Monday, August 27, 2018

Refugee quilt people

Longtime readers of my blog may recall how last year I made a lot of little sculptures of people and had a lot of fun doing it.  But after I put them all together into a single installation for a show, and then took them apart and put them back in their boxes, and then sold a few of them, I thought that project was over.

Until a few weeks ago when I noticed the weekly email from SAQA with a call for entries for a new show with the theme of refugees.  It's called "Forced to Flee" and the entry deadline is October 31.  And it specifically allows 3-D entries.

I decided I needed to make some more people specifically for this show.  But I knew they would have to fit the SAQA definition of a quilt, which is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.

After a bit of thinking about how I could make sure that my people, who were generally layered but not stitched, would fit that definition, I had a brainstorm.  What if I were to start with pieces of actual quilts?  And I knew exactly where to get pieces of actual quilts -- I would ask my friend Denise Furnish, whose art M.O. is to paint onto beat-up old quilts, if she had some leftover bits and pieces she could donate to my cause.

She did, and I have been making quilt refugee people for a couple of weeks now.

While my previous batch of daily people were all shapes and sizes and made out of all kinds of materials, these guys are all pretty similar.  Their clothing all looks beat-up, faded and torn, as befitting people who have trekked across the desert or sailed in a leaky boat across the sea.

I have made no attempt to conceal the holes and stains and frayed edges and the cotton batting leaking out from between the layers; I think it gives my little people substance and character.  The only thing I've added to the quilt pieces, besides thread and cord, is some walnut ink to give many of the people dark skin.  And they all have heavy wire armatures inside to allow them to stand up on a board with drilled holes.

I have a lot to do these days and I know I can't spend the entire fall sewing up little refugee quilt people, but I hope to get a fairly large number of them finished before the entry deadline.


  1. These little people do look like refugees. With that thought, they are pretty impressive and will make a great addition to the exhibit.
    xx, Carol

  2. This is a wonderful next step for your work. So good!

  3. I love these! I'm so glad that you included mothers with babies and children and one even looks pregnant.