My Grandmother began quilting on an Indiana family farm during the Great Depression as a matter of utility. Hand made quilts used otherwise useless fabrics and provided a useful item such as a bed quilt. As the years progressed, the country recovered and her children left the house and therefore the necessity of creating quilts was not warranted. However, quilting was too big a part of her life to simply stop. Rather, she turned her attention to creating quilted items that were decorative such as wall hangings and table runners. As a result, I grew up seeing much of her work in the homes of my family and took it for granted.
As an adult artist, I realized that quilting has an artistic element although it is often considered nothing more than “craft”. There is a segment of the traditional quilting world that has taken to creating bona fide “art” quilts and even they meet resistance with the acceptance of their work as “proper quilting”. I talked to her about this and asked if she considered herself an artist. “Oh my, heaven’s no! I’m not an artist!”, was her steadfast reply. I responded that I choose to respectfully disagree. She is 96 now and I can’t change her mind!
With these experiences in mind, I sought to create a process by which I pay respect and homage to the quilting arts traditions. I decided to use digital tools such as digital imagery, digital collage and digital printing in my process, not techniques of the traditional fabric arts. My end result is based on the processes of pattern selection, fabric selection, stencil selection, and assembly. The finished work is presented as a photographic print on canvas – another homage to the fabric arts upon which this project is based.
The process begins with a central concept. Next, I find a quilt pattern that suits the concept. Images are then (created and) selected based on the concept and serve as the “fabrics” for my quilt. I cut pieces out of fabrics as needed and place them on the pattern – all within Photoshop. No “fabric piece” is used more than once. When all pieces are cut, placed and aligned, “quilting” is the next step. This is performed with the guidance of my grandmother’s stencils which have been imported – at actual size – into my digital workspace. I like to pretend she is with me as I sift through the options and make final decisions. My “stitching” is performed via a tablet and stylus in a manner best described as drawing. Each “stitch” is applied by hand and no “stitching” is copied; all are individual and unique.