Friday, September 12, 2014

A multi-personality self portrait

A few months ago, PAQA-S (Professional Art Quilters' Alliance - South) held its annual international show.  This year's theme was ARTQUILTSwhimsy.

Those of us who were selected for the show were also given an option to submit a small  (8.5"x11")  self-portrait.  Here's mine:

As you can see, the stamp filter on Photoshop helped me produce 4 black and white "Debbie's" from this photo. 

And then some Photoshop layers magic allowed me to pose each black and white Debbie in front of one of my quilts... here are two of them: 

Tikkun Olam
Pretty in Pink

There was some method to my madness of creating a split personality self-portrait.  It came at a time when discussions of "artistic voice" seemed to be popping up all around me:  people questioning their artistic "intentions," berating themselves for not having artistic "clarity," bemoaning what they saw as scatter-shot experimentation. 

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the value of developing an artistic voice and creating work that has the distinct and unique stamp of a particular artist.  There's something very satisfying about making art that people recognize as belonging to you.   And that doesn't even begin to cover the benefits of exploring, nurturing, maturing, and evolving a technique and a style over time.

Still, discussions like that can awaken the grumbling, curmudgeonly contrarian within me.  Is a singular artistic voice really the be-all and end-all of creativity?  If we strive to be recognizable, how similar should our pieces be?  When does the similarity of pieces make an artistic voice repetitious and boring?  What if we have (*gasp*) many artistic voices?  Is this a personality flaw?

So with my very abject apologies to James Thurber and Dr. Seuss, I offer this little tongue-in-cheek limerick to accompany my portrait.  I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but perhaps it will allow us all to lighten up and give ourselves a break:

Artistic Voices
As artists we’re told that we really should hone
an artistic “voice” we can claim as our own.

But sometimes my voice just won’t sing in one pitch,
that places my work in a singular niche.

There are so many tunes running round in my head
 that I try to express with both needle and thread.

So my thinking’s evolved, though I don't claim it's flawless,
I don’t “sing” with one, I have my own chorus.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

FAO visits Meridian Fibers

Colorful woven scarves by Laura Sutthoff
Susan Brubaker Knapp here. Today, members of Fiber Art Options met to tour a wonderful new facility in uptown Charlotte: Meridian Fibers. It is owned by artist Laura Sutthoff, who has created “a working studio and teaching lab for adults and children.”

 Classes for adults – some a few hours long, and some a few days long – include:
  • Stamp, Print and Foil
  • Knitting 101
  • Painted scarf using soy wax resist
  • Felt and ribbon scarf
  • Dyeing for quilters
  • Dyes and resists
  • Fabric design with digital printing
  • Felted ruffled scarf
Laura has a BFA in Textile Design from East Carolina University, and has designed fabric, owned an interior design shop, painted murals in large office buildings and homes, taught art to 2nd through 5th graders, and printed and designed custom fabrics for the design industry. Her work is just beautiful. She’s teaching classes, and lining up experienced teachers to lead other workshops. This place is just getting off the ground; I’m excited to see how it grows!

Laura with some pillows she’s created for the design industry

Screen printed napkins for sale in Meridian’s shop

Nancy G. Cook, a member of Fiber Art Options, will be teaching an embroidery class at Meridian soon. I’m also exploring the possibility.

Want to go?
Meridian Fibers
2304 Dunavant Street
Charlotte, NC 28203

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Up and Away!" exhibited at Texas Quilt Museum

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. My piece Up and Away! is part of a new exhibition – An Invitational Flutter of Butterfly Art Quilts – at the Texas Quilt Museum. It opens today, and runs through June 29. This exhibition features 17 quilts selected by the museum curator, Dr. Sandra Sider. FAO member Nancy G. Cook also has a piece in this exhibition. A juried exhibition – Butterflies and Their Beautiful Kin – which will show at the same time, contains 38 works. 

The Texas Quilt Museum, which opened in November 2011, is a little gem of a museum housed in two historic 1890s buildings in La Grange, in central Texas. Its goal is to “recognize and celebrate the art and beauty of quilts, the creativity of their makers, and the continuing contributions of quilt making to history and culture.” Karey Bresenhan and Nancy Puentes, founded International Quilt Association with their mothers, are co-founders of this museum. I am so honored to have a quilt there!

My piece features a three-dimensional butterfly soaring in a meadow. The butterfly is made of fabric and thread; the background was wholecloth painted.

“Butterflies symbolize rebirth and metamorphosis. This exhibit shows how modern artists are reworking quiltmaking, contributing new techniques, processes, and concepts to the historical continuum of quilts,” says Sider.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'll be hosting “Quilting Arts TV”

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I am thrilled to announce that I have been named as the next host for “Quilting Arts TV. ” Pokey Bolton, who founded Quilting Arts magazine in 2000, has decided to step down as host. Pokey became
Chief Creative Officer at Quilts Inc. in Houston, TX, in January 2012, but continued as host on the show through 2013. In total, she helped to produce more than 150 episodes of “QATV.”

with Pokey on the set of QATV to shoot Series 1300
I’ve been a guest on four series of the show, and I adore it, and the people who produce it. I will be working with Helen Gregory, Editorial Director of Interweave’s Quilt and Paper Group, and Vivika DeNegre, editor of Quilting Arts magazine. What a wonderful opportunity and challenge to share my passion and love for this amazing world of art quilting. Not many people get to work with such a creative, fun, good-hearted group on something they love this much; I am so very lucky. 

With Helen and Vivika, I hope to continue the wonderful legacy that Pokey started, and to take the show in new directions as the quilting world evolves. I’ll look forward to bringing back popular guests, and introducing viewers to fresh new faces in the worlds of art quilting, contemporary quilting, and surface design. 

with Helen Gregory (left) and Vivika DeNegre in September
About “QATV:”
“Quilting Arts TV” is a national PBS television program that brings top artists from the world of art quilting, the modern quilt movement, mixed media and surface design into the studio to share what they do and how they do it. Topics include free-motion embroidery, quilting and thread sketching, fabric collage, quilted home décor, quilting with alternative fabrics and mixed media, and innovative surface design techniques.

Current and past seasons are available on DVD.

Check your local PBS station’s listings for program times or visit