A treasury of images

I have this lovely book on my desk. I spent two hours paging through it yesterday. I've done this several times since it came in the mail. Each time I find yet another page I want to tag and remember. Each time I end with a feeling of awe and inspiration. These artists are GREAT. And this book shows them off with gusto. There are 126 artists in the book — colorists, story-tellers, modernists, painters, quilters, dye-masters, fearless truth-tellers and emotionally vocal ARTISTS. That's Artists a big A.

This worthy book of art quilts written and curated by Martha Sielman is a must have. That cover image is from Pat Pauly, a master of dyed and printed fabric.

The curator and author of the book, Martha Sielman, is a tireless advocate for this art form. She is the executive director of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), an international organization of artists working in this medium. Her efforts spotlight 29 artists in more detail while also compiling a set of galleries that expand her narrative.  I am profiled in the book and know that it was a significant honor to be included.

There are 300 full-color, full-throttle, full-frontal images that will take your breath away.

I spend most of my time talking to myself while I work. It's a conversation that can be non-linear and confusing on some days and on point and frenzied on others. The work follows my thoughts up alleys and down valleys. Sometimes I come up with something that might make sense to others. Emerging from my cocoon of conversation I am energized by other artists. Especially artists who work in cloth and thread.

Martha has given us a way to see other artist journeys through this work. It's the next best thing to a round table discussion. I recommend it to all seekers. If you purchase the book through the SAQA website you will receive 5 notecards featuring works by SAQA juried members and 45% of the proceeds will support the organization.

What could be better? Order your copy now.  Click here.

I'd love to bring my favorite artists together for a discussion on why we do this work.

I'd love to bring my favorite artists together for a discussion on why we do this work.

one stitch at a time

It's International Women's Day today, a day to reflect on how many stitches it takes to keep this world together. And how many women have nurtured, built and expanded the meanings of love and compassion in the world. Stitch by stitch, tear by tear, step by step. It requires perseverance and unending faith that we can and will make it better. History proves that with each dip into the depths there are resilient wills that move us forward. There are women who walk on despite overwhelming odds.

How can I contribute? What does my practice of art do to expand that goal?

I've been thinking about texture and how hand stitching is so different from machine stitching. The commitment that hand stitching requires is often too onerous for my sense of collapsed time. There are simply not enough hours in each day. Then I relent and ask myself why I think that getting a piece done in a timely manner is more important than just working on the piece regardless of how much time it takes.

So why do we think that these depths can be fixed in one news cycle? It's clear that we are a flawed species, still learning how to bring light instead of darkness to our world. How many artists, politicians, scientists, mothers and leaders will it take to change the course?

I've been working on Fallout for over two years. It is on my table again in response to our world leaders rattling their sabers. AGAIN.  I am adding "suture" stitches to each longitudinal line on the map. They are almost invisible but satisfy my need to add depth and thought.

I estimate that it will require about 1600 more stitches.

We are all witnesses to what is happening in the world. We can choose to persevere or we can bury our heads and deny the threats. As an artist I am compelled to speak, to work harder, to trudge on despite a feeling of hopelessness and loss. My stitches are adding to the voices that are shouting, crying, and laughing out loud. It's not much, I admit. But it's something. I am doing something to open a dialog. One stitch at a time.

These 9" x 9" studies allow me to experiment more freely with texture and stitch. And now that I have over 20 of them I can start to look at them as a body of work rather than experiments. I'll make one of these each week to continue the collection and plumb the depths of their variations. I see them as snapshots of human interactions.

How many solutions are out there? Can our world leaders find new ways of bringing light to the world instead of repeating the dark parts of history?

It is International Women's day and I hold faith in our wills, as women, to make this world a better place.

variety, as in: life; spice of

The spicy tang of variety seeped into my studio this week. I work in series. And I work in serious pursuit of message.

Sometimes I grow weary and feel like I am repeating myself. Other times I am overzealous and over my head. This I know: pursuit is the reason. The act of making, stitching, cutting, pressing and assembling fabrics and threads brings clarity to thought. Believe me, if you sit and stitch for three hours on a little scrap of canvas your mind travels, bends and surges. Here's a little gallery of what I worked on this past week:

I finished Beast this week. It is a ragged, angry blot that satisfied a certain itch within.

I removed some orange thread stitching on the center figure of Thugs and added some black flies to the background. Black flies bite.

Part of my Silent Witness series: Yes, but does it pass the smell test? is on the design board. I need to figure out how to finish the edges of these small pieces. But first I need to make lots more of them.

Liar, liar, rough cut. This greets me every morning.

This confection of polkadots and swirls satisfied my need to chill out and just let the thread tell me where to go.

I tested some colors and curves.

I used the leftovers from the curve tests to create this composition that I am calling Woof. Random acts of piecing netted a live dog with attitude.

Another Silent Witness piece in process, Disruptor. Hand stitching slowed down my thoughts and forced me to focus.


Clear the decks! Bring out the trumpets! Reshuffle the shelving! Close the doors! Breathe.

I need a brain blender to swirl all these thoughts together into a consistent puree. Where did I put that reset button?
Beast, a work in progress, challenges me to leave the ragged ragged. No clean up required.

Beast, a work in progress, challenges me to leave the ragged ragged. No clean up required.

Dipped in early daffodils and icy evenings the moon shots and news jaunts are rousing lightning strikes to what I know is true. My desk and head are piled with idea roadmaps and diagrams. New books to read, new art to create. I'm in at seven and out at four every day breathless and stiff. Body aches ignored I pursue the frenzy because I know it will subside. And then what? Will all these ideas seem like a self conscious effort to put it all together? Or will it give me a clear path to stronger work?

Meanwhile I stitch. On pieces of anger and pieces of doubt and pieces of warning and pieces of angst.

Breathe. Reshuffle the shelving, sweep the scraps, fold the layers together for a whole.  I hesitate. Perhaps a simple, artful journey of color and stitch will clear the sinuses of my angst? Step away from the storm.

Polkadots rock.

Polkadots Rock, a palate cleanser. I had to find some light in the darkness.

Polkadots Rock, a palate cleanser. I had to find some light in the darkness.

I'm working on an online shop to sell my quilts. Watch for that later this month.