I'm a bit of a sucker for quilts and have a rather nice collection of vintage quilts. But I also appreciate the art quilts and those that tell a story, so when we happened into the MSU Museum and saw their current quilt exhibit, I had to share it with you.
The exhibit was titled "Earth Stories" and all of the quilts -- which were from all over the world -- had a focus on sustainability in one way or another. In the opening statement, it explained that the quilters each created a textile embodying the positive, non-political goals of the quilter's chosen project.
Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network and an artist, author, historian and curator herself, explained in this way.
"I looked for work that would emotionally draw me in -- pieces with the distinctive voice of the artist coming through which would be memorable and move my spirit...Each piece was an engrossing visual testimony of powerful imagery about the condition of the world we live in."
Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi
I loved "Hope is a Thing with Feathers." It recognizes the work of Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation and his dedication to saving 15 species of cranes worldwide.
Created by Mary Pal of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, she asks "Can one person make a difference? Look at what this man has done."
The colors were brilliant -- sunset skies and beautiful birds
And as you can see, the stitching and detail is intricate as well.
Another quilt with birds that captured my heart was "Woodland" by Noriko Endo, Setagaya-Ku, Japan.
Her statement indicated tht she was inspired by her love of woodlands and curious about the environment and how migratory birds collect materials for their nests. The creatures of the woodlands cannot live without trees.
"I wanted to show the real life of owls' ecology," she writes. My work expresses their natural life in a portrait of light and shadow.
I'm a big fan of color, so it's probably no surprise that "Muddy Fork Farm" was high on my list.
Created by Susan Shie or Wooster, Ohio, she was inspired by Monica Bongue and her Muddy Fork Farm.The farm practices organic, sustainable processes, hoping to bring the world back to simple, healthful food growing and eating.
The piece is filled with stories about the farm along with current events and personal diary entries, all of which were written in draft and final form on the cloth.
I loved the whimsy and pure joy of it.
The quilts used stitching, texture and mixed media, including this one, "Cooking with the Sun" by Jennifer Day of Santa Fe.
Her passion is solar cooking, the simplest, safest and most convenient way to cook without consuming fuels.This is essential to helping the hundreds of millions of people who cook over fires fueled by wood or dung. Solar cookers can be used to cook food or pasturize water when other fuel sources might not be available.
I loved how she integrated photo transfers to her fabric for a vital and very real effect.
"African Farmers" by Jean Herrman of Denver, focuses on sustainable food her in America.
As African farmers move from chronic hunger and poverty to a future where they can grow enough food to feed their families, they could reap a surplus that allows them to pay school tuition for their children.
I am a huge fan of windmills -- traditional and contemporary. So its no wonder this start black-and-white quilt caught my eye.
Titled "Alternative vs. Fossil Fuels," by Cynthia St. Charles of Billings, Montana, her inspiration was a non-partisan organization called ProCon.org, devoted to promoting critical thinking and education by presenting controversial issues in an easy-to-understand, pro-con way.
St. Charles says she adapted the wind turbine images from her own photographs of a wind farm nestled in her region.
Here comes the color again. "A Source of Life in the Dead Sea" is by Maya Chaimovich of Ramat Gan, Israel. It is a mass of stunning color.
Chaimovich says her inspriation was the Dead Sea Harvest, explaining that people come from around the world to the sea, seeking cures for a variety of diseases.
A new initiative will dig at the bottom of the sea to extract salt and chemicals that have sunk to the bottom of the sea and allo people to continue to come to the Dead Sea to seek a cure.
I was very partial to this quilt, with a nature focus and a beautiful painterly effect. "Ground Fire Brings Light and Life" is by Nancy Cook, Charlotte, NC. She was inspired by the Nature Conservancy and its mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.
In the quilt, a variety of specimens suggesting the richness of life that controlled fire supports. Look closely and you'll find Venus Flytrap, Longleaf Pine, Red Cockheaded Woodpecker and other dependent on the fires.
I guess I have this "bird thing" going on lately, because "Earth Stories, Tender Bellys" (sic) by Annie Helmericks-Louder, Warrensburg, MO, inspired by Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring." "Although I was very young, her message that all life is linked together and no species is extraneous would direct me througout my whole life," she writes.
The works title refers to the soft undersides or tender places that all living things have. It is where they are most vulnerable and where they can be fatally damaged.
Once again, the detail and stitching dazzles.
There are many others in this remarkable exhibit. For those close enough to East Lansing to see it before the fall when it closes, I highly recommend it. Admission to the museum is free (donations gratefully accepted!).