Archive for 2010

Shameless flogging of my work for marketing purposes

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Photos from IQF Houston are an ever-popular topic for articles, blog entries and the like. Luana Rubin of had a little different take on this, providing a video tour and voice commentary of a few of the pieces. She did a really nice job.

Of course, I’m biased! She kindly included my work, Siesta, in the first one. (Two minutes, ten seconds in. Don’t blink.)

She’s showcased some remarkable work. I’m flattered to have my work rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with the others’.

I’ve been hard at work on a new series, a stylistic and thematic return to the world of Domestic Goddess. There was a bit more of her story to be told, you see, more than just hanging around groping hammers and toilet brushes.

Meanwhile, some of my other work is roaming around the country, entertaining or perhaps horrifying onlookers. In the latter category, Leaving just finished a stint at the World Quilt Show in Florida and will be going to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Virginia in February.

The Imp and Brian at 10 Months have juried in to Road to California. If you happen to be in the LA area in late January, stop by and say hello to them.

Adventures in professional photography

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

I recently entered a show which offered professionally-taken photos of accepted work for a pittance, a mere $15. It was a nicety on the part of the show’s organizers, a service they offered with the knowledge that many don’t have access to professional photography.

I was immediately consumed with curiosity. A photo taken by a professional! I’d long heard people talking up the benefits of having one’s work professionally photographed. How would such a photo compare to the photos I shoot myself? Would I be blown away by its quality? Mortified that I’d ever subjected jurors to my self-photographed abominations?

There was only one way to find out. I sent a check off to the show. A few weeks later, a digital file arrived via email.

Now, I should preface the following comments with a little background. Although I’m not a professional photographer, I’m fortunate to have good equipment. In the past I shot my work with a Canon Digital Rebel; now I use a Rebel T2i.

I’m also fortunate to have learned Photoshop from Barry Haynes, author of the Photoshop Artistry books. He’s a brilliant man, a great instructor, and a wonderful photographer. One couldn’t ask for a better introduction to retouching photos.

My background also includes a stint as a 3D illustrator and a graphic designer. Notably, one company often had a need for product photos while the product was still under development. I would cobble together “photos” by modeling the product in a 3D program, then Photoshopping in details. These “photos” would then be used in advertising and product literature. (In one case, a VP told me, he elicited panic in a development lab by showing them a printout of my work. “Where did you get that photo?!” gasped one of the people.)

Thus, I have a few working advantages here and there.

When I photograph my work, I look for several qualities in the photos:

  • Absence of distortion – If the work is rectangular with straight sides, it should appear that way in the photo.
  • Good color balance – if the artwork is pink, it shouldn’t come out with a different color tinge.
  • Good dynamic range – the picture should show the full range of lights and darks that are in the work.
  • Well and evenly lit – the photo shouldn’t appear too light or too dark.
  • Shmutz – there should be no insects, loose threads, or other distractions on the artwork.
  • Background – it should be a plain color like white or grey, something which allows the artwork to stand out.
  • Crispness – the image should be in focus. If I use software to zoom in on a particular area, those details should be crisp.

To summarize, the photo should represent the way the artwork looks in real life. Although I can use Photoshop to correct many of the issues I’ve listed above, it’s best to get as good a photo as possible. The better the photo, the less retouching will be necessary. It’s also the case that many shows specify that submitted photos shouldn’t have been retouched.

Keeping those qualities in mind, let’s look at the photo which was taken by a professional:

By way of comparison, the following photo was taken by a non-professional, me:

In evaluating the professionally-taken photo, I notice that it is

  • Dark
  • Has a brown color cast; in the artwork, the wood is rendered in cool greys and blues, not browns.
  • The border of the artwork isn’t visible
  • Includes visible dirt/shmutz
  • The top edge of the artwork is bowed, possibly an artifact of being hung.

As is, it isn’t an accurate representation of the artwork. One can argue that Siesta might have been better if it included a broader range of darks the way the photo does, but the fact is that it doesn’t.

The photo I took also isn’t without flaws. Notably, although the work is rectangular, in the photo the border appears wobbly. I could have avoided that with a little more preparation when I was setting up to take the photo. However, overall, it’s a fairly accurate representation of the piece.

Inspection of the histograms, the “levels” graphs showing the range of lights and darks in the images, further tells the tale.

This is the histogram from my photo. It’s graphing the lights and darks in my photo, proceeding from black at the lefthand side to white at the right.

When I take photos, I “bracket” the exposures, taking several photos which have the shutter open for different amounts of time. If the thing I’m photographing has a good range of lights and darks, I expect to see that reflected in the histogram. I don’t want to see the “mountains” shown in the graph chopped off on the right or the left. I also don’t want to see them squeezed into a tiny area in the middle.

Here is the histogram from the professionally-taken photo. Notice how the whole mass is shifted to the left – darker – and the darkest tones are chopped off. This is exactly what we see reflected in the photo, that it’s darker than the artwork.

I could go through this exercise again, looking at individual channels to see where the brown color cast is coming in. However, I’ll spare you.

What did I learn from this experience?

First of all, you get what you pay for. Fifteen dollars is less than the cost of some school photos, the ones where children line up to perch on a stool and a guy with frayed nerves and an ulcer tries to get them to smile.

For that $15, the show had to line up a photographer. Somebody had to dig my work out and either hang it or lay it out for photographing. The photographer had to do the jillions of things one does to get a decent photo, a photo in which the artwork looks like a rectangle rather than a trapezoid. Maybe he or she shot several exposures and later had to sit down and decide which was best. (A possible source of the darkness and color cast: “Wood is supposed to be brown, right? Shot number three must be best.”) The photo had to be given to the show’s organizers, and a person there had to hassle with emailing it to me.

In other words, nobody is getting rich off this operation. If anything, they probably lost money by offering this service. They certainly were not well enough compensated to expect that someone would go over the finished images with a fine-toothed comb or compare what was on a monitor with the artwork.

The second thing I learned is that if we want accurate representations of our artwork, we need to be involved. If someone else is doing the photography, we need to be ready to express our concerns.

Finally, I learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of shooting our artwork ourselves.

To do a decent job, we may have to learn some things we hadn’t planned on, such as how to set white points and bracket shots. And yes, a professional with some time to devote to the task might do a superior job. However, in most cases we aren’t looking to shoot a photo which will be in the running for a Pulitzer. We’re trying to get crisp, reasonable depictions of our artwork. If we make reasonable preparations and give it a try, we might be pleasantly surprised at the result.

Sightlines and Tom Petty

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Here are a couple of videos which have tickled my synapses. What’s the connection between them? Nothing. Everything. Who knows? Give me an hour or two and I’ll make up some plausible-sounding lies.

The first features the president of SAQA, an organization dear to my heart, interviewing a few of the artists who created works for the traveling Sightlines exhibit. As the name Sightlines implies, the works are all linked by a “sightline.” They’re wonderful on camera and in print, and are bound to be more impressive in person. I hope I can travel to one of the venues or get my hot little hands on a catalog. Here is a list of the venues.

This film is also remarkable because it shows that elusive creature, the Kathy Nida. Ms. Nida has long seemed similar to Santa Claus in that she sprinkles wonderful things down on exhibits and then disappears into the night, unseen. It is a relief to discover that, unlike, Santa, she actually does exist.

On a completely different note, the following film shows Tom Petty being creepy. Mr. Petty does creepy well, I think. I find the video fascinating, but some will find it offensive. If you think you might fall into the latter category, please don’t watch it.

The character of Alice is played by one Wish Foley. I’d love to know whether this was her professional or her birth name, and whether there’s a story behind it.

PIQF 2010 (Long, DSL-clogging)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Considering the Pacific International Quilt Festival occurred over a week ago, I’m late in getting these photos posted. However, perhaps a few people will still enjoy seeing them.

I have a particular fondness for PIQF for a number of reasons: it’s a local show, occurring maybe 2-3 miles from my house. This makes it extraordinarily convenient to wander over, pick up my yearly supply of Bo-Nash, and peruse the work on display. It’s also the first fiber art show I ever attended and the first I entered and was juried into. Believe it or not, prior to attending PIQF, I knew naught of the fiberarts or “art quilt” scene; I erroneously assumed that the non-traditional work I was doing existed in a vacuum. Imagine my pleasure when I learned that there were people who were creating exciting work of their own, people wouldn’t think my work strange and say things like “I wouldn’t want that on my bed!”

Now, oftentimes when I look at others’ photos from PIQF, I feel as though we’ve attended different shows. “Really? Was that there?” I’ll ask myself. Given that there are around 1,000 works in the show, perhaps that isn’t too surprising. Different things naturally catch different people’s eyes. It’s also the case that mental and physical fatigue sets in as one wanders up and down the aisles. I’ll often realize that I’m passing things which are quite remarkable, simply because I’ve turned into a zombie. Time for a rest and a cup of coffee!

Thus, this post contains photos of a few things I admired, but it is by no means a complete catalog of the work on exhibit. As a side note, I’ve linked to artists’ websites where possible. If you know of a link I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments section. If a particular work is yours and you want it removed, please let me know that as well.

Onward to the artwork!

Pamela Allen, Three Women at the Hilton

Pamela Allen’s work is always a delight, always gives me a lift. It’s furnished with her whimsies and thoughts, as well as the bits and pieces she encounters as she goes through life. Styrofoam fruits, forks and knives. I never know what I’m going to see. It works.

I love the way she’s outlined this character’s breasts with spools of thread.

This one has been treated to breast augmentation with bobbins. This isn’t random: the scene is based on a congenial get-together while at a quilt show. All of the characters sew, so it’s fitting that sewing implements have become part of them. The metaphorical made literal, if you will.

Allen is brilliant. I keep thinking that surely Dragonthreads or some other publisher will produce a catalog of her work. When that happens, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy!

Cindy Andes, Heartfelt Thoughts
This is just plain fun; she has quite literally put her heart into it. I’d love to see more work of hers. Unfortunately, I can’t find a website of hers to link to.

Helga Burkart, Colorful Strips
A school I used to attend or work at had large, multi-story pieces of fiberart displayed in one of the stairwells. Maybe it was Stanford, in one of their libraries.

I can just see an abstract like this one, with its glowing jewel-like colors, displayed in a like manner. Something to intrigue, stimulate, and raise people’s spirits. I had that happen fairly frequently during the show, envisioning environments for people’s art and wanting to go market it for them.

Betty Busby, Welcome to the Jungle
This is one of a series of really awful photos I took of impressive work. In real life, her quilt is crisp and rectangular. I hope the photo will at least inspire people to go to her website and look for decent photos!

People were marveling at this work, partly because of the perfect marriage of quilting-induced texture with the imagery. This snake was particularly admired.

Phyllis Cullen, Lovebirds
Onlookers were much taken with this affectionate portrait of Cullen’s parents. I’m fascinated by her use of non-realistic skin tones – yellows, purples, blues – and how these enliven the portrait rather than detracting from it.

Vicki David and Terry Breazeale, Pandora
A lovely exercise in symmetry, pattern, and texture.

Marcia DeCamp, Blocks #5
There weren’t a huge number of abstracts at PIQF. This one, and the work below, made a nice contrast to many of the more literal works.

Jet Trails #6
I admire her use of color. She’s combined hues I would shy away from, and they’ve strengthened each other.

Linda Evans, Garden Party
This sprightly piece enlivened the area it was hung in.

Gloria Loughman
There was an exhibit of Loughman’s work at the festival. It was wonderful. I’m only posting snapshots of a couple of her pieces; better photos of all of her works are available in her books.

I would like to note, though, that sometimes it’s difficult to gauge the size of a work from a photo in a book or on a website. This quilt is on the cover of one of her books, Quilted Symphonies. In real life, it isn’t terribly larger than the book’s cover.

By contrast, this work, Kimberly Mystique, weighs in at 200 cm x 220 cm, or about 79 x 87″. It really has a presence, a quality which is difficult to assess from a photo in a book or on a website. One of the things I take away from her work is her use of contrasts, subtlety and light. The range of blues and yellows in her sky is subtle, even muted.

I attended one of her lectures. She’s every bit as delightful as her work.

Meta MacLean, Cirque 2: Bird’s Eye View
Well, my goodness. What a fascinating work this is, and what a hash my photo has made of it!

Her artist’s statement says in part “With the help of a magnifying glass I hand appliqued my images to my hand painted and shadowed background. My experience as a potter allowed me to make hands and faces from fimo clay.”

Her sculpting experience is apparent in the figures, such as this one. Look at its knowing, almost creepy expression! That isn’t an insult, by the way – I think she’s done an outstanding job of capturing a certain tawdriness that often accompanies glitz.

This figure reminds me of certain fin de siècle Latrec works. With those long eyelashes and dyed locks, she’s become a caricature of herself. A “woman of easy virtue”, perhaps.

Kathy McNeill, Natural Wonders Yikes. I’m getting seasick. Unfortunately, I think that has more to do with my having the picture tilted than it does with this work’s striking sense of realism.

This work is remarkable for its sense of depth, detail and light. It isn’t uncommon for people to create seascapes or landscapes using novelty prints. Often they’ll use sea prints and snip out the little animals, wad up bits of cheesecloth for seaweed, or what-have-you. The result is often charming, if not overly realistic.

By contrast, this scene has been created purely with the laborious snipping of fifty jillion different types of fabric, a sample of which we can see above.

Terry Grant, Verdant
Wouldn’t it have been nice if I hadn’t chopped off a corner of the picture? I suppose it makes a nice change from merely tilting the camera.

This piece is really satisfying, with the greens and the landscape stretching away before our eyes.

She’s included this barn, which gives us a nice sense of scale.

Here I wax philosophical and perhaps a tad snarky. Sometimes, when I look at my own or other people’s work, I think “why?” As in, “Why did this need to be rendered in textiles?” Would the piece have been better or just as good if rendered as a poster or a fabric collage? Does the person simply enjoy using cloth? Is this a “just because” exercise so the person can prove that a world map/giant copy of the Magna Carta/picture of a fork can be rendered in fabric?

And so forth. That’s particularly the case when I see a 60 x 60″ quilt with maybe five stitches in it, and those five stitches add no sense of texture or depth or decorative nuances. There’s nothing wrong with rendering one’s ideas in fabric, especially if the person enjoys the exercise. However, I think it’s important to remember that they don’t HAVE to be.

With this piece, there is no “why”. It’s the metaphorical made literal, fields made as a quilt, with the stitching creating a palpable sense of depth. It could have been created in some other medium, but it really does benefit from being rendered in fiber. From my viewpoint, that makes it even more satisfactory.

Here’s a bit of a non-sequitur, people taking in SAQA’s No Place to Call Home exhibit. The exhibit is traveling the country, focusing on various artists’ statements or reactions to homelessness.

I had a tongue-biting moment when one passerby caught sight of one of the quilts and cooed something like “Oh Hortense! Come here – isn’t that cute?”

The work in question showed a raggedly-dressed woman sitting on the pavement among drifts of garbage.

Mmmm. Okay. We all have our own experiences of things. Biting tongue.

Chris Kenna, Green Fire
This work is an accomplishment on the order of one of those really complex Buddhist sand paintings. That’s a polite way of saying that I admire it and I’d sooner pull out all of the hairs on my head one at a time than attempt anything like it.

The quilt measures 77 x 76″, and it’s full of individually appliqued pieces like these. Holy cow. She must be made of stern stuff.

Yoshiko Miyamoto, Deep Bali, Drawn into the Gamelan’s Sound
A really striking combination of piecing and painting.

In this view, we can see that the figure is painted. The rays of light in the background are rendered in thread.

Patti Morris, H1N1
Brilliant. She’s taken something serious and potentially deadly, abstracted it, and made it beautiful.

Kathy Nida, Here
A really visceral portrayal of breast cancer.

A closeup showing the marauding snakes, a creepy and clever touch.

Kathy Nida, One Paycheck.
This was part of SAQA’s “No Place to Call Home” exhibit.

I haven’t queried Kathy about it, but I’m getting some undertones of prostitution here, as though selling her body is the last option this lady has left. If so, that unfortunately wouldn’t be unusual.

Sylvia Pippen, Sealife Sashiko Sampler
Thank you, Sylvia Pippen, for this demonstration that sashiko can be sophisticated and designerly. No doubt I’m displaying my ignorance, but I’d only ever seen sashiko used in a purely decorative fashion.

A closeup of one of the figures.

Jan Reed, Sea Section
I fell in love with this abstraction of nature.

Not only is her shading subtle and stitching masterful, but her use of beads is organic, enhancing the work. I have a personal bias against beads, so that’s a major admission on my part.

Lyn Sandberg, Saint or Sinner
Oh, okay. I admire the beads and other embellishments in this work, too.

It’s so exuberant, and so different than anything I could ever imagine creating. I enjoy that.

Marianne Williamson, Life is Like Swimming Upstream
Williamson was well represented at the show. I lost count of the number of her pieces I saw, but there were many. Her style is really distinctive.

Judging by the density of this stitching, she must keep the thread and sewing machine companies in business by herself.

Suanne Summers, Goddess of Introspection
Alas, I was unable to find a website of hers to link to.

Is anyone else getting a fun Marlo Thomas/That Girl vibe? Almost forty years have passed, so this character should get along even better in life (assuming she doesn’t have a chiding boyfriend like Don on her back constantly).

Amy Witherow, Teapot Jazz 2
An abstraction of a teapot, drawn with curved rectangles. I would have loved to have seen a grouping of similarly rendered works by this person. My brain just doesn’t work this way, but it’s enjoyable seeing the product of others’ brains.

Farmer Brown accepted into Quilt National

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

A week or so ago, I learned that one of my portrait quilts, Farmer Brown, has been accepted into Quilt National. Given that there are typically in excess of 1,000 entries to the show and jurors have to select 80-85, I was surprised and delighted.

I’m not even sure how one would review that many images, much less pull together a coherent show. I envision something like the scene in Clockwork Orange in which Malcolm McDowell’s character is strapped down, eyes forcibly held open, and made to watch films. Image after image after image, all having to be looked at within a very short interval. Full size, closeup. That comes to over 2,000 images!

One of the most intriguing questions about Quilt National, though, is how the show came about. It’s held in a repurposed dairy barn outside of Athens, Ohio, a town of about 20,000 people. According to information about the very first show,

“… the interior of the building was still very much a barn. The trenches were still in the concrete floors; the stanchions were still in place; there was nothing covering the windows; and even though the cows had been gone for a decade, there were flies everywhere.”

How does one go from scratching one’s head over a defunct dairy barn to offering one of the most visible shows of quilt-as-art in the world? The mind boggles.

Quilt National could have become like any number of small or regional shows: pleasant but unremarkable, with onlookers expressing bewilderment over perceived defilement of the bed quilt form. (“That isn’t like any quilt my granny ever made. I sure wouldn’t want that thing on my bed!”) It could have gone on for a few shows and then sputtered out, only to be supplanted by an antiques flea market or a fly-tying expo.

But it didn’t and it hasn’t. History mentions that Athens, Ohio was “home to numerous talented artists. Included among this group were Nancy Crow, Francoise Barnes and Virginia Randles.”

They and the other organizers and volunteers must have not only been talented, but driven. Having vision is one thing. Pursuing that vision year after year and having a group reach consensus on decisions is quite another.

I’m so glad they did. Because of their vision and the resulting shows and print catalogs, I’ve had many hours of inspiration and diversion. I’ve been intrigued by some of the works, bewildered by some, touched by others. Hopefully my work will likewise intrigue, bewilder, or touch someone. I certainly appreciate the opportunity.


Friday, September 24th, 2010

Under Cover, Diane Marie Chaudiere

As I write this, Studio Art Quilt Associates’ annual art auction is in progress. The auction is a great opportunity to snag a piece of original art, such as the one above, for your home or office. Proceeds help support SAQA’s exhibitions, catalogs and outreach programs.

A number of us have had fun thinking about our fantasy groupings, provided we were able to purchase all of the pieces we wanted. I’m very fond of the lurking frog above, and how about this robot?

Robot Sapien: Agent 10, Kathy Weaver

There’s huge variety in the offerings, so it’s well worth a look. For details on how the auction works, see this page.


Under the category of “My work travels more than I do” (coined by the incomparable Kathy Nida), several of my creations are out on the road.

Leaving has been traveling with SAQA’s “No Place to Call Home Exhibit.” It was last sighted in Pennsylvania, where Lisa Oneill was kind enough to write about it and a few other works shown in the Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza.

The exhibit will also be visiting Mancuso shows in Santa Clara, CA; West Palm Beach, FL; Hampton, VA; Somerset, NJ; and Denver, CO. If you’re in area, please stop by.

Siesta is currently in Houston, TX, awaiting the big IQF show in October.

When I made Siesta, I was focused on the contrast between the sweet, vulnerable, slumbering creature and the hard, cold driftwood it lay on. Sweet creature. Ha!

I have a little water garden in my back yard, you see, and it has some small fish in it to cut down on mosquito larvae. I have had a MONSTROUS time lately with raccoons visiting and wrecking the joint. They wash their nasty little grubs and decomposing grapes and other bits of food and leave the water filthy. They extract fish if they can, and upend plants and soil. The first time this happened, I wondered if a creature of the two-legged variety had deliberately vandalized my water garden. But, no. It’s a four-legged creature with tiny human-like hands, and it has filthy habits.

Well, so be it. Raccoons have to eke out a living too, and it must be difficult in the wasteland that is suburbia. However, next time I’ll be more careful about my subject matter!

The Imp has been accepted into the Pacific International Quilt Festival, so it’ll be shown there in October. Hopefully it will elicit a smile or two. When I feel myself smiling back at a face as I’m working on it, it feels as though the cloth is coming to life; I hope viewers get a sense of that too.

Paisleyfish has permanently left home and will be living with a private collector. May it bring the person joy, or at least the occasional grin.

With a couple of exceptions such as Leaving, I’ve been working on a series of portraits for the last couple of years. They’ve been fairly realistic things, rendered in ink or paint and densely quilted. At some point, I’ll have to post the most recent ones.

It’s been satisfying, but now I’m itching to start a new series. A series with some deranged lunacy.

Stay tuned.

“Siesta” to hit the road

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I seem to be betwixt and between these days. Two pieces are painted and are in the stitching stage (well, only two if you don’t count the stack of Unfinished Objects), several more are in the design stage, and I’ve just gotten a hanging sleeve sewn on Leaving so it can go on tour with SAQA’s No Place to Call Home exhibit.

Today the mail brought the happy news that Siesta, shown above, has been juried into IQF Houston. I guess I’d better get cracking on another hanging sleeve!

New work: Leaving

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Now and then I tell my husband that if I ever do an exhibit on social or environmental issues, it’ll feature some of the most depressing work imaginable. Famine, plague, baby polar bears drowning as the ice caps melt. The title of the exhibit will be something like “Imagine Despair” or “Imagine Hopelessness,” the antithesis of Hollis Chatelain’s thoughtful “Imagine Hope” exhibit. My latest piece, Leaving, seems to bear that out.

Leaving was inspired by the story of a homeless man, Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax. During the early part of 2010, he was stabbed while saving a woman, a stranger to him, from an assailant. Unfortunately, none of the almost 25 people who strolled by as he lay dying on the sidewalk could be troubled to help him. (However, one person did stop to take photos with his cell phone camera.) Thus, the title Leaving refers not only to the figure on the sidewalk, who is gradually leaving his life, but the bystanders who are leaving the scene.

This ghastly event is symptomatic of the plight of homeless people in general: to be homeless is to be invisible and be robbed of one’s humanity. For various reasons, many of us avoid so much as making eye contact with the homeless, avoid acknowledging their existence. Perhaps we fear being approached by strangers, fear getting hit up for money, or we prefer to donate to charity rather than getting involved with individuals. Perhaps, like a former acquaintance, we view the homeless with outright contempt.

The end result is that when we see a homeless person, we mentally make the person invisible. We walk by him (or her) as though he doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, it appears that many of us can blank out a person so thoroughly that he can literally bleed to death on the sidewalk without our realizing or bothering to intervene. What a horror that is.

There is a dual tragedy here, then, beyond the story of the homeless good samaritan who received no help himself. We’re robbing people of their humanity, and when we gain the ability to “unperson” others, we also lose some of our own humanity.

Compositionally, Leaving is a fairly stark piece. The subject matter is so grim that it seemed necessary to get some distance from it, reducing the players to bare outlines and essentials. The figure of the dying man shares some DNA with the chalk outlines of crime scene victims.

It was rendered in watercolor on soy-sized cloth, about which I’ll write another time. Some texture and perhaps another layer of meaning were added by stitching EKG waveforms into the background. As the blood and life ebb out of the person, the nature of the waveform changes, until it flatlines altogether.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the following people plus a couple of others who declined to be named: Andee Wasson, Charlotte Dehgan, Cynthia Wenslow, Katherine McNeese, and Tobi Hoffman. When I asked the somewhat bizarre question of what a dying person’s EKG waveform might look like, they related information from a professional perspective, as well as personal stories of seeing friends and loved ones die. Any errors in rendering are, of course, mine.

Leaving will be part of SAQA’s exhibit No Place to Call Home, traveling to Mancuso Shows from August 2010 through May 2011. Accompanying twenty works by other artists, it will visit Manchester, NH; Philadelphia, PA, Santa Clara, CA; West Palm Beach, FL; Hampton, VA; Somerset NJ; and Denver, CO. Stay tuned for additional details.

New work: Siesta

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Siesta, 45 x 33″, Tsukineko ink and stitching on cotton.

Every few months, I sit down and plan my activities for the next 4-6 months. Projects, development, shows. Experiments which beg to be tried, skills I need to hone. Then I tack the plan up in a nice prominent place, maybe get through step one, and do something else entirely!

That’s a long-winded way of saying that this piece is not at all what I meant to be doing this spring. I meant to do experiments with watercolor on soy-resist cloth. Then I ran across this napping raccoon and was struck by the contrast between its soft fur and the hard driftwood it’s using as a bed. I vaguely recall coming home, opening a drawer, and taking out a pencil and a length of seductive, snowy fabric. My next clear memory after that is jabbing myself with a hand sewing needle and finding a big pile of bumpy, thread-encrusted fabric on the table in front of me. The sides of my hands were covered in ink, the sink was full of purchased hummus containers which had been licked clean, and the calendar said that several months had gone by. “Oh, you’re back!” said my husband, when he saw me inspecting a ring of fur visible beneath my pants cuff, “I hope you don’t mind, but I went ahead and put away the Christmas tree.”

It could be worse. Some folks go on benders and wake up with tattoos or strange piercings. I merely go off the rails with chunks of cotton.

Now, I’ve taken some artistic license with Siesta: in real life, the driftwood was much closer to the color of the raccoon’s fur, so close that the two were harder to distinguish. That could have made an interesting study, staying in a narrower range of hues and concentrating on texture and line. However, I opted to make the wood colder, even introducing some blue, so as to make the raccoon seem more vulnerable. I’m not yet sure what I think of it.

It was fun, but I’m oddly drained and eager to move on. I think I hear some soybeans and some watercolors calling my name.

Stay tuned.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Quilt of Quilts

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Here’s a neat site and activity. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is offering a virtual “quilt of quilts,” to which one can submit one’s pieces. It further allows one to create a virtual quilt on the fly by searching on certain keywords, dates, or colors. I posted three of mine, which should significantly increase the weirdness DNA available!

It’s neat seeing the range and variety of work, which is no doubt part of what the people at the V&A intended.