Native American Dancers

Quilt Painting

November, 2010

I am finally getting started on this project which has been percolating through my mind now for several years. It started with the idea of capturing the movement of a Native Indian dancer with the lovely swirling fringes and the color. Wanting to capture the fabric, bead work and feathers made the decision easy for it to be a quilt of some kind. During the incubation period of this project, I came across a magazine highlighting the new, innovative quilting being done out there. Many of which were more like paintings than quilts. Thus the idea of combining both the quilt and the format of a painting jelled.

It had to be life-size; you know I like to build big. The many layers, literally and figuratively required to achieve my vision made this project really exciting for me. I am not interested in make work projects for myself; I am interested in making art.

I have also never been able to focus in on one type of art media. The use of fabrics, beads, feathers, threads all thrill me. I also can see many subjects in this format. I can also see it applying to doing the Masai with their gorgeous bead work and dancing movements, their beautiful faces and energy and strength. Dan asked me today how long I had been interested in Indian art and I said for quite a while. I had already taken a beading course way back when. I am also very interested in the geometric designs in crop circles that can be incorporated into the bead work. The cosmic connection to Indian motifs also resonates with me. There is also this strong spiritual component to all of this. I really appreciate it when an art piece reflects so many facets back to me.

Of course, it seems the easy part is formulating the image in my mind’s eye. The hard part is deconstructing it and finding the components to build it back up. I am very pleased to already find myself collecting the necessary bits and pieces to achieve my vision.

I am going to go out on a limb and voice the tingle I am feeling as I start this piece. I really believe this can turn into something awesome, therefore I felt it was wise of me to make notes along the way and to do a photo documentation of the process.


December 15th

Today the piece is finished except for the framing, which will be stripped logs for the base and two sides.

I want to take a moment and make some comments that came to mind as I was working on this piece, in no particular order:

  • The framing choice was inspired by Mike who suggested un-stripped birch but I prefer the stripped wood color.
  • About the frame, I told Zaia this morning that is reminds me of this installation work done by a Quebec artist who built this Jonah and the Whale lodge out of stripped logs shaped like ribs.
  • This also reminds me a lot of the outdoor installation pieces I have admired over the years using bits and pieces found, in my case, bits and pieces found in my studio from a life-time of trying out things.
  • As I sit and reflect on the work I look up and see that I am surrounded by my wooden teepee that is my studio ceiling.
  • I had a discussion with Zaia a couple of weeks before I started this project about the concept and actualization of releasing one’s inner being in all of its magnificence. A couple of days later I see this new Katy Perry video called Fireworks which pretty much summed up my earlier discussion. Another example of tapping into the collective unconsciousness.
  • So while doing this piece, I decide to set my radio to the new hits station, Virgin and hear what today’s music is all about. It was really rather unsettling as most of the music was glorifying excessive drinking and engaging in any and all forms of sex. It also put all of the emphasis on the woman’s physique and none on the man’s even going so far as to comment on the lack of stretch marks on her ass. What happened to Woman’s Lib?
  • We were watching Jon Stewart and he had on Gordon Brown who commented on the need for morality in the marketplace. If the new songs are any go by, morality doesn’t seem to be in favor at this point in time.
  • I did a painting in my teens that was only one half of a face and I remember my Dad asking when I was going to paint the other side and I said never, that wasn’t the point of the work. I’ve been asked now a couple of times if I was going to put in an eye and it kind of goes to the same point as in my youth, that isn’t the point of the piece. This brings up the concept of art vs. documentation. I am not recording a dance costume for posterity; I’m capturing a feeling that seeing a dancer move brings to me.
  • I have also been asked where do I intend to hang the piece in my house, which is also not the point. This is not a piece of decoration to fill a blank space on my wall; it is a piece of art that I felt the need to express. It is not that I need it. One doesn’t get beyond the mundane in life if all one is asking about the things one has or does in terms of its usage. We get that all the time with the pool and the horses. So what if we never use them?
  • So many people are looking for that amazing thing to happen to them to elevate them from mediocrity yet they box up their entire life into this linear justification process that pretty much eliminates all of the magic. I know this is why Zaia and I have achieved what we have because we always make sure to incorporate our dreams, big and small into the realm of possibility. Maybe that is the “secret” that everyone is looking for?