Anti-gerrymandering art quilt is probably not a phrase that too many people have found occasion to utter, but it’s been on my tongue for the last few months as I worked on this piece.
I’m happy to say that you can currently see it in person if you can get to Mount Pleasant this month, as it’s part of the Pop Up Show currently happening at the Morey Gallery at Art Reach.
In this year of What-In-The-World-Is-Happening-Here 2017, politics feel super messed up and there are so many people in power doing terrible things that hurt all of us, but especially the most vulnerable among us. How those politicians can live with themselves, I can’t imagine, except that I guess human brains are pretty good at justifying things that are in one’s own self-interest and the generally Old White Dudes in power have a lot of practice. It feels so overwhelming – how do we fix what’s wrong when many of our elected officials are actively undoing the good we’ve been able to achieve in the past? It can be hard to know what to do or where to even start, but I’ve been trying to identify smallish things that I can actively take part in that might help. Working to end gerrymandering is one of those things and this art quilt is an expression of my frustration with the current system and an attempt to bring attention to this problem. As part of the gallery show, it is, if anyone is interested, for sale. If it does sell I’ll be donating half the proceeds to Voters Not Politicians, an anti-gerrymandering group in Michigan. And I fully encourage y’all to donate to this good cause regardless! Michigandalfs (and everyone) deserve better.
You can also check out a process video of me working on this piece:
Here’s a much better photo of Modern Venus on display at Helios Art Gallery! I went in with the DSLR and of course managed some higher quality shots.
I am so honored that my art was displayed in this gallery! It made my Art Walk Central experience so much richer this year – big thanks to the folks at Helios for welcoming me, being interested to know more about the piece, and encouraging me in every way during every interaction we had throughout the festival. It was such a pleasure to be involved with such good people.
Overall my experience this year was a bit of an up-and-down. I had received a call from ArtReach informing me that my piece was in the judges’ top ten and I was both stunned and elated! But then when we attended the judges’ round table discussing their top picks, mine was not among them. I felt so embarrassed in that moment, even though as far as I know, K and I were the only ones expecting to see mine in the slide show. I am pretty sure that someone confused my name with the other art quilter from Mount Pleasant (named Ann, oddly enough) on their contact list and called me by mistake. The folks at ArtReach were extremely apologetic about it and really did everything they could to make things right, so I have no ill feelings on that front, just a little residual disappointment and embarrassment that I had to then tell everyone that my big happy announcement was the result of an error.
Listening to the judges discuss their top picks was extremely enlightening. It’s clear that they both appreciate fiber art, which is awesome (the top 10 had two art quilts, which seems unlikely to happen very often). They both also spoke a lot about political art and how much they value pieces that address specific current events (#blacklivesmatter and the Flint water crisis in particular featured in several of the top ten). For me as an artist, I think I’m less likely to address a specific event – I think that my work, so far at least, is less likely to be so direct and specific. I would rather address a theme or idea in less literal ways, I guess. I wonder if this is a current movement among art critics or in the art world in general? Or maybe it’s always a preference some folks have? I should ask the Art Assignment! It was also interesting to note that the judges seemed to be very in sync with one another – I don’t think I heard either of them express an opinion that the other didn’t echo. I wonder if it’s a challenge, when working in that capacity, to keep one’s own voice strong and distinct. It could be that they were just that in tune with each other.
I also quite enjoyed the artist talks that I got to attend. I could have signed up to do one myself, but I was so intimidated that I didn’t. Having seen some others now, I think that I could manage it, though I’m sure I’d still be quite nervous. It was reassuring/notable to me that the artists I heard all took somewhat different approaches to the talk – and all seemed to be equally acceptable. That gives me a bit more confidence for the future as well.
For now, I’m still working on the planning stages of my next piece, so I need to get to the drawing board for that. Once again, big thanks to everyone I worked with this year and big congrats to all the other artists!
I was pretty excited when ArtReach announced a yarnbomb project to take place in downtown Mount Pleasant this summer. (Did this have anything to do with the fact that a yarnbomb was an idea I proposed at the For the Love of Mount Pleasant workshop last fall?)
Regardless, I was happy to participate. I signed up to create one 24×27″ piece that will be wrapped around a light pole downtown. I felt super lucky that my pal Sam very generously volunteered to share her sizable stash of acrylic yarn, too! I picked out some bold colors somewhat at random and started plotting what I wanted to do.
There are some projects for which I prefer to use paper and pencil rather than plotting online – this sort of thing is definitely one of them. I grabbed the good old-fashioned graph paper and got to work! I looked at a bunch of free knitting font alphabets online but in the end none of them suited me so I just made it up myself. I wanted the letters to be a little stylized and I knew that the way that knitting stitches aren’t square would work in my favor. I graphed the letters out so I knew they’d end up looking the way I wanted after being knit up.
I even made a gauge swatch, something I am usually far too lazy and impatient to do. I was really glad I did, though, as my initial gauge wasn’t exactly what the yarn suggested it might be, so I was able to adjust my plans for the whole so that it would come out at the needed dimensions.
For the center column, I wanted to spell out DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome, for anyone unfamiliar) and then have some bright colors on the sides to grab attention. For those sides I just went with the colors I had grabbed from Sam and added in a sixth color (white) from my own stash so that I would have easy color-carrying on the stripes. My idea with the stripes is that one side is roughly Hufflepuff (not really, but it’s close-ish) and the other Slytherin, in honor of my love for Harry Potter.
I am pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s a lot bigger than I pictured at first, but it is the correct dimensions according to the brief we were given – I just hadn’t really looked at the measurements to see how large it would be. I dropped it off at ArtReach earlier this week and they will be installing them at the end of the month. I’m really looking forward to seeing my piece and all the others decorating our downtown!