Friday, September 23, 2011

Personal Stories Rewind

Well my January vision for myself was to be in Kaunas Lithuania about now but as with so many things, life had other plans for me.  But I can truthfully say that the journey to not getting there has been wonderful. I learned about various grant opportunities even if I didn't get one. I taught myself to make a video so I could plead for money on Kickstarter.  Didn't reach my goal on that either.  I figure folks were not really interested in the project and I can always use that information to get better next time.  But I remain thankful to Bertrijs Sterk of the European Textile Network for letting me know about the Kaunas Textile Biennial.  She has been EXTREMELY (and I mean that in all caps) supportive in my efforts to get to Kaunas.  An additional thanks to Virginija Vitkiene, curator of the Personal Stories Rewind project,  for her support and encouragement throughout the process.

But my travel efforts did not seem to fall into place and now I know it was with reason since my sister's husband, Micah Reynols, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Thursday morning and I am needed here more than I was needed there.

In the meantime, many wonderful opportunities continue to come my way.  The Personal Stories Rewind Project has been exciting to participate in in and I am including one of my favorite pieces in the project.  I had the chance to lecture at a couple of guild meetings this summer and this pieces was among the best received works in my presentation.  You will be able to see all of the pieces on the opening page of my website on Sunday. 

Downtown is 58" x 51.5" and includes several found objects, photo transfers, thread writing and machine quilting.  It reminds me of my childhood when we dressed up on Saturday to go shopping.  Of course this is reminiscent of the time period but it was also a safety factor for "Negroes" so we would be less suspect to shop keepers.  This is all part of my personal story of growing up in the segregated south of the 1950's and 1960's.

You will be able to see the work of other artists participating in the project by visiting this link.

I'll keep you posted on my other upcoming projects including the 1st Annual Cultural Arts Award Ceremony and Quilt Exhibit honoring Faith Ringgold beginning Thrusday October 6, 2011 through December 2, 2011 at Aaron Davis Hall Center for the Performing and Visual Arts, West 135t Street at Convent Avenue, New York, NY.  The show is curated by Dr. Myrah Brown Green.  Also I'll be showcasing the Paper Quilt Project opening in October 15, 2011 at the Berkeley Art Center.  The paper quilt for this project  was made in collaboration with partner, Nyls Jongewaard.  This exhibit is curated by Lena Wolff.  I'll be showing these pieces after they open for exhibit.

This week was the closing of the Civil War Quilt Exhibit at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, TN.  I'll be showing that quilt when I get it back later this month.

In the meantime, enjoy this first day of Fall 2011 and be good to yourself.  Here's to Micah Reynolds and all his good deeds to so many people.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Paper Quilt

Starting this month I'll be posting more frequently as I prepare for the Paper Quilt Project.  I've been invited to collaborate with an artist of my choice to make work for exhibition at the Berkeley Art Center in October.  The exhibit will include a catalog and I'll be posting about the process including images.  I'll be collaborating with my husband and fellow artist Nyls Jongewaard.  The theme of the project is interdependence or interconnectivity.  We are looking at relationships between people, places, the environment and the economy.  If you have ideas about the topic let me know.  I promise to keep better track of the comments.  As always thanks for checking on me.  If you are on Twitter you can also follow me there.

In the meantime, this piece is in the initial stage for my last Lithuania piece that will be about the 70's.  I'm looking at old photos of me with my Afro and platform shoes.  Gee I wish I had kept those.  Right now I'm excited about including clothing in work along with imagery, words and anything else I can find that fits the theme.

Happy Fourth of July weekend and happy art making to all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Separate Worlds

Marion working on Downtown Story Quilt--yes, this is a full size dress, hat and gloves.

First let me thank you all for your comments.  It is nice to see your interest in the workshops.  We certainly had lots of fun.  Today I'm sharing my latest project Separate Worlds, a six part story quilt project that is headed for Lithuania late this summer for a fall exhibit for the 2011 Textile Biennial in Kaunas, Lithuania.  I am also asking you to consider pledging to this project on the Kickstarter fundraising platform.  See this link for more information.  Any amount will help and you get a reward depending on the category you select.

Please share information about the project as I pursue this method of presenting my work to a larger audience. 

Now for a different story.  I was lucky to be a semi-finalist for a library public art project in New Orleans earlier this year.  I wasn't selected but I certainly had fun learning more about their jazz/music traditions.  Following are images for one of the mini quilts (maquettes) I made.  I plan to make them to full size and develop them more later this summer.  There will be three connected pieces. I'm still thinking about the Mardi Gras Indians and how to present them.

This is the second piece before I stitched it.  For the final pieces I'll add more detail for the figures.  These were just to get the idea across.

While researching this work I became aware of the rich diversity of musical forms for New Orleans and I look forward to getting them completed and I will be sharing them on my updated website.

Don't forget to check my Kickstarter project and please make a pledge for any amount.  This is the new way for each of us to be art patrons and benefactors.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Textural Rhythms exhibit at the Museum of the African Museum has come and gone but there were so many exciting moments that it has taken me a while to calm down from the beauty of it all.  In March I lead three art quilt workshops that started with fiber postcards, a mainstay of my short workshop program.  Students who are interested in art, fiber, thread and needle work find themselves inspired and the quilt projects easy to accomplish no matter their skill level.  I usually do the sewing and introduce them to using new materials and using a sewing machine.  Some students attended all three workshops and made several projects for themselves and for gifts.  I am looking forward to seeing and working  with these creative students again in the future.

No matter how organized I try to be I always manage to forget something.  For the first workshop I forgot my sewing feet and thread.  I left them in the studio nicely packed in a plastic bag.  Thank goodness for an understanding and accommodating husband.  He made the 40 minute drive from our home in Castro Valley to San Francisco to bring these essential items so I could actually conduct the class.  Thanks Nyls.

Niambi and her mother Ora came to all three workshops and were very prolific.  Ora has a natural ability to create fabulous mask and portraiture quilts.  She gravitated toward using imagery within the fabric to drive the design of her pieces.  It was a delight to see her work.

Ora started saying she didn't know what to do but she moved past that quickly and designed some dynamic pieces using ethnic fabrics.  She also began exploring what type of sewing machine she would use in the future.  Mother and daughter used this workshop as a time to share and develop a mutual interest in fiber.  It was great to work with them.

Deborah helped save the day when she used her iphone to provide music for the workshops.  Thanks girlfriend!..She created a variety of work including postcards, a 12" square mini quilt and started designing a memory quilt for her father.  I demonstrated making photo transfers via computer and scanner in the second workshop.

Anita and I know each other from  African American Quilt Guild meetings.  She is an experienced sewer and used this experience to create a variety of work.  Like me she has a background in making garments.  She was also interested in embellishing using beads and other materials.  She came to all three workshops too and by now has probably completed many additional fiber projects.

These events have a funny way of connecting people who didn't even know each other.  Patty came to two workshops and made fiber postcards and a 12" mini quilt that included a nature photo transfer.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the piece but I remember it well.  Patty and another student in the second class had mutual acquaintances at work and had lots to share although they did not know each other prior to the class.

Allison watched attentively as I worked on he postcard.  She was only able to attend one class because of  inevitable Saturday time conflicts.  I wish her well on her expressed desire to make a baby quilt for a family member.

 Although we had a small space we optimized every bit of it.  Don't you just love the organized chaos of working with fiber!

My neighbor, Virginia, and I weathered the rainy weather to trek into San Francisco to indulge our passion for fabric.  Once she got the hang of it she was very productive.  I really like this African mini quilt she designed.

She and I both agree if we can't get to Africa anytime soon we'll just bring pieces of Africa to us.  And so she did.

This nice fish card looks great and make us all want to go to the beach.  Maybe it also helped us escape the rain and wind outside with  fantasies of the great sea and San Francisco Bay.

I can't remember who made this beautiful piece but it looks like it was done by Christine since I see her signature at the bottom.  It certainly has the spirit of the jazz quilts in the gallery.

For the third and final workshop Doris made this excellent mini quilt.  She had a vision and implemented it with great care. She graciously send me this photo after she completed the piece at the end of the day.   The final class was absolutely full after the workshop was designed in the San Francisco Chronicle as an event to attend.  Whoopee!

Yes, we can thank Doris and Louis Armstrong for reminding us what  that it is a wonderful and diverse world.

Another jazz inspired piece includes this work that uses paper, braid and photo transfers.  Very nice.

Pride shows all over Deborah's face as she presents her ethnic mini quilt.  So many nice beginnings.

For sure I'll treasure the creativity and energy expressed by the students in March.  We were all uplifted by the process and the results.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras Sunday

There's nothing like smiling faces to bring joy to our hearts.  These students joined me on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Mardi Gras and participate in Art Is Education in the Castro Valley Library.  Although it was a cool and cloudy afternoon we happily explored paper mask making with vigor.  The child in all of us came to the forefront as we cut, pasted, attached sequins, feathers, ribbons and anything else we could creatively add to our parade of masks.

Feathers were a surprise hit with all students be they young or older.  Older holiday papers worked wonderfully for providing a bit of sparkle to the masks.  The golden star looks beautiful in contrast to the stripes on the youth mask.
All three girls make their own uniquely different masks that they can wear with pride and joy.  I am always thankful to the parents to come in and help make these events so successful.

These quick learning students came near the end of class and managed to finish in plenty of time.

The same can be said for these two.  She was still wearing her mask when I was leaving the building.

This gives new meaning to  the description of Pretty in Pink.

This star crested mask is a standout as it sports the two golden feathers.
These are returning students from the Altered Book workshop.  They have both grown and changed in the last few months.  It was great to see them.

Now this is a star adult student who made these wonderful jungle/tropical themed masks.  I love the monkey and she didn't think the piece was complete until she added the bananas.  Donna and I have worked together for many years in book sales organized by Friends of the Library.  I'm looking forward to having her help me with with future workshops now that I see how creative she is.  Check out that iguana on top of the mask she's wearing.  Makes me think of St. Thomas, Virgin Island.

My reliable partner in art, Marjorie made several masks as we prepared to have a display in the youth exhibition case.  Marjorie and I did double duty last weekend as part of Alameda County Art Is Education programming.  On Saturday we conducted an Altered Book workshop in Union City.  Thanks Marjorie!

Here's the teaching duo.  I was attempting to work with a youngster who was about 3 years old.  He started to cry.  This mask might have been just a bit too much for him, especially when you add all the beads.  Overall we had a lot of fun and here's to Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations around the world.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


In December a lunar eclipse was visible in Castro Valley.  My husband I dressed warmly and took our cameras outside to photograph the event.  The eclipse was much clearer looking through my camera viewer than observing the eclipse with the naked eye.  It was interesting to see the color changes as the eclipse progressed.  A small quilt series might be possible with these images and now might be the time to look at using fiber paints to achieve these color blends.  It sure was fun watching this natural phenomenon occur.

Isn't this a beautiful red color with the darker shades showing on the left and bottom.  I'm happy I had a chance to see it and include it my memories of the natural world.

Now let's come back to earth and talk trees!  I have always loved them and can't seem to pass one without  taking a photograph.  As a semi-finalist for the North Berkeley, CA Public Library I proposed a series of metal trees for two of the hallways that will be part of the library expansion.  I was fortunate to be selected the finalist for  the project and will be collaborating with my husband and fellow artist, Nyls Jongewaard who will be fabricating the designs for me.  I get to learn about metal work with this project and it is an exciting expansion of my work.

This is the design board for the project.  We'll be using a reverse applique concept with copper and stainless steel.  I'll keep you posted on progress of the project including images of us at work.

These are quilts of trees in progress.  The winter tree quilt is made in the same tones as the metal trees.

This piece is 30" x 31.5" and is straighter than this photo indicates.  I really should be using my tripod.
Evening tree in progress

Spring tree in progress

I anticipate making ten or more tree series quilts which have a calming effect on me and others.  I'd like to do some hospital commissions and these just might work.  Following are some of my inspiration sources for the next pieces.  Fortunately for me there are lots of green spaces in my little town and lakes too.  Who knows I may try quilts with water themes as well.

These trees are on a local road near Lake Chabot. I like the idea of including the fence. Sometimes horses are grazing in the field.  The region has Oak and Eucalpytus trees in abundance.
I can see this as an abstract with that bit of gold along with the various shades of green and greys.

Who says California doesn't have color with its seasons.  Here's a bit of gold in December.

This is the inspiration tree  for my public art project.

The last bits of red and gold before winter rains wash the leaves away.

A grove of Eucalyptus near Crow Creek Canyon
Winter trees inspiration

This wall and tree were near highway 680 approaching Walnut Creek.  The shadow on the wall add to the texture along with the exposed earth next to vivid green grass.  This is definitely next in the series.

This grove of trees are in Alameda right off the San Francisco Bay.  They take lots of abuse from the winds blowing off the bay.

These show a bit of lean from the elements

All of these Alameda trees show the variation of sizes and tree structure that bring a richness to the environment.  As Joyce Kilmer wrote

"I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree..."

Enjoy the trees in your neighborhood.