Monday, March 14, 2016

Robin Hawkins

Robin Hawkins has been a crafter and an artist since childhood. She has been sewing since she was about five years old when “Granny taught her how.” Robin has a degree in art from Queens University. She spends her time now being  a Creator, Collector, Curator, and Conservator of textiles and mixed media.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Karen Ponischil

Creating fiber art through quilting allows Karen to stretch her artistic talents with all the possibilities of fabric while also enjoying the calming, meditative effects of stitching. "I love to capture moments in time—a flower at the height of its bloom or the split second when an animal is still."

In 2001, she discovered art quilting.  It was a hobby until 2013 when she decided to leave the advertising industry and become a full-time fiber artist and quilter.  Karen creates quilts using wholecloth painting or raw edge appliqué. She then thread paints the quilt to bring it to life.  Her quilts have been juried into local and national quilt shows. She also enjoy lecturing and teaching her techniques to other sewing enthusiasts.

Karen is a native Southerner who lives in North Carolina with her husband and three kitty cats.  She love old movies, a glass of good wine, spending time in the mountains, and exploring new restaurants.  She also love spending as much time in her studio as possible creating quilts!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pushing the boundaries: paintings and art quilts

It seems that we are all walking very similar artistic journeys....

My husband and I were in New York a couple of weeks ago for a BIG culture blitz that included 4 plays, 1 opera, and 6 museums (and lots of good meals).

Our museum hopping took us from mechanical toys and superheroes at the New York Historical Society ...
  model train refreshment cart (photo:  D. Langsam)

Picasso's Head of a Woman (photo: D. Langsam) the Picasso sculpture exhibit at MOMA.

Picasso's The Bathers (photo:  D. Langsam)

 But a major highlight was the Frank Stella Retrospective at the Whitney Museum (now in a magnificent new meatpacking district building at the end of the NYC High Line). 

The Whitney Museum      (photo:
Why was it so special? 

Who can argue with the rare opportunity to see so many of Stella's works, outstandingly displayed,  in one incredibly beautiful exhibit space?

Installation view of Frank Stella: A Retrospective (October 30, 2015—February 7, 2016). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Ronald AmstutzAdd caption

Or with a terrific audio tour (accessible online) that's made all the better because it includes a totally unpretentious and unassuming Frank Stella thoughtfully discussing his art? 

But what really struck me was how much of Stella's journey involved re-imagining traditional views of painting.  Hmmm...sounds an awful lot like the art quilters I know and the ever evolving art quilt genre.          

Here are some examples:

---  I thought of Rayna Gilman and her "Cinderella Quilts" when I saw Stella's Delta.      
Frank Stella (b.1936), Delta, 1958. Enamel on canvas, 85 3/8 × 97 in. (216.9 × 246.4 cm). Private collection. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Delta began when Stella, tired of a painting that just wasn't working, covered his canvas with black paint.

But the black paint didn't entirely obliterate the underlying shapes.  And bits of color peeking through lent nuanced tones that intrigued him.  Ultimately, the piece inspired him to purposely create his "black painting" series of work. 

Rayna has her own way of dealing with "it's not working for me" items (see her blog post for details).  In her case, it's ugly or old or unsuccessful blocks and UFO's.

an "unloved" stepsister block (photo:  Rayna Gilman)

 Her solution:  get out a rotary cutter.  She boldly slices and dices and recombines the pieces with new materials to transform them, Cinderella-style, into something new, fresh, and exciting....

Finished Cinderella quilt (photo:  Rayna Gilman)

Rayna's working in a different medium - but really, the artistic process is the same...

---  Another example:  at some point Stella doesn't want to force his colorful, hard-edged, geometric paintings into the traditional confines of squares and rectangles;  his solution...cut the canvas to fit his vision.   
Frank Stella (b.1936), Empress of India, 1965. © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. . © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Sound familiar?  For hundreds of years, a "proper" quilt would have been defined as rectangular or square.   Not so much these days...quilts come in all manner of shapes.  Vicki Pignatelli's dream catcher is just one great example:

"Dreamcatcher" (photo:  Vicki Pignatelli)
Clearly, there's nothing square or rectangular about the edges of this quilt.  And Vicki goes one step further by cutting out the central portion as part of her dreamcatcher theme.  The traditional "rules" for quilts (or paintings, or sculptures) don't necessarily apply anymore.

--- And one final example:

In the 1970's and 80's Stella, literally, took his art into new dimensions.  No longer content to paint on flat surfaces, he begins to "build" his paintings out into 3 dimensional space by using using felt and wood to project out portions of his canvases... 

Jarmolince III (Frank Stella):  front and side view (photo:  D. Langsam)

 ...and then continues on to produce even more pronounced sculptural "paintings" using all sorts of supportive elements: 

Installation view of Frank Stella: A Retrospective (October 30, 2015—February 7, 2016). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz

For quilters, this isn't exactly new...if you stitch through 2 layers of fabric and batting, there's going to be some 3 dimensionality.  Add some beads or trapunto and the effect is heightened (pun intended).

That being said, there are many quilt artists who are pushing themselves and their quilts even further into the 3rd dimension.   

Among the many, I'm thinking about Diane Savona and her extraordinary  "strata" series in which objects are sewn between the layers of the quilt sandwich.

Sewing Strata by Diane Savona   (photo:  Diane Savona)
 Or Naomi S. Adams' Diamonds.   Adams made 4 quilts (with dyed batting), cut crescent shapes from the quilts, and then attached the crescents to a 5th quilt which extends 3 inches from the wall.

Naomi S. Adams Diamonds:  "The Future of Quilting" Award @ 2010 IQF  (photo:  Naomi S. Adams)
Or going even further, Diane Núñez' quilted constructions....

Diane Núñez Cross Section:  Quilt Surface Design Symposium Award of Excellence @ 2015 Quilt National (phono:  Diane  Núñez)

I'm not enough of a visionary to know where art quilts and quilting will be in ten years.  But I left the Whitney knowing this:  we're all -- individually or collectively, as painters or sculptors or fiber artists -- pushing some very similar boundaries on our artistic journeys.



Deborah Langsam Fiber Art

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