I have lots of great photos to share about the last 4 weeks of my work on the diaspora art quilt project. My camera battery charger disappeared midway through September, causing a delay in photographing my progress. It’s been great to have the time to dedicate to the project. Tomorrow I start a full-time job, less time to quilt, so It’s a good thing I’ve gotten most of it done.
This is what the piece looks like with the silk laminated collage basted onto the cotton sateen hand-stamped with the hurricane-symbol shapes; at this point, I’ve started cutting away at the top using reverse applique to create depth, and at the very top you can see a white hurricane-symbol shape cut out of paper, placed there to see if it would be a good location for reverse applique.
Here is a reverse applique shape cut out of the 2-layer quilt top; each of the applique shapes features a photo of New Orleans post-Katrina, and this photo features a banner suspended from a building, it reads “until we all come home”:
Once I cut out 14 reverse appliques like the one above, each one needed to be couched with colored yarn to cover up the seam. Here’s the same applique, now couched with yarn I dyed:
I used the shapes cut out from the top to create a spiral pattern on the back of the quilt:
And once the backing was done, I spent 2 arduous days basting the top and the back together with wool batting in the middle; once basted, I started quilting, and this is the result so far: I think you’ll agree that the quilting line really makes the collage “pop” out. I’m really pleased with the results so far!
Well, this is what my sewing room looked like for most of August as I ripped up about $100 worth of color photocopies and stuck them together in a roughly 72″ x 72″ square.
Here is collage as it was starting to come together….
…and here it is with the silk organza draped over it. The silk was getting ready to be screen-printed with the meteorological hurricane symbol, and I put stickers in a spiral on the silk so I’d know where to print. The theme of this piece is diaspora, and I’m using the images of a storm as both a metaphor of the diaspora experience, and as a literal example of diaspora, because I’ll be referencing Katrina and New Orleans later in the process of this piece.
So here is the finished collage….for the most part…..
…and this is a close up.
With the collage finished, I cut out hurricane symbol shapes and stuck them on the silk organza in a spiral, storm shape and then took the fabric outside to the patio where I could make a mess screen-printing the fabric.
Then, the silk was draped over the collage on my dining room table, and I screen-printed acrylic gel medium over the whole thing to transfer the collage to the silk.
And here is the collage stuck to the silk drying and heat-setting out in the hot Arizona summer sun. How did it turn out? Well, I’ll post again soon.
This is what I’ve got so far in my ambitious diaspora project. The size is roughly 58″x58″. The concentration camp image is almost done; above that is the Lincoln memorial image, you can see it in pencil barely, and I’m going to start filling that in today. I’m auditioning text for the other spaces, not sure where that will all go yet. Also, the conquistidor shape, a rubbing from my recent visit to Santa Fe, will factor in somehow, as will the national weather service hurricane symbol, which you can see to the left.
Here’s a close up:
And here is the stack of color photocopies (I’ve spent close to $100 on these) which I’ll be ripping up and fitting into the piece, somehow. I recently shared with one of the women in my bi-weekly art quilt group that I was spending my time shredding paper in my art studio; she asked me if I felt like a hamster. Not a lot of fabric is designed by ripping up paper and taping it together! Next time I’ll post a photo of the paper debris on the floor. It’s impressive. But, not until the Lincoln memorial design element is complete.
SAQA is the Studio Art Quilt Associates, a membership organization devoted to promoting and advancing the cause of the art quilt. I’ve been a member for about 3 years. They do a great job of sponsoring art quilt shows around the world. There’s an October 31 deadline for a show in Washington, D.C, and the theme is diaspora. I’m thinking of entering a piece.
Diaspora is not the most uplifting theme, admittedly, but if you’ve read any of my recent posts and noticed the dearth of posts due to my dad’s death, well, you wouldn’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to figure I haven’t been in the most upbeat of moods lately. Add prolonged unemployment to the list of woes and perhaps it’s understandable how the theme might be attractive to me at this time.
When I think of Diaspora I think of the excellent and moving eponymous recording by Natacha Atlas. I’ve been listening to that recording while looking through images I can use in an art quilt that expresses the themes of displacement and loss that inevitably occur to people who are forced or stolen from their homes, because without a home you are vulnerable to, among other things, violence, brutality, exploitation and death: as you can imagine, this is not an upbeat topic!
I have a photo of the end of the rail line at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I took 20 years ago during a trip to Poland. And I have a photo with a similar perspective line of the Lincoln memorial as seen from Arlington National Cemetery. I figure taking on both the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora is a bold place to start. I mapped out an enlarged version of the Birkenau photo on paper to see how it looks:
I started filling in the outline with torn up pieces of photocopies of the photo:
Here’s a closer photo:
Once I get to the Lincoln Memorial I’ll post more. But in the meantime, I have a lot of paper to rip up into tiny pieces. And once the collage is done, it will be transferred to silk.