(Above: Circular Churchyard, detail. 86" x 53". Crayon grave rubbings on silk. Self-guided, free motion machine embroidery with blanket stitch edge on by hand. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)
I finished Circular Churchyard, my largest grave rubbing art quilt, last April. It is a whole cloth art quilt made from a collection of rubbings from the historic Circular Churchyard in Charleston, South Carolina. I made the rubbings one Saturday on Halloween weekend ... with special permission from the congregation. It took over four hours of running from tombstone to tombstone, switching from the brown crayon to the black crayon and back again, until the large surface was covered.
(Above: Circular Churchyard, full image.)
I couldn't blog a full image until now. Why? Well, I planned on entering this piece into the prestigious Quilt National 2013 biennial. This exhibition has a "photo ban" rule which means no image of the work can be on a website or blog other than the artist's. Of course, there is no way to prevent people from "grabbing" images and posting them without permission. The only way to avoid unintentionally breaking this (in my opinion) silly and counter-productive rule is NOT TO POST. So I didn't. When the work was accepted, I was thrilled of course ... but still couldn't post any images. I had to wait for the opening reception at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio ... which was this past weekend! So now ... ta-da! ... drum roll, please ... HERE IT IS!
(Above: Carolyn Thiedke, the Circular Churchyard, and grave rubbing supplies on Halloween weekend, 2011.)
I am indebted to Carolyn Thiedke and the congregation of Congregational Circular Church for granting me permission to make the rubbings. The churchyard is otherwise posted "NO RUBBINGS".
(Above: The Dairy Barn Art Center, Athens, Ohio.)
So ... off Steve and I went for the opening reception of Quilt National 2013. My parents and my sister Wanda (who was visiting them from Munich) came from Slippery Rock. They were en route to St. Albans and Huntington, WV and back through Columbus, Ohio for a traditional Memorial Day ... tending family graves. It was so much fun to share this experience and the world's very best art quilts with them.
(Above: One of the doors to the Dairy Barn Art Center, Athens, Ohio.)
There was a lovely "artists only" reception from 3:30 - 5:00 before the 5:00 - 7:00 public opening. Each artist was handed a name tag with an image of his/her art quilt and a bag of "goodies" including the gorgeous, hardbound catalog.
(Above: Quilt National 2013: The Best of Contemporary Quilts.)
In one sense, it felt sort of like high school. Everyone was exchanging catalogs and signing their page ... as if a senior year book! The name tags were invaluable. They proved to be instant recognition of the "who's who" art quilters and which pieces in the spacious exhibition area were theirs!
(Above: The Dairy Barn staff inside the entrance to the Dairy Barn ... welcoming Sheila Frampton-Cooper.)
I admit that I was more than a little nervous about this entire evening ... wondering if my work really could hold its own in such a show ... worried that I'd some how say the wrong thing due to the short amount of time I've been producing art quilts ... afraid that I'd open my mouth and insert my foot because I'd not recognize all the "big name" artists ... you know, the same old insecurities that I've always had! Well ... no problem. It all felt like a dream. The hour-and-a-half private reception passed quickly.
(Above: Announcing the prize winners during the public opening reception at Quilt National.)
One of the funny things, however, is that I never suspected we'd be allowed to snap photos of the accepted pieces ... even detail shots. I assumed this was a "no photography" show. With all "image free" anticipation, the "super-secret" hype, and the "photo ban", I figured that photography would be strictly prohibited ... except maybe a snapshot of the artist in front of her own piece.
(Above: Sheila Frampton-Cooper talking about her accepted work, From the Seed.)
At first, I was simply blown away by the "big name" artists and totally honored to be exchanging signatures inside our catalogs. Then, I saw people taking photos ... full shots, detail shots, and not even their own art! I expected the staff to come quickly, in an anxious rush, quietly but frantically begging people NOT to take photos. Nothing happened. Everyone was depressing their camera's buttons, their cell phones, even iPads! Wow!
(Above: No One But You by Susan Polansky.)
Finally, I decided to take out my camera ... and timidly took a photo of No One But You because the artist Susan Polansky was in the field of vision. (We had just signed one another's catalog.) No one stopped me. It was okay!
(Above: Susan Shie with Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot.)
So ... I took a photo of the legendary SUSAN SHIE with her piece.
(Above: During the "artist only" private reception.)
Well, by this time, it was almost 5:00 PM ... time when the public, including Steve and my family, would be coming in. Several artists knew to "take it easy" ... as it would be a long night. I sat on the floor with several and enjoyed their conversation. Then ... a really, really fun "mob scene" ensued when the doors swung open and the crowds entered in excitement. In all this activity and because I'd just figured out that I was allowed to take photos, important photos got forgotten. I took not a single shot of my parents and sister. I totally forgot to have an image made of me standing with Circular Churchyard. In fact, I didn't take a photo of my piece there in Athens at all. Steve (Thank Goodness!) remembered to take the photos of The Dairy Barn which I've posted here. Oh well!
(Above: Saturday morning breakfast at Quilt National.)
There was a banquet that night but I didn't attend. Instead, Steve and I went to a lovely dinner with my parents and sister. The next morning started with breakfast among the art quilts! This was likely the best part of the opening. Each artist was handed a fancy gadget that looked sort of like a microphone. It wasn't a microphone though; it was a specialized recording device. A camera man was stationed nearby. He captured each art quilter giving their "two-minute" speech in front of their work. Nothing could be better than listening to the words of inspiration from the artists themselves. I took lots of photos ...
... like Kevin Womack. He and Eleanor McCain each spoke about their collaboration Swaddling to Shroud - Birthing Bed. (Above.)
... like Nelda Warkentin and her piece (above left) Bella Woods. (The famous collector Del Thomas is in the yellow in front of Katherine Knauer's Solar City ... and Arle Sklar-Wenstein is standing beside Ms. Thomas.)
... like Robin Schwalb and her Jive Boss Sweat. (Above.)
... like Kate Sturman Gorman and her piece Bernadette In Artichokes. (Above.) I don't know what will be done with the brief segments that were captured on film. I hope they go to UTube or some other site. They would be the best way to experience what I was honored to have lived on Saturday morning. (I hope I looked good and sounded better myself! LOL!)
I even took a few random shots of the attentive crowd ... like this one in front of Lisa Kijak's El Cortez, Las Vegas. The crowds were quite large for these brief statements. It really was an honor ... totally exciting.
Here is one of my very favorite pieces ... Arle Sklar-Weinstein's Truth of Consequences. This piece won the Cathy Rasmussen Emerging Artist Memorial Award.
Finally, I took only three photos of works without "people". Above is Shin-hee Chin's Florence Nightingale, the winner of the Most Innovative Use of the Medium award. This piece is seriously WONDERFUL ... and reminds me a lot of how I create fiber vessels. The catalog includes this description: Recycled and commercial fabrics, hemp, organza, pearl cotton, ramie; coiled, dyed, fabric painted, hand stitched. (I appropriated Ji-Seung Korean paperthread making technique to the fabric and made fabric tubing and combined basketry technique.)
This is the other shot I took without "people". It is a detail of Sara Impry's Bitter Pills ... a whole cloth art quilt that is amazingly all machine quilted. Great concept and excellent execution!
(Above: Blossoms by Beatrice Lanter.)
One of my favorite pieces was Blossoms by Beatrice Lanter. It almost needed a person in the shot in order to show the lacy affect and the double-sided hanging.
(Above: Blossoms, detail.)
Yet, this is my only other "non-people" shot from Quilt National! I wish I would have attempted a photo of Dianne Firth's McCarthy Memorial Award winning work, Storm. It was undoubtedly my favorite piece in the show. Perhaps this is because I've got "shadows" on my mind. This one cast THE BEST shadow ever ... but was also conceptually wonderful and expertly crafted. No photo would do this work justice! Yet, the catalog does make a very, very serious effort to highlight each work perfectly. The images weren't the ones submitted by the artists. Instead, all the work was sent to the Dairy Barn last autumn and photographed by a skilled group working for Dragon Threads It can be ordered directly from the Dairy Barn's site or directly from Dragon Threads. (Just $29.95 ... either location!)
(Above: The Dairy Barn as seen from the Ridges Cemeteries on the grounds of the historic State Mental Hospital.)
Of course no out-of-town trip is complete if there's no cemetery on the travel agenda! Since starting my Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series, I've visited plenty. That's how I'm so deeply connected to my work. Below are more detail photos of Circular Churchyard. Now ... back to working on the hundreds of photos I took the weekend before this exciting one ... from Arizona. I'll post these images soon!
(Above and below: Details of Circular Churchyard. Click on any image to enlarge.)
(Above: The reverse of Circular Churchyard ... a recycled painter's drop cloth quilted with buttons collected from the historic South Carolina State Mental Hospital.)