My early quilt projects and influences

Today’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge prompt was ‘first quilt projects’ and I will share a few of those.  And,  I’m going to detour and also talk about just a few of my early important influences too.

I started quilting over 30 years ago to make family quilts.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of those very first quilts.  What I recall is that I enjoyed the process of making an object that would be used by family members.

I also learned very early that I was easily bored with the traditional fabric colors (too muted, too traditional…) and definitely bored with sticking to a pattern that required making lots of the same block over and over and over…..

Early Art Quilt and Art Influences

Fortunately, I discovered the freedom to be found in art quilting.  One of my key influences was a feminist quilter/poet/activist by the name of Radka Donnell.  Her book, Quilts as Women’s Art: a Quilt Poetics, was published in 1990 and was one of the many influences that changed my work and perspective in a profound way.  The book that first introduced me to her, and many other art quilters was this one. The Contemporary Quilt by Patti Chase is still available by the way from local bookstores.


What I learned from Radka and other early art quilters:

  • Finding your own VOICE and VISION is more important than perfecting sewing techniques
  • Learning technique IS important because mastering your tools allows you to express your vision through the materials
  • A quilt can be created in many forms, with many types of materials
  • Learning to see all types of art in an appreciative and critical way will make me a better artist
  • The impulse to create is present in all human beings

Here are some of my mixed media artquilts.  I incorporated painting, printing,  photo transfers, adding painted paper and other techniques in this work and others in this series. Most of my early work was sold, but I kept a few for my own collection.  (I still occasionally take commissions for these types of artquilts.)

Whenever I look at the photos of these works, I can clearly see why I was drawn to the modern quilt world!

This is Red/Blue/Yellow #2.

This is Reserved for Mr. Rippen #1.

Hidden Meaning –Learning From African Art

I have explored art and roamed through galleries and museums since I was in my early 20’s and lived in NYC.  I talk about some of the influences in my lectures and occasionally in blog and Instagram posts. And, I still look at contemporary art from home: Check HERE for online resources for seeing art from home.  I’ll be blogging about some of my favorite art focused YouTube channels later this month.

Although I spent most of my time in the contemporary art galleries looking at the painters and mixed media artists, I also wandered through the African Art collections. I pondered the mysteries that lay hidden in centuries old artifacts from Black African civilizations.

But, there is a book that connected me to African art in a different way and changed my perspective on how artists incorporate hidden meaning their objects. I am inspired by the work of Renee Stout, mixed media artist/painter/writer.

And here are two quilts that I made over 20 years ago in response to studying Renee’s work and writing. They are part of my African Dreams Series (that I return to from time to time to make new work).  This series is also influencing my use of African textiles in AfroModern quilts.

This is Blue Dreams #2.

This is Black & Red #1.



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