I work in fiber, mostly the quilted form, for love of the materials and the processes. Quilts carry an innate emotional charge, recalling the comfort of a warm cover on a cold night and art quilts benefit from that subliminal connection. Many fiber processes involve repetitive actions: throwing a weaving shuttle again and again, knitting a garment stitch by stitch, or laying down rows of quilting stitches. The repetitive process used to develop the design is itself meditative and soothing.
For almost twenty years I’ve explored pattern – constructed, printed, or dyed – trying to understand how pattern works, how to make it surprising to the viewer (and sometimes the quilter). I’m drawn to the imperfections of a pattern drafted by hand. Think of nature‘s patterns, made of multiple units, all slightly different – leaves, waves, grass blades. The slightly wavering edges of Bridget Riley’s hand-painted canvases are appealing to me. Had she worked digitally the edges would be perfectly smooth, but she choses to paint them by hand. As I build a pattern I strive for perfection, but I love the inevitable small variations. I love the small mistakes, which betray the presence of the human hand and brief lapses of concentration.
I tend to work in series where one quilt leads to the next. As I’m working on a piece, I’ll wonder what would happen if I changed one design element. The thought often leads to a new quilt and then to the next one.
Ideas for a series come from a variety of places. A process learned in a workshop will intrigue me and I’ll go off and play with it. For example, one series arose from a workshop at the Haystack school in Maine. I had always wanted to go there and when I could, I signed up for whatever fiber workshop was being taught that week. It was Chunghie Lee, teaching about Korean pojagi wrapping cloths. Whatever they were. When I signed up, I didn’t know. I was smitten with the construction technique and spent a few years exploring what could be done with it. Thus the “Transparent Quilt” series.