The morning of January 26, I started work on the piece above for a juried invitational called “The Space Between,” which will be co-curated by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal. That afternoon, I got the news that my mother had died unexpectedly, in her sleep, early that morning.
In the three weeks since then, I have been consumed by grief, handling the details of affairs that came in the wake of my mother’s death, and trying to tread water. I have not had the time or the interest in working on my art. And the thought of returning to this piece, which was interrupted by such a devastating event, chilled me.
But the deadline for this exhibition looms. And making art is healing. So today I finished painting the fabric, cleaned my studio, and started stitching.
These two photos show the piece after painting, but before any stitching. It is 36" x 48".
This piece features four bluejay feathers I have found on my daily walks. Some of the feathers are blue on both sides, with interesting black splotches. Some are blue on one side and black and gray on the other. I have always collected feathers, nests and egg shells; as a child I loved to look for birds’ nests, and I even made them, out of mud and grass, let them dry, and perched them in trees. My mother gave me bits of brightly colored yarn to hang in branches in the springtime, for the birds to use as construction material, and then we would go on walks, looking for nests with glints of yellow, pink or purple.
I read once that birds keep themselves warm by trapping and heating the air in the space between their feathers. The feathers themselves are not warm, in the same way that a blanket or quilt is not warm, but merely act to hold our body’s heat close to us. This phenomenon is what inspired this piece. I have not started thinking about a name yet.
In 2010, Leslie and Jamie’s exhibit Beneath the Surface premiered at International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California, and also showed at International Quilt Festival in Houston.
It included work by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, Natalya Aikens, Frances Holliday Alford, Loris Bogue, Deborah Boschert, Peggy Calvert, Phyllis Campbell, Paula Chung, Joanell Connolly, Gerrie Congdon, Cindy Cooksey, Jane Davila, Muna Elias, Barb Forrister, Terry Grant, Desiree Habicht, Pamela Price Klebaum, Sherry Kleinman, Jane LaFazio, Jayne Larson, Linda T. Minton, Susie Monday, Jeannie Palmer Moore, Rachel Parris, Karen Stiehl Osborn, Judy Perez, Yvonne Porcella, Wen Redmond, Karen Rips, Carolyn Ryan, Sarah Ann Smith, Virginia Spiegel, Cynthia St. Charles, Ann Turley, Terry Waldron and Kathy York.
This year’s exhibit will also premiere at International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, July 29-31, 2011. I hope my piece is juried in. I’ll post more about my progress in the weeks ahead.