This is a profile I have with the Studio Art Quilts Associates Oregon POD – it gives a pretty good idea of where I’m at so here it is along with the questions.
At present I live in the South West of Portland, OR between Hillsdale and Multnomah Village. I’ve been a SAQA professional, excuse me, juried artist member for almost 20 years.
1. How would you describe the work that you make? Do you have an elevator speech? Have you found your “artistic voice”?
Looking back over my portfolio of painting, quilting, and beadwork it’s pretty obvious I put little coloured pieces together to make a whole. Colour plays a huge part, non-Euclidean geometry (fractal imagery) defines many of my quilts, and dabbling with anamorphic perspective is a humorous relief.
2. What brought you to making fiber art? What is your art, sewing, or fiber background? When did you make your first quilt that you considered “art”?
My American husband imported me from the Caribbean where I had a professional studio and painted pictures with gouache. On arrival in Virginia I knew not a soul except my husband and some of his workmates. Having an idea quilters were friendly people I joined the local guild and entered the world of fabric. Much like my gouache paintings I began assembling bits of colour – a mental jigsaw puzzle made reality. I have absolutely no recollection of why I got interested in fractal geometry but it was pretty soon after changing to the fabric medium.
The gallery I worked with quickly sold my first fractal quilt to a Washington, DC lawyer’s office and I realised I was onto a good thing.
3. Describe the steps involved in your art-making process.
Fortunately I speedily pick up skills and with a background of sewing my own clothes in the West Indies (a decent wardrobe is very expensive in Antigua), stitching fabric came easily. Members of the quilting guild taught me piecing, appliqué, and hand quilting. I spent a couple of years experimenting with various techniques. Finally I settled on mainly hand stitching which makes my artwork very slow and contemplative to produce.
The images for the fractal quilts are created by manipulating mathematical formulae with computer software. Each image is printed onto a paper template, traced to a master, and then retraced onto freezer paper. Depending on the challenge of the design various methods of hand stitching are used to put the piece together.
Anamorphic quilts follow the same principles – software is used to create either optical or catoptric images, the image is printed to paper and a freezer paper template is traced. Often a conical or spherical mirror is used to reflect the morphed artwork.
All the quilts are made with the traditional 3 layers of top, batting, and backing.
4. What is your one favorite or most common source of inspiration?
5. Do you enter your work in shows? What would you say have been your top three exhibits?
My work is made primarily for exhibition and publication. I like to work with local galleries, museums, and art spaces. Often I’m invited to create a piece for specific venues, books, or magazines.
My favorite invitational exhibition was to show several quilts at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD for a year’s exhibition on the Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy. A solo show at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, VA was an outstanding venue, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL was kind enough to offer a solo exhibition.
6. Describe your studio space.
Depends entirely on where I live. For the first 12 years of my time in America I had a full basement available to do with what I wished. So I wished a lot and had everything. Shelves of fabric, huge design walls, sewing machine tables, working tables, great lighting etc. Then we started our travels and I made do with the dining room, or a spare bedroom. Wherever I could squeeze in. Supposedly an artist will make art under any circumstances and this is certainly true for me.
At present I have an entire room to myself and my art. Small but very workable and I can close the door……….
7. How much time do you spend on your art? How do you balance your life between art, family, friends, day job, etc.?
I work in my studio/office from around 8.30 in the morning straight through to about 6 in the evening. Every day during the week. The weekends are up in the air as my husband also works from home and we try and take time off together (as if we weren’t together enough already). I belong to several groups and make sure I go to meetings. And we enjoy time with friends – usually dinner, or watching a movie at home. My mother lives in England and I visit her and the rest of my family twice a year.
We run a small online business (threads and notions), which occupies a fair amount of time during the day – receiving, filling, mailing orders, keeping up with inventory, and admin. The rest of the time is spent on designing, constructing, or day-dreaming about art.
8. Do you work in other mediums or use unusual materials in your work?
Several years ago I discovered beadwork. Small coloured pieces stitched together – remember? Just even tinier pieces…… I create one off pieces of jewelry, design patterns and am working on a book of beadwork patterns.