Words and Images

Entitled Fifty Years On , art-quilt 22"x36"
Entitled, Philboy, art-quilt31"x45"
While I think it's fair to say I became an artist with my first set of finger paints, I know that my love of writing was born as a young girl when I wrote my first poem.  Writing is as much a part of my creative life as imagery will ever be.  That is probably why I am happiest when I find a way to combine the two.  When commissioning a family piece think about combining words and imagery.  Because I spend a lot of time with talking with those clients wanting to tell a family story with their photographs, I am able to assist with phrases or words that might be relevant to the piece.  But just as often words, phrases or some times commentaries (as in the above piece) come to me while I am working on the imagery.  To the left is a childhood photo of my husband Phil that I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.  When I got into art quilting, and more specifically following my American Family Album series, I knew I wanted to do a piece based around this photo.  As I worked to restore and digitally alter the tiny black and white snapshot his grandmother had taken of him outside their New England home, the stories I had heard of his childhood reverberated inside me.  Happy, sad, proud and shameful stories, not unlike those most of us know, surfaced in my memory.  Phil had overcome much in his young life and as he got older he dedicated his life to the betterment of others. The phrase in this art-quilt reads: "Who we become is indelibly written upon the slate of our childhood."  These words filled my mind as I worked, and I knew they belonged in the design.  I also knew that the message conveyed a deeper truth than met the eye.... that no matter the circumstances we are born into, choice in the way they shape our lives is always ours.

Another commission piece I worked on was for a friend whose daughter was going off to college.  The mother wanted her to realize that the most important thing was where the journey, not the degree, would take her.  Filled with imagery and a phrase that kept this awareness in her daughters mind, this piece hung in her room until she graduated and now serves as a continued reminder from her mom for the rest of her life.  

The piece above was done to commemorate my fiftieth birthday.  Along with a childhood photo and expansive imagery I incorporated a favorite quote from Carl Jung, whose work was a huge influence on my life.  It reads, "Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens."  The inner journey has always been most important to me and because I have spent so much time in introspective work I like to express those discoveries in a lot of my artwork.  In a future post I'll share some whimsical ways I do this and introduce a completely different way that I use photo imagery in my art-quilts.