Art 140: Intro to Sculpture Quilt

This quilt was the result of an assignment I made for a sculpture class I took in 2017. I wrote about that class here. The assignment was to make something interactive. I was inspired by Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings to make these blocks that my fellow students could arrange in a grid. I invited them to think about how the colors were interacting and about creating a compelling pattern. It was interesting to watch them work on it together, and I think they had fun. My professor liked it. He wanted to keep playing even after the piece was done.

I finally pieced these blocks together as my classmates arranged them. Gina Pina quilted this for me. Mitch Hopper took final pictures. It measures about 70” square.

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Two Quilts for Two Sisters

In June of 2018 my family took a dreamy vacation to Paris and Southern France. We shared the second part of our trip with old friends and their two kids, and found that adding these humans to our time in the French countryside made it all the more magical.

These friends happen to live in Barcelona, so we don’t see them often. Before we said goodbye I made sure to ask the girls their favorite colors. Lili said black and Josie said rainbow.

When I got home from France I immediately started working on these, using templates that I had made for one of my art classes earlier in the year. I’ve been trying to use fabric from my stash this year instead of purchasing more. I was able to make both of these 100% from my stash, which felt great.

I’m finally about to give these to their recipients, so I hope favorite colors haven’t changed too much in the past year! I put snails on the backs because of a walk we took one night. French countryside snails everywhere. A beautiful memory.

Josie’s quilt

Josie’s quilt

Josie’s quilt, detail

Josie’s quilt, detail

Josie’s quilt, back

Josie’s quilt, back

Josie’s quilt, back detail

Josie’s quilt, back detail

Lili’s quilt

Lili’s quilt

Lili’s quilt, detail

Lili’s quilt, detail

Lili’s quilt, back

Lili’s quilt, back

Lili’s quilt, back detail

Lili’s quilt, back detail

These were quilted for me by Nikki Maroon. Mitch Hopper took photos for me. They measure about 60” square.

A Beautiful Faraway Place I'll Never Go

in progress

in progress

When I made this quilt it didn’t have any special meaning. I was having fun playing with colors, remembering the color theory and technique I had learned in a workshop with Tara Faughnan. I crowd sourced for title ideas because nothing immediately came to mind. A friend said it reminded her of photos she had seen of Cinque Terra Italy at sunset. After looking at the images myself, I had to agree.

The idea of the world’s most beautiful places is tinged with sadness for me at the moment. I used to think I’d reach the age of retirement and then happily go traveling the globe with Nate. Now that we know more about how severely climate change will affect our lives in the next decades, I’m realizing that will probably always remain a dream. Not only will flying become an extravagance beyond the reach (and outside the moral code) of most people, but many beautiful coasts and places around the world will simply be gone. I think it’s important to put people first and I am hoping (and voting) that our leaders will make choices that minimize the damage already done and prioritize human survival. I know it’s a selfish impulse to grieve my lost leisure travel, but I’m taking a minute to be sad about all the places I’ll never get to see with my own eyes.

in progress

in progress

completed top

completed top

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go, back

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go, back

label detail

label detail

quilting detail

quilting detail

This quilt is good for a twin size bed, measuring 65” x 80”. I quilted it on my domestic Juki. Mitch Hopper took final pictures for me.

Two Mini Quilts

This quilt was made for a swap between my guild and the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild. My partner didn’t give me any requests, just told me to make whatever my heart desired. So I used scraps from a previous project (my Good Bones mini quilts from my drawing final) and the design was loosely inspired by the Arne Quilt by Rossie Crafts. I did my own quilting on this one and was pretty happy with the outcome.

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And another mini for a swap. This time it was a swap within my own guild. Again, my partner left it pretty wide open in terms of what she likes, so I tried to make something that reflects what I see in her: bright, vibrant, energetic. I had fun improving my way through this mini. My partner liked it and it turned out to be a parting gift, as she soon after moved from Chicago to Milwaukee.

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Art 112: Introduction to Drawing

The second art class I took at UIC was an intro to drawing class. Once again, I was incredibly nervous. I can’t draw. No, I really can’t draw. I have no sense of proportion or perspective. I have no natural gift for it. But I signed up for the course with a teacher who was highly recommended by two friends, and that made all the difference. My teacher Professor Frid opened my eyes and my mind so much. I learned that what I thought of as “good drawing” came from a tradition of white, European males, and that there were so many other traditions of drawing around the world and through history. Professor Frid also encouraged us to experiment with all kinds of mark-making techniques. And so I tried not to worry about how I “can’t draw.” I brought my textile skills, my curiosity, and my willingness to learn to the work. It was a good class, a challenging class, and here are the projects I made that semester:

For our first assignment, we filled our sketchbooks with lines we observed in the world. Then we cut those lines out of white paper and added them to a black background to make a composition. I decided to let my lines come away from the page instead of gluing them completely down. I used little stitches to secure them.

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Assignment two was to do some contour drawings of an object (I chose a rock with a hole in it), and then to render several versions, in charcoal and in paper cut outs. I did a fifth version in fabric, using a reverse applique method.

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Next we had a self-portrait assignment. We had to draw our faces with pencil at least 12 times. I can’t overstate how uncomfortable I was during the drawing process of this assignment. I hated all of my efforts, struggling mightily against my perfectionism. I never was happy with any of the drawings of my face, but it did make me happy to slice them up and make them into a paper quilt.

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For our midterm projects we were asked to make two pieces featuring two animals morphed together. Here is my first, in which I drew a raven and a scorpion. Then I did an embroidered panel over the top. There is a story here about old age, waiting for death, and the administrative tasks at the end of life. I didn’t feel very confident about this piece, and it was very hard to photograph.

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For the second animal-morph piece, I asked my daughter her favorite animal and she immediately said mantis shrimp, followed closely by water bear. I decided to throw in a cat because she has historically loved them. I started thinking about boxing, and boxing robes, because the mantis shrimp has the most forceful punch in the natural world. I was thinking about my daughter, and what she might encounter as she navigates healthcare as a trans individual. I also think of my friends with chronic illnesses, and how they have to fight for all the care they need. The paper exam gown is appliqued with tissue paper to represent fragility and vulnerability, while simultaneously referencing the strength and resilience of a fighter.

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For the next assignment, we drew scenes from a conservatory, and another interior space (I chose my daughter’s bedroom) and then used the drawings as collage materials. Each piece had specific requirements. 1. Combine the conservatory and interior drawings. 2. Combine the conservatory and interior drawings; include one or more of the live-model drawings we did in class. 3. Pick one of the two collages and draw it again but with one material (I used oil pastels), and incorporate a self portrait. Of course there is always room for improvement, but I was pretty happy with these. They might have been my favorite pieces of the semester. My kids liked them so much they asked me to frame them and hang them in their rooms, so that was fun.

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For our final project of the semester, we got to choose our own topics. My theme was the poem Good Bones by Maggie Smith, which looks at the duality of hope and realism. I was also inspired by some paintings and drawings by Paul Klee. The shorthand depicts words from the poem. It doesn’t have much to do with the project other than that I love the look of it (I previously used it in my Train Track Pennies quilt — I associate it with my grandma). In one piece I wanted to show a dilapidated house in a beautiful setting, and in the other I wanted to depict a perfect house in a toxic atmosphere. I felt these two images illustrated the push and pull present in the poem.

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This was an exhausting semester. I was really inspired by my teacher to work hard and try new things. I made some work I’m really proud of. This class really made me confront some of my artistic insecurities, and I survived with my creativity and confidence intact.