There were quite a few figurative quilts in the show. Now, I’ve got issues with the portrayal of the human form in quilt art. It’s a tough one — maybe because there is limited use of people in the vernacular of quilts. Sunbonnet Sue, Baltimore album silhouettes, and cookie cutter style people in story quilts: that’s about it. So, I took photos of some of the quilts which I thought handled the human form well. One of my new favorites, but who’s work was in a no-photo section, is Annie Helmericks-Louder. Another one I like is Susan Shie who has her own very personal visual language, which I appreciate.
Back to the show.
A popular way to translate portraiture into fabric is to break the shading down into defined shapes. Jenny Bowker (who’s White Sands looked amazing at the show) does this exceptionally well. Nadine Sanders and the Hanging By a Thread Quilt Group used this technique too:
This work reminds me of European travel posters of the early twentieth century. Maybe I just have a thing for Japanese quilters.
I love the work of Pamela Allen:
“Eve Under Scrutiny II” by Pamela Allen.
Look at the babies in her belly!
This was in the O Canada exhibit, but Pam had several other quilts in other exhibits as well.
I liked how Leslie Gabriëlse used fabric, paint AND stitch to make his dancers. I’ve always liked his collage style.
“Color Comes to Back of Beyond” by Janice Munzberg and friends is one I couldn’t quite figure out. On one hand I don’t think the people are drawn very well, but on the other hand, the whole thing is so wonky that it looks like it could be intentional. I liked the gimmick of the figures “entering” the quilt and the story is charming, so I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt.
You can’t broach the subject of the figure in quilts without mentioning Hollis Chatelaine.
My favorite is an older piece titled “Burkinabe Mother” in which she made her stitched portrait on fabric from the subject’s country. To me, that’s the answer to “why not draw or paint on paper?”