Foreclosure Quilt : Atlanta

There's nothing like a deadline to make one motivated! I finished the Atlanta Foreclosure quilt just in time to hang it at the SOMArts Gallery on Monday for San Francisco Open Studios. I left all of my red thread at home over the weekend, brilliant! So there was a lot of last minute sewing to be done once I returned.

Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt, 2011. 19 1/2" x 19 1/2"
Recycled denim, bleached linen, cheesecloth, yarn and embroidery thread.
This is my smallest piece as the size was limited by the gallery. All of the materials are remnants from my studio. The backing on this piece is my remaining hemp napkin from my Inhabit Project with Vanessa Filley. Quilting with denim and thick hemp is not easy. My fingers were certainly sore, especially after working quickly at the last minute!

Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt detail
The color variations are a pattern that relates to how many foreclosed lots are located within a block. The more foreclosures, the darker the color. Given that I was limited with reusing my materials, it almost works out perfectly. You can see process photos here.

Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt detail
You can see this piece in person at SOMArts Gallery at 934 Brannon Street in San Francisco from September 30th to October 29th. Regarding Open Studios, I will be showing at Clara Street Studios in San Francisco's SOMA district with my friend, artist Ruth Freeman on October 15th and 16th from 11 to 6 pm. I used to work with Ruth over a decade ago in the architecture world. The address is 185 Clara Street at 5th Street, Studio 102B. I will have three of my Foreclosure pieces on display as well as all of my Idiom Series from last year. I hope to see some of you there!



I haven't been posting as regularly as I like but there's a good reason. Remember this photo I posted over a month ago of a house we toured in Sonoma?

Well, it's now a picture of our yard! Yes, we had been thinking about finding a weekend home in Sonoma and this was the first house we toured but it was way over our budget so we walked away, a little sadly I might add. Well, it turns out by a few flukes, it practically fell into our laps. So it pays to dream a little sometimes!

This is the reason why I haven't been posting as much. Lots and lots of work to be done. It's all good, harvesting time and repainting rooms. It looks as if my new side art will be farming on a 1/3 acre scale. For when I'm able to finally work on art again on the weekends there's a separate artist's studio as well.

Well, actually I will be working on art this weekend. I have to finish the Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt by this Monday. I'll have pictures to share next week when it's done! I hope everyone has a wonderful and hopefully more restful weekend than us!


Upcoming shows

After a summer lull, things are picking back up as September rolls through. My foreclosure series will be featured in New American Paintings, No. 97 Pacific Coast Edition.

I know, I know ... what? Fiber in a journal all about painting? Apparently, they are becoming more inclusive of collage and fiber work. When I started this blog, one of my main goals was to call attention to fiber artists who make fine art. Having my work included in this traditional 'painting' venue feels like I'm finally getting somewhere with all of it. Yes! Issue 97 should be out in January 2012 and will be available at most newstands throughout the US. If you are interested in learning more about the journal, which is published regionally six times a year, click here.

I also learned last week that my foreclosure series will also be featured in an upcoming show at Kala Art Gallery in Berkeley, CA.

The show is called "Cashing Out - Alternative Financial Systems". It was a perfect fit for my foreclosure pieces. The image above comes from their site and seems quite fitting. Showing at Kala was another one of my five year goals (yes, I have a list. So should you!), so I'm thrilled to be a part of what looks like a very interesting exhibition. The show runs from October 27th through December 3rd at the Kala Art Gallery. There will be a reception on October 27th from 6 to 8. Read more about the show here. Hope to see some of you there!


work table : Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt

After many days of searching all over the Deep South for a location for my next foreclosure quilt, I honed in on Atlanta. When I was growing up, Atlanta was the only big city I knew. Living in north Florida, we would drive through Atlanta every year on our way to camp in the Great Smokey Mountains. We would always spend the night in Atlanta with family friends. I dreamed of moving there one day for art school. When I was nineteen, my husband and I did move to Atlanta ...  but stayed only three months. Then the recession hit, he lost his job there and we moved over to Alabama for three years. We spent many weekends driving back to visit for some big city culture and decent shopping.

I got it into my head to only use remnant fabrics on this piece. I kept thinking of the phrase "under water" with regard to mortages and blue seemed to be perfect choice to represent this. The darkest, bluest rectangles represent blocks with the most foreclosures. The lightest, the least.

I am handsewing the blocks again. I love using this thick string to represent the "roads" of dashed lines between the blocks. The string is also a remnant I found at our local artist resource center, SCRAP.

The ikat print fabric is from my friend Myrna, who gifted me a small pile of them from Confluence, this year's Surface Design conference. Thank you, Myrna! This really creates a bit of depth to the piece.

The backing of the piece will be my last remaining used hemp napkin from my Inhabit Project with Vanessa Filley. Stay tuned, this piece has to be finished by next week for the SOMArts gallery show that runs concurrently with San Francisco Open Studios. More details very soon about where and when I will have my open studio this year!


Artist : Rebecca Burgess

Rebecca Burgess is a textile artist and educator who works with natural dyes. Her book Harvesting Color was just published. It offers an overview of wild and natural plants one can easily find across the US to use as dyes. Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco hosted her free lecture and workshop today. It opened up a lot of possiblities for future ideas in my own work.

Rebecca Burgess stirring the dye vat.
Rebecca gave us an overview of dyeing with common locally known plants, using coreopsis as a sample. She is currently growing coreopsis as well as Indigo on her own property in Marin. Here is a season's worth of dried coreopsis from farmer's market bouquets nearby.

The orange dye baths were a beauty in themselves. She encouraged us to bring a small fabric or yarn sample to try out the process.

It was crowded but somehow we all managed to slip in a sample.

Amazing setting at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco.
I brought along a natural linen and couldn't believe how well it took the dye in just five minutes. Look at that orange!

Afterwards, we dipped our fabrics in either wood ash or lemon juice for a few seconds. Can it get more beautiful than this with all these galvanized buckets and bamboo sticks?

In addition to focusing on natural dyes and harvesting Rebecca has also created the Fibershed Project. She challenges participants to wear only clothing made from sources found within a 150 mile radius. This is where I see new ideas popping into my head about a future series:

The Fibershed project is inspired by the need to swing the pendulum of our production- and our consumption to a more balanced state, that supports the health of all humans and the greater ecological system of which we are apart; through the re-integration of organic fibers, natural dyes, and a regional base that supports local communities and economies.

In my community alone thousands upon thousands of pounds of wool are composted or thrown into the landfills each year. We have a 13% unemployment rate, all the while if you go to a store to buy a wool undershirt– the raw material is from New Zealand, and the production from China.

The Fibershed concept was coined in response to this extreme situation–with the inspiration that farming, milling, production and manufacturing could once again live in balance with the land we call home.

Rebecca Burgess

Image by Paige Green

I heard Rebecca mention mills and my ears perked up. In my latest research on my southern foreclosure quilt, I searched everywhere for mills. They exist, but they are dwindling rapidly. Even since the 2000's, the US are losing mills to other countries. I love the idea of bringing the mills back to produce our own products. Now how to share this idea in my artwork?

See Rebecca's website here and The Fibershed Project here. Rebecca's book is available here.


Foreclosure Quilt : Cleveland, OH

After a lengthy summer away from the studio, I jumped right back in and finished Cleveland over the holiday weekend. This is my largest piece yet at 60" high.
Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt, 2011. 25" x 60"
Voile, cotton, linen, denim and embroidery thread.

This was a challenging quilt to make for some reason. Perhaps it was the broad scale of the neighborhood that I chose to include or simply just a larger size than my others. And yes, there was a lot of cutting and sewing to be done here.

What is interesting about Cleveland's foreclosure development is they are ahead of other cities in dealing with this crisis. They say this is ground zero, it started here in 1997. What this provides us is a look of how other communities might evolve over time.

And there is a glimmer of hope here. At least 200 for-profit community gardens have popped up all over the city, planted on top of abandoned lots in neighborhoods struggling to rebuild.

The Forest Hill neighborhood has at least four of these gardens, some are quite large as seen above. Some are simply residential lots that have been turned into smaller gardens.

Having these has certainly created a sense of community for those residents who thought there was no hope for their neighborhoods. These are my interpretations of community gardens in embroidery and applique.

Does it look like a thriving garden to you? And can you tell I had fun making these? Learn more about Cleveland's gardens here and here. Data for the quilt was provided by Google Earth, NEO CANDO and Summer Sprout Community Garden program in Cleveland.


work table : inspiration

This is my first week back full-time in the studio since mid-June, gasp! I was able to squeeze in a solid week here and there but it clearly wasn't enough. There is no time to waste! I've had several deadlines pop up suddenly, all good, but a tad confusing. One of my deadlines included preparing some print ready images of my foreclosure series. Seeing them all lined up made me realize how much more work I have left in this series to make. Which is a sad feeling in one respect but a good feeling knowing there is a focus in my work right now. And where am I going with the next piece?

Hmmm, perhaps the Deep South. I'm looking into the cotton growing/denim making regions of the US. The South has certainly had it's share of foreclosures. I'm orginally from the South, so it's been an interesting journey to see what has happened to the states I once called home which include Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. What will this quilt will look like? Here are some of my inspirations right now, Japanese boro.
Image from Sri Threads.
Image from Sri Threads.
Image from Sri Threads.
Image from Sri Threads.
Image from Sri Threads.

Lots of great ideas lurking from the past, just calling out to be reinterpreted. I love being in this place in the process. Not sure what's next but excited to experiment.


Related Posts with Thumbnails