Author Archive | Quilt National Artists

Art quilts in history – Gerald Roy

Like all other arts and crafts forms, the aesthetic value of an individual work is determined by the viewer. Beginning in the Victorian era with crazy quilts, art quilts have been appreciated by many. Gerald Roy continues his thoughts on the progression of art quilts in history in this article.

The Victorian era (1837–1901) (see, Art Quilt Phenomenon article) would soon be followed by 36 of the most tumultuous years in American history. World War I began in 1914 and Prohibition in 1919.  Wall Street crashed in 1929 and was followed by The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 and drew the United States into World War II through 1945, when it dropped of two atomic bombs. Five years of peace ended with the Korean War in 1950.

When men went to war, women took on their jobs as well as their own. Women who left their homes for factories and cities to pursue professions usually abandoned their previous way of life, even if their husbands did return from war. Being paid and having a career leaves little chance that women will return to the home or the farm. Time-consuming activities are abandoned in favor of labor-saving devices and products that are mass produced in factories rather than one-of-a-kind ones made at home. Quilting was just one of the many activities that suffered.

Yet, quilt making was passed onto the succeeding generations where it was still important to the economy of a region or where it was deeply embedded in the heritage and tradition of a family or community. This was how many rural areas were especially influential in enabling many of our nation’s early crafts to survive times until there was renewed interest in them. Pride and appreciation in traditional American art, crafts, architecture and just about all things American was later reinforced by the positive attitudes and activities established during and between the World Wars when private, public, and governmental agencies got people back to work.

The quilt which won prizes at the World Fair in Chicago is presented to Mrs. Roosevelt by E.J. Condon. L.T. Conway views the ceremony. Both men are connected with a merchandising concern doing business on a nationwiide scale. The prize winning quilt was made by Margaret Rogers Caden of Lexington, KY

E.J. Condon presents the winning quilt to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. L.T. Conway views the ceremony. Both men were connected with Sears, Roebuck & Co.. The prize winning quilt was made by Margaret Rogers Caden of Lexington, KY. – photo from the Library of Congress.

We saw this occur in 1939 when the Work Progress Administration (WPA) employed 8.5 million workers, not only to construct buildings, roads, bridges, and tunnels, but also to create music, paintings, and literary works for public purposes. No wonder the WPA was responsible for the founding of The National Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The popularity of quilt making was accelerated when government, private, and corporate interests recognized the power of quilts to attract and engage huge audiences. With all the financial problems facing the country, the revival of quilt making and many other crafts was seen as a way of stimulating an economy that has suffered during the wars, and the depression.

Quilt by Aurora See Dyer for 1933 Sears National Quilt Contest

Quilt by Aurora See Dyer for 1933 Sears National Quilt Contest – photo courtesy of Merikay Waldvogel

By the late nineteenth century, country fairs across the nation included quilt contests and exhibits. A National Quilting Bee Contest was launched in 1911.  Little is known about the entries or the results.   The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of professionally designed patterns and quilt kits advertised and distributed nationally.  Companies such as Stearns & Foster Co., maker of Mountain Mist batting, suggested quilt shows and competitions to promote and encourage quiltmaking.  In 1932, The Eastern States Exposition at Storrowton, Massachusetts held the first national quilt contest. In 1933, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. organized a national quilt contest in conjunction with Chicago’s 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.  Over 25,000 quilts were judged at local and regional levels.  At the final national round held at the Sears Pavilion, of 30 regional winners, a traditional quilt entered by Margaret Caden of Kentucky won the $1000 grand prize as well as the honor of the quilt being given to Eleanor Roosevelt. Then in 1939 and 1940, over $3,000 in prize money was awarded at contests organized in conjunction with the New York World’s Fair sponsored by department stores and Good Housekeeping Magazine.

Competition had always been a part of the history of quilt making; however, prize money of this proportion brought a whole new dimension to the effort.

These events changed the complexion of quilt making forever. Professional designers and artists from other disciplines adopted quilt making as their media of expression. Quilt making became a full-time career for many with an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of the quilts from this early contest era maintained their sizes so their intended use was still assumed to be as practical bedcovers. However, this idea soon faded when their intent was clearly recognized and they were intended to be seen as art.

Gerald E. Roy at Pilgrim/Roy

Gerald Roy

Gerald Roy is an educator, painter, quilt maker and author. He is a quilt appraiser certified by the National Quilters Society and an administrator of the AQS Quilt Appraisal Certification Program. His This Old Quilt column is featured in the Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. He currently serves on the following boards: New England Quilt Museum Lowell, Mass. – Acquisitions Board and the National Quilt Museum Paducah, Kentucky – Executive Board of Directors, National Advisory Board and Chair / Acquisitions Committee. He is the curator for Quilts & Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection opening at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston on April 6. To learn more, visit his website, Pilgrim/Roy Antiques and Interiors

Continue Reading 0

Susan Shie shares her story

One of the quilts showing in Quilt National 2013 at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is the delightful Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie. This story is an excerpt from her website where Susan shares some of the inspirations for her piece.
Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot, ©Susan Shie 2012. 60"h x 86.5"w

Dragon Sushi: 9 of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot, ©Susan Shie 2012. 60″h x 86.5″w

On June 14, 2012 I randomly drew the minor tarot card the 9 of Cups from the Sakki-Sakki Tarot deck (which is my favorite, besides the Kitchen Tarot). This card, described as the Wishing Card, would become my piece about my trip to Girona, Spain, a city north of Barcelona in the Catalan part of Spain, near the Costa Brava.

The piece chronicles my trip to the Interquilt 2012 show in Girona (where I had a solo exhibition and taught classes) and includes many of the wonderful people I met there. Girona was a wonderful experience, and I am in love with the city and cherish my time there and all the great people I met there.

I started painting on July 31, using my airbrush like I normally do. The piece was challenging because I wanted to include ALL the cool people I met in Girona and be able to tell stories about them. I painted the old part of the city, which has an amazingly rich mixture of cultures which took turns ruling this trade city over the centuries.

I worried that the piece could easily get too detailed and muddled, if I tried to write a lot, after all the little vignettes of groups of people that I put in. So I decided to make part of the writing with fabric markers in colors, instead of doing it all with my airpen and black fabric paint. This gave the piece a way of staying lighter and less mushy, but I also had to abbreviate my stories a lot.

Detail of the quilt, including gelato

Detail of the quilt, including gelato

Gelato was my favorite food in Girona, because it was so hot, and we often carried heavy loads in all our walking. But my second favorite food there was from the Sushi Bar. Honest! It was in the big Plaza, and sitting inside, you could see the big Cathedral of Girona across the river, behind the beautiful tall, narrow houses that were built with nothing between them, and right up to the riverbanks, for a long way north and south along the pretty Onyar River.

I put the Cathedral and the big Church of St Feliu along the wall at the top of my piece, and I drew the Holy Grail there, too. I had joked that Girona felt so magical, maybe the Holy Grail was hidden there! Then, after I came home from Spain, I read a book by Patrice Chaplin, City of Secrets, all about the Holy Grail being there in Girona.

What’s in a name?

Detail of sushi

Detail of sushi

So, you wonder where I got the title for this piece Dragon Sushi, right? Well, in my free time, I made up a story to explain how come the Sushi Bar restaurant is lined up perfectly to see the Cathedral out of its windows. I had a vision: St George, aka Jordi in Catalan, slew the Dragon where the Cathedral is now, right there in Girona. Then, because he had all that dragon meat, he invented Sushi right there on the spot, and he had them build the Cathedral right where it all had happened, in honor of both slaying the dragon and inventing sushi. AND considering that this is the Year of the Dragon, my vision is very timely, as well!

Detail: Susan Shie self portrait in her Dragon Sushi quilt.

Detail: Susan Shie self portrait in her Dragon Sushi quilt.

There’s a large head of a woman beside the Eiffel Bridge arm of Xevi, and it’s MY head. On it I wrote a saying I saw on Facebook, a poster that quotes Sen. Joe McCarthy from the 1950s. It says:

Beware of artists, for they mix with all classes of society, and are therefore the most dangerous. – Sen. Joe McCarthy

I really like that. Too bad old Joe damaged and ruined so many Americans’ lives by accusing them of being Communist sympathizers and having them either banned from their careers or thrown into prison. I pray we never have that level of fanatic reactionism in our country again.

Most of the stories in this piece are about the Girona trip, with very little about current events, which I mostly squeezed into the writing on the border. I got the part about Todd Akin’s explanation about how we don’t need abortions for rape victims, because you probably can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” And I included some Eva visit stuff and Hurricane Issac, which had flooded and taken the electric out of Haiti and Cuba, and after hitting lower Florida, was on its way to hit New Orleans, exactly 7 years after Hurricane Katrina. OH, and I write a little about the Republican Convention, like how there was a billboard there that said” Welcome to Tampa, where the mayor and all city council members are Democrats. Enjoy your stay!”

If you’d like to learn even more about the people I included in this piece, please visit my website.

Continue Reading 0

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!

Continue Reading 1

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

Continue Reading 1

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes