As the catalog for the touring exhibit Threads of Resistance came out recently (available at Amazon), I thought I’d give you a little background on my piece Liberty Marches that’s included in the book and exhibit.
I heard about a call for fiber art started by a group of artists I really admire called The Artist Circle. Threads of Resistance was their idea for a touring exhibition of fiber art that reflects artists’ viewpoints in response to the 45th president. I knew I wanted to participate.
Trying to process the results of the election and what that said to me about our country was a difficult time for me. A friend was trying to process her feelings as well and put her hopes and wishes for peace into a quilt. I decided I needed to do some art therapy as well, but was in too dark a place and couldn’t think of an idea for a piece that I wanted to work on. And then came the Women’s March on January 21st.
My husband Curt and I thought it was important to attend our local march. We connected up with groups of people we knew – people from up north that we had worked on a campaign with, friends and neighbors, fellow League of Women Voters members, quilting and museum friends. We were part of the 25,000 that marched in San Jose that day. It was a day filled with positive energy – peaceful, loving, and determined to advocate for civil liberties. I got home from the march and the ideas started to come!
Now, for the ridiculous part of creating anything – those unrelenting voices that tell you, “If it was a good idea, someone else will have already come up with it and will do it better than you ever could.” I managed to just let the voices wail and “nevertheless,… persisted!”
I found a public domain image of the Statue of Liberty and then, after altering it slightly, used Photoshop to tattoo her with replications of over 100 Women’s March signs that were carried around the world. I learned even more about Photoshop doing this project! Harking back to the skills we used in grammar school, the idea of weaving this image appealed to me from how it would look as well how it reflected on the meaning I was trying to convey.
I had four shades of gray fabric in mind for the printing and when I went to treat the fabric to prepare it for printing, I discovered there wasn’t anywhere close to the amount I needed. Argh!!! I whipped out the computer and did a search for gradient gray fabric, and in less than five minutes I found a gorgeous piece with the quantity I needed to print the image twice. I wanted it to be gray, both to refer to the gray winter morning on January 21st and to have her marching into the darkening sky. I found this piece dyed by Vicki Welsh that is perfection.
The printing was challenging this time as I had to try a new heavier freezer paper to stabilize the fabric due to the length of the strips I needed instead of the cardstock I normally use. After some frustrating attempts (and my husband’s help) it worked.
A friend pointed me towards looking at some bargello quilts to get some ideas on cutting the widths of the strips to weave. A great idea! While looking nothing like a bargello quilt, varying the widths of the strips gave me the movement I needed in the finished piece.
To finish this off, here’s the artist statement for Liberty Marches (also written with the help of my husband and a friend):
On January 21st, 2017 the Women’s March took place around the world in protest of the character and policies of the 45th president of the United States of America. Women and men marched in support of many issues including liberty for all human beings.
The symbol of our country’s freedom commonly known as the Statue of Liberty is actually entitled Liberty Enlightening the World. Libertas carries a torch in her right hand lighting the way forward, a tablet in her left inscribed with the date of our declared independence, and a broken chain at her feet symbolizing abolition.
I imagine her on January 21st wanting to march but knowing how much more important it is to hold high the symbols of freedom. She invites over 100 marchers from all over the world to make the signs they march with a part of her. Emblazoned with their words, she re-enlightens the world.
We can help. The fabric of liberty is imperfectly woven together. Sometimes it frays and unravels and hangs by a thread. We can strengthen the cloth. Working together, marching together, we are liberty.
Be sure to check out the tour dates and locations near you!
So much going on but, instead of trying to jam it into one rambling, lengthy post, I’ll spread it out over a few days and make this a rambling, lengthy post about one topic!
The quilt I’m sharing with you today is the latest of my quilt mosaics entitled Morning Light. This is another close-up of a succulent – an echeveria – one of my absolute favorites! I love the ruffles, the undulating lines, the deep shadows, and brightly lit edges. It’s from an early morning picture and the colors make me happy.
Morning Light was a commission piece that was a dream from beginning to end. I received an inquiry at the end of last year asking if I’d make a piece for a family. I said that I would be interested and that we would talk after the first of the year. I asked that they think about size, subject matter, color preferences, etc. – all the normal stuff. We picked our date in January and talked after the holiday craziness had calmed a bit. The conversation was one of those wonderful, easy connections you make with people sometimes. I was entrusted with information about the family that gave me a sense of who they all were and I felt a real emotional connection to each of them. After a bit, I was told that they had decided they wanted me to choose the subject matter and color scheme. They wanted it to be truly from me.
Talk about nerves hitting. I played around with a few ideas and images. But this is the one I kept coming back to. So with a due date of May 31st, I started.
Some painting and some dying of buttons did happen, along with a little more purchasing but more than that, I thought about each member of the family while I was sewing. I felt like they were involved with its creation. This quilt actually debuted (unfinished though it was) at the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association’s biannual quilt show where I was one of the two featured quilters (Mel Beach was the other). I got to share my process and even had some kids help lay out buttons.
In spite of going to an out of town conference and a family reunion trip to celebrate my mom’s 90th birthday, I managed to finish the piece and have my husband Curt photograph it for me.
Now the nerves truly kicked in. I sent the photo off to the family and had to wait for approval. They did approve it and I sent it off, still a bundle of nerves wondering what their reaction would be to the piece face to face.
I knew it had been delivered, but didn’t hear from them until Saturday. It was received in a way that was beyond my expectations and I was and still am so moved. The one line I’ll share with you, “I told my kids that this is our family heirloom.” I can’t express how honored and incredibly grateful I am that they let me create something for them! What a wonderful family and a wonderful experience.
It’s been quite a while since I sat down to try to capture some thoughts. That indicates that either I haven’t been thinking or that everything has been a muddle in my head. Although some might try to tell you that it’s the first, I assure you it’s been the later! The climate in the world has had me reeling.
I’m focusing right now on finishing up three projects. I’m working on a button mosaic piece for some lovely people living in Arizona. Truly excited by how it’s coming out! I have a due date set for May 31st but I’m hoping to get it done earlier as this year seems to be getting busier by the day. I’ve signed up for a class in how to make my own buttons and beads but that doesn’t happen until September. I need it now!!!! Certain colors are illuding me!!
While working on this quilt I’ve been working on two other quilts as well and the smallest piece is now complete! A dear friend of mine (Amy) is a librarian at a local elementary school and once a year arranges for several authors to come and speak to the students. As a part of these Author Days, she has a 12″ x 15″ work of art created surrounding an author’s particular book title. Historically, these are quilts but some have worked into other artistic expressions. Each author signs a three inch strip at the bottom of the artwork representing their book and Amy then has these beautifully framed and hung around the library. I was lucky enough to create one several years ago for a book by Mac Barnett and I was so honored to have her ask me to again create a piece this year for Wendelin Van Draanen’s The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. This is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. I simply love it. I’ll deliver the piece to Amy this week and then get to meet the author and hear her speak on April 23rd. Very excited!
The second piece I’m working on is a larger digital piece that I’m working on for the Threads of Resistance challenge. I have all the work done on Photoshop and just received the fabric, etc. that I’ll use for printing. I think it will come out! That’s the best I can say at this point!
In the rest of my spare time, I’m preparing for our local quilt association’s quilt show on April 1st and 2nd at the Santa Clara Convention Center. If you’re in the bay area, I hope you will stop in! Mel Beach (a brilliant quilter/teacher/lecturer and I are both the featured artists for the show. Check out the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association website for information. Also, please click on the link to Mel’s blog as she does such a good job of promoting it and giving important details! Hope to see you there!
I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited and very inspired! So many good things happened over the past week!
First (and most important), on Wednesday we celebrated my incredible son’s 26th birthday! They keep coming fast and furious!
The Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) started on Thursday. I had one day to see it all! As I mentioned before, two of my quilts made it into the show. High Voltage Birds won an Honorable Mention in the Innovative category. So much fun! After walking every aisle (sometimes more than once), looking at every exhibit, at every quilt, and perusing almost every vendor, I made it home and put my feet up. A friend emailed me about an hour later asking, “Did you realize your Albuquerque Sky quilt was used as the backdrop for all the PIQF special exhibit signs!” I looked at all those signs and never noticed! How ridiculous!
Now for the part that has me still giddy! We drove down to San Diego to attend the Visions Quilt Museum opening reception, breakfast, walk through, and juror talk on Saturday and Sunday for Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016. I’m so honored to have been selected to be part of this show. Walking around and looking at the other pieces, I’m overwhelmed. I wanted every single piece being displayed. Oh, for unlimited funds and wall space! Add to all that eye candy the opportunity to talk to some of the most amazing artists and my weekend was almost complete! Other than being some truly lovely people, I learned quite a bit as well – lots of great information was shared!
I was pretty nervous the first evening not knowing anyone other than my lovely husband who doubles as a great security blanket! I managed to talk to a few people when I first got there and then spotted a friendly face – an amazing artist I’ve met at PIQF once a year for the past three years was at the opening! Marty Ornich is a fiber artist that has created some amazing wearable art some of you may be familiar with. This is one of her creations that was at PIQF in 2014. She is also having a special exhibit at the Houston show coming up in November. If you’re there, be sure to check it out! It was so lovely to see her again and spend some time catching up! Funny how just that little familiarity can give you the confidence to reach out to more people! She is such a generous, vibrant person!
I was one of the award winners as well and was thrilled to meet the artist that the award was given in honor of – Rita Zerull. She’s a funny, charming, spunky 80+ year old San Diego artist and very generous with her time and conversation! (How could I not love a woman who said she would send me some buttons!) The photo is Marty on the left, Rita in the middle with me on the right.
If you are in the area, it is really a beautiful museum and a beautiful show! There’s even a book! Many other galleries and museums are right in the same area and some pretty amazing restaurants! Go!!!
A busy week coming up and full of fun stuff!
A friend is getting married this weekend and was lovely enough to trust me to make her bouquet. It is a lovely collaboration but now I’m having day-mares that it is going to die and fall apart before the wedding tonight! Hold a good thought!
On Monday, I’m dropping off my quilts for the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) opening this Thursday. If you’re anywhere near the south bay, stop in at the Santa Clara Convention Center and check it out! I have two quilts that were accepted this year – Beacon and High Voltage Birds. You’ve heard the story behind High Voltage Birds but now I’ll tell you a bit about Beacon.
Beacon is my impression of an antique lighthouse prism. I tried to capture some of the feeling of refracted light and some of the depth while looking into the prism and then played around with designing the border mimicking the circles and the prisms. It’s funny, but I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this piece. It was a departure from what I’ve done in the past in some ways and pushed me in different directions, which can be a good thing sometimes. I’ll let you know when I’ve come to a conclusion!
PIQF is always a fun show and I love wandering through the quilts and seeing how many of the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association members have quilts hanging in the show! We are a mighty group! One year I think we should make it a member game to see who can find all the member quilts hanging in the show. The first one to find them all to win…??? Suggestions?
The same weekend (of course because it never rains but pours) is the opening of Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016 in San Diego. I’m lucky enough to be one of 41 artists chosen to display a piece in this show. Very exciting! The quilt in the show is Stonecrop Tapestry. The only slightly terrifying thing about the opening weekend is that I have to give a two minute talk about the quilt. I have no idea what to say so I’m procrastinating preparing! Feeling slightly intimidated speaking in front of some truly amazing artists!!! Help! Hopefully I’ll pull it together and prepare something that will sound fairly coherent other than, “Yeah. I made this. I used buttons and beads. It came out kind of pretty.” Somehow, I don’t think that will cut it.
A true blogger I’m not as evidenced by my total lack of writing since … oh, let me see… since July. Yep, that just about says it all!
Things have been strange and chaotic recently in the world and with friends. I’m certainly reflecting that personally. I find that I’m bouncing between being absorbed in our strange political situation and escaping a lot into nonsense fiction and TV. However, I have found time to work on some projects.
I’ve finished two small button/bead quilts. The first is called Be Well. As it’s a coneflower, I decided to go with a name that reflected it’s meaning in the language of flowers. I know it’s fairly archaic, but I really do wish people did the research and gave flowers with intent, embracing the meanings. (Although, I think I could do without sending or receiving a withered bouquet to tell someone that the relationship was over.) In any case, I love coneflowers and now love them a little bit more knowing their message is so gently hopeful – just be well.
The second little piece Basement Light was inspired by some beautifully colored glass bricks set in the ground to allow light into the basement (the servants’ quarters) of the Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon. I fell in love with the colors. I’m thinking about doing an expanded version of this one. Just toying with the idea!
My main project over the last month was a painting project. I made my husband a Lazy Susan cribbage board for his birthday. That took up far more time than I anticipated, but it was fun and, more importantly, it’s finished! It’s not epic, but it will get a lot of use! Side note, I used an old tracing of our son’s hand for the center design. Managed to find some great wooden pegs online and hopefully they’ll last longer than the usual plastic ones!
I’ve spent the rest of my time working on several sewing projects that will go out to various parts of the world hopefully making some people I don’t know happy.
All of this while mulling over my next project – so far I’ve spent 6 days on trying to decide on the orientation – landscape or portrait. Is it any wonder I don’t get more done!
I hope you are staying happy and productive!
I recently finished and entered a new digital piece that was accepted into the upcoming Houston quilt show. While finishing up the quilting with some friends, someone asked me how I came up with the idea of fracturing this image and reassembling it. My response was to shrug and say, “I have no idea. It just seemed right.”
I came home and the question kept nagging me. I had been thinking about it for a few days and had one of those head-slapping moments while yelling a big “Duh!!!” Even though my piece is not close to the beauties she produces, evidently I was channeling the quilter Sandra Bruce and didn’t even realize it until that moment!! Two inch squares, who would have thought! I can’t believe I truly didn’t realize how much Sandra had influenced the construction of this piece!
I belong to a quilt association that was lucky enough to have her come to speak and teach at the end of last year. I absolutely love her matrix quilts that break down photos into two inch square segments. They are just fabulous! Thank you, Sandra for the inspiration whether I was initially aware of it or not! If you’d like to see her amazing quilts, check out her Facebook page or her website. (You really should!) She also has a quilt (make that two) hanging in the Houston show!
My quilt is called Cynara. This is only a portion of the quilt. I’ll post a picture of the whole thing soon. Here’s the story: While visiting his brother Poseidon, Zeus fell in love with Cynara, a beautiful young mortal woman. He took her to Olympus and made her a goddess so that he could have his bit on the side while Hera was out of town. Sadly, Cynara missed her home and would sneak back to earth to visit her family. Discovering this so angered Zeus he sent her back to earth and turned her into an artichoke – the very first artichoke.
So, this is Cynara complete with her checkered past.
It’s a fact of life that when you start entering your artwork into challenges and shows you are inviting rejection as well as some potential good stuff. Well, I invited it and got rejected twice within a week! Now, the good news is I did get one quilt into the Houston quilt show and that does feel good but back to rejection.
I know clearly that rejection is part of the process. It does make the times you are accepted more worthy of note. It’s a chance for mulling over the piece, examining how you really feel about the work, and an opportunity to ask yourself those questions that include could I or would I have done anything differently?
My first rejection of the week came from the Lion King challenge put on by Cherrywood Fabrics. I have to admit I knew that it wouldn’t make the cut pretty much from the beginning but decided not to let that stop me. This really was an exercise in completion. I’m not sure why I made some of the decisions I did, but this quilt does not play to my strengths at all and really reflects very little of who I am as a quilter and artist. I chose to let it push me in different directions and, perhaps, that’s why I like it – I know what a struggle I had getting to this point! It was my problem child!
I also discovered that playing in this kind of challenge is not so much in my wheelhouse. I was given the four fabrics, the size, and subject matter and I reacted the way I did back in my past when I accepted a few jobs to make clothing for hire – I was given the fabric and the pattern and then dug in my heels and just felt resentful. It was now a chore. Resentful sewing is not fun! Also, the fact that I liked the back more than the front was probably a good indication of how I felt about the quilt!
The rejected quilt is called I See You. Growing up is difficult under the best of circumstances. The West African symbols quilted into the rays from the top to the center mean: persistently attempting the impossible, learning to listen and understand, having courage, learning from the past to fix mistakes, a lot of good luck, aiming high, and embracing change. Who we are, who we become is influenced by all these things. They lead us to our own personal greatness where we can see how we fit in the world and where others can see us for who we truly are.
Am I sorry I entered this? Absolutely not! What would I do differently? I would think a lot more and wait for some inspiration that felt right to me instead of forcing it as much as I did. Would I entertain the idea of participating again? You bet! I suppose the biggest question would be, would I let rejection stop me from quilting? The answer is a big, resounding no! As a dear friend said, “On to the next quilting adventure!”
The new exhibits are up at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles!
Over the last month or so, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to put in some volunteer hours at the museum helping with some behind the scenes work on preparing the exhibits. I got to see and participate in a small part of what it takes to accomplish the astonishing amount of work the curators and volunteers put in every time a museum exhibit changes. All I can say is how filled with awe and admiration I am for the people who consistently do this work! Such generosity of time given and such hard working individuals! I was so privileged to be part of this team!!! (Quite frankly, I’m not sure how they put up with me half the time.)
If you get the chance and are in the area, you really should get to the museum. The primary exhibit is Wedding Dress: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. There is clothing from the 1800s on, wedding clothing from other countries as well as some unconventional wedding items.
There is also a tremendous exhibit of Mike McNamara’s very different wedding ring quilts and the stories behind them along with his mom’s wedding dress (gorgeous).
The other exhibit opening is Jazz Impressions that is running in conjunction with the San Jose Jazz Festival. The jazz inspired quilts on display were made by members of the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association. I’m lucky enough to have two quilts in this exhibit.
This color block digitally printed quilt is called Zawinul’s Birdland. Manhattan Transfer performed the song “Birdland” the first time I heard it. Once married, my husband introduced me to the original Weather Report version. Joe Zawinul wrote it as a tribute to the New York jazz club of the same name. “That club made such an impact on me,” he said. “I met Miles there, and Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong; I met my wife Maxine there. Everyone I worshipped I met at Birdland.”
My second quilt is another digitally printed quilt that I talked about in my last post entitled God Is in the House.
Hope to see you at the museum!
Just finished my latest quilt! It’s one of two that I’m hoping will make it into the exhibit coming up in July at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The exhibit is being run to coincide with the San Jose Jazz Festival and is called Jazz Impressions. The show will be jazz inspired quilts made by members of the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association, a group of 500+ quilt makers and enthusiasts.
The quilt is from a photograph taken by William Gottlieb of Art Tatum. Gottlieb was best known for his portraits of leading jazz musicians during the 1930’s and 1940’s taken during performances in various New York City jazz clubs. Upon his death, Gottlieb had his photographs put into the public domain. What a gift!
Art Tatum was born in 1909 and died at only 47 years of age in 1956. He is still considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists to ever perform and his playing style is still studied and emulated.
The title of this piece comes from this story. “The great stride pianist Fats Waller famously announced one night when Tatum walked into the club where Waller was playing, ‘I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house.’” (John Burnett. “Art Tatum: A Talent Never to Be Duplicated”. NPR.) So, here it is – my newest, God Is in the House.