Friday, May 23, 2014

A Remarkable Collection of Stitches

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, 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!).


Jeanie said...

Your title, "A Remarkable Collection of Stitches", is also the best possible comment for what you have shown us from this exhibit.

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

Wow these are some amazing quilts & connected by a very special theme. Thanks for sharing these with us. I feel like I was at the exhibit!

Annie Jeffries said...

Outstanding exhibit. So glad we saw this. Thank you, rainy weather.

littleRamstudio said...

Fabulous selection, we struggled to pick a favourite as all where so clever, intricate and simply beautiful.

Such a patient art form.

Thank you for sharing :)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow! Those quilts are amazing! I can not get over the detail of the work! It's tough to pick a favorite but I love the whimsical nature of that farm one and how she weaves in stories and journal entries and such! Very cool. What an awesome exhibit. The pictures are beautiful but I can't imagine what it's like to actually see these works of art and all the detailed stitching!

The Artful Diva said...

fantastic work - love them all!

Naturegirl said...

I am in awe of these quilts with the earth stories! Surely an exhibit that I would have enjoyed viewing in person.
So many ways we can express our concern for Mother Earth.
I also enjoyed seeing pics of your visit with Annie!
Thank you for sharing these awesome photos!

Nat Palaskas said...

This is a beautiful exhibition with meaningful messages! I really enjoyed looking through the images and hear the artist statement for each quilt. Thanks Jeanie for sharing. This might inspired you to start quilting! Hugs Nat

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Oh Jeanie,
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing exhibition of quilts!
I have never seen anything quite like it.. I cannot even imagine the amount of skill and work that has gone into each one.. Hard to pick a favorite.

Thank you so much for coming over and leaving such kind words.
Enjoy your weekend

Joanne Huffman said...

Such an intiguing collection of beautiful quilts.

Bella Rum said...

I'm blown away by the vibrant colors, the skill and creativity. What a gorgeous post. I know you must have enjoyed the day. So glad you could share it with all of us.

shoreacres said...

Once again, I can only see three or four of the photos. I have no idea what the problem is, since it's not occuring on any other blog. But, I'm glad everyone enjoyed the photos - I'm sure they are beautiful!

~*~Patty S said...

What a marvelous selection of gorgeous art quilts!
I always enjoy getting to see shows like that in person...the artistry and story telling boggle the mind...
painting with fabric and thread!

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Thank you for taking us along your visiting this awesome exhibition. The quilts are all stunning. Very inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Oh,my Jeanie, this is amazing! I didn't know this was even possible to create such gorgeous pieces of art. I do believe my favorite is yours too - the little lady and all of her animals! ;) Thanks for popping in to see me and have a great Memorial day.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh Jeanie......these quilts are truly remarkable. My neighbor, Georgia, is a fabric artist and I find this talent so incredibly interesting. Thanks for sharing this with us today.



Marilyn Miller said...

I visited here several hours ago and just touched my heart. I couldn't leave a comment until I had time to visit again and take it all in. The stories in these quilts is so powerful. Yet the beauty of each story delights the eyes. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite for they all are my favorites. Magnificent!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Jeanie, I saw your post earlier this week from WORK and I was unable to comment at that time, and here I am. First of all, thank you kindly dear friend for coming to visit my newest post, and may June be a lovely month for you. WE CAN BOTH start our happy dance because if I am having flowers and warmth, then you must be too!

OK, this is awesome. How in the world do people get such light and shadows with quilting?????? These look like paintings! Such glorious work here and I am convinced that art is an essential part of our living. Bravo! Anita

Maggie said...

Such amazing art quilts, so intricate and detailed, what talented artists they all are.
Thank you for sharing your visit to the exhibit with us.

must love junk said...

What an interesting exhibit!! Such beautiful work!

Tracy said...

WOw... wow... I could just cry... of happiness! This was so much fun to see, Jeanie! You know what a fiber nut I am, so this place is right up my street! ;o) So many amazing contributions. I love art quilting, how they are a great medium for sharing stories, and am dipping more into that art. It is just incredible what can be wrought with threads, cloth... Thank you so much for this one--LOVED!! Wow... I just gotta go back and look again! Happy Days ((HUGS))

Jenny Woolf said...

I'm sorry I havent been visiting lately - or posting - but I am glad I have made it to this blog. Some of these remind me of wonderful Egyptian tapestries of rural scenes that we have. I could never make anything like that myself, but I love to have them on the wall and endlessly admire all the life and nature somehow woven into them.

I need orange said...

What an interesting show! Looks like lots of excellent work!

Thank you for taking us along to see it!

shoreacres said...

Hoorah and hooray! All the photos are back, and what a collection it is! I just would have hated to miss this! My first impulse was to jump in the car and head for Lansing to see the exhibit. My next thought was, "I want to do that!" But of course it would take me the rest of my natural life to figure out how to thread the needles, so I'll just keep on trying to weave some words.

This is all the more interesting because I spend some time Saturday looking at some pioneer quilts from this area that go back to the 1850s -- and perhaps earlier. I can't help but wonder what those quilters would think, to see something like this. I suspect they'd enjoy it. There was a velvet quilt that was as lush and colorful as anything you've shown us. People love beauty, and will create it however they can!

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