Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fondly Remembering Textiles

Have you ever considered what are your earliest memories of a favorite textile? I began thinking about this after a prompt from an online class that I am taking.

As a kid, one of my favorite fabric items was my bedspread. I know that might seem odd, but it was soft and textured, likely years old even when I was only 5. It was a nubby creamy cotton onto which were horizontal, machine stitched designs that created shapes in colored threads. I would trace the shapes over and over. Maybe I even traced them to fall asleep at night, this I don't really remember.

The designs includes a stylized "X", a person with hands raised in the air, and something else that was less well defined. I never knew if it a dragon or dinosaur or what it was. Looking at it now I think it might be a person in a yoga pose. What do you think?

Oddly enough, when I had the task of sorting through the farmstead after Mother died (it will be 10 years ago in a few weeks) I saved this bedspread. It is threadbare in some spots. It is patched in others. I know that patches to be sewn with my mother's carefully stitches. It survives folded in the closet of my studio. And every now and again a pull it off the shelf to trace the designs with my index finger.

What fabric item have you held onto from childhood?  Can you explain why or is it just something that you had to save?  I would love to have you share your thoughts.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back from Philly

Last week I had a chance to attend the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) national meeting in Philadelphia.

I had been to Philadelphia several time in the past but had never explored the streets around Center City and any art galleries.  This time I did a bit of both.

I was completely thrilled with Barnes Museum with its collection of Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Pendergrast and Native African Art all hung together in vignettes through the galleries. Oh yes there were also metal door knockers, knobs and hinges that echoed shapes in the adjacent paintings. Everything was hung symmetrically and in strict dedication to the wishes of Dr. Barnes who amassed this amazing collection.

Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) grew up poor and tough in Philadelphia but showed intellectual promise and went to one of the best high schools in the area. He earned a medical degree and then set up a pharmaceutical manufacturing partnership with a frien. They manufactured an antiseptic silver compound they called, Argyrol.

Barnes became a very wealthy man and was clever enough to sell his company before the stock market crash in 1929, so he retained his wealth when others lost everything.

Barnes began collecting art in 1912. He wanted to educate people about art. He collected what he loved and amassed a huge collection of paintings, sculpture, jewelry and textiles from the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, Europe and America. He displayed the collection in an idiosyncratic way that was not well appreciated at that time. The "ensembles" as he called them combined all the different objects in symmetrical arrangements throughout the galleries.

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