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

View from the Andes

From the first photo I saw, on the cover of National Geographic, I wanted to see it myself. So, Mike and I headed last week to Chicago O'Hare, then to Miami, then on to Lima, then to Cusco and by train to the Sacred Valley of the Inca, and finally to Machu Picchu. We loved Peru, the people, the places and the food. We traveled with close friends, seeing and learning so much. And none of the four of us suffered too much from the high altitude, drinking plenty of the local remedy, mate de coca.

Sometimes it is easy for me to get buried in my studio; cutting, stitching and thinking. It is good to get out into our big, beautiful world, and be amazed and delighted.

helen mpichu.jpg

A Quirky Quilt Top

Scrolling through ebay is my secret pleasure, and this unusual quilt top jumped out at me.  I bid on it, and before too long it arrived at my door, in "as is" condition.  I soon realized that it was paper-pieced, and very musty, with some old indigo and mourning prints. So, I picked the paper off and gave the whole thing a gentle wash. I saved the paper of never know when something like this will be needed.  Some of the paper looked like a bus or train timetable, one small fragment mentioned Milk St., Boston.  The quilt came from Wichita, Kansas.  It looks like someone put together the beginnings or leftovers from several different projects and said "good enough."  Yet, it was never made into a finished quilt, so maybe not quite good enough? We'll never know, and that is what intrigues me about using repurposed textiles in my artwork.  I am able to imagine new narratives in old cloth.  I don't know where I will take this, but I am thinking about it.

I have two small pieces from my Out Loud series showing in South Haven, MI, at the South Haven Center For the Arts this fall.  The exhibit is called WITH (re)PURPOSE, and will be on display from September 13 through November 3, 2018.

Summer Reading

These are a few titles I have enjoyed this summer:   Birds of Wonder, by Cynthia Robinson; The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, by Chris White; The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penney; Saints at the River, by Ron Rash; and a very thought-provoking read, Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent. I can't believe that summer is almost gone, I must have spent it reading and sewing...

Starched and Pressed

My quilt, Starched and Pressed, will be on view at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, CO from July 6 through September 1, 2018.  The exhibit, 36th Annual New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts, opens July 20 at the Lincoln Center.

  Starched and Pressed , cotton, linen, found white shirts

Starched and Pressed, cotton, linen, found white shirts

This piece had a bumpy start, I ended up cutting a whole section out of the center, then mending in a new section to fill the gap.  The result is a more dramatic, less symmetrical composition. Like the other pieces in this series, Starched and Pressed was created from fragments of a dozen cotton dress shirts. A detail appears below.

  Starched and Pressed , (detail)

Starched and Pressed, (detail)

What I'm Reading Lately:

West, by Carys Davis (I loved this spare, well told story); The Winter Station, by Jody Shields; Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje; The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande; A Reckoning, by Linda Spaulding.

A Dozen White Shirts

For the past few months, my sisters and I have been emptying our parent's house to get it ready for sale.  This has been an eye-opening journey, full of emotional pot-holes, happy memories and a lot of hard work for three women of a certain age.  Ever on the look-out for textile detritus, I made a discovery in a basement box of rags.  Wadded and stuffed into the corner, as if in a time-capsule, were a dozen white cotton dress shirts.

The shirts are from the early 1960s, some even have the date of purchase written on the shirttail with a laundry marker.  All of the shirts were also marked with the Union Label, a rare sight today. My father was a high school social studies teacher, and my mother laundered and ironed six white shirts a week for him to wear to school, and church on Sunday. I loved the smell of the fresh laundry, the spray starch and the hot iron.  My mom would put up the ironing board and tune in "As the World Turns" on the black and white TV, ironing until her show was over. So many stolen hours spent washing, line-drying, dampening, starching and ironing. 

These white shirts are the focus of a new series of quilts in A History of Toil, all about laundry. I have done plenty of laundry myself, so I have a lot of imagery to draw from.  Coin Op Laundry, the first in the series, was selected for the upcoming exhibit of Artist as Quiltmaker, at the Firelands Association for the Arts, in Oberlin, Ohio, May 12 through July 29, 2018. 

  Coin Op Laundry,  44" x 41", cotton, linen, found white dress shirts painted and dyed, hand embroidered and stitched

Coin Op Laundry, 44" x 41", cotton, linen, found white dress shirts painted and dyed, hand embroidered and stitched

I will write more about some of the textile processes I have used in these works as I go along.  The white cotton has been a blank canvas for all kinds of interesting exploration of surface design.


Spring Reading

Here are some of the titles I have read the past few weeks:  Happiness, by Aminatta Forna; An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones; Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen; The Flight of the Sparrow, by Amy Belding Brown; and Varina, by Charles Frazier.

Rites of Passage

Saturday my oldest daughter was married. Surrounded by family and friends, we celebrated the beginning of a journey, two young people venturing forth into a new life together.  An amazing handmade lace tablecloth came along for the party.  This beautiful domestic linen belonged to my maternal grandmother and graced her huge mahogany dining set. We gave it pride of place on a liquid-free welcome table, set with childhood photos of the bride and groom, some Jordan almonds and the seating chart.

 Handmade lace tablecloth, from the Chicago home of my grandmother.

Handmade lace tablecloth, from the Chicago home of my grandmother.

This is a really big cloth, easily covering the standard 8 foot rectangular dining table, with some amazing handwork, in perfect condition.  I especially like the cupid motif around the edges, shown in the detail below.


Women save these special textiles, hoping to have the special occasion to use them, kept safe in our cupboards and closets as reminders of the family matriarchs.  Grandma didn't make this, but she sure had an eye for beautiful things. It may yet see the light of day again in my lifetime for my other daughters and niece.  

 My daughter looking into a crystal ball, about age 5

My daughter looking into a crystal ball, about age 5

We had some serious flooding here in South Bend, and after the 6-8 inches of water in the basement drained off and we dried the place out, I decided to go through the plastic tubs that were labeled "kids art." Had we not had that flood, I would never have found this gem, made by my daughter all those years ago.  To be honest, she was not a very princess-y girl, but did go through an artistic period of queens, princesses and brides, of which this is a surviving example. I framed this and had it on that welcome table too. So, many happy moments, memories and hopes.  I am writing this post, then heading to the studio to resume my art life!

Standing Amazed at Woman Made

Geglio, shape garden 1, detail.jpg

Shape Garden 1, from the Standing Amazed series, is on view in the Woman Made Midwest Open through March 24.  Woman Made Gallery has recently moved to 2150 S. Canalport, Chicago. If you follow the link you can see all the work selected for the exhibition. The stars are not going to align for me to be able to see the show, but I am hoping that my daughters that live in Chicago will be able to get over to see it.

Busy month ahead, I have a whole list of entry possibilities, I need to take some photos (my least favorite job) and write some proposals and statements.  Maybe I can squeeze in some sewing!


What I am reading:

Here are a few of the titles I have recently read:  American Rust, by Philipp Meyer; Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke; Elmet, by Fiona Mozley; Heart Spring Mountain, by Robin MacArthur; and The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg.