Ending the year with Fiber for 50

This year I turned 50.  In honor of the day my dear friend Grace made fiber felt cupcakes in my favorite colors, and in the spirit of good design they have a function: pin cushions.

For Christmas she made a knit-felt box.  This to me is magic.  I have the patience to quilt but not to knit.  Again my favorite colors.  What the box reminds me of us a hobbit house.  Grace and I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when we were in junior high and we loved every page. 
Grace also found the coolest earrings that sport glow in the dark rods all the neon colors so I can wear them with anything.  If I could take better photos I would display, but my attempts failed miserably, they are too cool.


In the Making 250 Years/250 Artists

This year has been tremendously busy with things both difficult and wonderful.  

This post is about something wonderful.  In the Making 250 years/250 Artists is a celebration of artists in the 14 County region of Southwestern Pennsylvania Fe Gallery owner, Jill Larson pulled together a show juried by a panel of five (Vicky A. Clark, Joey Kennedy, Janet L. McCall, Katherine Talcott, and Michael Olijnyk) which showcases the areas diverse artistic talent, 250 artists, 250 works of art on display salon style in her gallery and it is wonderful! Kudos to Jill and thank you!

In addition there is a catalog which accompanies the show designed by a fabulous graphic designer Martha Wasik.  The catalog is stunning.

I was honored to be one of the artists chosen.

Recently the show was reviewed by Lissa Brennan in the City Paper.  I was fortunate to be mentioned.  My quilt Three Rivers Arts Festival Catalog 1968 Things We Found in Our Parent's House #2 is in the show.  The original photo image used in the quilt is from that catalogue. Sadly there is no credit given to the photo, it was taken by a medical photographer I like to think Mr. Veder who knew my dad. 

I scanned and printed the photo it flipped it and rotated it.  Here's a close-up:

And the full shot.  Still working on integrating PC and Mac so the full shot, something amiss. 


Is it about the stuff?

This last year has been tremendously difficult going through the contents of my childhood home. I come from a family of collectors, keepers and savers of family history and assorted magical things.  Everything we associate with our childhood.  Things that are now becoming collectable.

Of course none of us can keep it all.  One of my siblings lives in NYC the other in the UK.  I still live in the city where we grew up but I never wanted to live in the house we grew up in I am too independent for that; I need to create my own space.  

But what made it so difficult to go through the contents and get the house ready for sale was my parents designed their house.  It's mid-century modern design; in the suburbs, with alot of land not necessarily well suited for any of us, perfect for my parents.

You learn alot about yourself when you go through your family's belongings.  My mother died 18 years before my father and as we went through things she came back to me so vividly.

I learned how lucky I really am to have had such amazing parents, to be in this family as tough as we sometimes are as opinionated.  We think about things we do things we make things and we laugh at things.

Yet in many ways I am tormented about what we left behind for the estate sale, or what went to auction.  Did we keep the important things?  Not the "valuable" things but what has great significance to our family, who we are now and who we once were, who we will be.

I have been working on a series of things we found in our parent's house.  

Here's something we found that we couldn't keep so instead a photo: 



Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh

What an incredible last few months it has been which is why I have neglected the blog for so long. This has been my year to co-chair exhibitions.  Spring into summer it was the The Associated Artists 98th Annual Exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum, juror John Carson.

What a time it's been. My siblings and I had to go through the contents of our childhood home and decide what to keep and what to let go of, a terribly difficult and intense process. 

Then I got married the high point of the year. 

Now I am co-chair with Laura Tabakman for Making Connections the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. It opens today November 14th and runs through January 25, 2009 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts .  

What a treat this experience has been.  Our juror was Nancy Davidson who makes incredible sculpture from inflatable weather balloons.  She uses humor to explore cultural issues, brilliantly I might add. Her work can be found on . Nancy's lecture on her work and discussion of her process was fascinating.  Spending the day with her through the jury process (work on site) was an incredible learning experience.  

For both of my co-chair gigs I have had the privilege of working with thoughtful and talented artists.

I was fortunate to have my piece My Dad's Pad's Things We Found in our Parent's House #1 chosen for the exhibit.
My father was a prominent physician who died in 2006.  I did a photo transfer onto fabric of his blank prescription from his prescription pad.  Each prescription is something he used to say often, quilted, and embellished. 


Back on Track

After a long hiatus I am writing again determined to be more disciplined. Working towards understanding the benefits of a blog and maintaining a log of my thoughts in a public way.

Like all of us I got overwhelmed with activity. For me I am a co-chair of the Associated Artists 98th Annual Exhibition at the Warhol Museum. What an adventure. I am learning a tremendous amount but it is unbelieveably time consuming. Today I realized I have a little over two weeks to finish my own piece, the fabric I plan to use on the back only just arrived today. Sometimes I work best under pressure.

In addition I am working on a commission which didn't go together quite as easily as I anticipated. A patchwork of sweaters and sweatshirts backed with microsuede. Seemed like a good idea at the time, using the correct needle essential but only one out of two machines would do it, my Bernina.

Last night I attended a lecture given by Nancy Crow who has a show opening tonight at the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University 55 quilts 1988 - 2008. I have never heard Nancy Crow speak. She is a force and I am mulling over many thoughts. I am sure my thoughts will gel once I have seen her work in person. Prior to now I have only seen one of her pieces in the flesh. Mary Thomas wrote a thoughtful article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The Three Rivers Arts Festival is running. I have a piece in Icing on the Cake Pittsburgh 250 Happy Birthday Celebration at Wintergarden in PPG Place. I was surprised and delighted to discover that Mary Thomas chose it for advertising in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I didn't have time to shoot it but I have posted what the paper ran so I had to scan.


The Studio

I have been consumed with massive organization of the studio. It corresponds with a special edition from the publishers of Quilting Arts Magazine about studio re-organization. Helpful to look at to be sure, quite timely.

Until now I have always looked at maintaining some kind of order in the studio as a necessary evil second to what I create within it. But as I grow in my art making I have come to understand it is much more important than just a space in which I create quilts. It's not an office it's a studio which needs to inspire as much as anything.

My studio is on the third floor and is attic-like with slanted roofs. It is away from everything and a refuge. Although I live in the city so the direct view is out of the windows to the house next door the indirect view is to the backyard wooded area. It gets a lot of light.

Until now I have paid little attention to how I use this space. Over the years I have rearranged furniture and the like. Determined the best place for the sewing machine and added fabric storage. But I realized that when my father was diagnosed with cancer it became the create work when can, dump and run space. I had no idea how out of control it was. I became paralyzed to create within it.

I have ordered new cabinets, organized tools and supplies at least to various areas, recycled more paper than I care to admit, purged yards of fabric to give to children's programs found my checkbook and continue to consider improvements to the space. It's exhilarating. My design wall has always been a floor below in the extra bedroom we call the forbidden room because our cat Ilya likes to claw it. I may have figured out a way to incorporate it on the third floor which will make it much more conducive to intuitive design, everything will be in one place, currently I take piles of fabric downstairs to audition.

The walls are white but much of the furnishings are color, bright. For me it has to be fun, 60's bright, like my art. Photos another post I'm still getting the hang of posting them and I get frustrated.

I think part of my enthusiasm is a result of my artistic growth and seeking to develop a way of working, to establish a rhythm of working and the space I work in has to facilitate that. It doesn't need to be huge although that would be nice, it needs to function so that I am not looking for things but have immediate access to things. Or see something to spark something in me.

I have been thinking that my work is too thought out, too planned. I need to experiment but to do that I need to feel uncluttered I felt trapped in the clutter and trapped in my thoughts.

I think it gets down to moving up to the next level of seriousness about my art.


Fiber Art: Thread from Body to Soul Show

April 5, 2008 was the opening
night for the
Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh member's show Fiber Art: Thread from Body to Soul.

The exhibit was juried by gallery owner Joy
Borelli-Edwards. Joy Borelli-Edwards has been in the business of art for over 20 years and recently moved from the North Hills into the Lawrenceville section of the city. The gallery space is lovely. In addition to the gallery the building also has studio space for rent. Additional information about the gallery and the award winners can be found at be galleries.

The photos I have posted are compliments of Brent Ruka who had the foresight to bring a camera. I ran out of the house without one. Brent's piece "Husband Cloned" is fabulous! I don't have a shot here but she received an honorable mention and it can be seen on Joy's website honorable mention page 1.

The evening was an overwhelming suc
cess. Word has it that over 400 people attended the gallery was mobbed!

In addition to the variety of fiber art the
Education and Outreach Committee of the Guild headed by Amber Coppings partnered with the MGR Foundation in Lawrenceville to create fiber art with young people from Lawrenceville. Their work is hung in the lobby space of the building. I will blog on that when I return to show I was busy helping with the reception and didn't get a good look at the exhibit.
The lobby was packed with people as well, that's where the food and wine was. What's very cool is WYEP radio collaborated with MGR Foundation to record the children's stories.

The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh is well known for Fiberarts International this amazing group of which I am so pleased to be a member, does a phenomenal job, not just with the International but with every exhibit and the promotion of fiber arts.
Click here to see all of the work piece by piece in the show.

Photos: Top photo Tina Brewer can be seen in the yellow hat talking with Adrienne Heinrich in front of Atticus Adam's "Night Meadow", a prize winner. In the next photo the woman looking at Francine Morison's quilt "California Zinnias". In the next photo a couple is standing in front of Shawn Quinlan's "TheThree G's" which received an honorable mention. The next photo a woman is standing in front of Millie Barnes "Starry Splendor." Finally our guild President, Desha Jaramaz, is talking to someone in front of Peggy Relich's quilt "Nine Stars."


More Fabric Collage Workshop

I am very far behind on my posts. Not part of my plan I intend to post twice a week.

And sew...I have more photos
from Adrienne depicting the students we assisted and their work during Tina Brewer's Fabric Collage Workshop. This workshop was made possible through the Visual Arts Career Orientation Program at the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.

This group of high school students was from the Carrick School District.

What a great group.


Fabric Collage Workshop: Tina Brewer

I was delighted and honored to be asked to assist with a fabric collage workshop taught by one of my favorite quilt artists and mentor Tina Brewer. Tina creates story quilts. She brought four quilts with her to the workshop for inspiration and reference. I wish I could direct you to her website, but sadly she doesn't have one. But I can direct you to publications and for this post Threads of Faith by Carolyn Mazloomi and Patricia C. Pongracz. One of the quilts Tina shared with her students was There Are No Mistakes (photo in Threads of Faith). What better choice for exploring art, fabric, creativity and self-expression. It's an awesome piece.

Anyway, Adrienne Heinrich and I were her assistants. We had two days of classes two different groups. The students were high school students. And the work they created was inspiring. Tina is a wonderful teacher her enthusiasm is infectious. The students dove into piles of fabric as Tina brought something for
everyone, they cut, stitched, used wonder under collaged, and the day was finished practically before it began. I think I learned as much if not more than the students did.

Photos provided by Adrienne, I wish I had thought to bring my camera. I was most impressed by how the students jumped right in no hesitation, completely spontaneous, what I strive for when I work and rarely achieve.

My role was to help with quilting, got a little carried away. It was a tremendous opportunity I hope to do more. I have a great fondness for teenagers. A very successful two days made possible by the VACOP Program through the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.


The Quilter's Catalog by Meg Cox

I have to begin with an admission of bias about this book. My sister, Barbara, is the copy editor.

But, I am so impressed with it, I had heard just bits and pieces about the volume of the material and the size of the undertaking of the book which is massive. I was eager to read the results. No disappointment.

Meg Cox, the author, is a very good writer. Her enthusiasm about the subject is infectious. The book is divided into sections quilt history, who quilts, why we quilt, with what we quilt, how we quilt, how we learn to quilt, who are some of the quilt gurus, how to finish the quilt. Every section is so interesting. Although I am familiar with alot of the material I am enjoying reading Meg's presentation.

I haven't finished it yet, and do tend to skip around a bit. Obviously it is a resource and not meant to be read sequentially but as you need. It's over 500 pages. But if I were new to quilting and trying to understand how to get involved, this book covers everything. To have in one volume the information on all the major quilt shows and what to expect if you attend, for a class or otherwise is fabulous. Meg thinks of everything.

If you are a member of the quiltart email list as I am and have been for years. You will read quotes from many listers whose posts you have read over the years.

For me the most valuable section so far is about sewing machines mid-arms and long arms. Terrific resource to help anyone make an informed decision about this type of purchase,complete with links to internet sources to learn more. I didn't understand the difference between a mid-arm and long-arm, I sort of guessed and now I get it.

Ok I am biased, but even so I recommend anyone who quilts, young or old to purchase this book. It is a delight and a reminder of what a wonderful community the quilt world is, how exciting it is to be a part of it, how much more there is to learn and what wonderful opportunities exist within it.


HBO Documentary The Gates

HBO recently aired a documentary on the Gates which was installed in Central Park February 12 - 27, 2005. This is a chronicle of how Christo and Jeanne-Claude were able to see their artistic vision realized.

documentary is fascinating you get a sense of the magnitude of the project and all the difficulties they faced. In particular you get a real appreciation for what is involved in the creation of public art that must be approved by various members of city government and the community. Particularly interesting is that the project is proposed at no cost to the city and still it is not approved until 2003.

The filmmakers do a fabulous job of editing the various meetings and interviews of the key people in NYC to tell the story, which begins in 1979. It is NYC and everyone has an opinion, but you realize that this would be true in any city. They also interview people on the street before it is installed as well as once it is in the park. They film the construction of it and depict the choreography of the installation and subsequent unfurling of fabric panels. It is breath taking, and exhilarating even on film. What a celebration of the city, one gentleman says that it gives "a sense of hope and cheerfulness. It feeds the soul."

The views of it are numerous and glorious in all types of weather. The way the fabric billows in the wind and the sound that it makes.

But what I particularly loved is Christo's explanation of why he created the work:

"The most essential part of all our projects coming from a former communist country, I will never, never do something for some reason. I will do only these because I like to do it. I have unstoppable urge to do this project, they are absolutely irrational, irresponsible without any justification this project has only happened because artists like to have them."

Unfortunately I was unable to see The Gates in person, but my sister lives there
and took these photographs.

Enjoy and watch the documentary if you can.


Nick Cave

Last week I went to the Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District of Pittsburgh to see Nick Cave's Soundsuits.I love his work! This was the first I had the seen the Soundsuits. Cave scours thrift stores and the like for patterned, sequined, beaded dresses, skirts, clothing, whatever strikes his fancy and creates magic from these recycled materials.

I am drawn to Cave's work for a number of reasons. Primarily because of his history as a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater so his work always has a theatrical quality which appeals to me. His Soundsuits are intended to be worn and many are used in his performance pieces. The sounds they make are incredible coupled with how the various materials move with the dancer.

Cave's utilization of pattern, color and design is a delight. The way he mixes and matches intense colors and patterns references African textile design merged with a contemporary
fashion design twist. He makes playful reference to kitsch and asks you to question, what is art vs. fashion, what is costume, adornment, the need to decorate ourselves and set ourselves apart and maintain distance from one another.
Just love it!


Woman Made Gallery

More on my visit to Chicago. A bit last minute but the motivation to go to Chicago was to see one of my quilts Unchained? in a show The Commercial Woman juried by Colette Gaiter. The show was rich and varied, very impressive. As always seeing it on line didn't begin to do it justice.

The top photo is of Unchained? from the back of the gallery towards the street. The photo beneath it is the view upon entrance. My piece was hung beautifully and caught the eye right away. It was the first time I had seen it hung as I intended. It hung in a library for 3 months but had to be supported by a free standing frame. The library show was fabulous, it generated alot of discussion about art and quilts, what is a quilt?

Back to Chicago I was taken with the space.
The gallery fills with natural light on a sunny day. I had the opportunity to meet one of the board members Margo Jeanchild who is delightful and very enthusiastic about the gallery. Our good friends Skip and Cindy joined us for the week-end. I don't know Chicago very well but I am eager to return. A great time was had by all. Check out Woman Made Gallery


Gordon Matta-Clark

I just returned from Chicago, there to see a piece I had at the Woman Made Gallery, fabulous gallery.

While there we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was completely absorbed in the retrospective of Matta-Clark (the show originated at the Whitney). What is impressive about the exhibit is the sense you get of how his mind worked. He used theories and concepts, from the environment, architecture (he is trained in architecture), alchemy, outdoor survival strategies and art and used the technology of the times to create his work. He created architectural interventions. He pulled apart preconceived notions of space. He sliced and diced, buildings, and took photos of the process which he then put back together in an entirely different scheme. He documented each of his building cuts on film. And what he created is oddly beautiful. He forces you to look at buildings, in a whole new way.

What is striking is the energy in all of his work from his sketchbooks to the physical work expended in cutting into buildings whatever the material. His drawings are particularly fascinating he's a whirling dervish with his use of symbols, rather graffiti like, or hieroglyphics, playful and graphic almost cartoonish.

His use of word play in everything what a fascination he had with words and a devilish sense of humor (anarchitecture for example). How he called attention on a massive scale to the issues of decay and poverty in our cities, NYC, as the example. How he recycled materials to consider in construction now seems ahead of his time sadly he died in 1978. Imagine what he would have done had he lived.

And the irony of viewing his work in a museum, examining the cut outs, taking it all out of the environment he chose to work in.



Working in a Series

What does it mean to work in a series?
Is it an exploration of one design element, or color through repetition? Play with it six ways to Sunday until you are either bored of the design and execution or exhausted all possibilities? Is it even possible to exhaust all the possibilities?

When I work in a series it is concept based. I take an ideological concept and develop it visually so the pieces in the series aren't necessarily related through design although they may be. And then I exhaust the concept until I have nothing more to say.

Still a series.