Sunday, December 30, 2012

Menopause ... and Christmas week


 
(Above:  Menopause, art quilt.  21" x 18".  Maxi-pads, tampons, recycled felt embellished with cheesecloth, cotton batting, and bridal tulle, thread.  Hand stitched.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I actively look for calls-for-entry, chances to submit my work for consideration in juried shows.  I don't generally MAKE WORK to suit any particular "call"; I'm generally looking for upcoming shows into which my existing work might stand a chance.  One of the places I regularly look for "calls" is SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association).  I'm a PAM (Professional Art Member) of SAQA.  The organization's mission to promote art quilts is one I whole-heartedly support.  I was thrilled that an upcoming call-for entry was for a show called Metaphors on Aging.  To me, almost all my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts could qualify.  It wouldn't be much of a stretch to write a brief statement linking "aging" with "death".  The end of "aging" is "death".  No problem. 


(Above:  Menopause, detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

But ... I had a problem!

My gut reaction to the exhibition title Metaphors on Aging isn't death or dying or a grave rubbing art quilt.  My true response is much more immediate, personal, and the artwork was already in existence.  I couldn't shake the idea of using it ... of using Menopause.  The stitched words are still appropriate to my ideas about aging:  I never thought I'd miss that time of month.  Aging is bittersweet.  These tampons really were the ones still under my bathroom sink after they were no longer needed.  This piece was PERFECT!

Problem:  It wasn't an art quilt.

SAQA's new definition of an art quilt is:  The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.  I like this new definition but I also know that more people understand "layers" as a quilt top, batting, and a backing material ... that's THREE layers held together with stitch.  My original Menopause was really just ONE layer with tampon embellishments.  It was stitched onto a piece of mat board and framed.  By adding the layer of Maxipads and a felt backing, the work became a legitimate art quilt.  The piece also increased in size and is unframed.  Frankly, it is much better now that ever before.


(Above:  Menopause, reverse.  Click on image to enlarge.)

While making the recycled felt sleeve for a hanging rod, I decided to add my "label" in a unique fashion ... using an old girdle.  It, too, just seemed PERFECT!

 
(Above:  Carole Mullis donating vintage fashions, including an old flapper styled dress, to my "stash".  The blue holiday bag on the counter is full of old bras and girdles, probably from the 1960s because "spandex" is listed on some of the labels.  "Spandex", an anagram of "expands", was invented in 1959 ... the year I was born and Mattel's Barbie was first on the market.)

I don't think I would have added the girdle to the reverse had it not recently come into my "stash".  Carol Mullis recently donated a pile vintage garments, including several old bras and girdles.  I thought about these uncomfortable undergarments while stitching Menopause.  I thought about the horrible sanitary napkin belts I've been given in my youth.  Although getting older is bittersweet, there are definitely many things about younger years that I'll never miss.  Thus, the girdle on the reverse was free motion stitched with my name, date and the following sentence:  There are some things about aging and youth that I'll never miss.

I don't know if this piece will be accepted or not, but it is ready to be entered.  It also inspired me to use one of the girdles.  That action was the catalyst for yet another piece, Lift and Tuck ... which I started immediately after Menopause and stitched while riding in the car to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania for a holiday visit to my parents' log home.  It will be finished later this week and posted.  It will be entered into the same Metaphors on Aging exhibition.  I almost can't believe that I've made two pieces specifically for one call-for-entry! 


 (Above:  My neighbor's upside down Christmas tree ... best decorations in Columbia!)

To end this blog post, I'd like to share a few thoughts about this year's holiday week.  Steve and I went to more parties than ever and enjoyed each one immensely!   One was held by the Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association.  This is our neighborhood, a place where the most unusual Christmas tree is on display!

 
(Above:  Chuck and Jeremy with their upside down Christmas tree.)

Chuck and Jeremy live a block down Park Street from us.  Their hand prints are on my recent Til Death Do Us Part art quilt.  When purchasing a live Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, the tree dealer was throwing out a tree that was deemed "too dry".  They "recycled" it into a giant ornament, complete with lights ... an upside-down Christmas tree and quite beautiful!  Our neighborhood rocks!

 
(Above:  Steve shoveling snow at Lenzelhof, my parent's log home outside Slippery Rock, PA.)

On Christmas Day Steve and I traveled to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania ... in time for dinner and before the big winter storm Euclid dropped nine inches of snow.  We went for a walk around part of the frozen lake and took photos which I posted on a Flickr! set.  Later, more snow fell.  We almost got stuck in the accumulation that now measures fourteen inches!


(Above:  My Dad and his "gator" ... shoveling the driveway.)

Thankfully, my Dad and Steve worked hard to keep the long driveway passable.


(Above:  Clearing the driveway!)

Snow is lots of hard work!  Steve enjoyed helping but we're happy that we just "visit" snow!  I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a blog featuring fiber works in progress and thankfully a place that extended the submissions through today, Sunday!

9 comments:

Julie said...

I have to admit to a strong reaction to your 'Menopause' quilt. Not necessarily a bad reaction but a definite emotional response. I was born just a few years ahead of you and all the accoutrements of womanhood were kept well hidden in our house (in the bottom of Mum's wardrobe which we weren't supposed to go into) and scarcely referred to so I still have a sort-of-shocked response whenever tampons etc are openly referred to and shown. That's not to say I switch the tv off everytime I see an advert, I don't. I prefer the modern way of being open about this perfectly natural experience but am surprised myself by how your piece made me feel. (Uncomfortable probably comes closest.) I too am very pleased to no longer need these things and share your joy at this particular aspect of ageing.

SAQA's new interpretation of art quilting is very interesting and I am pleased they have left out how many layers may be considered acceptable. The layering could actually happen on the surface rather than behind the top, visible layer. (Not sure if that is their interpretation).

I'm very glad to see you made it home safely in all that snow and wish you and your family a healthy, happy and satisfying new year. xx

Els said...

Haaaa ! Suzan ! you did it again ! I really laughed out loud, even when I only saw the tiny thumbnail on my blogroll and saw the title I instantly understood what you used to make it : GREAT ! (though not everyone might agree to that ;-) ....!)
(my menopause started right after the medicins that I got after breastcancer surgery, so I remember thát very well ... ha still here: next February it will be 15 years !)
Dear Suzan, wish you and your loved ones a wonderful creative 2013 with lots and lots of stitches !!!

Roberta said...

At the age of 42 I had a total hysterectomy. I cried for a long time over the loss of my tampons......At the time my daughter was a teenager and so hers were always in sight which made it even harder for me to accept the loss.

I still mourn my loss.

Wanda said...

Oh wow. You sure hit on a topic! I tend to feel what Julie said. To me, there is still some taboo in discussing this very normal and natural part of life. I understand Roberta too in a way. I was 38 and had no children when I had a hysterectomy. I too felt I lost something at that time. But, after about a year, I think it was the best thing that could have happened. And as you know, many problems were then solved for me. I have been menopausal for a couple of years and 2012 was a very difficult year for me in that direction. People over here are very closed up about this whole thing...even the women with other women. I find that very strange. I guess our 5 female/1 male family led to my comfort zone when among women. But not here...still very much taboo. You piece is so very strong and one of the most open and honest things I have seen. Some people will not be able to handle it. But after the first eye-bulging shocked second, I find it something that should bind ALL women. It's time to accept nature and throw out the forbidden! I find it comforting and bonding to be able to be open with other women about this. Thank you!!!

Elizabeth said...

You are incredible!! I wish I could make my mind go the places you go!! You ahve sucha wonderful talent for hitting just the rith note so very brilliantly!! i am thinking that 2013 is going to be a very good year for you!! I do wish we had gotten some of that snow! Steve is such a trooper but I do appreciate his ideas about just visiting snow!!!! Your Menopause quilt is fabulous- totally brilliant and if not accepted, they are fools! The girdle addition is the crowning touch. Can't wait to see the next piece!! Happy New Year!!!

wholly jeanne said...

you've gone and done it again - created something fun, funny, and unique. i agree with elizabeth: the girdle is the cherry on top. it just finishes the whole wonderful piece off.

thanks for sending out the s.o.s. on my behalf. thanks to computer woes and the throes of the holidays, i've been offline for a couple of weeks, so i'm tardy with my thank you, but that doesn't make it any less sincere. the emails and hankies continue to roll in. it's no surprise that someone as generous and open hearted as you attracts people who are generous and open hearted. i'll keep you posted. xo

wholly jeanne said...

you've gone and done it again - created something fun, funny, and unique. i agree with elizabeth: the girdle is the cherry on top. it just finishes the whole wonderful piece off.

thanks for sending out the s.o.s. on my behalf. thanks to computer woes and the throes of the holidays, i've been offline for a couple of weeks, so i'm tardy with my thank you, but that doesn't make it any less sincere. the emails and hankies continue to roll in. it's no surprise that someone as generous and open hearted as you attracts people who are generous and open hearted. i'll keep you posted. xo

SONYASPHERE said...

Wanda...6 females! (Buffy) lol

SONYASPHERE said...

I think that maxipads look like cool backgrounds to sew on? I mean very quilt like! Susan, this piece just flows! lolololol