Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Artful Journey

(Above:  An Artful Journey, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt.  13" x 13".  Antique crazy quilt block and Victorian lace with vintage crochet, recycled felt, and crayon grave rubbing on silk combined with hand embroidery and free motion machine stitching.  Vintage buttons from the Czech Republic.  Beads and sequins.  Click on image to enlarge.)

A couple of months ago I got the nicest message from Dale Rollerson of The Thread Studio in Perth, Australia.  She asked if I would send a small work for an upcoming exhibit she was mounting called An Artful Journey.  This show will be held during the Western Australian Craft Show at the Claremont Fairgrounds, August 2 - 4, 2013.  One of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) trunk shows will be at this event as well as workshops and "open studios" for local artists.  Dale wrote:  "...I want to hang an exhibition of one of my pieces of work, together with work of artists whose work I admire. I am hopefully looking to hang 20 pieces of work. I have titled it ‘My Artful Journey’ because that is what my work is about and I suspect for most of you – yours too." 

I've been purchasing fiber art supplies from The Thread Studios for years.  I don't know what I'd do without their wide selection of chiffon scarves, metallic foil, and other incredible items.  My "In Box" and "Faux-Stained Glass" series depend on these supplies!  When conducting a workshop, I distribute a "resource and bibliography" list ... which includes the contact information and website for The Thread Studio.  I really admire ... and NEED ... Dale Rollerson.  Thus, OF COURSE, I was flattered and accepted her invitation to send a small piece that is indicative of my "artful journey".  

(Above:  An Artful Journey, detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

At first I thought I'd simply send a small art quilt ... any small art quilt.  But ... that didn't seem quite right.  Next, I thought I'd simply send one of my "Window" series pieces ... but these are generally framed ... which would make it expensive to ship and difficult to hang in a pipe-and-drape convention hall setting.  Also, this didn't seem quite right either.  Something was missing, but what?

Finally, I knew I had to make something special ... something through which my story, my ARTFUL JOURNEY, could be told.  Something that would link my work to others ... just as Dale was doing by asking artists she admired to participate.  Something that traces my inspirations to a life in stitches.  This is the result.  Here is the narrative:

My "artful journey" into contemporary quilting started accidentally during a 2008, six-week art residency at the MacNamara Foundation on the remote Westport Island in Maine.  I was at the beginning of my Decision Portrait Series ... working on Blood Donor and Tattoo Artist.  Duncan Slade, the studio manager, pointed out that these pieces were, in fact, art quilts.  They possessed three distinct layers and were held together by stitch.  I failed to notice this because 1) the the bottom layer is actually a heavy, decorative paper, 2) I intended to frame the work, and 3) there is no "binding" or even a common edge.  Yet, Duncan Slade knows art quilts.  He and his collaborative wife, Gail Fraas, had three pieces selected for Robert Shaw's definitive tome on the subject, The Art Quilt, published in 1997.  I was shocked.  Me?  An art quilter?  Really?  Well, in my confusion, I picked up a copy of Jeanne Williamson's  The Uncommon Quilter.  I read to page 85.  That page changed my life.  It suggested taking an ordinary crayon and a piece of fabric ... and making a grave rubbing.

I made a grave rubbing ... and then a second one ... and then a third one ... and then I lost track.  It quickly became an obsession.  Within a year, one of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts was accepted into ArtQuilt Elements.  Soon, the grave rubbings led to other, related work ... collected epitaphs stitched with water soluble stabilizer on the sheerest chiffon banners, artificial flowers amassed from cemetery dumpsters, xylene photo transfers of graveyard sculptures on paper.  Multiple juried exhibition acceptances and awards resulted.  My solo show, Last Words, took form.  I am still very much obsessed.

This journey helped me define the creative concepts that truly resonate with me.  I am passionate about repurposing textiles from the past, the suggestion of passing time, and the ethereal nature of memory.  The theme of universal mortality is with me always.  Along the way, the Grave Rubbing Art Quilt series and my association with the Internet connected world of textile artists have introduced me to some marvelous people ... like Julie Mackinder who took me to my all time favorite cemetery in Nottingham, UK; like Annica Lindsten in Stockholm who let me tag along on a trip with Pian Bates to visit Sara Lechner in Austria ... where we all went to the Czech Republic and I bought the beautiful, antique glass buttons that edge this little art quilt; like Arlee Barr, Maggie Grey, and Lynda Monk who are also showing work in Dale's upcoming show but were invited to share work in Cyber Fyber, a show I mounted in 2009 here in Columbia; like so many other, international fiber enthusiasts that leave comments on my blog and Facebook page.  I am grateful to many, many more ... especially to Dale for having my work in her exhibition.  My "artful journey" is alive and well in the face of impending mortality ... just like the journey of life.  I'd want it no other way. 

(Above:  An Artful Journey, reverse.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site to share fiber artworks.  

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