|Rania Hassan, Pensive I, II, III, 2009, oil, fiber, canvas, metal wood, Each piece|
is 31"h x 12"w x 2-1/2" It's currently on view at Greater Reston Arts Center.
|Bars Quilt, ca. 1890, Pennsylvania; Cotton and wool, 83 x 82"; |
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Peter Findlay, 77.122.3;
Photography by Gavin Ashworth,
2012 / Brooklyn Museum
Quilts are normally very large and utilitarian in nature. To some historians, American quilts are appreciated as material culture with possible stories of the people who made them, but they also have some vivid abstract patterns and strong color harmonies. Their bold geometric shapes vary and change with different color combinations. Quilting is a folk art since it is a passed down tradition, and the patterns may seem stylized and highly decorative. Yet there is room for tremendous variation, creativity and individual style.
Within the United States there are important regional folk groups whose quilts have a distinctive style, like the Amish quilt, above. Amish designs can have a sophisticated abstraction deeply appreciated during the period of Minimal Art of the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition outlines distinctions and also shows styles popular at certain times, including Mariners' Knot quilts around 1840-1860, the Crazy Quilts of the Victorian period and the Double Wedding Ring pattern popular in the Midwest after World War I.
|Orly Cogan, Sexy Beast, Hand stitched embroidery |
and paint on vintage table cloth, 34" x 34"
While most of the quilts featured in the exhibition were made by anonymous artists, the Reston exhibition includes well-known national figures in fiber art, such as Orly Cogan and Nathan Vincent. Cogan uses traditional techniques on vintage fabrics to explore contemporary femininity and relationships. Her works appear to be large-scale drawings in thread. She adds paint and sews into old tablecloths. I loved the beautiful Butterfly Song Diptich and Sexy Beast, a human-beast combination with multiple arms, like the god Shiva. Vincent, the only man in the show, works against the traditional gender role, crocheting objects of typically masculine themes, such as a slingshot.
|Pam Rogers, Herbarium Study, 2013, Sewn leaves, handmade|
soil and mineral pigments, graphite,
on cotton paper, 22" x 13-1/2"
Most "Stitch" artists are local. Pam Rogers stitches the themes of people, place, nature and myth found in her other works. Kate Kretz, another local luminary of fiber art, embroiders in intricate detail, expressing feelings about motherhood, aging and even the art world.
Kretz's own blog illuminates her work, including many of the pieces in "Stitch. The pictures there and the detailed photos on an embroidery blog display in sharper detail and explain some of her working methods.
Often she embroiders human hair into the designs and materials, connecting tangible bits of a self with an audience. Kretz explains, "One of the functions of art is to strip us bare, reminding us of the fragility common to every human being across continents and centuries."
|Kate Kretz, Beauty of Your Breathing, 2013, Mothers hair from gestation|
period embroidered on child's garment, velvet, 20" x 25" x 1"
|Suzi Fox, Organ II, 2014, Recycled|
motor wire, canvas, embroidery hoop
12-1/2" x 8" x 1-1/2"
There's an inside to all of us and an outside. Erin Edicott Sheldon reminds us that stitches are sutures, and she calls her works sutras. Stitches heal our wounds. "I use contemporary embroidery on antique fabric as a canvas to explore the common threads that bind countless generations of women." Her "Healing Sutras" have a meditative quality, recalling the ancient Indian sutras, the threads that hold all things together.
|Erin Endicott Sheldon, Healing Sutra#26, 2012, hand|
embroidery on antique fabric stained with walnut ink
|Star of Bethlehem Quilt, 1830, Brooklyn Museum of Art Gift of Alice Bauer Frankenberg. Photo by Gavin Ashworth/Brooklyn Museum|