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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.

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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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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

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