Sunday, October 03, 2010

Quilt National Rejects: Milestones and At Rest

(Above: At Rest, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 53" x 44". Crayon on vintage sleeping gown. Hand quilted and free motion embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

I didn't really start making art least "intentionally"... until I started my Grave Rubbing series in the fall of 2008.

(At Rest, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

So, I had no real expectation of acceptance into the very prestigious Quilt National exhibition. I wasn't going to enter....but....I was working on these two pieces this time to finish easily before the deadline. Thus, I never posted images of them or included either in any public exhibition (following the very strict rules!). I entered.

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

As expected, both were rejected in a nice form email this weekend. (Only 85 pieces made it into this international exhibition. I'm in excellent company with this rejection! Please note....I'm not upset in the least. Rejection is a part of every working artist's life!) Thus, I can now share these pieces. I'll have them on display in the upcoming Artista Vista art crawl here in Columbia this November. I will enter them into other juried shows too. They mark a departure from most of my earlier Grave Rubbing quilts in that the human form is quite evident. They are from the distant past and one from not-so-long-ago.

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

The first is called At Rest. It was created using an old, stained sleeping gown....possibly even from the late Victorian era. The grave rubbings were carefully selected. Each phrase mentions something about "sleep" and an eternal rest.

It was harder than I thought to position the garment over the tombstones and place the words in such a way that the gathering didn't obscure the written passages.

(Above: At Rest, detail of the top of the garment along with the bedspread and coat-hanger. Click on image to enlarge.)

I cut a white vintage bedspread for its "center" or "batting" and pinned all three layers together....including a custom-built coat-hanger. Then, I stitched....and stitched....and stitched. Running stitches everywhere! Finally, I did the free motion machine embroidered stitches around each word.

(Above: At Rest. Reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

I envision the piece hung from a single cord tied to the ceiling....suspended in air....visible from both the front and back....a ghostly reminder that "rest" is ahead.

(Above: At Rest, detail of reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

The second piece is called Milestones.

(Above: Milestones, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 44" x 36 1/2" x 7". Crayon on tea-length wedding gown with veil on heavy peltex interfacing. Hand beaded through all layers except the veil. Free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

This wedding dress was worn by an artist friend during her first marriage ceremony. She donated it to me for my artwork. (She is one of the very few people who has seen this piece before today!)

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

My friend is a very small framed marathon runner. The tea-length dress is likely a size zero....unless there's a size even smaller. The grave rubbings were meant to signify the stereotypical life markers in a woman's traditional life: Born, married, died.

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

The veil includes these words as well as the title "Wife". They were free motion stitched on a water soluble stabilizer which was washed away. I'm not cynical about marriage or life and death or conventional role models. (Steve and I celebrate our 30th next September!)

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

The words include "Beloved Wife and Daughter". My personal hope is to be remembered in both these capacities. At the same time, I'm also hoping that I'm remembered for my art, for my personal uniqueness, and as an individual apart from convention.


dewatobay said...

Wow Susan! The photos do not do the stitching justice. Rejection is more than hundreds of people who did not even attempt to enter. Congratulations.

Lorie McCown said...

Yes, wasn't that a particularly nice rejection email? Very pensive and reflective :D YOu know your work rocks, and these pieces are beyond great. So personal and wonderful. Here's on of my 3 that got the thumbs down.

Jackie said...

Its great to see them. Many years ago when my son was just starting in high school, there was a competition for the best history book cover. being a very pushy mum I decided he was going to win so we went to the graveyard (with permission) and made wax rubbings of graves including some who died in the first world war and then tore them into strips and washed them with colour and covered the book...and won. I love the lettering thats used on old gravestones...and I love your work.

Pat said...

Beautiful pieces, Susan. Of course "Milestones" has special meaning for me. Lovely to see a marker of a past life transformed.