I began working on the Pigeons in 2003. They are small
quilted pieces of varying sizes, ranging from as small as 1½ inches by 3 inches
to about 20 inches by 20 inches. My intention is that they be installed
together in a random arrangement or several arrangements. All of them or a
selection of them could be installed. The current number (as of March, 2013) is
150 and I am in the process of making more.
When I began, I thought of them as little scrapbook or photo
album pages made out of fabric. Rather than turning the pages of a book, each
page is presented concurrently with the others. This presentation, along with
the changeability of arrangement, allows for more complex and varied visual
relationships that investigate formal structure and patterning. The additive
quality of the exploded scrapbook provides a context or a history that,
although mostly fictional, adds weight and meaning to the individual quilts.
Materials and Conventions
Photographs, either vintage photographs or prints from
vintage negatives, are stitched into the fabric. The fabric comes from a
variety of sources: vintage baby blankets, baby and doll clothes, nightgowns,
and yardage. The fabric is primarily cotton or wool flannel. I often tea dye it
and include bits of ribbon, lace, eyelet, embroidered sections of garments, and
other stitched elements.
The color palette, like the texture, is intentionally soft.
Where the photographs are too contrasty for my purposes, I cover them with bits
of glassine or other sheer material. If the flannel is too strongly colored, I
use the reverse side and let the shadow of the pattern show through.
I observe several rules or conventions in the fashioning of
the quilts. These have to do with what stitches I allow myself to use or not
use and when and where I can use stitches. The conventions also determine the
organic quality of the shapes of the quilts and how that happens. They are
primarily squares or rectangles, sometimes ovals, but never straight geometric
shapes, never completely flat or perfectly pieced. I want to note here that I
take some inspiration from the work of the women of Gee’s Bend. I employ these
conventions as a source of definition for and engagement with the work.
I chose the name Pigeons intuitively. There are many of
them, they are softly colored, their voices are gentle, and they are common.
And yet, if genuinely observed, they radiate and shimmer.