This small quilt was made in search of solace – as a response to the events of November 8, 2016. About a year before, I had found a very bad acrylic painting at a thrift store that nonetheless had beautiful colors – intense oranges and yellows. I bought the painting and cut it into pieces, hoping to use the canvas scraps in a quilt. After the election of 2016, my heart hurt. I needed to reclaim orange as a color of joy. This quilt was part of a project of reclamation — both of the scraps of canvas, but also of the color itself. It includes many found objects as well – forgotten things that are beautiful in and of themselves and should not be left behind, just as human beings and the planet should not be forgotten and left behind.
Created as part of the Stations of the Cross; displayed at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields during the Lenten season.
The Sticks Quilt came out of my work on the large Durga Quilt. As I was making Durga, I tried out many different design concepts for her spear. Ultimately, I chose to make her spear out of heart shaped cut glass beads strung with wire. What to do with all of the other spears? Never fear, Durga had the answer herself. She wanted them ALL. The Sticks Quilt is the collection of Durga’s many spears, all in one place. I had a great time embellishing them and finding different objects to serve as spear heads. When the Durga Quilt was first displayed at the Narthex Gallery at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, the Sticks Quilt was also hung near by. Durga’s many spears were there with her.
In the fall of 2007, three artists met at Union Theological Seminary. Although they were strangers, they were immediately drawn to each other on the first day of orientation. This project is the story of their friendship – and the output of a collaboration of their work in which the dance of the Spirit has been made manifest through art.
The digital artist, Lobi Redhawk, made a piece entitled LOVE AND THE POWER OF WITNESS as a gift for the fiber artist, Posey Krakowsky. Inspired by Lobi’s art, Posey proposed a joint project that would utilize the work of all three artists. charlee huffman, the poet, was willing to be involved. Initially, there was to be one quilt which linked:
- Lobi’s digital work printed onto fabric
- charlee’s poetry
- Posey’s fiber art.
But charlee wrote three poems – offering them as a bounty from which Posey could choose. The die was cast, and the project grew exponentially. Three artists, three poems, three quilts: each one using all three elements. The result is a trinity of quilts that powerfully imagines each unique person in the group, and yet maintain a unity of intention that binds them unmistakably into a cohesive whole. The work is a dance — a perichoresis of the lives of three individuals forever entwined in relationship: “distinct but not separate.” Through an intentional act of seeing by the fiber artist – each of the three artists has been holy/wholly represented in her singularity. And yet the three quilts are also deeply inter-related, indivisible, and form a whole — just as the myriad distinct pieces of any and every quilt come together to form a whole cloth unit.
The process of “seeing” — of appreciation — of purposeful attention without the attempt to incorporate — constitutes a radical act of love. This thesis proposes that such acts of intentional seeing are a form of extraordinarily powerful dialogue with “the other” — a way in to relationship that purposefully suspends judgment and even verbal definition in order to resist appropriation. This love reveals the other to the seer, and transforms her in the process. In return, those who are seen are also transformed, for by being truly seen, they are valued as individuals. It is the aim of this project to show that such transformation does not compromise the non-negotiable specificity of the unique individual selves involved, but instead makes a way for each to honor and appreciate the irreducible singularity of the others.
The Lobi book quilt is part of the larger Lobi quilt. It hangs on the larger quilt, but can be detached for closer viewing. When we were at seminary together, Lobi always had a small notebook with her; she would use it to sketch, paste images, and to write down things she wanted to remember. As I was making her larger quilt, it became clear that a book needed to be part of the work. I asked Lobi to send me a selection of images that were meaningful to her, though I did not tell her why I wanted them. Over time, many of them found their way into the book: Lobi as an angel at Burning Man, the hand of Fatima (which was a significant symbol for her), a Christian cross, a beaded heart, her beloved dog, the tree of life (as an echo of the larger one on the bigger quilt).
I also used quilting stitches to create images on some of the “blank” pages. The pages are unfinished at the edges, because Lobi, like the rest of us, is a work in progress.
Most surprising to both of us was the inclusion of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As I was making the quilts, I would frequently look through my trove of found objects, beads, fabric, and other supplies. Often, while searching for one thing, I would find another. Opening a drawer to get a particular button, a cardboard box with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe presented itself with an urgency and sense of purpose. She would not go away, and she needed to be on Lobi’s quilt. Lobi and I had never spoken of Our Lady before, but I trusted that Lobi would know why she was meant to be there. After I had sewn the Lady in place, I called Lobi to ask her what the connection was. Lobi was speechless. Our Lady is the centerpiece to an altar Lobi had created in her home to honor her deceased nephew. I knew nothing about this until I asked. During our interview after the quilts were done, Lobi and I talked about this work of the Spirit. I was as astonished as she was.
The story of Durga slaying the Buffalo Demon is one of the many tales of the Great Goddess — part of the Devi Mahatmya, a song that has been sung to the Goddess since the 5th or 6th century CE. In this song, the ultimate reality of the universe is understood to be feminine. The inspiration for this quilt came from my work in recent years around social and sexual justice issues for women. I wanted to speak with a feminine voice of wholeness and strength in order to resist the systemic forces which continue to silence and harm women. In the Christian tradition, that honor falls to Mary, mother of Jesus, the theotokos (God-bearer), but Mary has, too often in western culture, been co-opted as meek, mild, and subservient. While that characterization of Mary is false, artistically, Durga’s unquestioned power resonated my fully with my continuing fury at the treatment of all women in the world today. This quilt shows Durga at the moment of impact when her spear decapitates the buffalo demon; that is why the demon’s head is upside down and separate from its body.