Monday, May 18, 2015

Looking Back to Forge Ahead

Here we go again, lol. I am embarking on a summer, fall and winter full of creativity in my studio. I came back from the SAQA Convention in Portland feeling pumped. I took a look at my exhibition goals for the year again and gave them a tweeking. I have dropped two calls for entry out of my 'wish list' and added three more to it. In order to apply to those calls for entry, I need to get cracking and make 4, yes that's four, new major quilts. All of them are in the range of 40" x 50" with one of them being only slightly smaller. 

The first one I tackled needs to be completed and photographed by the end of September. I have been waiting for the right time for this one and I have two exhibitions that it could fit well into. It is an image of my son sitting on a wicker settee that has an enormous morning glory vine woven through it as he waters the roots with a watering can. A city skyline of dark ominous buildings with smoke stacks rise behind it. It is a story of youth and hope for the nurturance of the natural world despite the overwhelming expanse of a growing technological society.

The photo above is a process shot of the last area of my drawing, which is the architecture in the background. You can see that to avoid confusion with a very detailed drawing I have color coded areas with green and yellow sharpies. I will be showing many process shots here as I get going creating this piece in four distinct parts. The first is to create the background which will have the buildings and the foreground. I will quilt all of this before going to my next step. I will be drawing the wicker settee with discharge onto a lovely deep blue hand dye as the second step. Once the settee is complete I will fuse it to the background and then as a third step, add the leaves and morning glories. They will get stitched before continuing to the last step. The fourth step will be to create Peter, my son, by fusing him onto a light pre-fused muslin. Once he is complete I will fuse him onto the quilt in just the right spot and stitch him down. Simple steps, lots of time and work!

As I was getting in the frame of mind for this piece, I have been thinking about it's meaning and I have been drawn backwards in time to think about Peter and his ideals when he was the age in the picture. There was another quilt made at that time by Peter, 17 of his classmates and myself, which we called the "I Have A Dream" quilt.

Some of the children involved in making "I Have A Dream". Peter is at the lower left.

This photo was taken thirteen years ago, back when I volunteered at my kids' elementary school as a visiting artist teacher. We made several community quilts but I refused to let them just do patchwork. We translated their drawings into art quilts. It was magical seeing all those light bulbs going on at the same time. These kids were around 11 years of age when they did their drawings and learned to fuse and stitch.

For this project I knew we would never be able to work a piece as large as we had planned, so we broke it up into sections and pairs of two children had to work together to create a single drawing that spoke to both of them. They were asked how they interpreted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech and what it meant to them. Then they drew their images separately. We paired like minded kids together and then they had to fuse their drawings together into one cohesive drawing. Two of the children actually got the fun task of drawing Dr. King in the center two segments.

Peter drew a prison which was being knocked down by a wrecking ball because the society he dreamed of had no need for prisons, and his partner drew an organic marketplace full of healthy food. They dreamed of a massive area to grow and sell healthy food.

There was my son knocking down buildings we didn't need to build a farmer's market with his friend. He was 11 when he did this. He is now 24. He is still something of an idealist who wants nothing more than to fall off the grid and live in a remote spot fully dependent only on himself. The reality is that he is working a bar in an establishment in Florida for the tourist trade. But I have to admire where this young man's head is and has been for almost all his life. 

Peter and his finished segment

So I am letting the spirit of a young man who wants to see the natural world honored and cared for in a nurturing way be the spirit of this new quilt of mine. All the kids whose dreams of a wonderful world in which to live, who let their dreams spill into that fantastic quilt so many years ago, are inspiring me as I work.

Stay tuned for the fabric choices for the background coming up soon.

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