I believe I have been a fiber artist since before I can remember. As a young child, I would frequently pluck the fur from my beloved stuffed animals just to relish the sensation of twisting the strands between my fingers. As I got older, my great aunt taught me to quilt – a traditional skill that retained an important place in southern culture even before the Bicentennial inspired the national quilt revival in the 1970’s.
I began my first quilt in 4th grade, and I didn’t finish it until college. Along the way, I learned dressmaking, knitting and weaving. I made the majority of my clothes in high school and college – many of them based on patterns and styles from other times in history and other cultures. When I left school for the working world, I gravitated back to quilting as a means of self-expression. Since then, it has remained the dominant medium of my art.
Though I was thoroughly trained as a traditional quilter, I rapidly moved beyond those parameters. My work does not have a distinctive style, because each quilt presents new challenges that force me to learn or adapt different techniques. Some pieces are highly improvisational, changing radically from conception to execution. Others adhere to more traditional rules. Some are completely hand made; others combine machine and hand techniques. Over the years, I have incorporated calligraphy, painting, beading and natural elements in my work to provide additional texture, dimension and depth.
My quilts are highly personal and frequently directly referential to a specific person or event. A typical piece will hold several “in jokes” or clues to the personality of the recipient. While the creation of a quilt may honor a specific occasion, they are usually made simply “because someone is on my mind.” Because my source of inspiration is most often another person, I own very few of my pieces.
While the initial stages of design and inspiration are very exciting, a quilt maker has to honor the process in order to realize such time consuming works. For me, the act of sewing becomes meditative. My father used to call my early works incredible “labors of love.” It would not be an understatement to say that my quilts are my expression of delight and gratitude for all that life brings.