Twelve Challenges: A Creative Response to Chaos
“Chaos” is defined as: complete disorder and confusion. Covid-19 created disorder and confusion world-wide. How do creative people react to this? - Certainly, there are as many responses as there are people. Here is just one example.
Studio Art Quilts Association (SAQA) Europe and Middle East is an association of fiber artists in many countries. Under lockdown orders from their respective governments, these artists meet bi-weekly on zoom. Among others the idea to give each other a monthly challenge was implemented (in a private Facebook Group). The goal is to overcome the inertia of isolation and lockdown and create a small art quilt 30 cm x 30 cm, or 12’ by 12’. (Baiba Vagule proposed and organized this idea and Birgit Schueller provided support.)
The created works are currently not publicly visible. In the following, you see my own responses. Each piece is an original, first painted by hand and then stitched. These works would not have been created without this challenge. I’m grateful for the organizers, and even more for the camaraderie, care, and sharing that developed during this year.
When I heard about the topic HOME, I started to think about which part of my home I like best? - It is this indoor-outdoor space for which we use the Italian word ”Loggia”. My favorite moments are the early mornings, when the light after sunrise is reflected in this space.
I’d wish you could come and see it for yourself. A cup of tea is always available.
Summer in the “California Coastal Range” is a very specific experience: the sky is blue, the hills are round; they look like a child painted them; few trees nestled in valleys and this warm yellow-beige color everywhere. For me, it is the essence of “summer”.
“Hummingbird Visiting Bird of Paradise”
Last year, when visiting the garden of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, I took several photos of the beautiful distant views towards the slightly hazy ocean. Then this visitor appeared. It made the garden magical, an unforgettable moment.
Being an artist in residence in my own home, makes me think about past and future. Life feels like “coming full circle” but it is not a repetition, it is a gentle spiral for something new where dynamic colors and light interact.
“Spirals” also expresses the uplifting joy of color as an essential joy of life.
Going for a walk through the historic city center of Florence is of course enchanting. This silk painting of Ponte Vecchio adds another mood: storm clouds in the sky, the Arno river is full - will it burst?
“Blue Fractals” is painted with acrylics on silk, then hand-stitched. Like many people I like the color blue. Hand-stitching and blue are both calming and relaxing.
When I started to think about how to represent HOPE, my first response was: Green, a cheerful warm type of green. While painting the abstracted landscape on silk, I continued to think about HOPE, that it is like a rainbow (the colorful hand stitched French Knots), that it is the light at the end of a tunnel. (The tunnel is painted with textile crayons, then a reverse appliqué of black netting opens in the center. ) Finally, the Trapunto technique or stuffing the center with wool and silk fiber creates the three-dimensionality of HOPE.
“Primary Distance” shows yellow triangles, red squares, and blue circles recede in the distance by becoming smaller and less colorful. The colors as well as the shapes are primary or “essential workers” on the picture plane.
Painted with acrylics and stitched by hand, the yarn itself also portrays distance by ranging from thick black to gray and very fine, almost white thread.
“Opposition” goes against or disagrees with someone else. I asked myself how can I visualize this without any reference to sports or politics? -
So, here is “Minus is Plus”, made of black and white felt, fashion yarn, with hand- and machine-stitching.
The topic resilience made me think about all the things that I already have which can be used to get through harder times like lock-down, no art supply shopping, etc. Made from leftovers “Resilience” is primarily an abstract, mixed media piece, but the butterfly is appliquéd to symbolize transformation.
The nest is a symbol for safety; the netting underneath is the “safety net”.
An upcycled soft pink napkin is the background for this nest and a protective environment. As usual, painted with acrylics, then stitched by hand.
With this textile painting my aim of contributing 12 pieces is complete. Looking back over a year, my horizon and outlook are different. The external stimulus of traveling and working for an upcoming exhibition has been greatly minimized. I spend hours and hours in the studio because of the need to express myself in these and other works. I used to think that traveling is necessary as an inspiration, but over a year at home that’s obviously a “nice to have”, but not a “must have”. My horizon has become both smaller (inspiration from my immediate environment) and larger (looking for the essential, leaving out what isn’t needed).
This is depicted in this “Lady Bug in the Universe”.
Thank you for reading and participating in this artistic journey.
P.S. Most of these are not on my website, but being 12”x12” or 30cm x 30cm the price for each is $280. (As a gift, I’ll pay shipping within the US and sales tax for you.)