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Archive | May, 2014

Art quilts and graphic design – Mary Ann Tipple

When I wanted to go to art school in 1968 my father told me I would never make a living as an artist.

I looked into graphic design, put myself through art school and upon graduation I found a job as a keyliner with a magazine publisher. Keylining was the art of putting down strips of type, drawing outlines for the photos, dropping in ads, etc. It was fine handwork, type was coated with wax and rolled down firmly. Sometimes an exacto knife was used to fix words by cutting out letters and fitting them back together. As the pages were completed, they were stacked in order till the magazine was complete and was sent to the printer. It was like piecing blocks together and sending the top out to be machine stitched. One of my jobs was finding photos for ads. I learned to find images that evoked the desired emotion to sell the product. I found this fascinating and at home did collages using photos from magazines.

The Conversation by Mary Ann Tipple

The Conversation by Mary Ann Tipple, ©2012

I discovered art quilts on a visit to Quilt National in 2001. I wanted to be an art quilter, an art quilter who used photos and cloth. I knew about Jean Ray Laury and the technology of digital printing but I wanted big photos! I solved this problem after a class with Fran Skiles where I learned to take Xerox copies and massage them into cotton duck with massive amounts of gel medium. I have one piece that incorporates 27 11 x 17 xerox pages to make a seven foot tall quilt from a photo of my mother but the cloth was so stiff that stitching was near to impossible. In 2011 I discovered the world of large digital prints directly to cloth. Since then I have been exploring the world of stitching to enhance the content!

I think my work in graphic design has influenced the content in my art, how to send a message or evoke a feeling.

Art quilters have begun to use photos with an artful purpose. I think of work by Nancy Condon, Patricia Kennedy-Zafred and others as fine examples of the use of photos in art quilts.  Often those choices are enhanced by our experiences in the commercial world of advertising and journalism where content is the key to success. The use of digital cameras, scanners and programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to add filters, layers, color changes and size enhancement has added to the content in a positive way. Nancy Condon has commented “I am very taken with the capabilities of layering in Photoshop. After spending a lot of time experimenting with various transfer methods (some of which were toxic), I began using my own small printer to print on fabric as soon as the technology became available. When I was able to print very large photographic images on cloth, I was very excited by that process. I think we are at a point with photo imagery in quilts where we need to develop more sophisticated ways of using the capability.”

Our Ladies of the Mountain by Nancy Condon ©2010

Our Ladies of the Mountain by Nancy Condon ©2010

Mary Ann Tipple

Mary Ann Tipple

Mary Ann Tipple is a resident of Elyria, Ohio. Her mother taught her to sew at a young age. Her interest in art started in the fourth grade when she decided art was the best part of the day. She began making collages in high school. A graduate of Cleveland’s Cooper School of Art with a degree in graphic design, she has worked in ad agencies as a designer and print production specialist. Now retired, she makes art quilts, mixed media pieces and paper collages. She credits her growth in her textiles to classes at Quilt Surface Design Symposium. An interest in improvisation comedy led to two years of classes with Second City, her love of humor shows in her textile pieces!

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Quilt National 2013 opens in San Jose, California

Quilt National 2013 quilts in San Jose

Quilts by Molly Allen, Rita Merten, and Joan Schulze at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles hosts Quilt National 2013

Quilt National 2013 (collections A & B) is now on view at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. Deborah Corsini, curator for the museum, has hung the show with thoughtful placement of works in the museum’s main galleries. The opening reception for the show was held on Sunday, May 18, in conjunction with a celebration of the San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum’s 37th anniversary, and a special artists gallery walk through the Quilt National exhibit.

NEW: be sure to check out the Quilt National ’13 slideshow

Go to 2013 Slideshow

San Jose museum is a great place to see Quilt National

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is a special venue for viewing Quilt National 2013. The three large gallery spaces provide room to enjoy the artwork both up close and far away, enabling exploration of both the exquisite craft and overall composition of each piece.  The beautiful lighting in the museum shows the Quilt National 2013 works to their best advantage.  Seen from across the large spaces, some works, like Deidre Adams’ Tracings III and Judith Content’s Cenote Azule actually glow.

Derdre Adams, Tracings III

Deirdre Adams and her quilt, Tracings III

The Quilt National 2013 artworks have been hung so as to suggest subtle themes of color, content, and composition.  In many cases the artwork seems to whisper quietly to its adjacent neighbors, as on the wall of subtle yet powerful artists quilts by Ellen Noble, Carol Goosens, Leslie Bixel, Judith Content and Jan Myers-Newbury in the main gallery, or the environmental themes of three quilts in the grey gallery by Leslie Rego, Katherine Knaur, and Nelda Warkentin.  The overall effect is an enjoyable, inspirational, and intriguing experience.

Gallery walk features seven Quilt National artists’ talks

Seven Quilt National artists were on hand to participate in a gallery walk through the exhibit.

  • Leslie Rego – Sun Valley, ID, Four Seasons at the Beaver Pond
  • Laura Fogg – Ukiah, CA, Jammin’
  • Kris Sazaki of the Pixeladies – Cameron Park, CA, American Still Life-The Weight of the Nation
  • Deidre Adams – Littleton, CO, Tracings III
  • Leslie Bixel – Los Gatos, CA, Decay
  • Judith Content – Palo Alto, CA,  Cenote Azule

Each artist shared their stories, inspirations and techniques.  Leslie Rego spoke passionately about her love for the natural beauty of Idaho, and how it informs her work.  Laura Fogg told the story behind Jammin’, and how she just happened to be at an event with her sewing machine and strolling musicians, enabling her to sketch with her machine from life.

Laura Fogg and Jammin'

Laura Fogg and her quilt Jammin’

Kris Sazaki described the process of making American Still Life – The Weight of the Nation with her partner “Pixelady” Deb Cashatt, as one of the funnest experiences in her life.  Deidre Adams talked about the unique “post quilting” painting technique she uses in her work.  Leslie Bixel spoke to the theme of her quilt, Decay and the surface design techniques of rusting and bleach discharging cloth that will also decay over time.

Kris Sazaki

Kris Sazaki of the Pixeladies with American Still Life- The Weight of the Nation

Wrapping up the event, Judith Content explained the arduous process of judging a Quilt National biennial competition, and her own experience in judging Quilt National 2013 with fellow jurors Linda Colsh and Penny McMorris. Judith also talked about her quilt Cenote Azul and the magical light of the skies in Pinnacles national park that inspired it.

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles logoTo find out more about the Quilt National 2013 exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles please visit their website for hours and upcoming events, including a special Fiber Talk organized by Curator of Collections, Nancy Bavor.

Special Event

Fiber Talk: Inside Quilt National with Judith Content and Joan Schulze, Sylvia Gegaregian, Leslie Bixel, Miriam Nathan-Roberts

Sunday, June 8, 2014: 1pm to 3pm

Ticket information is here on the museum website.

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Earth Stories opens at MSU Museum

by Leni Levenson Wiener, curator

Earth-Stories-at-MSU-photo-by-Pearl-Yee-Wong

Earth Stories will be on view at the MSU Museum until November 20, 2014. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong.

The idea behind SAQA’s Earth Stories exhibit was simple enough; artists were challenged to create large works (or installations) inspired by a person or project anywhere in the world doing something positive for the earth. The word positive was important—we wanted inspiring stories of people who were working to change the course of over consumption and decay, rather than to embrace negativity.

Earth-Stories-at-MSU-photoB-by-Pearl-Yee-Wong

The exhibit has 24 large quilts and 24 smaller summary quilts by the same artists.

Artists were chosen by a call for consideration. Each artist presented a portfolio of their work and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi carefully chose the artists who would be included in the exhibition. They were given a little more than a year to complete their work in a very specific size—a footprint of 72” square or 72” on one side and at least 60” on the other.

As the curator of this exhibit I enjoyed watching the pieces develop and evolve and hearing the artists share their thoughts and progress. As one of the selected artists, I also shared the frustrations of finding an appropriate theme and creating such a large work.

brooke.Atherton

Palimpsest by Brooke Atherton, Billings Montana

Most remarkable about this exhibit is the breadth and scope of the projects that inspired the work of these twenty four magnificent pieces. Many of the artists in Earth Stories are QN artists, and although I do not have the space to celebrate them all, here are a few of their artworks.

Brooke Atherton, Billings Montana: Palimpsest

Inspired by: Floating Island International

Using a matrix formed from recycled plastic drinking bottles and native plants, floating islands manufactures artificial islands that are moveable or can be tethered in place to rebalance water ecosystems that humans have upset. Brooke has incorporated a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt which has outlived its original purpose and repurposed into a new story that centers on repurposing for the sake of our planet.

MayaChaimovich_ASourceofLifeintheDeadSea

A Source of Life in the Dead Sea by Maya Chaimovich, Ramat Gan, Israel

Maya Chaimovich, Ramat Gan, Israel: A Source of Life in the Dead Sea

Inspired by: www.onlinedeadsea.com

The Israeli government has invested more than a billion dollars in a project called “The Dead Sea Harvest”, the intention of which is to extract mineral rich healing salt that has sunk to the bottom.

kathy_nida

Wise Choice by Kathy Nida, El Cajon, Ca

Kathy Nida, El Cajon, Ca: Wise Choice

Inspired by: International Planned Parenthood Federation

Many world-wide die from starvation or limited access to earth’s natural resources. When women can plan their lives and care for their families as they choose, the strain on limited natural resources will be reduced.

Light Towers by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, The Netherlands

Light Towers by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, The Netherlands

Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, Waalre, The Netherlands: Light Towers

Inspired by: The L Prize awarded to Royal Philips Electronics for an energy saving bulb with light similar to that of a common incandescent bulb.

Mirjam’s husband wrote the patent for this bulb. She was inspired by the skyscrapers in the US or the enormous tower apartment blocks in the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia. The ‘Light Tower’ is the nickname of the Philips building where bulbs and tubes are tested.

kathy-york

Crowded House by Kathy York, Austin, Texas

Kathy York, Austin, Texas: Crowded House

Inspired by: Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff)

Kathy York took Annie Leonard’s famous book about massive consumerism quite personally. She counted all the objects in her house over a period of six months. The Number, (which she calls the humiliating and nauseating number) spills out of the confines of her house.

 

Michigan State University Museum, the opening venue for this show and a partner in its development, is a center of regional, national, and international quilt-related scholarly and educational activities, including the Quilt Index (quiltindex.org), an online tool for centralized public access to quilt and quilt artist-related materials. The MSU Museum is also home to an outstanding collection of quilts and quilt-related materials, both historical and contemporary, from around the world. Earth Stories provided them with an opportunity to share a collection of contemporary quilts that reflect the power of this art form for personal expression, education, and activism.

Leni Levenson Wiener is the curator for the Earth Stories exhibit. She also created a piece in the show entitled it’s a shell of a problem this piece focuses on both the helping hands of humans and the desirability of turtle and tortoise shells. Her website is www.leniwiener.com

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Pamela Allen — a most unlikely art quilter

“So how on earth did she ever become a fiber artist?” you might ask. “For Pete’s sake, the woman could hardly thread a needle at first. She inquired of 2000 art quilters online what a fat square was. Her first show entry came back with a judge’s score of 0 out of 5 for her pathetic binding.  And the coup de gras was her $30.00 church basement sewing machine that needed duct tape over the dogs to free motion quilt! A truly unlikely candidate for the exacting enterprise of art quilts, if you ask me.”

The biggest thing in my favor when first switching to fiber as my medium was ignorance.

More than that, ignorance coated with arrogance that “ it can’t be that difficult”.  I arrived on the scene having worked for more than twenty years as a full time artist. First exclusively a painter, but moving over time, to printmaking, assemblage art and paper collage.   It was that last adventure with paper that made me question why I couldn’t do the same in a more permanent medium like fabric.

Does this look like an art quilt to you?  Well there you go! So did I.

LOS CONQUISTADOR, 1993, Paper collage by Pamela Allen

LOS CONQUISTADOR, 1993, Paper collage by Pamela Allen

Now I want to explain these two adjectives I applied to myself just then. First ignorance.  This describes a complete lack of knowledge of the materials and how to use them. I knew nothing about the tyranny of stitches per inch. I knew nothing about never using corduroy next to silk.  I completely ignored the sin of having knots on the back of my quilts. After all nobody ever looked on the back of my paintings! Finally I knew nothing of the unseemliness of entering every show in the universe.  I became known as a show slut, long before I could make a proper mitered corner!

Furthermore I didn’t know anyone.  Luckily I happened across extremely helpful email lists very early on.  The BIG one. It’s  quiltart@quilt.net. Everyone there took pity on me and soon got me on the right path with basic techniques and advice about planet Artquilt. Not only that, but anyone who was anyone in the art quilt world seemed to be on that list. I soon discovered that unlike the so called “fine art” world I was used to dealing with (they think they are so exclusive) the quilt art world had many many venues, festivals and quilt shows that I could try for  (see the show slut section above) Also I received very kind and good advice about pulling in my horns concerning the rules of the judging. Segue into the second adjective. Arrogance.

Normally that word is quite derogatory. And I confess it was accurate enough at the beginning because I was quite a brat about the fore mentioned rules. I continued for many years to flout them- knotty backs, folded over “bindings”, wonky edges. Finally I slapped myself and agreed that maybe there WAS some reason for rules. My quilts started looking better. I got 3 out of 5 on my bindings one time! I actually won some awards. Recently an award-winning quilt of mine came back with the judge saying there was nothing I needed to do to improve my workmanship! I had arrived!

THE BIG LOSER, 1st prize Masters Original Design La Conner quilt Museum 2013 by Pamela Allen

THE BIG LOSER, 1st prize Masters Original Design La Conner quilt Museum 2013 by Pamela Allen

There was another side to the arrogance though. I was not really arrogant, I was confident. I had a good art education and twenty years experience. So I never had a problem with the formal considerations like good composition and attention to principles and elements of art. I no longer wracked my brains about what the subject matter would be. I rely on every day events in my life, which seem to resonate with others. I think that is why I got into a lot of shows. After all you really can only see the imagery on a slide or jpg. What they saw was what they got. Who knew the back was all lumpy, bumpy and knotty in the beginning. And as I said, I actually got better as I went along. Last year was stellar for me, achieving a long time goal of getting into Quilt National.

What next? This year I am turning my attention to the business side of being an artist.  That means the dreaded “M” word. Marketing!

To be continued…

Pamela Allen

Pamela Allen

Pamela Allen (B.F.A. Queens University), an award winning winning fiber artist, exhibits regularly in  Canada, the U.S and abroad. Pamela has taught as an adjunct instructor in the Fine Art department at Queens University (Kingston) as well as leading workshops for fabric art in Canada and the U.S. To see more of Pamela’s art go to her website at www.pamelart.com, at ETSY, or ARTFUL HOME

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