Friday, November 21, 2014

Vista Lights, Death Bed makes it debut!

(Above:  Death Bed hanging in the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for the annual Vista Lights art crawl, 98" x 48", crayon grave rubbing on silk with free-motion machine embroidery and dense hand stitching and vintage buttons appliqued onto a vintage single-bed lace bedspread quilted onto a layer of sheer chiffon but also with another layer of chiffon hanging freely in front of the bedspread on which the artist's full body silhouette is hand-stitched in perle cotton. Vintage lace fringe.  Antique leather soles from a pair of child's shoes were positioned on the floor as an artistic response by Eileen Blyth.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I made Death Bed several months ago but didn't blog it.  Why?  Well it was one of two pieces submitted for the biennial Quilt National.  This international show has odd and very strict rules prohibiting any prior exposure.  Circular Churchyard made it into Quilt National 2013 but neither of my submissions were accepted for the coming exhibition. I didn't get to blog Circular Churchyard until May 2013 even though I'd finished the piece in April 2012.  At least I got to blog it as an "acceptance" and a big, big deal.

 (Above:  Death Bed at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for Vista Lights 2014.)

I got my rejection last month.  I could have blogged about the work then ... but it just felt too much like saying, "See ... look at my reject!"  So, I waited until I could say, "See ... look at my piece in a proper gallery, in a well attended exhibition, with people admiring the work!"  That happened last night at Vista Lights, the annual art crawl/holiday kick off in downtown Columbia, SC.  My studio was open and I had other work in the group show.  Yet, it was this piece that seemed to make the evening special. 

 (Above:  Death Bed.  This is the image submitted to Quilt National.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

This work was created to be suspended ... totally "in the round" ... allowing viewers to see both sides.  It started as a grave rubbing made on the very same day at those for Circular Churchyard.  This grave rubbing was entirely outlined with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery ... and then the background was filled in with dense hand seeding stitches.  The edges were embellished with a row of vintage buttons.  I could have stopped there but I didn't.  I saw this art quilt as if a pillow for the vintage lace single-bed's spread.  I appliqued the quilt to the top of the spread.  Then, I added a layer of chiffon to the center of the spread (behind it) ... sandwiching in individual pieces of crochet.  Some of these crochet insertions are on the top of the bedspread.  Some are between the two layers of fabric.  Some are on the reverse/behind the back layer of chiffon.  This aids in the ethereal look of the whole.  I also took another layer of sheer chiffon and hand stitched my silhouette onto it.  That layer is only attached at the top.  This layer actually moves a little with the slight air current that comes from the air-conditioning/heating system in the gallery.

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

I wanted this piece to be suspended because I knew that any lighting would also intensify the ethereal nature of the whole.  There is a great transparency to the work and the cast shadows are almost unearthly.  I like that!  Of course, there were many challenges along the way.   

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

I had to tackle the fact that the bedspread didn't hang as a perpendicular unit, straight toward the floor.  The sides sloped toward the center.  To tackle that, I needed "weight" running down the sides.  I added a heavy vintage trim, more buttons, and finally a dowel along the bottom from which I hung a thick row of lacy fringe.

(Above:  Death Bed, from the reverse.)

These additions are seen best from the reverse.

(Above:  Death Bed, detail of reverse.)

I also added a large, eyelet embellished doily to the reverse of the upper section.  I stitched the title, my name, and the date to this doily.  Below are additional images shot last July or August.  Enjoy!  I know plenty of people did last night ... especially Eileen Blyth. 

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

Eileen Blyth is another artist with studio space at Gallery 80808/Vista.  She was so taken with the work that she added a "response" ... in the form of two, tiny leather soles from an antique child's pair of shoes.  I love them!  This little touch seems to heighten the three-dimensionality of the work.  The shoes appear to have stepped out of the otherwise vertical surface of the fabric, invading today's time and space.  They almost invite viewers to approach and certainly suggest a human element that is both gone but also present.  Thank you, Eileen!  (The tiny soles are visible in the first two photos in this blog post.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail.)

 (Above:  Death Bed, detail of reverse.)

I am also adding this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art!

(Above:  Death Bed, detail.)


Anne said...

The tiny shoes are an inspired comment to the work, grounding it, linking heaven and earth.... I can truly sense the impact of the piece, just through the photos and written commentary. This is ART !

Linda A. Miller said...

Fabulous intricate piece! It's delicacy adds depth to the subject. It is QN's loss. Thank you for sharing the process.

Mosaic Magpie said...

The shoes add an element of realism, life and loss to the work. Stunning and thoughtful as always.

Julie said...

Many people have used vintage doillies in their work but you have used them in a much more inventive way, I wouldn't have expected any less! I am fascinated by floating, ethereal pieces and regrettably failed to get the effect I was after when I exhibited my sheer piece at Festival of Quilts this year. Seeing your piece now inspires me to get it right next time or to rework my own piece. I'm pleased that you were able to bring this work to a new audience who were able to appreciate it. xx

Martha Ginn said...

Amazing piece, Susan. It makes one feel a kinship with all those who have gone before us. Thanks for all the descriptions and pictures.

Wanda said...

Absolutely stunning. It has weight and yet it is weightless. Reject? is exactly where it needs to be. You never know when something is going to touch someone who needs to be touched. Beautiful.

Lorie McCown said...

It's stunning. I love every single bit of it. Sorry for the 'no', but, eh it happens.

Lesley Turner said...

What a moving work. Congratulations, Susan