Author Archive | Quilt National Artists

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

Continue Reading 6

Quilt National ’15 call for entries

QuiltNational_logo_blueThe Dairy Barn Arts Center is pleased to announce the opening of entries to Quilt National ’15. As the Dairy Barn celebrates its 100th birthday, Quilt National begins its 19th biennial exhibition process. Entries for Quilt National ’15 are now being accepted online via the Dairy Barn website (www.dairybarn.org/quilt).

Quilt National ’15 will be the nineteenth in the series of international juried competitions dedicated to promoting the contemporary quilt by serving as a showcase for NEW work (completed after September 1, 2012) that provides the viewer with an appreciation of the variety of techniques and innovative trends in the medium of layered and stitched fabric. The jurors will select works that represent unique approaches to the medium and demonstrate the breadth and diversity of contemporary expressions. Typically over 1000 entries are received from 500 – 700 different artists. There are over $6000 worth of cash and prizes awarded to exhibiting artists.

This year’s panel of jurors includes:

Rosalie Dace

Rosalie Dace

Rosalie Dace (South Africa) Rosalie is a studio artist who has been embroidering and making quilts since the ’70’s. With a background in art and education, she finds exhibiting, teaching, and judging combine her interests admirably. She has taught, exhibited and judged internationally, and her work is in several private and public collections. While she values the traditions from which our quiltmaking has come, she believes that a quilt should say something about its time and place in history. This, and her awareness of being a South African artist, gives her work its particular character. To learn more about Rosalie go to her website: rosaliedace.co.za

Ann Johnston

Ann Johnston

Ann Johnston  (Oregon) Ann learned to sew, and then she learned to dye fabric. In between, she earned a B.A. in literature from Stanford University and taught for the Peace Corps in Peru, where she started her first quilt. In the mid 70s she started dyeing fabric and earned a Master’s degree in geography from the University of Oregon. Ann’s many years of exploration— dyeing and quilting as well as traveling–have led to worldwide friendships, piles of quilts and hand-dyed fabric, numerous exhibitions, six books, and a DVD. Her collectors respect her viewpoint and her students admire her generosity and skill in teaching what she knows. Please find more information on Ann’s web site, www.annjohnston.net

Judy Schwender

Judy Schwender

Judy Schwender (Kentucky) Judy Schwender became a quiltaholic in 1985 the first time she walked into a quilt shop.  In 2006 she obtained her Masters Degree in Textile history with an Emphasis in Quilt Studies and a minor in Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  She is a current Board Member of the American Quilt Study Group and has presented study centers on fiber identification at their seminars. She has written the block commentary for the New Quilts from an Old Favorite books series published by AQS.  Since 2004 she has been the Curator of Collections and Registrar at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky where she has curated over 34 exhibits.

Calendar

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 Deadline for submission of entry materials
OCTOBER 6, 2014 Notice of preliminary acceptance
MAY 22—24, 2015 Opening Weekend Receptions & Awards Ceremony
MAY 23, 2015 Quilt National ’15 opens to the public
SEPTEMBER 7, 2015 Exhibition closes at The Dairy Barn Arts Center

For a full copy of the prospectus, go to the Dairy Barn website at: dairybarn.org/quilt

The inaugural Quilt National exhibition was featured in 1979. Each biennial exhibition features 85 new, never before seen works by 85 different artists representing many of the 50 United States and numerous other countries. After its full exhibition at The Dairy Barn, the collection is divided into smaller collections and tours to venues across the US and around the world. The Dairy Barn Arts Center features an online gallery shop and Quilt National ’15 will feature a full color printed catalog.

Continue Reading 0

An interview with Lora Rocke

Lora Rocke is a quilt artist from Lincoln Nebraska. Her quilt Kathryn, Katy, Katie, Kate was in Quilt National 2009. She continues her creative work in fiber with a focus on portraits. We asked her a few questions about how she works and what inspires her.

Kathryn, Kathy, Katie, Kate by Lora Rocke

Kathryn, Kathy, Katie, Kate by Lora Rocke

How does your art fit into your daily routine?

The greatest boon to my productivity was discovering that my brain is not creatively active in the morning.  After my first cup of coffee, I can dive into mundane, day-to-day business: updating my website, answering emails, filling out forms, paying bills etc.  I am efficient, single-minded and able to multi-task.  But by mid-afternoon, my creative side takes over, I can almost feel my brain switch over to the right side. Working intuitively, choosing fabric and thread with a “skwinty” eye, I imagine what each will look like when applied to my current portrait. The music gets louder and my focus turns to shape, color and texture, and I will gladly stay on this path until early evening (unless someone interrupts with a “What’s for dinner?”).

Why do you use textiles/quilting as a medium?

I have an affinity for getting my fingers into any project.  Early on it was charcoal & pencil drawings, then batik work with the dipping and dying of fabrics, even my painted portraits involved moving the paint around with my fingers.  The tactile nature of fabric and thread has always intrigued me.  With years of practice, trial and error and some successes, I found that thread and fabric can be used much like pen, pencil, ink and paint.  With patience, I can create an intensely stitched face that has the same depth, detail and personality.

What inspires and motivates you to make art?

The main inspiration for any piece that I do, whether it is a commissioned piece or one for exhibition, is a personal connection.  Is there an emotion that touches me?  Do I feel that it can clearly be portrayed through fabric and thread?  It sounds silly, but I look for the story in each piece that I stitch.  Who are they, what are they thinking, what do they want to say and how can I communicate that?  In the end, I love the look on the faces of those who view the completed portraits, and the questions that they ask about those people that I have stitched.

Catfish Stringer by Lora Rocke

Catfish Stringer by Lora Rocke

What are you working on right now?

I have just completed several pieces for exhibition.  These “Ordinary People” include a fisherman and his catch, two “trick-or-treaters” and a little girl after a birthday party.  The most intense piece, done in thread and appliqué, is a triptych of a little boy and his self-styled haircut.

Lora Rocke

Lora Rocke

The intimate images in my portraits have stories to tell.  Captured in dense freehand stitching and cloth, I strive to create the face of a loved one, the romance of childhood, or the remembrance of a lost friend.

To see more of Lora’s work visit www.lorarockequilts.com

Continue Reading 1

A journey through landscape – Alison Schwabe

Ora Banda by Alison Schwabe

Ora Banda by Alison Schwabe

I’ve had four works in Quilt National and this article will show how they fit into my development as an artist as I gradually morphed from a young girl into ‘a senior’. I am currently working on a slide lecture covering the development of my textile art from the late 70’s to the present, for presentation to a group of Western Australian art quilters and fibre artists. As I include images of finished works, samples and snippets from sketch books, I am able to look back on things that have provided the consistent themes appearing throughout my work.

Obiri by Alison Schwabe

Obiri by Alison Schwabe

When young, in the ‘60’s, it never occurred to me that the practical, feminine,  domestic arts of dressmaking, household sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet and others, could be ‘art’.

I am an early Baby Boomer, and we girls in those days learned those skills at school, from our mothers, aunts and grandmothers. Looking back, while acquiring many skills that have become second nature, some of the things I made showed early signs of creative flair even as I followed patterns. I have always loved putting fabrics and threads together in various ways to produce practical and creatively decorated things.

My university degree included geography and a little geomorphology which I loved. Around age 30 found myself making both kids clothes and creative embroideries (mixed media) of paint plus stitch celebrating my fairly myopic view of small patterns, colours and textures of landscape.  Leaving the leafy green environment in which I grew up, I moved about  Australia’s Outback, mostly mining centres in harsh rugged landscape. The individual characteristics of the landscapes included highly evocative shapes and colours that stayed in my memory even without a photo.

I have a keen sense of place in the modern world and at the same time feel very strong connections to people back in the mists of time. This sense of history only came to me through experiences in Australia’s ancient landscapes. Signs of how ancient people had interacted with their environment left some patterning or symbolic evidence of their time there.

Timetracks 1 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2007

Timetracks 1 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2007

From 1988 I came under the influence of traditional quilt making in the USA, and after one flying geese quilt, produced a series of original quilts that combined landscape elements of line, shape and color, quilted with motifs based on markings of the ancients in pottery, carvings, cave walls and stones.  I learned more about the early native American Indian people.  As this Ancient Expressions series developed, fabric strips as lines became an important design element, influenced by cloisonné enamel work and native American inlaid turquoise jewelry, and the traditional quilting influences still in my work include repeat units arranged in grids.

With many background influences, then, my first quilt in Quilt National 1993, was of a color memory of the faded Western Australian gold mining town, Ora Banda, which gave its romantic name to the work.  Then came Obiri in Quilt National 1995, named for a sacred rock site we’d visited where Aboriginal people painted figures and patterns on the rock walls over the many centuries they have used the site.

Timetracks 7 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2009

Timetracks 7 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2009

More than a decade passed before another work was accepted for Quilt National, by which time I was focusing on the marks left by eroding wind and water over time, and had begun to think of  changed shapes and textures as ‘timetracks’.   Timetracks 1 went to Quilt National 2007 featuring the larger view of landscape changing shape. By Quilt National 2009, Timetracks 7 was concerned with remnants of marks and abrasions on surface texture signifying decay.

My journey through landscape has coincided with change in shape and texture of my own physical body. I am an age where I have perspectives that I could never have seen earlier in life, including that, so far my whole life has truly been a journey through landscape.

Alison Schwabe

Alison Schwabe

Moving because of my husband’s profession I’ve met many textile artists, developed a passion for stitch, and eventually found quilt making.  I have been exhibiting art quilts since 1989 and currently live in Montevideo, Uruguay.
To see more of my work go to: alisonschwabe.comozquiltnetwork.org.au, or saqa.com
Continue Reading 2

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes