Installed in the Library

 

If I could be a book, I'd choose to be in a library, something pithy and not too popular, but the kind of book that when someone checked me out, I'd be a surprise, something to read and savor, something to share with my friends.

Well. I'm getting into the Parman Branch, but it's not as a book. Thursday, the San Antonio Library Foundation and SA Public Library will dedicate a new children's area dedicated to the memory of a young girl who died at age 16 of cancer that she had fought most of her life. The young girl, Ana Macias, became the reason for gifts from family and friends and library supporters. You are invited if you're in town or near -- 5:30-7 at Parman Branch, outside Loop 1604 on Wilderness Oak off Blanco.

I was asked to make a large art quilt "tapestry" to put on the wall in the new area. Here's what I can tell you about it. I prepared this fact sheet to leave with the librarians and to give the foundation for their records:

 

Ana’s Nook

Art Quilt “tapestry” by Susie Monday, 2012

Commissioned by the San Antonio Public Library Foundation

Materials:  Cotton, silk, rayon, cotton blend and other textiles, wooden frame, cotton batting and sound absorbing batting, paint, dye, fusible webbing and dye. 

Techniques: Fused raw-edge appliqué with free-motion quilting and hand embroidery. Fabrics created with a variety of surface design techniques including batik, screen printing, hand-painting, dye and textile painting on both new and repurposed fabrics. The art was treated with a UV light barrier chemical to help limit fading. 

This triptych was designed especially for the gridded translucent wall of the new children’s area at Parman Branch Library. The librarian Haley Holmes and the staff of the Library Foundation wanted something that would be visually interesting to children, would help absorb sound and would include “Ana’s Nook,” in honor of the memory of Ana Macias. The design was inspired by a picture Haley had of an apple tree quilt. 

Susie took off from that seed of an idea, using the colors of the library interior and those of the new Ana’s Nook furnishings. The fanciful art quilt includes two apple trees on either side and a Spanish oak in the center and depict the trees  against a nighttime constellation of stitched names of children’s book heroes and heroines. Ana’s Nook is printed on a sign that hangs from the oak and one of the apple trees (repurposed in traditional quilt fashion from a pair of worn-out trousers) has several pockets full of leaves. A quarter moon hangs in the tree branches and moon beams sparkle a path through the piece.

Each leaf is different in color, pattern and stitching, and while some of the book hero names are easy to read, others are blended into the background, so a kind of hide-and-seek of names can engage the viewer. Hand stitching adds more pattern and texture, with large cross-stitched “x”s and Long running stitches as part of the grassy hills where the trees stand.

Susie Monday is a textile artist with more than 15 years experience in the field. Her work is featured in public and private collections across the hemisphere, and has been featured in exhibits in the U.S and internationally, including at the International Quilt Festival, Gallery Nord, the Witte Museum, and the San Antonio Public Library Gallery. She works in her home studio near Pipe Creek, El Cielo Studio, where she also teaches fiber art and creativity workshops. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the Southwest School of Art, and a Creative Learning Specialist for the International Programs Department of Alamo Colleges. Her new book, coauthored with Susan Marcus and Dr. Cynthia Herbert is coming out October 23 from Greenleaf Book Group, The Missing Alphabet, A Parents Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids. Susie graduated from Trinity University in 1970.

 

 Here's the invitation to the event:


 

True Love Commission

I've been commissioned to make a little house shaped art quilt for a wedding gift -- I got carried away and made three! These are small -- about 18" tall -- and reasonably priced. If you have a wedding coming up and wish to give a gift of art, email me through the contact form for sales information. Or maybe you just like one for yourself. Support the arts.

How do I approach such commissions? It's always a quandry, as I don't exactly know how to make art to order. I prefer to do one-of-a-kind work and so looking at my other pieces only gives someone an inkling of what I can do. For larger work, I do make sketches, provide color samples and give clients a chance to weigh in on size, color palette, general topic and themes to be included. And I always have a "kill fee" if something doesn't work out that includes my out-of-pocket fabric and supply costs -- but since I assume I will sell the art to someone eventually, I don't worry about the time or effort involved. I'd rather have happy collectors.

But for small pieces like these little art quilts, I generally try to do more than one, especially if, as in this case, the commissioner was pretty open about what he wanted to give. I enjoyed working with an intensity to get these completed within the week -- I used some fabrics and central image panels that were already done -- and of course I had to fit this task inbetween all the other work of the week, including prep for my next two extensive teaching gigs -- next week in Dallas (a New World Kids training for Big Thought) and the week after at the CREATE mixed media retreat sponsored by Cloth Paper Scissors.

The pomegranate piece above, and the pear below both used the Rainbow Printing with Water Soluble Media technique that I'll be teaching in Chicago. (Whoops, I took the photo and emailed it from my iphone --its sideways and I can't figure out how to rotate it, so you'll have to rotate your head or screen.)

Here's more info:

Making an art quilt with an original image and multicolored screen print is one of the most fun and satisfying techniques I know -- the technique works for all kinds of images and styles, from hyperrealistic to expressionistic to abstract -- and although the supply list seems a bit daunting, the materials are probably mostly things you have in your studio. My blog has some examples and further information with this page link, if you'd like to see more.

The good news is that I will be teaching Rainbow Printing with Water-Soluble Crayons at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat, sponsored by Cloth Paper Scissors, at the end of August. My one-day workshop on Rainbow Printing is Thursday, August 26 from 9-4 at the Rosemont Hilton near O'Hare.

Rainbow Printing with Water Soluable Crayons
(6 hours)

Date: Thursday, August 26
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm
Technique: Printmaking & Collage
Instructor: Susie Monday
Price: $140
Kit Fee: $5

Using all manner of water soluble media--water color markers, water soluble crayons and oil pastels, chalks and pastels -- you will create original fabrics using hand painting, screen printing, and stencils. Construction methods for a small wood-framed art quilt will be demonstrated, and many examples of use of the fabrics in multimedia work will be shared, but the emphasis will be on making a variety of textiles that can be used in work back at home. These techniques use textile paints and polymer media in interesting multi-color applications, with layering, tinting and color washes used to add depth and subtlety. The improvisational prints are similar to mono-printing, but can be used for highly detailed realistic imagery, as well as for abstract color field experiments.

(See registration for the supply list)

Date:
Thursday, August 26
Time:
9:00am-4:00pm
Technique:
Printmaking & Collage
Instructor:
Susie Monday
Price:
$140
Kit Fee: $5

Using all manner of water soluble media--water color markers, water soluble crayons and oil pastels, chalks and pastels -- you will create original fabrics using hand painting, screen printing, and stencils. Construction methods for a small wood-framed art quilt will be demonstrated, and many examples of use of the fabrics in multimedia work will be shared, but the emphasis will be on making a variety of textiles that can be used in work back at home. These techniques use textile paints and polymer media in interesting multi-color applications, with layering, tinting and color washes used to add depth and subtlety. The improvisational prints are similar to mono-printing, but can be used for highly detailed realistic imagery, as well as for abstract color field experiments.

Go to www.clothpaperscissors.com and click on the CREATE RETREAT LINK for registration.

I'd love to have a few more participants -- the max is 18 -- and time is short until the event begins. If you or someone you know lives near or close ot Chicago, or is looking for a fun artful retreat, please pass along this message to them via email.  I appreciate your help with spreading the word.

If you have questions, or ideas for how I can get in touch with folks who might be interested in attending, please let me know!  Thanks for helping me get the word out.

Guadalupe/Tonantzin 2

 GuadalupeTonantzin2.jpg

Sewing, sewing, sewing. Finally. Yes, I REALLY should be doing something far more nurdish, like balancing my checkbook and putting together a budget for the month, BUT.

Instead, I finished a commission piece that is past due, and I am sure the buyer will be happy that the process we started on at the beginning of the summer is coming 'round at last. First, she wanted a piece I had completed, but it was too large for the space. I promised this #2 and it's taken me all summer to make it work. I think I like it; I hope she will. While I wanted to make a piece that was quite similar in color and imagery, it's hard sometimes to change scale and have the composition work as well. This is same and different. See what you think:

Tonantzin.jpg Here'e the first, larger piece; #2 is at the top of this post.

Both pieces are inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe and her predecessor Tonantzin, the Corn Goddess of the Aztec people. Our Lady appeared on the site of Tonantzin's holiest temple, and the comfort she offered the natives of Mexico took shape, form and energy from Tonantzin's presence and abundance.

I've actually had two inquiries this week for other work, and while that's exciting, I also feel a few new knots in my gut. But, here's to stepping out into the unknown. May both Ladies smoooth the path, watch my back and keep me on the right road.

Liturgy

The art quilt diptych (see the post of a couple of days ago) and side banners were installed at San Pedro Presbyterian Church, thanks to the assistance of custodian Luis, whose drill, ladders and manual competence were greatly appreciated. Here's an in-progress shot, and a "before", showing the off-the-rack church banners that my work is replacing.

installation.jpg

wall church.jpg

Liturgical tapestries and wall hangings are, of course, nothing new in the world, and I have liked thinking about that continuity, my connection to the sorority of women whose skills and imagination have stitched sacred cloths for altars and choir lofts for as long as such places have existed. Maybe longer -- it's not too hard to imagine open air altars with cloths and banners, celebratory clothing and covers for sacred objects, existing before walls were built to enclose such ceremony.

The research has appealed to my inner historian, and that one who might once have lived in a cloistered order.

church window.jpg

The key imagery and design reflects that of the symbols and images of this contemporary sanctuary's stained glass windows: the green leaf to stand for the growth of both Genesis and the Church (local reference with the cactus), the flaming heart and hands symbol of John Calvin (founder of the Presbyterian Church), the City of God with its golden rooftops (including the roofline of Mission San Jose), the silhouette of the crowing cock, a symbol of St. Peter (San Pedro). The cross motif has as its central emblem, the sun (Son).

The side banners, overdyed silk of various weaves, allow for changing colors and themes, to reflect the most important seasons of the liturgical year:
Advent and Christmas (combined): Gold
Lent: Violet/deep purple
Easter Sunday: Gold
Pentecost: Scarlet
Ordinary Time: Green

Finding Sanctuary

Over and over, up and down, another panel. Another crooked line of stitch. How did I get 32" instead of 30". And don't get me started on colors -- can a nice juicy Lenten purple be that difficult to get on silk? Rolling of eyes. Gnashing of teeth. Pulling of threads. How could a church project inspire such woeful internal language? If I ever decide that making a traditional quilt is necessary for my art quilt mastery --proving to myself and others that I am a "real" artist -- please remind me of this week.

Pinned to the wall in the studio is a diptych of art quilts, a commission for San Pedro Presbyterian Church-- the first commission I have accepted in a long time. The diptych, with its rich silks and relatively simple design and patterning, has been a pleasure. Ever step was joyful: researching church symbols, dyeing and printing fabrics and ordering silk from my favorite sari store in Houston, stitching the layers together by machine and by hand, even the repetitive meditation of finishing the edges with layered stitch. (To see some interesting finishing ideas for textile work, order my mentor and friend Jane Dunnewold's "Edges and Borders" CD.)

church left.jpgchurch right.jpg

Not so the simple silk dyed banners that are to hang either side and change with the liturgical seasons. Why does 30" slip around on my measuring stick? And why has it taken me four tries to get an appropriately Lenten purple? My old Singer machine (it was my Grandmother's 1952 pride) is a workhorse when it comes to freemotion quilting -- but because I have pushed the tension and manhandled so much fabric through it, making a simple seam strengthens my resolve to start down payments on a new Bernina. I'm still not done, and need to deliver the banners and art quilts next week, so that they can be welcomed into the sanctuary on Sunday, Sept. 10.

That date, Sept. 10.

That day a few years ago was last day before everything changed about how we in the U.S. think of peace and war, sanctuary and safety. It's amazing the power that typing Sept. 10 or Sept. 11 or Sept.12 has now. As an artist, it's often hard to see the relationship between peace out there and peace in here. What can my work do to heal a world where some people are so desperate to achieve their view of right that they are willing to kill others, and destroy their own precious gift of life? All I know to do is to keep doing my soul purpose, to trust that my quilts are putting peace into the world. And to remember that the tasks that I do, even the ones that tangle the threads and threaten my sense of worth in silly little ways, can provide sanctuary if only I keep the peace.

For more about Jane Dunnewold's CD, check out her website.