Tuesday, June 08, 2021

being 14

There were so many babies born in 1951, that we had to go to high school in shifts.  Grade nine classes were about 30 each and organized into groups:  9a, 9b, 9c, 9d, etc.  Town kids could walk to school early in the morning so they were in the 9a and also 9b groups,  I think.  9c and 9d were country kids (like me) who came in on the bus at 9 and left at 3:30.  
There was still grade 13 in those days, and classes were streamed either for university prep or for technical college.  We had home rooms.  

There were sports teams and band that practiced after school.  There were school dances.  My brother and I were not allowed to go to dances or try out for sports, but we were allowed to go to band practice, and did so.   That happened on Mondays at 6 pm so we stayed in town and waited.  

My parents had purchased some rental buildings in town, and one of them had a basement that my dad used as a workshop, so I waited in that little dark space and remember eating chocolate powder and being alone.  I don’t remember reading or watching TV.  How did I pass the time?  And where was my brother?  I don't remember him waiting...maybe he went home on the bus and then drove back in the car to pick me up.  He was two years older.  About art.  I took art and music in grade 9, but in grade 10 I took Latin and typing.  I was allowed to go into the art room during lunch hours and paint there with oil paints.  I loved this and created quite a few paintings inspired by National Geographic photography during my high school years.  Teachers bought them.   
A mish mash of photos illustrate this post.  They make sense if you think about how cloth is connected to life story.  Otherwise, I can't explain them.

From the top:  a detail of my studio wall about ten years ago, before I cleaned it off
:  my 2017 Bidwell quilt with French knot embroidery inspired by murmurations of black birds
: the summer dining room, with the amazing table cloth received from one of my daughters
: my 2019 exhibition Beauty, Emotion, Spirit, Soul, with Lake and Monumental Simplicity hanging from the ceiling like sculptures
: this morning, June 8 2021, showing the folded up rock cut wool sculpture, and if you look, you can see more of my textiles in company with the beautiful suzani embroidery that I bought in Turkey when we were there in 2013.

The text is memory.  And how we remember.  And how much.  And what we censor.  

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

rock cut on the lawn

rock cut side one, a two part sculpture to be hung from the ceiling,
rescued wool blankets and hand stitched wool yarn,
 each part 8 or 9 feet high and 13 feet wide, 
still in progress after 4 years of steady work by Judy Martin 

Two things:  repetition and simplicity.

rock cut part one, side one  French knots made with wool yarn on wool blanket

I use the same stitch.   Over and over.

Also obsession.

I get absolutely lost.  I enter a kind of dream world while my hands keep moving.
rock cut part two, side two, reverse of couching stitch, wool yarn on mended wool blanket

It's too much to understand, the hours and hours of time that are in the work.  

rock cut side two, a two-sided two part suspended sculpture,
rescued wool blanket, plant dyed wools, hand stitched 
each part 8 or 9 feet high,  13 feet wide,
looking puny on the lawn
but it is a big piece by Judy Martin, begun in 2015

Two sides.  That's because I want the viewer to move around the work so that the body is engaged, not just the eyes and mind.     

Because we know with our bodies.                   

Monday, May 24, 2021

circles repeated and repeated

what endures?

old cloth

a spiritual place covered with marks

the directness of paint with the substance of thread

communication with the environment

large scale

immensity of space, minutiae of surface

the time we need to cope with life and death

Monday, May 17, 2021

quilts as women's art: a quilt poetics

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like in yourself what was only adored or ignored by your mother, or other objects of your love or your lovers;

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like the work of another woman, and the passing through of all rejection and neglect by another woman or man;

The body of the quilt is the work of coming to like yourself as a little old lady and an old little girl and a new little sister;

The body of the quilt is the work of going over all your mistakes and lost dreams liking yourself all the way all over inside and out and all around the whole border not knowing where to start and not knowing where to stop;
The body of the quilt is the work repeating all your moves and liking the fact that you did it all, did all the moving;
The body of the quilt is the endless search, your endless search, but as your companion as you go through the motions of work, as you work your way: by focusing, waiting, turning, twisting, aligning, matching, fitting, pulling in the faraway, visiting with the absent, drawing out the ineffable, amplifying the vestigial, leaving well-enough alone, enduring the unendurable, practicing readiness for the other, learning the lesson late and liking yourself for forgetting it again, and you’re finally looking up and seeing the body of your quilt behind your cat, behind your potted plants, up to your neck, coming out of your ears, and before the body of your quilt you see the people you want to see the body of your quilt and they like it, more than anyone every liked your body, and said so, and you know now it does not matter whether you did because you’ve come to like yourself even more than the body of the quilt, and you can look at it and like it by yourself.

Radka Donnell
The Quilt's Body by Radka Donnell is on page 113 of Quilts As Women's Art:  A Quilt Poetics.  

I read this book at age 40.  It gave me the foundation of my career as an artist/quiltmaker.  I copied many things into my journal at the time, including this entire poem.  

New Beginning, the other side.  I speak about making it in the lecture my pandemic summer.

"Quilts are to mainstream art what poetry is to prose".  Radka Donnell

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

judith e martin dot com

The main thing in this post is that I have a new website.
It holds my work in order and I'm pleased to announce judithemartin.com .
That's judith with an e martin, the e stands for Evelynn.  

Zoe helped me with the square space website.  We launched it when the moon entered Aries last weekend.  Thank you sweet Zoe. xo

In this post, images of recent projects.  
The first one is a rescued quilt that I'm mending with circles of dyed velvet.   
But it's time to fold it up and let it steep a bit.     

I've moved on to a different project,   'new beginning' , 
It's mentioned in the lecture 'my awakened heart / my pandemic summer.
I'm quilting into it from the back.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

in the middle of the world

It's May.  My authentic self is back.   My exquisite courage.
I cleaned out my quilt cupboard over the weekend.
In the top shelf are the unfinished lamentation quilts, most of which I started during the pandemic.  

In the middle shelf are finished pieces that were going to be in a show that has been postponed.   
The pink one on the bottom is the beautiful doily stardust piece.   
In the bottom shelf are the pieces I've finished for In The Middle of the World.

In the Middle of the World is a two person exhibition that is scheduled to open this coming October at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum near Ottawa, Canada.  My friend and colleague, Penny Berens, from Nova Scotia and I have been preparing hand stitched artworks for three years for this show.   We are working with a free-lance curator, Miranda Bouchard. 
Penny's work is about her experience of living close to nature.  She observes the small daily changes of growth, decay, seasons, and weather.  She is inspired by the patterns in nature and uses thoughtful, repetitive stitches to communicate what she sees and feels.  Here is an example of her work.

My work is also inspired by nature, especially the colours of early spring and late fall in my northern Ontario environment.  I'm interested in how running our eyes across an open space in nature can set off something deep and unnamable within, and I try to get close to that inner language with my work.
Miranda writes about us.  She listens to us and our work, and writes:  The naturally-dyed, slow-stitched textile works of Judy Martin and Penny Berens inspire ways of seeing, sensing and reflection that are simultaneously outwards, at our surroundings; and inwards, at the landscapes within us.   
The gallery is currently closed because of the pandemic, but we are all hoping that it will open to the public in the fall.  

The images of Manitoulin Island barns and fields are from the drive Ned and I did on Sunday.
I am blessed to have my stitching and my window and a partner during this time of covid.  

My heart goes out to the many, many humans in the world who are really suffering and living in grief and fear.  Each of us is in the middle of the world.

Friday, April 23, 2021

what is sacred is the time you spend

soft summer gone detail   plant dyed, hand stitched silk quilt included in Quilt National 2017
Soft Summer Gone  100 inches square, included in Quilt National 2017

What you produce is not necessarily sacred.

Cross My Heart detail, hand stitched silk quilt included in Quilt National 2011
Cross My Heart about 40 inches square, included in Quilt National 2011

What is sacred is the time you spend working on the project, 
and what the time does to expand your imagination,

Prayer to the Sky, detail, indigo dyed hand stitched wool quilt, included in Quilt National 2021
Prayer To the Sky, detail of reverse side, about 65" square, included in Quilt National 2021

And what that expanded imagination does to transform your life.    Elizabeth Gilbert
soft summer gone detail, quilted with embroidery,
 included in quilt national 2017, surface design award

I'm pleased to announce that Prayer To The Sky will be included in Quilt National 2021.  The exhibition is opening next month and preparations are underway.  One of the things is that last week, the director of the Dairy Barn asked me to answer several questions with videos.  Making selfie-videos is new for me, in fact it took my breath away but then I relaxed.  I'm sharing just a little clip about my fifty years of quilt making here for you dear readers.  The entire video will be ready next month and will be presented along with all the other artists' on the QN you tube channel.

Friday, April 16, 2021

like breakfast, lunch and dinner

Q  Where do you find inspiration?

A   I am inspired by two things.  The first is the ever-changing natural environment I live within.  All seasons are beautiful.  The air is beautiful, affected by the time of day and the light, the growth and decay of the vegetation are beautiful, the way that colours look next to each other because of the way the angle of sunlight touches them, that's beautiful.

The empty spaces, and the birds on the tops of trees, also beautiful.

These things feed me like breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I don't consciously try to reproduce them in my work, but they show up in an abstract way.  They have become part of me.  Enhanced by my chosen solitude while walking, driving, sitting in my chair, observing and breathing in nature, is all so beautiful.

The second thing is looking at art.

I especially like looking at large-scale textile sculptures and minimalist contemporary paintings.  I enjoy Instagram and follow many artists there from around the world.  I also own a sizable art-book collection that I flip through a lot.  I have several books about  traditional American Quilts (including the Gee Bend artists) as well as many visual artists that I love such as Cy Twombly, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Michelle Stuart.  

This is the first post I've done using the photo software on my laptop - I'm still working things out, but thought I'd share how it was here last week on the island.