An Unexpected Surprise

So I haven’t been very good at posting lately but I promise it’s not because I have been idle! I have a quilt that has been “In Progress” for years and I finally bit the bullet and said no more projects until this one is done. It’s been so hard! I have so many project ideas!

Needless to say, I have nothing really new to add as of late until it gets finished. Instead I am going to do a quick post on a crazy cool exhibit I saw in Toronto this summer at the Textile Museum of Canada (http://www.textilemuseum.ca/). The museum, right downtown and tucked into a little side street, is such an interesting little space, and easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it!

I was hoping to see some interesting quilts but what really blew my mind was the exhibit, “Huicholes: A People Walking Towards the Light, Wixarika Art by José Benítez Sánchez”. These yarn paintings were really so breathtaking, and quite large!

Kauymari, the Wind and the Word

Kauymari, the Wind and the Word by José Benítez Sánchez, 2005. The caption accompanying the piece reads “Tamatsi Kauyumari (Our Elder Brother, He Who Does Not Even Know His Name) is the god of the word as he is the one who taught the Huichol people to name things. At the centre of this yarn painting, we see Kauyumari in the form of the deer that taught the believers the language they hear at the sacred sites. According to Sánchez, before Kauyumari taught them language, ‘the entire world spoke badly.'” I think it’s so great how the various languages spilling out of the mouths is depicted!

These pieces are made by taking a piece of wooden board, covering it in a layer of beeswax, and then pressing yarn into the wax to make a highly detailed and colourful image. Other art pieces included very intricate beadwork, and such an exciting and remarkable texture is created when the beads cover an entire sculptural piece.

Tamatsi Kauyumari: Our Elder Brother, He Who Does Not Even Know His Name

Accompanying exhibit caption: “Tamatsi Kauyumari, also known as the Blue Deer, is the cultural hero of the Huichol. As he is an ambivalent being, he is associated with the morning and evening star.” This caption goes on to describe how Tamatsi Kauyumari was turned into a deer, and how pilgrims to the desert in a traditional yearly pilgrimage are able to interact with him through the consumption of peyote.

These pieces are filled with symbolism and imagery special to the Huicholes people and their culture and it was a pleasure to get a glimpse into their worldview.

For more information I bought a book in the gift shop that went with the exhibit “Yarn Paintings of the Huichol” by Hope Maclean.

Beaded Bowl

As captioned at the exhibit, “This artisanal bowl is made from a gourd. It was inspired by a ritual bowl.”

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A Painting for a Quilt

I met Nomi when we both worked as Collections Assistants at the University of Alberta Museums, her in the art collection and me in the ornithology collection, and we quickly became friends. Nomi Stricker is a wonderful artist and we devised an idea in which I would make her a quilt in exchange for one of her paintings. Check her out at www.nomistricker.com!

While she was off for a year travelling Europe I got to work. Inspired by her paintings my vision started at Earthly Goods where I rampaged through the store pulling any and all fabrics that reminded me of her. I chose fabric colours that I had seen her wear or that reminded me of her work and patterns that exemplified her personality or reminded me of what I thought she might be experiencing on her trip. Then the real challenge began. I had an idea in my head but really wanted the quilt to come together organically without any real plan. Inspired by her art I wanted the colours to move the eye but also work together to create a type of organic chaos that as a whole formed a complete and dynamic piece. While I do like things to come together with a bit of chance and I don’t usually strive for symmetry in terms of fabric placement, this was quite an undertaking for me! I found it difficult without any sort of concrete design to let the quilt develop on it’s own while trying to stay true to my original idea.

Nomi uses a lot of colour in her work so she also plays with quiet, neutral areas to harmonize her compositions and I tried to do the same for her quilt leaving a lot of whites and creams around the edge to balance the abundance of colour in the middle. I also gave a lot of thought to how the quilt would lay on the bed with the white borders hanging over the edge, something I don’t usually need to worry about as much on a smaller piece like a baby or lap quilt.

I was pretty uncertain about the whole thing, already coming up with a speech about how if she didn’t like it I could make something else, until I decided on a quilt stitch pattern. Once this was determined I felt like that whole thing came together into something I thought suited her and that she would love. And she does! I presented the quilt to her at her studio about a month ago and to my delight her reaction was everything I had hoped.

NomiQuilt6

Nomi’s Quilt.

All that was left was for me to pick out a piece for the trade to be complete and that turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole process. I just couldn’t decide! I finally picked my top three and she was gracious enough to bring all three to my apartment this week to try the paintings out in the space. It was pretty clear from the outset which was “the one” and I love it. There are many hours of getting to know “Spout” in my future and I can’t wait to see how this painting grows and changes for me.

And so ends the tale of one quilt, one painting, and two happy customers.