yourself (click the media link) has a short interview with May and lots of images of her at work, fearlessly painting directly on the quilt surface.
image: "CUP-O-WURMS", 60"X65" by Therese May
Quilt National touring schedule
For Christmas, I received "Quilt National 2003; The Best of Contemporary Quilts". It's a gorgeous book with excellent photographs and succinct commentary (by the artist) on each piece. At the back of the book, I was delighted to read the show itinerary and discover that it will be near me! The bad news is that the show is being divided into three parts (A, B, & C). So the best I can hope to do is see 2/3 of the show in two trips. Schedule is as follows
1/17/04 - 4/4/04: Asheville, NC; Southern Highland Craft Guild (A)
4/1/04 - 4/4/04: Lancaster, PA; Quilters' Heritage Celebration (C)
5/7/04 - 8/15/04: Abingdon, VA; William King Regional Art Center (B)
6/3/04 - 9/12/04: Delray Beach, FL;Cornell Museum of Art and History (A)
9/11/04 - 10/16/04: Bloomingdale, IL; Bloomingdale Park District Museum (B)
3/31/05 - 4/3/05: Lancaster, PA; Quilters' Heritage Celebration (A&B)
Robin Cowley: Textile Art Quilts The description on her homepage says it all: "Robin Cowley is a San Francisco Bay Area artist whose background includes studies in art history, drawing and painting as well as a love of fabrics. Her textiles combine color and space in an abstract manner. An accomplished gardenmaker, her source materials include the colors and textures in nature, avant garde architecture and views of outer space and the planets. A serious artist, her work nevertheless engages viewers with humor and lightness." Beautiful colorfield work! Great line work in the stitching.
image: A New Beginning by Robin Cowley
In the article Fiberarts Magazine > The Digital Quilt, Michael James describes the the technological changes to quiltmaking with the advent of digital tools, such as computer aided design and photo manipulation software, combined with the ability to print directly on the fabric with a photographic clarity.
James states that these new technologies open up "new frontier for quilt artists." Yet at the same time he reflects, "I've given a lot of thought to the implications that sophisticated technologies such as those embodied in this equipment and software hold relative to my practice as a quiltmaker. The capacity to place imagery on fabric is virtually unlimited. Almost anything that the imagination can conceive, combined with the facility offered by layering, transparency, tiling, color reduction, filtering, and other digital options, as well as photography and all that this medium brings to visual expression, is doable. This aforementioned facility doesn't come easily, but once the basics of the CAD programs are mastered, experimentation will open endless avenues for creative exploration. The danger is that this work can easily become facile, leading to vapid or predictable photo montages with little meaning or emotional resonance. This is a problem not unique to digital quilts, of course. It's a concern in any medium and with any materials or processes."
The article, from the Nov./Dec. 2003 issue of Fiberarts, is well illustrated with examples of contemporary printed textiles by James, Patricia Mink, Vincent Gil Vargas Quevedo and Caryl Bryer Fallert.
Michael James is a quilt artist who can engender rage in a quilting discussion group, just with the drop of a quote. He seems to be a man who does not mince his words, making him all the more fascinating and powerful as an artist; especially as an artist pushing the boundaries of the textile design world. The PBS site, Century of Quilts features an interview with Michael James where he describes his passion for quilting and creating. A collection of his older pieces are available at the Revere Collections site. Unfortunately all of the detail image links are broken. A larger quilt image, displaying his colorplay linear stripes is available at the Renwick. His current works involve the use of digitally manipulated photographs printed onto
fabric using a wide bodied printer.
Laura Breitman creates fantastically intricate photo-realistic collages using tiny snippets of fabric. This article by the Smithsonian Magazine describes her technique: "Breitman positions thousands of bits of cloth—from slivers to two-inch squares—onto her canvas, like so many overlapping brushstrokes. To get the variegated colors and graduated shades of light and dark just right, she often bleaches, dyes or block prints the fabric.... When a picture is complete, Breitman applies a matte varnish, which gives it a more uniform texture."
image: Green Path by Laura Breitman
Update: 11/23/04 - I received a note from Laura Breitman today. She simply says: "I am removed my presence from the internet because of a new direction I am taking." So, you can no longer view her work on the internet, but a new direction is always exciting.
Bernie Rowell describes her work on her homepage: "I create highly textural contemporary art quilts from my studio in the magical mountains of western North Carolina. My mixed-media canvases are painted, pieced and then quilted. This quilted presentation gives tactile references to home, family and the whole history of women's work."
image: 'Shield for a Toxic Planet' by Bernie Rowell"
Rowell was a painter before becoming a quilter. As a result, all of her quilts have a very painterly feel to them. Her work explores the beauty of her gardens and the North Carolina Mountains, where she lives. She also creates 'shields' for herself, other women ('For the Tribe of One-Breasted Women') or nature ('Earth Shield / Oceans'). Her repeating patterns and motifs are stylized, but never rigid. In her Computer Scrap Quilts, Rowell literally pushes the boundaries of her quilts by playing with the binding/edging processes. Curves turn straight, then zigzag, and ease back into a curve. The pieces push outside the rectangular box.
Rowell has further expanded the notion of quilting by producing a series of prints on paper, which she then quilts and embellishes.
Carol Taylor creates art quilts with colors so rich that you can almost taste them. Her work seems to be constantly evolving. In going to the gallery page, there is a wealth of concepts and explorations to pour through.
image: Crop Circles by Carol Taylor
Best in this site is Carol's generosity with her explanations of techniques and her close ups of her work - we can really see the detail!
Expository Magazine has an article by Carolyn Lee Vehslage that highlights Tatlor's career(s) - and how she began quilting in 1993 - just ten years ago! The article describes how she works in the creation of the Crop Circles series: "You can tell by the joyous nature of the Confetti Series that Carol is having fun with her new direction. She starts by using randomly cut small pieces of hand dyed cotton sateen fabric to create a textured surface. The pieces are enhanced by appliquéing a shape, such as a circle or square, in the center of each piece. As she assembles the smaller components into a larger composition the colors interact and begin to glow."
M. Joan Lintault creates quilts that are truly layers of meaning. She creates dozens of individual items by painting, xerox and silkscreening. These objects are connected by machine lace and applique to create a dimension expression filled with color and details.
image by M. Joan Lintault
Lintault was a teacher at Southern Illinois University's School of Art and Design in Carbondale for most of her career, leaving only recently to pursue her studio work full time. In an article by the Illinois State Museum, Lintault explains her fascination with the richness of visual display that springs open with pattern and chaos. She also cites the influence of sixteenth-century Italian painter Giuseppe Archimboldo, and seventeenth-century Amsterdam artist Rachel Ruysch.
Lintualt's artist statement gives the following insight: "My objective is to produce a series of quilts that are motivated by metaphors of paradise and the evocative use of nature to inspire spiritual and uplifting feelings. I would like to place myself with those artists who have established an unbroken history of works of art dealing with the theme of paradise. The subjects that I wish to address are largely traditional, such as trees, garden, flowers, animals, fruit and vegetables. These visual images offer me associations with many levels of meaning."
Hive Project 768 individual quilt panels created by a dozen different artists come together to create this collaborative piece, the Hive. Each panel measures 12" square. The most fascinating part of this art piece is that it is designed to be rearranged at each installation. One example at this site is a digital representation of how the pieces might look in one long mural. A second view shows the work actually installed in an art space.
San Antonio News has an article with more information on the project and a photo of the installation at the Southwest School of Art & Craft.
Marta Amundson This page is in Swedish, which is a bit of a problem for comprehension of the text, at least for me. Luckily, the page is mostly photographs - wonderful closeup photos of Marta Amundson's quilts. You can actually see the richness of the textures and layerings in her work; strawberries on a cake so real that you want to stick your finger in and have a taste, Bleeding Heart flowers created with paint and thread.
Amundson's colors are wonderful. In an interview in the Albion College alumni newsletter, Amundson says, 'The colors in my work are bold combinations that would make Emil Nolde or Henri Matisse proud but raise the hair on granny’s neck.'
The quilt image is from her gallery work, which has a dozen or so of Amundson's quilts on view on the web. Most of her works involve animals and nature, which she observes in her daily life in Wyoming.
image by Marta Amundson
KathleenField.com - Art Quilt Gallery
Art quilts made of collage on fabric. Current work is botanical in imagae and inspiration.
Field's statement at SAQA reads:
" From bits of photographic images, collected images, torn papers and text, I create a collage. I borrow icons and words from throughout the ages to illustrate my concept. Creating the physical layering of the elements in this medium brings upon emotional, spiritual and mythical layers as well.
By enlarging and manipulating my assembled construction, I print it to fabric. After the printing, the images are once again arranged and rearranged. This sometimes-final work is then stitched to produce a quilted union of color and composition."
Turtle Moon Studios Outsider Art, Art Quilts, Paintings, Gallery, Diary.
Art by and for the optimistic dreamer. Susan (Lucky) Shie creates paintings and quiltings that reflect her experiences and expound on the world around her. The style is eclectic, colorful and totally delightful.
Be sure to read Turtle Trax diary, an online journal that follows the process of creation.
image by Susan Shie