Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!

(Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!  62" x 65". Whole cloth art quilt using unprimed canvas painted in public during the annual spring art crawl in Columbia, Artista Vista 2016.  Self-guided, free-motion machine stitching.  Hand buttonhole stitched binding.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Quite some time ago I was invited to participate in an upcoming art quilt exhibition called Things That Matter.  It sounded exciting and a bit scary.  I adore creating work that feels important, meaningful, and that expresses "things that matter" to me.  But, the work had to take up a minimum width of 60" ... either as one piece or in multiples. Sure, I could manage a bunch of little things that could spread across a 60" area.  Yet in my mind, this wouldn't have the impact of "importance" that a giant-sized art quilt could convey.   

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!)

I selected RECYCLING as my theme.  It is important to me.  My earlier correspondence talked about creating two 30" width, double-sided works made from vintage household linens and hundreds of old buttons.  Since that time, this idea morphed into an art residency proposal to create multiple 30", double-sized panels that could be hung in the round, as an enclosure ... a soft, nostalgic "cocoon" of recycled fabrics that could be stitched in public and include an open invitation for people to join me in the stitching and also to donate their own vintage buttons and fibers to the project.  I haven't gotten to do this quite yet, but it will happen.  It will be great.  It also ceased to be what I'd make for Things That Matter

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It! on my living room floor where I hand plied the buttonhole stitch around the entire perimeter ... while watching Premiership English "football"/soccer on television.)

I selected RECYCLING as a theme because it is part of my normal approach to making art.  I love using my stash of found objects rescued from yard sales.  Most of my fabric is vintage. Most of my paint comes from auction.  Almost everything in my house was once owned by somebody else.  So, I knew I could come up with another idea.  Then it struck me!  Use some of the fabric painted during last year's annual spring art crawl, Artista Vista!  I called the project Nike's Advice: Just Do It!  I blogged about it HERE.  There are two videos of the project.  The one-minute trailer is HERE.  The longer video is HERE.   (My participation in Artista Vista was by invitation from curator/artist Micheala Pilar Brown.)

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail.)

The giant bolt of canvas was given to me by Michel McNinch, a painter who had lugged it around for nearly twenty years after purchasing it from an upholstery shop that was going out of business.  She said she finally realized that she'd never actually stretch, prime, and prepare her own surfaces.  She just gave it to me.  It was high time to USE IT!  The paint came from auctions, friends, and as samples from an art supply store.  Transforming the fabric in public was a blast ... but I have never used any of it ... though I promised myself I would.  It was high time I did!

 (Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail.)

It was also high time to use my Babylock Tiara, an expensive machine purchased for exactly this sort of work.  Sure, I've made several pieces on this machine including Stitching Together which sold to McKissick Museum of the cost of the machine.  Sure, I've made several other works on it ... but not as many as I'd planned to make.  With 130' of painted canvas ... well ... I could really get some great use of the machine!  I basted the piece ... three layers together.  The middle layer is a piece of black industrial felt, recycled of course.  This felt was once the packaging material protecting a kayak being shipped from a manufacturer to my local outdoors shop.  For most of my art quilts, I use a false back.  I faced my inner demons and stitched through all three layers.

(Above:  Nike's Advice I: Just Do It!, detail with one corner filled over to show the reverse.)

Because of the large working area under the Babylock Tiara, I was able to work quickly and NEATLY ... even on the back!  I had so much fun that I've already stitched another section of canvas.  Tonight I'll start the buttonhole edge!  I can't wait to make more of these!

Now, I don't actually know where this exhibition will take place.  It is supposed to be a traveling show.  Vision Art Museum will select approximately fifteen for a smaller, curated show.  I don't know if mine will make the cut but I needed a formal statement:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! I live by this popular mantra for good reasons. The average American discards seven-and-a-half pounds of garbage every day. Most of it ends up in landfills, putting our environment at risk by releasing dangerous greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. By contrast, recycling contributes to a more healthy environment and has created a $236 billion dollar industry that employs 1.1 million nationwide. Products made from recycled materials require far less energy, fewer natural resources, and reduces pollution. As an artist, I generally use materials that had a life before I got a hold of them. My stash comes from yard sales, auctions, and as donations from other people who are avoiding throwing away potentially useable materials. Nike's Advice: Just Do It! was created from a two-decade old bolt of canvas and half used containers of paint during a public art event. The middle layer was once the packaging felt wrapped around a kayak being sent from a distributor to my local outdoor shop. Only the sewing thread was purchased new. For me, painting in public and creating a giant, whole cloth art quilt was scary. But, like recycling, the thing that mattered is the follow through: Just Do It!

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


Martha Ginn said...

Fascinating to read about this Pollack-esque piece! I have a HandiQuilter Sweet 16, which I think is the size of your Tiara. I agree this size is fun to use when one prefers moving the quilt instead of the machine (longarm).

quiltedfabricart said...

Very interesting reading your thought process. My mother gave me a roll of canvas she had for 20 years and never used. Now I have it in my closet almost forgotten. I need to use it!