“Because let me not be defined by my gender! Let me not have to create works that are a reflection of the single most obvious difference between me and the standard!!

Let me not be defined by my “otherness” but rather my “sameness”!!!”

Luke Haynes after his interview with Abby Glassenberg’s podcast While She Naps 

 I miss the quarterly SAQA MARI meetings (Studio Art Quilt Associates Massachusetts Rhode Island Chapter). Heading out on those Saturday mornings were special treats. The meeting format was pretty straightforward: chitchat, then a presentation on technique or arts management (how I loved the meetings where Vicki Jensen at ProChem shared her vast knowledge), more chitchat over packed lunch and then show and tell. If not carpooling with another art quilter, I’d detour to discover destinations near the meeting location. Many times, though, the in person meeting would drive me straight back to my studio for play and progress on my own work.

The SAQA MARI programming committee adapted with the times and now offers Zoom alternatives. On May 16, the guest speaker was Luke Haynes. His express ride through his approach, inspiration and exploration of quilt as object, as sculpture, made from used textiles and celebrating himself, his community and quilt history lingered long after I clicked “Leave Meeting.”

If you don’t know Luke’s work, think big. We’re talking at least seven feet square densely quilted three layers, made from used textiles and using traditional quilt blocks as the backdrop for a portrait. Inspired by famous compositions and iconic paintings, his portraits of friends and people in his neighborhood inject his quilts with contemporary sense of place and immortal remembrance. These art quilts hang on walls in galleries and also grace beds. Quilts often are anonymous works, signed on the back. Luke signs in all caps on the front, and even makes his name part of the composition. 

A quilter after my own heart, Luke photographs his beautiful work outdoors, draped in stunning natural settings, wrapped around people. These objects transform space as it  transforms as a work of art. His objects are beautiful and useful. Luke chooses to challenge the role and place for art. What do we value? What is desirable and worth commemorating?  How we carry those parameters forward?

Sometime in the mid 1990s, Michael James shook up the quilt world by saying something to the effect of quilting will not move forward as an art form until quilters create art. I would have read this in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine or perhaps the International Quilt Association. Making quilts near Rome in those days, when the internet was young, I found James’ statement thought provoking and I tried to get my head around his perspective. 

At one of the first quilt exhibits in Italy, I remember a surprised and perplexed visitor looking at my work and exclaiming, “This isn’t a quilt. It’s art.”

In her mind, art was a world apart. She came for quilts, that iconic American bed covering whose popularity bubbled up in those days. It was another expression of “made by hand” that Italians cherish. While textile hand work was overwhelmingly women’s work, an “artigiana/o” or artisan is anyone who creates or manufactures objects. Tailors, cheesemakers, boat manufacturers all are artisans.

After his 45 minute presentation, question and answer time wasn’t as spirited as I thought it may be. Was I the only one who was still taking it in? Did others in the mainly female over 60 audience find themselves pondering questions afterwards? The first question was more of a statement: she pondered the perspective difference and vision he had. Is she still thinking about it? I checked out the SAQA MARI Facebook group, and the conversation was sparse.

I love the way Luke wraps himself, his neighborhood and the way galleries are happy to accept his work as art. What would Michael James think?

Maybe that conversation will happen some day. In the meantime, I’ll head back to my studio and keep on making things. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to the artists whose legacies sustain us today. Thank you to today’s artists whose creations and connections lead us toward tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Oliver’s poetry is one way I slow down to appreciate the beauty of existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you a fulfilling journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quilt Photo Declaration

Writing a Studio Art Quilt Associates member profile  about myself sent me scampering for quilt images. Turning to the CDs, flash drives and cloud storage nooks where my art quilt photos lurk, I found some nice memories.

Alanna Nelson art landscape quilts of Italy

Detail from “The Road to School,” 1999.

Alanna Nelson Italian landscape quilts

Detail “Road to School,” 1999

It took forever to sew these pinky nail sized leaves onto the Road to School. At that point, I would machine quilt for the bed, but art quilts were always hand quilted. Now I use a longarm or hand quilt, depending on the statement and effect desired.

Hand dyed wool, cotton art quilt Bright Sky by Alanna Nelson

Bright Sky II, 2013

I couldn’t easily find CDs of some professionally photographed quilts. Ack. There are quilts that I never photographed, some of which I’ll probably never see again.

Italian Landscapes in Art Quilts by Alanna Nelson

Gioia’s Rainbows, 2003

This little journey down quilt memory lane shows how pursuing the Master Hand Knitter program has reduced my quilting since 2013. That will soon be out of my life so I can focus on quilting more.

I hereby declare:

to photograph all completed quilts from this day forth, establishing a data storage policy which shall make future retrieval of digital images more efficient.

Art Quilt Collector: Dawn Allen

As an art quilter, collecting and admiring art quilts comes part and parcel with the passion. This fall, I vowed to support the Studio Art Quilt Associates Auction for 2015. With 358 members submitting work, this is a mind boggling bounty of techniques and voices expressed in 12″ x 12″ quilts.

With my small, defined budget, my bidding opportunities meant I could participate toward the end of the week’s bidding. On the other hand, the selection of beautiful quilts that I could get with my small, defined budget was bountiful!

Last week, the latest addition to my art quilt collection arrived:

Alanna Nelson art quilt collector buys Dawn Allen's quilt

Dawn Allen’s 3 D art quilt is now mine! Dawn is a fellow Massachusetts/Rhode Island Studio Art Quilt Associate member. Hurray!

You can run on down to the Fuller Craft Museum to see another Dawn Allen quilt through January, 2016.

Hanging at Original Sewing Expo SAQA booth

It’s another one of those ridiculous weekends when there’s not enough time for all the great exhibits going on in New England. So spoiled to bask in the plethora of textile wonder, my weekend will actually start on Thursday, April 10 at the Original Sewing Expo in Worcester. Find me at the Studio Art Quilt Associates booth at the beginning of the day.

Of course, it’s time for the Machine Quilters Expo… an event I’ve never actually been to, but I can count on Laurena and other Rising Star Quilters to fill me in.

If you haven’t yet seen the New England Quilt Museum’s  exhibit of the 2012 Nihon Japan winning quilts… run!  The show closes this weekend.  I was so pleased to see my friend Teresa Gai‘s quilt there.

As I test my hat pattern and proof my Master Knitter Portfolio, my thoughts turn back to quilting. Walking at Breakheart Reservation last weekend, I loved the black and white lines contrasting with the blue sky and the winding path. Possibilities…..

Alanna Nelson SAQA Art Quilts at Original Sewing Expo

Cohesive Art Quilts at Images Quilt Show in Lowell

Cohesive Art Quilts at Images Quilt Show in Lowell

Quilting simmers on the back burner this year as I pursue the last stage of the master knitter program. Without starting my tirade for more hours in a day, let me just say how pleased I was to participate in the Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibit at the 2013 Images Quilt Show in Lowell. Val and Michele led the charge as co leaders of the Massachusetts/Rhode Island chapter of SAQA. As the veteran event organizer, I can totally applaud and appreciate the time and energy dedicated to this exhibit. Thanks, wonder women!

The SAQA special exhibit called for three works made by the same person united by theme, techniques or colors.  What a great opportunity to look through my quilts and complete finishing touches to one languishing! These were the 3 quilts I showed from August 8 – 10, 2013.

Entry Blessings, 2013
Alanna Nelson Art Quilt

I originally put this quilt together for last fall’s Rising Star Quilter show, but was so unhappy with the work, I took it apart and modified the felted background, approached the appliqué in a different manner and requilted the work. The Arabic greeting wishes all who enter peace and tranquility. Besides the wet felted “cloud,” I embroidered the words on silk, adding a trail of sequins and beads.  I tried to balance formality with irregular shapes… not sure if I got it right yet, but the felted cloud functions better than it did last fall.

Bright Skies II, 2013Mix media quilts by Alanna Nelson, Boston, MA

Inspired by a baby quilt I made in 2003 (that hung on the wall and not in the crib, I hear), I dyed and painted many of the fabrics in both Bright Skies quilts during my days in Rome. Fabric, felted and knitted suns are reverse appliquéd to the piece. The lower right sun is simply a machine quilted circle… indicating perhaps new techniques I may incorporate in my quilts? This was my languishing quilt, as the top was completed in 2010.

Gioia’s Rainbows, 2003

Italian landscape art quilt by Alanna NelsonDriving around the Castelli Romani in 1998, I came upon a most magnificent double rainbow. I made this quilt during my youngest daughter’s rainbow phase, but it sat in a drawer for a decade. I think it’s time to hang this quilt somewhere.

Now it’s off to play with more fabric!