Marinating

For me, July has been a month for mulling over. I keep a small notebook close at hand and write down snippets of thoughts, key words and strands of ideas. This is as close as I get to a sketchbook. So all these new ideas are just marinating in my head and in my collection of interesting cloth that I pull out from day to day, just to look at and think about. I bought a few scraps of beautiful red wool at the Waste Shed in Chicago last week to save for winter sewing. They also had a nice selection of pre-owned DMC perle cotton that I jumped on. I have also been experimenting with rust dying on my vintage linens. So many vintage linens…

Terretorial Road: Crosses and Losses , 2018

Terretorial Road: Crosses and Losses , 2018

I was very excited to have my quilt Terretorial Road:Crosses and Losses accepted for the Surface Design Association exhibit Beyond the Surface. The exhibit will be at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild during the SDA conference in St. Louis, MO in early October. I had already registered for the conference, so this is a nice boost to have a work in one of many wonderful fiber exhibits that will be on view for the conference days.

Starched and Pressed will be exhibited at the Swope Museum in Terre Haute, IN in their 75th Annual Wabash Valley Exhibition, September 6 - October 20, 2019.

The Territorial Road is a work inspired by a diary entry, written by Susan Brackney Clayton in 1890. From a sod house on a homestead near Elton, Nebraska, her words tell of beauty in the expanse of land and sky, the constantly howling wind, loneliness and a deep longing for a life left behind in Indiana. This piece is called Crosses and Losses, after a patchwork pattern dating back to the time of westward expansion, speaking to hardship and the isolation of a woman uprooted.

Summer Reads:

Here are a few books I have enjoyed recently:

The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker; The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan; Naive. Super, by Erlend Loe; Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson; Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd.

First Days of Summer

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Spot the monarch caterpillar on the far right, feasting on common milkweed. He wasn’t there this morning, so may have been nabbed by one of the four wren parents currently nesting in the yard. I live smack in the city, a few blocks from downtown South Bend, Indiana, on a standard city lot, with alley. I am always amazed at the wide diversity of wildlife on such a small piece of ground. No one in the neighborhood is much into lawn, so we don’t have a lot of pesticides or lawn chemicals drifting over. Lots of bugs for the wrens, flowers for birds, bees, butterflies and me. Oh, and cherries (Carmine Jewel, dwarf variety).

June has been a busy month with a family graduation, a retirement (Mike), and visits to and from family and friends. We have had wet, cool weather so I am wildly trying to stay on top of the weeds, pick the peas and lettuce and manage the Unity Garden I am garden leader for. My latest project there is a Monarch Waystation, a very cool habitat for butterflies. Yesterday I ventured south of town to Naturally Native Nursery to pick up some native plant species: what an interesting place, and just 6 miles from home.

My exhibit, In Her Domain, at Arrowmont closes next weekend. A special thanks to Angela Caldwell, my fellow exhibitor and to Kelsey Dillow, the coordinator for the exhibit at Arrowmont, for all the energy and collaboration on this exhibit. You can read an interview Kelsey did with the two of us at this link: https://www.arrowmont.org/category/blog

I’m between projects at the moment, plan to do some rust dying this week and finish a collaborative tile for a local museum project. I did a one-hour quick visit to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston IL while we were there for the graduation. I am still reeling from the scope of this place, but managed to buy a nice stack of fabrics despite being totally overwhelmed.

I read a great book and highly recommend it: The Overstory, by Richard Powers. Put it on your list!

Quilt National 2019

Personalized poster for QN 2019, given to each exhibiting artist.

Personalized poster for QN 2019, given to each exhibiting artist.

What a wonderful opening for QN19. Mike and I drove through rural Indiana and Ohio, (everything wet, nothing planted yet), to reach Athens, OH and the QN opening weekend festivities. My quilt, Agitation, received a juror’s award. Looking around, the quality and quantity of amazing artworks was exciting and humbling. I always feel a little wrong-footed at art openings, but managed to navigate the crowd and meet several wonderful artists, some whose work I am very familiar with, others whose work was new to me and to QN. The catalog is lovely and shows a wide diversity of techniques, concepts and ways of seeing. I am honored to be in this company. Many thanks to the jurors and the Dairy Barn staff for the huge effort that goes into this biennial exhibit.

In Her Domain

In Her Domain Postcard Front.jpg
In Her Domain Postcard Back.jpg

This weekend we are driving to southern Indiana to spend Easter with our son and his family, then on to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to deliver work from my series, A History of Toil, for a two-person exhibit in the Wolpert Gallery with Angela Caldwell. This is the first time I will have more than three works shown at once and I am very excited at this wonderful opportunity. Angela and I both answered an open call for exhibit proposals, and by coincidence, she lives in the same town as my son. We have met several times and gotten to be art friends. Her lovely jewelry work will be on display with my quilts. I am looking forward to an Appalachian spring trip, I know it will be beautiful. If your travels take you to the Smoky Mountains, please stop in and see the exhibit.

Unbeknownst

As yet untitled detail

As yet untitled detail

I have been working on a new series with a working title of Unbeknownst. I have always liked that word, so archaic and mysterious. I wanted to use some of my large collection of cast off, abandoned and forgotten handwork, mostly in the form of quilts, domestic linens, hankies and doilies. I am intrigued by the idea of how these objects, so carefully made and saved, end up in estate sales, resale shops and in “mystery lots” on ebay. Maybe once the woman who made or used these lovely things is no longer remembered by anyone, the objects lose value and can be discarded in the process of clearing. This seems to take a few generations. My sister-in-law recently brought me a box of such things from my husband’s three Italian great aunts, maiden ladies who lived together and took care of their mother. The aunts lived into great old age and are now departed, and I have many memories of visiting with our little children, but I doubt any of my kids remember them much. And yet, here I am with these lovely linen napkins, embroidered and monogrammed handkerchiefs and pillowcases, turning them into something else.

March crocus with bee

March crocus with bee

I heard this bee buzzing in the crocus when I did my first pass of spring raking today. It has been such a long winter.

Winters End Reading:

Winter Loon, by Susan Bernhard; Dear Life, by Alice Munro; Bridge of Clay, by Markus Zusak; The River, by Peter Heller; and a blast from the past, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (this is the “One Book Michiana” selection and I got the audio version at the library, read by Stephen Fry—a hoot).

Women, Home and the Revolution of Memory

Opening in South Bend

Opening in South Bend

This is an exciting opportunity to exhibit with twenty other women artists. Three of my works from the Dozen White Shirts series will be on display. Many thanks to Rita Koehler for her interest in my work and for curating this exhibit.

Sorted , detail

Sorted, detail

March is predicted to bring more arctic temperatures, blasting wind and generally un-spring-like weather. I am using this housebound time to stitch three new pieces about things lost and found, memories of people lost and found too. I had a nice opportunity to give a talk to a local organization about my work last week, and that always helps me clarify ideas that are important to me, and gives me a chance to tell some of the narratives that have informed the works I make.

People are always giving me things, and I hit the jackpot when my friend Anna bagged up four very old quilts for me to use as I pleased…I am very much pleased to find ways to use these tattered and well-worn quilts. Thanks Anna.

I have another piece, Standing Amazed: Shape Garden 1, showing in Focus: Fiber 2019, at the Kent State University Museum in Ohio. This exhibit runs from March 1- July 28.

More books:

Here are some more titles from my winter binge reading:

The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner; Etta and Otto and Raymond and James, by Emma Hooper; Shell Game, by Sara Paretsky; and the Museum of Modern Love, by Heather Rose (This is an interesting book based on The Artist is Present, the MOMA performance by Marina Abramovic).

In a Polar Vortex

Heck, it’s colder here than at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

The truth according to Ecobee.

The truth according to Ecobee.

Yesterday we woke up late, realizing that the alarm didn’t go off because we didn’t have any power…at -18 degrees. The house was already down to 54, but power was restored after a couple of hours, we dressed in layers and were grateful to the utility workers who got us back on the grid. Everything is closed for cold, so we are hunkered down at home, Mike made a lovely pot roast in the crock pot yesterday, I’ll make soup from same today.

Winter is always a creative time for me, no distractions of travel, garden and other warmer weather enjoyments. Friends, Carol Myers and Pat DaRif and I are beginning to put together a body of work from shared materials. Carol got us started with some lovely semi-sheer rust-dyed fabric, I made some cotton and linen solar-dyed pieces, and Pat contributed richly textured fabrics, screen-printed from her original Thermofax plates. I was also interested in using some of the many domestic linens I have collected that had names and monograms on them, the original owners long lost to memory. Here are a few glimpses of my stitching explorations and beginnings.

A Lot of Time for Reading.

Here are a few titles from my “in the deep of winter” reading binge.

Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield; Our Homesick Songs, Emma Hooper; Clock Dance, Anne Tyler; Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng; The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry; A Country Road, a Tree, Jo Baker; A River of Stars, Vanessa Hua; Force of Nature, Jane Harper; and Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss.

Living Waters

Strangers at the Gates

Strangers at the Gates

Boxing Day in South Bend is chilly, but sunny. We did not have snow for the holiday, nice for all of our travelers, but not so great for the little baby sled under the tree for our grandson. We have a nice training sledding hill, right in our front yard, so maybe later this winter.

A few years ago, The Indiana Women’s Caucus for Art decided to put together an exhibit about threats to the Great Lakes. Several of our members actually live on Lake Michigan, and others on waters close by. The show, Living Waters, took a while to come together, and we had some challenges securing the right venue, but here we are, two weeks out from installation. The piece that I made, Strangers at the Gates, is about the three electric barriers on the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal that separate the Asian Carp in the Mississippi River water system from the Great Lakes. These invasive fish are voracious and a huge threat to the food chain for aquatic life. They would join a long line of other invasive species, carelessly introduced, with unintended consequences to the balance of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Living Waters, opens January 14, 2019, at the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture, South Bend, and will close March 22.

I also have a piece, Coin Op Laundry, in the Art Link Midwest Regional Juried Exhibit, opening January 4 at Art Link Gallery in Fort Wayne, IN.

Reading List:

I am closing my 2018 good reads with a few astounding titles: Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver; Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger; and The History of Bees, by Maja Lunde. Other books I have enjoyed, Ways to Hide in Winter, by Sarah St. Vincent; Key to Treehouse Living, by Elliot Reed; There, There, by Tommy Orange; and Longbourne, by Jo Baker.

Best wishes for a 2019 that is full of promise and possibility!

Art in the World

There were a lot of exhibition opportunities for me this fall, and I am so pleased to have work on both coasts and in-between, currently on view.

Woman Made Gallery, Quilts+Resist

Friday night, my friend Pat DaRif and I set out for Chicago for the opening of the Quilt+Resist show at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. I had not been to their new venue in the Pilsen neighborhood, up four flights to an exciting space in a converted factory. You can use the link above to see all the works in this interesting and diverse exhibit. My entry was Triangle Fire: Flightless Birds 2. Pat also has a piece in the exhibit, as well as internet friends, Amy Meissner and Paula Kovarik.

Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Quilts=Art=Quilts, 2018

I have two quilts in this exhibit, never shown before. The exhibit is open through January 3, at the Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY. Here is a photo of one of the quilts. These were constructed from a stash of found gloves and an abandoned blanket.

So Much Slipping Through Our Fingers

So Much Slipping Through Our Fingers

This is the artist statement I wrote for these entries:

The quilt begins with a curious stash of gloves, all fibers and colors, worn and damaged.  Stitched over many months, the work evolves into a familiar story of time and of loss.

Visions: Connections, Visions Museum, San Diego, CA

There is a special place in my heart for Visions Museum. This was the first big international juried exhibition I entered, back in 2014. Despite my amateurish photography, my work was selected. It was a small, quirky piece, The Lost Art of Mending: Constellation. Our youngest daughter was living for a year in the Monterey area, and Mike and I traveled to CA, (another first for me), for the opening in San Diego and a road trip along the coastal highway north. I think this early affirmation gave me the confidence I needed to continue in the art direction I was going, and to take some chances on other opportunities. This year, I entered one of the laundry quilts, Sorted, and although I could not travel to the opening, the beautiful photography in the catalog took my breath away. I must have misunderstood the directions, so my pithy, to-the-point artist statement was not published, rather, they used my “general artist statement” which was okay too (though the words in bold were omitted, and I don’t want to seem presumptuous that my work is always “insightful”) Here are the both of them.

I found a dozen white cotton shirts, wadded in the corner of a forgotten box. Wrinkled thieves of time, happily abandoned for permanent press.

The lives of women, and how we are connected to textiles, is what interests me as an artist. I collect worn clothing, domestic linens and sewing scraps, and then I construct meaning from these pieces of cloth.  I enjoy the process of working with materials that have passed through other hands, and I look for a story, maybe a snapshot of a moment, to open a visual narrative. The idea of women’s work is a recurring theme in my art, so I use hand stitching and embroidery to hold the pieces together, to bind the layers and gather the textile detritus of the everyday into a new whole. The work I do, and the way of working that I value, is slow and mindful.  In the end, I want to create an insightful visual image, one that invites viewers to look closely and make connections to their own stories.  

My Reading List

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens; Transcription, by Kate Atkinson; A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, and The Golden State, by Lydia Kiesling.

Sorted, (detail)

Sorted, (detail)

Laundry Days

On Exhibit

Colfax Campus Gallery, South Bend

November 2 - December 14, 2018

Opening reception on Friday, November 2, 5-7 PM, and Friday, December 7 for a screening of Clotheslines, a short film by Roberta Cantow at 6PM. A $5 donation is suggested to benefit Broadway Christian Parish Laundry Ministry.

“There is pleasure and dignity in freshly laundered clothes. Laundry is a chore that offers aesthetic enjoyment, yet represents hours of routine toil. It can be a shared experience done in the public setting of a laundromat or on an outside clothesline, or completed alone in a basement or laundry room. In particular, laundry is inseparable from the everyday lives of most women.

Through examining carefully arranged clothes pinned on clotheslines, noting the distinctive locations and décor of coin-operated laundromats, or reinterpreting a found-bundle of white shirts and other cloth remnants, each of us honor the ordinary and necessary task of doing the laundry.”  

Kay Westhues, Danny Graber, and Helen Geglio


Helen Geglio,  Line Dried  (detail)

Helen Geglio, Line Dried (detail)

Danny Graber,  A Measure of Color

Danny Graber, A Measure of Color

Kay Westhues,  Val-Rod Laundry and Emporium, Koontz Lake, IN,  archival pigment print

Kay Westhues, Val-Rod Laundry and Emporium, Koontz Lake, IN, archival pigment print