Personal Language: Millennium Journal (stitched 2006)
I’ve felt so much power within the art from other cultures that I’ve wanted to have that same kind of power in my own work. I taught myself how to dye, paint and print fabrics like they do in Japan, Australia, or Africa, and how they do mirror and kantha embroidery in India and Pakistan. I was looking for a way to have my own work enter the intuitive and abstract.
I admit that I felt that these ways of working were available to me to use in my art just as much as the western realist tradition was available to me. From the very beginning of my quilt making I realised that all those triangles and squares and circles have been around the world FOREVER as a language. They were not used as much in the ‘civilised’ world of Greek/Renaissance tradition. Those repeated geometric shapes are the basis of traditional quilt pattern. I was able to understand my own tradition of north American quilt design better by learning the variety of meanings the shapes had in other cultures. I’ve used these first shapes like a code.
It’s that secret language that I love about primitive art. However, I see now that in a modernist sense, what I was doing was using the ‘other’ way of seeing the world. I still want to continue to borrow repeated arrangements of first shapes and shiny surfaces because I believe it to be a multicultural language that can be understood by all of us in the world. Aren’t we are all ethnic?