Last year, my Army Wife apron, Home Fires was part of Support and Defend, an exhibit at the VETS gallery in Rhode Island devoted to art by military service members and their families. That show went well and much of the artwork went to a follow-on exhibit There and Back Again. I am excited to announce that thanks to the tireless efforts of curator Paul Murray, the show has been expanded as Journeys Onward and will be on view at Hygienic Art Gallery in New London, CT from April 29 through May 27th, 2017. My apron will be joined by The Other Woman, shown above, Suck It Up, Absence II, and Unravelling (all of which can be found under The Army Wife within the Galleries tab above). It’s an honor to represent the spousal side of the military family, and I’m especially thrilled that these artworks get the opportunity to go out into the world again and speak for me — hopefully sparking conversations.
It’s almost here! The day after tomorrow, I’m packing up my show and on Wednesday I’ll drive to North Carolina to set it up. There are all kinds of events planned around the event, to include two receptions, a talk at a major sponsor’s place, hosting a SAQA regional meeting, a special military day (which sadly, I won’t be able to attend), and what is sure to be a fantastic exhibit with my textile art, photos by Hunter Rudd, and selected pieces from the Combat Paper project.
Homefront & Downrange
June 5th – July 10th, 2015
Arts Council of Moore County
482 East Connecticut Avenue
Southern Pines, NC 28387
Using art as a catalyst for conversation, reflection, discovery, and education, HOMEFRONT & DOWNRANGE will take a deep and personal look at many aspects of military life:
An Army wife’s story through narrative textiles by Kristin La Flamme; A soldier’s story through photographs by Hunter Rudd; The story of returning home from combat through artwork selected from the Combat Paper Project; The story of military children through artwork selected by the Military Child Education Coalition.
Last weekend I drove up to New York to hang my exhibit Home Fires at Etui Fiber Arts. We had a reception on Sunday which was unfortunately quiet — probably because of the impending storm and the Superbowl. The show looks fantastic though. The space is light and bright and shows off my work so well. The great news is that the show has been extended and will be on view at Etui until March 14th! We will have an artist talk on the 14th as well as a workshop by my friend Natalya Aikens, and an opportunity to just hang out and work on stitched or knitted projects. So, if you missed the opening reception, please join us for a closing party in March! And, of course, one can see the show any time between now and then.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also say that Natalya was instrumental in helping me hang this show. She’s awesome. Plus, I got to hang out with her all week-end which is great. We went to the Katonah Museum of Art to see their current exhibit Line Describing a Cone, which was quite fascinating. It’s great to go to an exhibit with a friend and be able to discuss what we’re experiencing. We both really liked a very organic piece made with zip ties, and I liked a sculpture defined by light, while she was entranced by an installation with mirrors. For most of the weekend (and bonus snow day) we talked and talked and talked, and, as happens every time we’re together, I came away with an inspired list of things to work on and new enthusiasm for my work. Artist play dates are great and I am so thankful that I have a group of wonderful artist girlfriends who all inspire me every day. I look forward to returning in March.
I love this quilt. I think it’s funny, I think it’s snarky, I think it’s topical, and I think it’s well made. I am proud of it.
So now what? As an artist I kind of feel like my work is a conversation, so it’s not really complete until someone besides me has a response to it. I very much want this giant cat to go out into the world and talk to people.
Zeitgeist is my “fan art” inspired by the Grumpy Cat internet meme. I combined the cat with the styling of Louis Wain, a Victorian era illustrator who’s large eyed cats and zany patterned backgrounds were thought to be an expression of his mental illness. To me the combination of Grumpy Cat’s pessimism and Wain’s schizophrenia perfectly expressed the current mood of the US. To embody this in a quilt large enough to wrap one’s self in further pushed the wackiness of the concept. Yes, comfort yourself with your crazy cynicism.
My first impulse was to submit it to IQF Houston’s annual World of Beauty show in 2013. The Houston show responds well to representational, bright and bold work. Besides, between Quilt Market and Quilt Festival, that’s a lot of eyes on any quilt in the show and that’s a great conversation. Unfortunately, I paid a long arm quilter to quilt Zeitgeist which means it was work for hire and thus disqualified from entering.
So, I settled for the New England Quilt Festival and Pacific International Quilt shows. They were OK, but not really who I thought my target audience was. These were, in general, not the crowd to get excited about an internet inspired, bold fabric using, subtle commentary kind of quilt. Mostly, I think people wondered if this was just a portrait of my cat.
For the sake of contrast and to introduce it to a different audience, I entered Zeitgeist into Art Quilt Elements 2013. Based on the types of work that usually get in, I was pretty amazed that the quilt was even accepted. That piece had no business being at Art Quilt Elements given what is normally accepted and awarded prizes, and yet it won Best of Show. It was the connection to current culture that spoke to the jurors. Yet I wouldn’t have guessed that it would win anything when I entered it.
All along though, I was waiting for the call for entries for the 2015 QuiltCon (biennial) show. The Modern Quilt movement that puts on the show blossomed online. It markets itself to the youthful quilter or at least the quilter with a “fresh” aesthetic. Bold prints are popular amongst many Modern Quilters. Their quilts are meant to be used, not to go on the wall — though there’s plenty that are wall sized. And while I don’t believe that Zeitgeist exemplifies Modern Quilting (and that’s why it was rejected from the Modern Quilt Showcase in Houston), I did believe that the internet surfing, meme generating, bold pattern using, hip, younger show-goers at QuiltCon would understand and appreciate my quilt. I thought that could be an audience that would get excited about it and talk with it.
I’ve been processing the rejection from QuiltCon for a few hours now, and the thing that really sticks out to me is just how hard it can be to find one’s audience. I’m not emotionally crushed, just kind of baffled as to where and how I should be showing my work in this vein. My friend Lorie tells me I’m fishing in the wrong stream. I need to look at the Art world. My work may be grounded in the quilt tradition, but the quilt tradition in any of it’s guises is not my audience. I’ve been mulling over the idea of a “Craft the Internet” show. I admit that I’m scared and apprehensive to put on a curator’s hat and do the work required to create a show, but maybe that’s the way to get my work into spaces where it can converse with an appropriate audience.
I took a lot of photos of quilts that were interesting to me in one way or another. They are not particularly good photos, so part of me feels like I am doing a disservice to the makers of those quilts. On the other hand, I know that those who can’t make it to a particular show often enjoy seeing even a part of it vicariously through those who did go. I know that I’m often that person. So, here’s a completely subjective, not at all cohesive or inclusive, handful of quilts that I enjoyed seeing at the Quilt Festival in Houston.
The big draw is IQF’s annual World of Beauty show. It’s the one with the big prizes and about a million categories. The big prize winners were impressive as always and can be seen on IQF’s website. Overall, I tended to like the second place winners best.
Growth by Maria Elkins. I just loved the ovoid shapes and the way the colors gradate from pastel to jewel and the background from dark grey to white. It’s a refreshing change from the currently popular rainbow method of organizing color. I don’t remember which category this was in.
GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz in the Art-Abstract, Small, category attracted me with it’s wild milifiori look. We decided that it was definitely a commitment to a look, and I have to respect that conviction. This may have been in the Embellished category. I like that too — embellished but without the usual glitz.
I found The Messenger by Marlene Shae in the Whimsical category to be utterly enchanting. I love the somewhat folkloric style of the illustration and the fabric choices. I’d love to see an entire book illustrated with quilts like this.
Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred was my favorite in the digital imagery category. There were a few variations on this multiple versions of a single image theme, but I think one was done the best. I appreciate that the ground fabric is patterned and I like the insertion of contrasting fabrics within each image as well as the addition of Flying Geese motifs.
Hudson Trader by Coleen Wise. You can’t go wrong with blue and white. I like how this one seems pretty traditional and basic at first glance, but then you notice the illusion of the spheres and the subtle changes in their size and it just becomes sublime. Well, to me at least.
Somewhat, but not too surprisingly, I absolutely loved the exhibit of 500 Traditional Quilts. There was no photography allowed, so I have nothing to share. There is wonderful, inspiring, and varied work in the collection though so I may have to buy the catalog (along with the catalog for the Walsh collection we saw at the Quilt Museum in La Grange).
Another special exhibit that is always a favorite of mine is Tactile Architecture.
No surprise that her other entry, Rooflines #2, appealed to me too. This one is more derivative of the School of Nancy Crow/Lisa Call, but appropriate and well executed and therefore no less appealing to me.
I couldn’t enter Zeitgeist into the World of Beauty show because I paid for it to be long-arm quilted (entries by more than one person must be collaboration — no work for hire), so I submitted it to the Modern Quilt Showcase for another stab at it being seen in Houston. It was rejected, and so I was curious to see what quilts were ultimately chosen. As I suspected, my cat would not have fit in the exhibit because though it might appeal to a “modern” audience, it does not exemplify Modern quilting. I did enjoy seeing what does exemplify the movement though. Two of my favorites:
Finally, these cheerful mola-style dogs kept jumping out at me from the It’s Raining Cats and Dogs exhibit.
It’s a little hard to explain or wrap up Quilt Festival. It’s big and overwhelming, and I think it’s different for everyone. The first year I attended, it was mostly about curiosity, and a little bit to thank sponsors for supporting my husband’s IBOL project to get sewing supplies to women in Iraq. I was completely overwhelmed and definitely had the feeling that everyone else knew what was going on and I was clueless. The second time I attended was when Twelve by Twelve, the online quilt challenge group i belonged to, had a special exhibit. I had a home base at the exhibit and a bunch of good friends to experience the show with. It was much more fun and I know I got a lot more out of the experience. This year, I went for three reasons: one, I have a piece in this year’s Dinner@8 special exhibit and I wanted to experience being part of that group of ladies; two, it was a great excuse to visit my bestie Deborah and spend time with her; and three, I’m at a point in my “career” where making contacts is important to moving forward and Houston is a good place for that (though I suspect Market is better than Festival, but I’ll take what I can get).
2014 is/was Quilts Inc’s 40th Anniversary so they celebrated with a Ruby Jubilee. Overall I was super impressed with the look of the show. I think there was great use of vertical space and an unexpected variety in ways of exhibiting work. As soon as Market opened a week before Festival, it seemed everyone was posting photos of the dramatic vortex of red and white quilts. I was curious as to whether it was part of the Infinite Variety show that had been in New York a few years ago, or not. Info at the show confirmed that this collection was very much inspired by Infinite Variety.
I’m not entirely sure what this photo exhibit was about. It may just have been to fill some space and/or show that quilting is worldwide. What I did like was that it was floor to ceiling. All that use of vertical space broke up the rows and rows of eye level quilts in a nice, and surprisingly unobtrusive way.
The Tristan Boutis was probably the most inspired exhibit I saw. A boutis is a french style of quilting with only two layers stitched together and stuffing in select spots to accentuate the design. This is a reproduction of a historic boutis showing the story of the knight Tristan. I love the way the glowing display highlights the construction of the textile.
There were a few other plinths too. As a viewer, it was very engaging to be able to see things at eye level, but also to look up and down and way up.
Here’s one side of the Dinner@8 exhibit with my friends Deborah and Sarah discussing the work. The colors story on this wall was gorgeous.
Much fun was had taking selfies in front of my Dinner@8 quilt, Selfie. I was so excited to see “the Donnas” and Cheryl from the Hawaii Quilt guild. Here’s Donna E and I with my quilt.
Deborah and I participated in The Quilt Alliance’s Save Our Stories project and filmed three minute interviews with our quilts. She talked about her piece in the Festival of Art Quilts: Home exhibit and I brought my pop art Zeitgeist to hang just for the interview.
Open Studios is a nice place to rest one’s feet and pick up a few tips and tricks. Betty Busby has charmed a big group of ladies with her paintstick on silk technique (and her bubbly personality, of course). I seem to run into Betty everywhere and it’s always a joy.
In addition to the exhibits and the Open Studios, Houston is all about the vendors. I am sorry to say that I did not budget my time appropriately (maybe my wallet isn’t so sorry) and I did not get the chance to do any of the shopping I wanted to do. I actually had a list of fabrics and threads to check out. I did stop by Aurifil’s promotional booth and won a few spools at their gaming tables. Good fun — these guys know how to maximize promotion. I also took the opportunity to talk long arm options with a half dozen sewing machine vendors. I’m not ready to invest, but it may be the answer to the project I’m brewing.
Of course, the socializing is a big part of the experience, and this year I went with the intention of matching names of people whose work I admire and their real-life selves. Dinner with Deborah, Chawne, and Sarah was so much fun. Not only did we have intelligent and interesting conversation, but we’re compatible on the goofiness scale too. here’s where we see that we all share the ability to roll our tongues.
After Quilt Festival, Deborah and I continued on to La Grange, Texas to the Texas Quilt Museum to see an exhibit from the John Walsh collection. The trip was sooooooooo worth changing my flight and making the detour. John Walsh is the preeminent art quilt collector of the day and I have admired many of the works in his collection. Just about every art quilt I’ve ever looked up to as where I would like to be on my path is owned by John Walsh. It was great to see these pieces in the cloth. Some were surprising in the details and construction that one just can’t tell from a photo. All of them stood up to in person inspection. My favorite was New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer (a new name and quilt to me), and Deborah’s was Tim Harding’s Surf Swimmers (deft use of simple folded and stitched bits of fabric to evoke water scenes).
After the Quilt Museum, we continued on to San Antonio where we watched Deborah’s daughter’s high school band compete. It was quite the spectacle and they won silver in the state championships. All in All I had a fantastic five days in Texas and I definitely look forward to my next fiber art adventure with friends. My next post will be about some of the quilts I saw and liked at the show.
Click on the link above for an overview video by Lisa Ellis. I didn’t take any photos of the artworks, but they can be seen in the video and of course in the catalog and hopefully on individual artist’s blogs.
In conjunction with Art Quilt Elements 2014, Wayne Art Center hosted a SAQA regional symposium and a talk with AQE artists and jurors. The symposium and talk are over, but the AQE exhibit will be up until May 3rd.
I skipped the symposium because it cost money and I already felt like I had spent enough entering the show, paying for shipping of my artwork, driving to PA, and two hotel nights. Besides, My mom and I wanted to see a little of Philly while we were there. But, I am really glad we went to the gallery talk.
One of the jurors was from the art quilt world, which is good for technical insight, trends, and context. The two other jurors were from the greater textile art world, which brings in a fresh view, broader context, and an eye towards artists concerns rather than technical ones. Unfortunately the art quilt juror wasn’t present, but i thoroughly enjoyed hearing what the other two had to say.
These jurors liked large scale. There were no really small artworks in the show, and there were several comments about wanting to see some of the selected art being even bigger. They appreciated good technique but were not nearly as charmed by it as so much of the art quilt world seems to be. The jurors wanted proof of content and intent.
I was struck by a difference between what the jurors saw and what the artists spoke about. In the pieces the jurors wanted to speak about, they saw stories and points of view. They were drawn in by intriguing details (Eleven 3 Thirteen by Marianne Burr and Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt), by mysteries that needed unraveling (Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker, by plays and modulations of color and pattern (Hostas by Jill Ault, Call for Entry by Sandy Gregg). They wanted to be taken on a journey and to have that journey mean something (Anxiety No. 8, David by Judy Kirpich). They liked when there was a provenance (Home at Valley Forge by Lois Charles). They looked for the concept that drove the work.
When the artists spoke about their work, many seemed to focus on their process or technique. It was about arranging fabric until it seemed right, or focusing on details. It was attention to surface design or patterning. Any concept or intent imbued in the work seemed to have been serendipitous. Of course, we didn’t hear from all the artists and there were few that did start with specific intent, and us artists are not always good at explaining our inspirations or motivations on the spot. But I did find the differing points of view to be noteworthy.
Another area to think about, brought up by the jurors, was dimension and breaking the plane. Things could wrap, or move in and out, or just suspend away from the wall.
Context came into play. Thinking more in terms of installation and including other non-fiber elements to further the story. Asking why cloth? What is the best medium for the message? Of course, these are questions I ask myself all the time so I just ate up all that they were saying. I’ve been frustrated of late with the constrictions of many quilt exhibit venues, so this validated my desire to break away from the 4″ sleeve and move out onto plinths or forms, to work extra large, or to just hang away from the wall.
What the jurors liked about my quilt was what it said about our world right now. It’s provenance is here and now in our world of memes and social media. It’s current. They also appreciated it’s visual impact, bold use of color and patterned fabric, and the way the zig zag border became an integrated frame as well as referencing the quilt medium. Things to think about would be what hangs with it outside of a survey show like AQE. What else could I make? Where else would it work? Get it out of the quilt world and into the milieu of pop and other current art. (Although I do think that QuiltCon needs it.)
Some of the pieces that interested me personally:
From further away, Complements by Naomi Adams looks textural and complex. Up close, it’s beyond textural — it’s dimensional. And its also simple. I liked it’s contrasts.
From Stone drew me in with it’s organic shapes and fissures created with denim and dense stitching that modulates the colors. The big surprise was that it was by Hollis Chatelaine who is known for her portraiture.
Diane Firth’s work is pristine as always. Low Tide‘s contrast between sheer tulle and subtly dyed felt is softly serene. Her play of substance and shadow by use of sheers is very elegant.
I enjoyed meeting Benedicte Caneille. She is so friendly and charming. Her work is beautiful too. Benedicte’s Units 27: Sunburst and Julia Pfaff’s Contrast XIII hung next to each other and played off each other’s acid greens, deep blacks, clean construction, and contrast of busy and relatively quiet to a marvelous effect. Kudos to Susan Hirsch for hanging those two together. Fun for me to get to meet Benedicte and to see Julia again to represent Virginia art quilts!
My favorites were Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt and Otaru Winter by Cynthia Vogt. The shapes in Random Thoughts reminded me of Robert Motherwell, but remain in a quilty context, and the quilting itself is fantastically scribbled and patterned. It has to be seen, not described. Otaru Winter is very simple and the most like a traditional quilt in that it is made up of many small white log cabin blocks. But all those blocks are made of silk and the way they are quilted really accentuates the subtle shimmer of the whole piece.
I also liked the way Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Shacker plays with foreground and background. First it looks like interesting pebble-like shapes on a green ground, but then you notice that the shapes are really little windows into a scene in the background and all of a sudden you are looking through them trying to puzzle out the story. This is also one of those rare instances where I like the use of the digital imagery.
Stroke by Lori Lupe Pelish: commercial fabric as paint!
Finally, for Deborah, some statistics:
- 43 quilts in total, chosen from over 600 entries
- Six Figurative (four humans, one robot, one cat)
- Seven that looked like recognizable things
- 30 purely or predominantly abstract
- Nine utilizing digital prints
- Five using repeated quilt blocks
- One constructed of plastic bags, two using Tyvek, one predominantly denim.
- Two artists named Kristin — and we both spell our names the same!