Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Teaching a class for the C.R.E.S.T. Enrichment program of Santa Monica entitled, “Making Art Inspired By Great Artists” allows for many exciting possibilities.

The artist Faith Ringgold is a natural for children, as she has written and illustrated for them herself. She created a unique “hybrid” art form she calls the “Story Quilt”, which combines quilting and painting, with a focus on cloth.

WEBjStudents aged 5-9 worked with pre-cut pieces of Eco-fi “felt (made from recycled plastic bottles), and developed their scenes or stories by adding cloth,pom poms, ribbon, leather, textiles, feathers and fabric tape.

WEBiMany of the students chose to glue pieces of the felt together, to create larger works.

WEBdAlthough some look abstract, each holds a story that expresses aspects of the maker’s experience. The piece above holds an ice cream cone, and later pizza was added!

WEBbWhen I asked the talented young artist why she put a dollar sign on the piece above, she shrugged and said simply, “I don’t know.” Somewhere in there, is a story!

WEBaThis young artist kept putting her piece up to her cheek, enjoying its tactile softness.  She said it depicted a “state”.  Did she mean flag?

WEBfWEBgWEBe1It was fascinating to see how several students used pieces of the same textile or cloth.

WEBhThe piece above is actually backed in black felt, and the six-year-old artist framed it with a border , hallmarks of Ringgold’s “Story Quilts”. This first grader’s old’s patience in piecing together all of the felt rectangles, (which she also cut out), is stunning, as is the finished piece!

As all of the “Story Quilts” are.  Inspired, and inspiring!

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MemoryMaking Books

MemoryMaking Books

In celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Public Library, I had the opportunity to lead a bookmaking program at the  Montana Avenue Library, my home branch of the SMPL

“Making Memory Books” was requested… a single signature style book, embellished with fabric.

WEBaLeather, denim, beads, as well as decorative papers and fabric scrap were some of the goodies laid out for participants to use.

WEBcThe signatures were already prepared, with holes punched. Once bound with the three-hole pamphlet stitch, the first and last pages were glued to the inside of the front and back covers, and the book was formed.

WEBiThen, the fun could really begin!  let the embellishment commence!

WEBkPaper, “eco-fi” felt, cloth, lace and leather transformed the book structures into unique works of art.

WEBdUpon request, a square shape was used, instead of the more common vertical  rectangle.

WEBeA mother daughter duo enjoyed adorning their book covers with butterflies.

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WEBfIs this a pink planet, surrounded by butteries?

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WEB2The inspiration for the project was a series of fabric covered sewn book models,

WEB8with cloth pieces applied patchwork style.

WEB1The colors, patterns, shapes and tactile quality of cloth and textiles can evoke powerful memories.

WEB2The effect can be pleasing visually, as well as tracing remnants of life stories barely remembered but held in the body, memory and emotions through the sense of touch.

These books, that may hold memories barely discernible to the maker, can now become the repository of new memories, as scrapbooks, photo albums, journals, or sketchbooks.

What a beautiful gift.

Happy Holidays, and peace and blessings for the New Year.

Wabi-sabi Meets Memory Lane

Wabi-sabi Meets Memory Lane

WEB1Visual riffs on the tactile nature of memory. What started out as a series of book models…practice if you will, became another journey. And a journey in the best sense of the word, where each step seemed to reveal or indicate the next, but only through paying a fair amount of attention.

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Feeling compelled to cover the books’ covers with fabric, I realized at some point that the pieces and scraps of cloth I was using were reminiscent of the fabric, cloth and textiles I remembered from my childhood.

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The visual and tactile qualities of rugs, upholstered chairs and sofas, bathroom mats, table cloths, placemats and napkins, even tweed skirts and knitted sweaters, marched slowly back into my consciousness as I delved further into this tweedy trip down memory lane…

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It took a while to identify what the fabric fragments were evoking…

I found myself collaging the insides of the covers of all the book models as well as the outsides, feeling a kind of satisfaction as I transformed the surfaces with such humble yet richly evocative materials.

The process continues.

Piecing Our Story

Piecing Our Story

FAITH_art2Faith Ringgold

Inspired by the “Story Quilts” of Faith Ringgold…I incorporated fabric collages into some classes and programs I  had the privilege of  teaching and leading.

WEB1The idea was to piece together elements of fabric…cloth…to express or depict aspects  of the maker’s life story. To “fabricate’ one’s story…to “cloth” one’s story in visual details…the definition can be rather loose.  Above, my sample expresses something of house and home…a broad theme that could encompass almost anything.

WEB1This fun and evocative piece created by a 17 year old makes beautiful use of aqua-blue wool…at least I think it is wool. As I get many of supplies at a place called “Trash for Teaching” , where companies’ left-overs or overstock is donated to be resold to teachers and others at very low cost,  I am not always sure of their origin. This artist did use paper for the face…extrapolating from a previous lesson on how to draw the face in proper proportion. She is also interested in becoming a make-up professional, so this piece may have played into that ambition and interest as well.

WEB2_2Totally different, but just as evocative is this piece that functions almost like a banner, celebrating the maker’s daughter. Balanced through the elements of color, shape and composition,  the use of the symbols of heart and arrow are  arranged to create the strong center of a radial design which continues and expands the motif of the arrow.  Arrow pointing to directly the heart? Seems like a rather clear story there.

WEB5These brilliantly colored feathers almost appear to emit light against the dark background.  Arranged in a repeating color pattern, the artist is careful to begin and end with pink,  containing the composition within that color horizontally, while flanking it vertically with luminous green, and thus employing the tension of opposites. Pink is a permutation of red, “light” red, (red plus white) which is the compliment, or opposite of green. The color story expresses the human story as a whole.

WEB3Two uses of the heart motif, one created through stitching, and another through the cutting and gluing of material define these two pieces.  Both hearts are tilted to the left, which gives them a dynamic feel of being on movement, and which in turn adds movement to the composition. Above  the deceptively simple composition of white and red on black belies the powerful associations of those colors. Below, warm hues of the  cool color of blue are offset by the soft pinkish-purple (which contains blue) in the center of the color scheme.  The piece is further enlivened by sharp dashes of back in the corners which radiate outwards, and black letters in the center set off by white, another system of opposites.

WEB4The use of the heart shape / symbol, as a central motif, the combination of different kinds of cloth/textile/fabric media, and employment of framing as a compositional device characterize the works above. Bows, pom poms, a scattering of smaller hearts and butterflies, and imaginative color choices are all at play, adding a layer of magic and whimsey to the feelings of hope and longing expressed in these pieces.

Web1AA Mom of two created this piece, which depicts her two children who also attended. Although she came in towards the end of the project, she was able to put together vibrant colors, and strong shapes which speak volumes about her commitment to her family, and tell at least a piece of her story. One strip of patterned ribbon is added which reflects the flowers, and ties the composition together by adding complexity and interest right in the center of the piece. This artist was very specific about which  ribbon she was going to use to achieve this, and with good reason, as the results are stunning.