Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Art Quilts

See HeidiParkes.com, and my Instagram account for the most up to date information on my art.

This summer I devoted myself completely to quilting, the results are below in these 6 pieces.  I have reflected a great deal on my work, and its direction.  In my new artists statement you, dear reader, will find many of the topics I have explored in previous posts, especially on the topic of memory:

In my work, I create a scaffolding of fabric, piecing, and quilting that allows me to reference many ideas on a single plane.   The raw materials are textiles from domestic culture, fashion, family heirlooms, and scavenged prints.  I integrate them with fabrics that I have embroidered, stained, dyed, or designed.  This cloth is then beset with hand stitches, evocative of the slow process involved in construction.  When composing these elements into a quilt I rarely adhere to a set pattern, relying instead on improvisation.  At times remindful of color-field painting, I often begin my work with an idea, feeling, or place.  I yearn to reconstruct my world employing aerial views, photographic documentation, and artifacts- all the while aware that my goal is far more complex than the visual of a single point in time.  The moments I choose to replicate are unique to me, and simultaneously innumerable in the lives of others.  Like so many women before her, my maternal grandmother planned a collaborative quilt to celebrate my birth, and introduced me to the art of quilting.  My work continues a family tradition, but congruently incorporates new information from varied quilting traditions, and my multidisciplinary training in art.  Often inspired by painters, I feel an artistic connection with Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, Cy Twombly, Agnes Martin, Wiliam Kentridge, El Anatsui, Do Ho Suh, the quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi.

Beginners, 64x61' September 2014
 All cotton, machine pieced and hand quilted.  I am obsessed with the movie, 'Beginners.'  In this quilt I attempted to capture the feeling of the film, and especially the father's home.  The focus is a hummingbird and berry fabric that I found at Mood in New York.  I thought it was funny, dynamic, and interesting to look at when I purchased it.  The surrounding white fabric is my mother's tablecloth, around which I've celebrated untold holidays and celebrations.  The tablecloth was full of stains, and holes where a lace pattern was cut.  I deconstructed the tablecloth, and the embroidery that remains on it is a reward for the viewer who steps closer.  So much of the film is about new beginnings, and reinventing the self.  That freedom is evoked in the 2 bird patterns, and the quilting which is reminiscent of the wind in the air.  Its clean architectural lines and color blocking juxtapose with the lyrical quality of the wind, hummingbirds, and nostalgic family heirloom fabric.

Ice Cream, 56x58" September 2014

This all cotton strip quilt was machine pieced and hand quilted.  The fabrics are a combination of vintage heirloom, new prints and solids, and hand dyed by me.  The colors were chosen around the ice cream fabric I recently purchased, and the feeling invoked is that of the crisp summer air and sky.  The hand quilting was done with mint green crochet thread, and travels about the quilt in a haphazard and unconventional path.

City Landscape, 58x61" August 2014
 Three shades of herringbone linen mix with three shades of tan, machine pieced and hand quilted with pink DMC cotton thread.  The quilting pulls out the smallest hint of pink in the herringbone pattern of the middle blue.  Thinking of the city, more the way it feels than looks- this quilt encompasses areas of density and space.  I moved back to Chicago this summer, and the new feeling of living in a tight space, with the expanses of the lake, suburbs, and farmland so nearby influenced this work.

Ocean, 59x59" August 2014
Machine pieced and hand quilted in herringbone linen.  This quilt is inspired by Agnes Martin, and uses a grid to reveal a seemingly endless expanse of ocean and space.  At a distance, this quilt is composed of equally spaced squares on a background.  In traditional quilting, these squares and the background would be composed of identical pieces.  Upon closer inspection, however, my background is composed of long strips, small squares, and many haphazard pieces along the way.  The herringbone patterns in all the blues emphasize this disorganization by flowing vertically or horizontally at will.  Traditional at a distance, it is bold up close- much like the ocean which can be calm or rough.  Seen from above in an airplane it is a solid blue, but from the side of a boat it is full of waves, currents, fish, and reflections.

The Beach, 63x56" July 2014
 Machine pieced and hand quilted in cotton.  I was inspired by living near the beach, and traveling along lakeshore drive.  Some days the sky is bright blue, and others the morning fog is so thick that the horizon line becomes invisible.  Driving, I catch glimpses of the the beach, water, waves, the bulwark, volleyball nets, and boats- these peeks out my window create a fragmented view of the 9 mile expanse of water, and influence the abstract nature of the composition.  This work was hand quilted with DMC embroidery floss in varying shades of blue to create an ombre effect.  This allows the dark sticks to show boldly against the sky, and the light stitches to shine against the water.  The blues are hand dyed with synthetic dye, the browns were stained with coffee and red wine, the yellows were made with boiling turmeric powder, and the pinks and whites were store-bought.  Like the African-American quilts made in Gee's Bend, the border is not square, becoming thinner at the base.

Places Unfold, 59x59" June 2014
Cotton thread.  This is the most time consuming quilt I have made to date, easily logging over 80 hours of work.  I conceived the piece on the theme of wanderlust, as I was living in Naperville, and preparing to move.  These 36 equal squares each represent and aspect of travel, discovery, my personal history, and wandering.  The map in the top row is an accurate map of the Arc de Triomphe, while the maps on the right depicted my childhood subdivision, and current home at the time. There are views from above looking down at the Earth, and views looking skyward.  Many squares show wandering in various levels of order and disorder. Others diagram umbrellas at the beach, 6 lane highways, American cities and European cities, oceans, lakes, and rivers.  It is about the feeling of being on this planet, moving about the expanse of the Earth, and observing the wonders that exist at every turn. 
The back of "Places Unfold"
I find the backs of my quilts extraordinarily beautiful in their simplicity.  Each back is different, but they all offer an opportunity to highlight the hand quilting.  It is common to create evenly spaced lines, or to follow the pattern of the quilt's front.  In contrast, I use this moment to explore the handmade quality of my work. The hand quilting composes the majority of the time a quilt takes to create, and develops a scaffolded effect in the work between the quilting and the piecing.  In nearly all  my art in all mediums, I am attracted to the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, the perfect mistake.  I allow the quilting to wander across the expanse of the work, and much like the transformation clay undergoes when in the kiln, I am surprised and in wonder at the visual effects hand quilting bestows on the work.  I use thick threads to quilt in the spirit of the Japanese sashiko technique which also emphasizes the stitches, rather than the Western aesthetic of 8 stitches per inch.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your work. I have enjoyed reading about your inspiration AND seeing the results.