Thursday, July 15, 2010

Color Improvisations now on display in Germany

My husband and I have just gotten home from almost a month in Germany. The motivation was a combination of nostalgia (we lived there for three years when we were first married, many decades ago), family heritage (I found the villages where three of my great- and great-great-grandparents were born) and art (we spent a week in Berlin in which we visited 10 museums and the opera, and N├╝rnberg was no slouch either in the museum department, not to mention its magnificent churches).

And, oh yes, the reason we planned the trip in the first place, to attend the grand opening of Color Improvisations, a show curated by Nancy Crow that was designed to showcase machine-piecing. I was fortunate to have two quilts in the show; there were 26 artists in all, from North America and Europe.  And I'm really happy that I can finally show you my quilts; we've been under embargo all along and at last we can share them with our friends instead of just mysteriously bitching about how hard they were to make.

Crazed 8: Incarceration -- 79 x 82 -- Kathleen Loomis






















Crazed 8: Incarceration -- detail

Fault Lines 3 -- 75 x 78 -- Kathleen Loomis

Fault Lines 3 -- detail

Fault Lines 3 -- back view (detail)

The show has been a l-o-n-g time in preparation. We were invited to participate more than two years ago, and Nancy looked at our quilts twice – first as pieced tops, then after quilting – to accept or decline them. We shipped our work several months ago for photography and finally the show opened on July 11 in Stuttgart.

All the quilts are huge (minimum size was 72 inches square) and approximately square, and almost all were machine-quilted as well as machine-pieced. Nancy told us to make sure the backs were beautiful, so they could be hung with both sides visible, but for space reasons only five could actually be displayed that way. I was very proud that both of my quilts were given the two-sided treatment!

Nancy said in her remarks that she looks upon machine-piecing as an endangered art, and I agree. It’s so easy these days to fuse or raw-edge applique rather than piece, and so many quilt artists are using surface design techniques rather than piecing to create images. In my own small local support group, for instance, five of the six of us are using surface design as their main technique. Sometimes I feel like an outsider at the meetings because I’m buying commercial solids (not even dyeing my own fabric!!) and not even trying the wonderful painting, dyeing, discharging and screenprinting techniques that my friends are using to such beautiful ends.

But I feel almost an obligation to keep piecing, swimming upstream against the trends in the fiber art world. Kind of like the last ten speakers of some obscure tongue, who need to keep talking lest their language become extinct. Wouldn’t they feel guilty if they lay on the couch watching reality TV while their heritage disappeared?

So meeting my fellow artists at the show was a heartening experience, because we all know what it’s like to buck the trends and remain faithful to a waning craft. There was some surface design in evidence – in particular, Bonnie Bucknam and Terry Jarrard-Dimond use their own masterly hand-dyed fabrics, and Cathy Shanahan and Sylvia Sutherland are dye-painting their fabric. But everybody was piecing at some place along the way.

Check out a bunch of photos from the opening.


23 comments:

  1. Your work is wonderful as always! Will there be an exhibition catalog available?

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  2. Congrats on the show! Your pieces are amazing and well deserving of such high honors. "Incarceration" is really something. Wish I could see it in person!

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  3. As always, Kathy, very nice work.

    Now, imagine this, as an art quilter I'm thinking I'm WAY in the minority as I still enjoy (and often do) hand applique and hand piecing in my work....sometimes the finish you get is just what is needed or much cleaner than fusing.

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  4. Gorgeous. Bonnie and Melisse are in my local guild. Nice that you go to spend some extra time.

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  5. Thank you for sharing! Your two pieces are stunning. Such a fantastic exhibit. Can't wait to hear more. I will see it by hook or by crook!

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  6. Thanks, everybody, for your kind words! Yes, there is a gorgeous exhibit catalog but this minute it is not available in the US. Conversations are in process and I hope that within a couple of days we can tell you how to order from a US source. I'll be sure to announce it here.

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  7. I am one who still speaks the language of machine piecing. I don't think it will disappear, and expect like all things it will enjoy a surge in popularity some time in the future, rather like hand embroidery is being 'discovered' these days. I look forward to the catalogue, too.

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  8. These pieces are absolutely beautiful.

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  9. CONGRATULATIONS! Fault Lines is great and intriguing in the way you used a different quilt design in each section. I have recently started a quilt where I am doing that and find I don't get as bored:)
    I appreciated your comments about keeping a tradition alive in that I am an avid hand appliquer and always will be even though I do enjoy fusing. There is nothing like a neatly turned edge and the joy and relaxation of placing those tiny little stitches along the way.
    Thanks for sharing and glad you had a wonderful and safe visit abroad.

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  10. Your quilts are amazing, as they always are. I, too, am mostly a piecer, although I do occasionally fuse or paint. And I do dye my own fabric. I love , love, love the quilting in Fault Lines. I wish I could see this show.

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  11. What amazing piecing you've done! glad to see someone is keeping alive the piecing skills--there was a long while that appliquers were the outsiders. Congratulations on the show, the obvious kudos & your survival of the process!

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  12. At last night's LAFTA meeting I had the thought that photo transfer is really changing quilt art too. I am totally impressed, as a non-quilter, with you dedication to your (often very small) pieces.
    Debby Levine

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  13. Kathy these quilts are beautiful! I agree with your thoughts about machine piecing. I also hand quilt and hand applique almost all of my bed and art quilts.I just love the way it looks, and I enjoy the process. It does take more time to do it this way, it is worth it in the finished product.
    Looking forward to seeing all the other quilts in the show!
    Heather Lair

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  14. Kathy, your two pieces are amazing. I, as a surface designer, am so happy that you, as a piecer, are out there doing what you do with such mastery and artistry. Well done, girlie!! :D

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  15. Kathy, these pieces are breath-taking! I'm still having fun with piecing the intersecting lines, thin and thick. I'm going to try the small snippet technique, too. Thanks for sharing your work.

    Linda Laird

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  16. Your quilts are stunning. I sure hope I get to see them in person sometime. I'm amazed with your piecing; it is SO interesting. Congratulations on your beautiful contributions to Nancy's show. How nice that you got to go see it in person.

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  17. Kathy,
    What a beautiful venue! Congratulations-your quilts are phenomenal. I just went to Nancy Crow's exhibit at the Schweinfurth this week. What a great mentor to have.

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  18. Congratulations, your work is beautiful. I don't piece so much, but was starting to think there were not many out there who used commercial fabrics, as I do. Nice to see I am not the only one who isn't dying or doing surface design work.

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  19. Wow interesting show process and very interesting that anyone thinks machine piecing is going away. I fall into that slot of machine piecing, machine quilting, commercial fabric - don't really care what anyone thinks about any of it LOL. My life is full of lots of bits of fabric sewn together, ironed etc etc etc.

    The show has been a l-o-n-g time in preparation. We were invited to participate more than two years ago, and Nancy looked at our quilts twice – first as pieced tops, then after quilting – to accept or decline them. We shipped our work several months ago for photography and finally the show opened on July 11 in Stuttgart.

    And wow that's a lot of pre-show work!

    Thanks for the info and pics.

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  20. Kathy,

    Your work is beautiful, and I enjoyed hearing about your Germany trip. I am an art quilter too, and I am fascinated about showing my work overseas, especially Australia.

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  21. Lynne -- thanks for your kind words! it is really a thrill to see your work in an exotic location. Australia has quite a quilt scene too, but I've never had anything shown there.

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  22. Hi Kathleen,
    Good to meet you at Quilt National. I have been a secret fan of yours since Quilt National 2009. Now I guess the secret's out.

    Your work is splendid, sparse and deep and that's a great thing.

    I promised you the name of the book I read recently. It has an interesting premise and one of the settings is in Antarctica. It is A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

    Hope you enjoy it.

    Paula Kovarik

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  23. Hi Paula! I've been a secret fan of yours since 2009 also so it was especially nice to meet in person. let's make sure to keep in touch

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