Wednesday, November 15, 2023

thing and spirit both

These past few weeks I have added more stitch and some velvet to this red cloth.

I thought the cloth was finished.  I put it in my show at the Homer Watson last spring. 

But this autumn, I felt that it needed more. 

More weight.  More time.  More definition.  Some darkness.

I began by adding brown silk thread. 

I also added a layer of dark grey velvet to the second side.

This cloth is for our eyes and it is for our hands.  

This cloth has given me a space for my heart to beat in.  

In pre-Columbian South America all liturgical ceremonies involved large quantities of textiles.  
Textiles were the major form of art, the conveyers of religious ideas.
Textiles were considered to be sacred objects.  (William J Conkin, archeologist)

I've started to call this thin, red, linen quilt:  Holy Holy.  

Through this past week, all I've wanted to do is stitch it.
I wanted to stitch by my window and listen to audio books all the time.  

I forced myself to do other things.  
I put the timer on so that I knew when I could stop doing those other things
and get back to my stitching.

I'm ready to break open.  I'd do it with my own hands.  
Maybe tomorrow if we're lucky and strong, 
Tonight I will learn to live in the inches,
As we spin the wind of this terrible age,  a place to sing
My voice, still raw and golden.   
       David Lerner

Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame.
Touch the earth. 
Love the earth. 
Honour the earth. 
Rest your spirit in her solitary places. 

It is a power cloth.
It is like a cloth from another world.
It is like a ritual cloth.  
A cloth full of holiness and spirit and touch and me.

My fingers swirling through it, or it through me.
I saw it.  
It was thing and spirit both: 
the real world: evident, invisible.  

Monday, November 06, 2023

Underfoot The Earth Divine


In this post I am trying something new.  By using the online record keeping that Judy’s Journal and My Process provide, I can show in a single post, the making and exhibition history of one of my best quilts,  Underfoot The Earth Divine.   

To view the original posts, just click on the date.   

January 1 2019

The sewing started from the middle on New Year's Day, 2019.

January 5 2019    

January 19 2019  

technique: machine piecing                                                                                                           materials:  a variety of linen damasks coloured with natural dyes.

February 17 2019    

I cut holes into the pieced strips and inserted velvet strips  to add interest to the sky area of the large emptiness.

September 10 2019    

Hand quilting starts from the centre with an oval hoop.  The backing fabric is naturally dyed linen damask, the batting is wool.  To make the large piece easier for me to handle in my lap,  I turn in the outer edges at first.  

February 7 2020    

The hand quilting is finished.

February 19 2020    

The back. 

July 17 2020    

Then the pandemic happened, and everything flipped including this quilt.  I turned the quilt so that the velvet pieces are at the bottom and added a couched yarn circle.  I was reading Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.  

"This then is life, here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions.           How curious!  How Real!  Underfoot the divine Soil, overhead the sun" 

September 13   2020  

December 31 2020    

I had professional photos made.  The reverse side has a name:   "Overhead the Sun"  

September 15 2021     

Underfoot the Earth Divine is part of the two person exhibition with Penny Berens, In the Middle of the World.  The show opened October 2 at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and I was advised that a black sleeve would disappear into the dark ceiling when it was installed so that visitors could walk around it, and view both sides.  

July 30 2022        

I made a new sleeve for the Fine Art Textiles Shortlist exhibition in the UK.  (honourable mention award)

February 21 2023    

The second rendition of In the Middle of the World happened in spring of 2023, and Underfoot The Earth Divine was shipped to Kenora, Ontario.    

 November 6 2023    

Underfoot the The Earth Divine won the Schweinfurth Award at Quilts=Art=Quilts in Auburn, New York, last weekend.  

Monday, October 23, 2023

World of Threads: three solo shows 2023

The Seventh Jacket by Victoria Carley
upholstery and fashion fabrics, embroidery floss

This post highlights the work of three artists who have solo exhibitions at this year's world of threads.  

The first artist  is Victoria Carley from Toronto, Canada.  Carley is showing three of her new Fairy Tale series.  You can view more of this body of work on her website.    All these quilt-like artworks are large wall pieces, similar in size to a child's 'big kid' bed.  (often called a twin bed)
The Beanstalk by Victoria Carley
upholstery and fashion fabrics, embroidery floss

"My illustrations of fairy tales are personal meditations on the stories.  I compare my recollections to other literary and visual retellings of the fairy tale.  Every version is a reflection of its era, artistically and morally."  Victoria Carley
Hansel and Gretel by Victoria Carley
upholstery and fashion fabrics, embroidery floss

"With the image the story presents to me in mind I start.  I select, cut and sew my fabrics, without preliminary drawings.  The final composition and the size develop as I sew.  My process is slow and intuitive.  I use a wide variety of fabrics.  My sewing machine is a vintage international and I hand-embroider to complete the image. "  Victoria Carley

Hansel and Gretel, detail of the witch's house by Victoria Carley

The second artist in this post is Roxanna Kantarjian, also from Toronto, Canada.  Her solo show highlights her Mysterious Veils series.  Kantarjian uses solid colours of cotton in bold original shapes, sewn together and then densely quilted using a sewing machine.  Each piece is as big as a large painting - about 45 x 35 inches in most cases.  

Mysterious Veil I by Roxanna Kantarjian, machine pieced and quilted cotton

"Energy and healing have always been the foundation of my life - especially evident in my artwork.  I am acutely aware of the energy around me in nature - trees, stones, water, and mountains.  There is a specific vibration in every colour. How the colours live together side by side presents a different vibration.  I try to express this energy with colours and shapes."   Roxanna Kantarjian  

Mysterious Veil III, cotton that is machine pieced and quilted

"The Mysterious Veils were an exploration of that fine line between life and death. This series was prompted by my husband's death.  To explore, it was soothing and healing."  Roxanna Kantarjian  

Stones by Roxanna Kantarjian, machine pieced and quilted cotton

The third artist in this post is Karen Thiessen from Hamilton, Canada.   Thiessen's Hope Series of hand stitched wall pieces is highlighted in the World of Threads solo exhibition.   Most pieces are large wall pieces, although Lull is large enough to cover two people.    To visit her website, click here

Lull by Karen Thiessen  Cotton fabrics,
hand pieced using the English paper method and then hand quilted.

"The Hope Series explores post-traumatic growth - the gifts of difficult circumstances."  Karen Thiessen

In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See (for Theodore Roethke) by Karen Thiessen. 
Dyed cotton, hand and machine stitched, with applique.

"Some people are able to emerge from difficult times with greater resilience and more compassion, wisdom and awareness."  Karen Thiessen

Circles of Hope by Karen Thiessen 
 Dyed cotton and rayon, hand and machine stitched, with applique

"Difficulties disrupt our lives and can create openings and pauses for new ways of thinking and living."  K.T.
Constellation of Hope by Karen Thiessen 
Dyed cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics that have been stitched with hand and machine 

"The pandemic forced me to use materials that I had on hand and the Hope quilts were made from failed or abandoned textiles.  Over three years, I slowly stitched them during incessant pandemic lockdowns: I rescued and transformed the textiles while they rescued and transformed me."   Karen Thiessen
Beyond the Curtain by Karen Thiessen. 
Hand embroidered cotton fabric mounted on felt

Beyond the Curtain by Karen Thiessen, detail of hand stitch

The Seventh Jacket by Victoria Carley, detail of machine piecing

The World of Threads has more than fifty solo shows this year.  They are around every corner and in several open room type spaces that one can find in the Queen Elizabeth Park and Community Cultural Centre building, 2302 Bridge Road, Oakville, Ontario.  Plan to spend two days visiting this festival, you will feel rewarded and renewed.  I hope to post about more solo shows over the next few weeks.  xo

UPDATE: NOVEMBER 1:  the venue for World of Threads Festival will close to the public on November 2 until further notice as the staff that run the building work for the city of Oakville, and they will be on strike.  I will keep this notice updated and will let you know when the building will be open again.  The exhibitions of World of Threads are set to continue until December 17, so we hope that the strike is resolved soon.  

Saturday, October 14, 2023

the world

I couldn't tell one song from another

which bird said what or to whom or for what reason. 

The oak tree seemed to be writing something using very few words. 

I couldn't decide which door to open

they looked the same.

or what would happen when I did reach out

and turn a knob

I thought I was safe, standing there

but my death remembered its date.

Only so many summer nights still stood before me,

full moon, waning moon,

October mornings: what to make of them?  Which door?

I couldn't tell which stars were which or how far away any one of them was,

or which were still burning or not - 

their light moving through space like a long, late train - 

And I've lived  on this earth so long.  70 winters.

70 springs and summers, 

and all this time stars in the sky - in day light

when I couldn't see them

and at night when, most nights, I didn't look.

The text in this post is The World, a poem by Marie Howe (slightly edited : 70 instead of 50)

The images are of my stitching these past few weeks.