Chandler’s Show Celebrates the Magic of Quilt History

By Srianthi Perera, Donor

Linda McCurry’s artistic quilt portrays adversity.

Years ago his house in Gilbert caught fire around the fireplace; the fire burned downstairs by the fireplace and upstairs in the master bedroom. Her koi fish died in her pond due to firefighters putting a flame retardant there.

In flaming red, orange, brown and yellow, she traces the story in her quilt titled “From the Ashes”.

“There was a lot of restoration to be done,” said McCurry. “You could tell from the ashes that we got up and came back as strong as we could.”

Stories like this are what curator and judge Ellen M. Blalock was looking for when she was asked to set up the annual City of Chandler Quilting Art Show. Art Quilts XXVI: Stitching Stories, featuring 64 story quilts made by 53 artists from across the country, will run through January 8 at the Vision Gallery and CCA Gallery.

A resident of Syracuse, New York, Blalock is passionate about history quilts.

“I know quilts and artists work in all kinds of different ways and wanted to include a lot of people’s voices because not everyone does figurative work,” she noted.

“What’s also important to me is the story behind the quilt and not just a story the quilt tells. Maybe someone has the story of why they made the quilt and / or it could even be the process, ”she added.

Blalock herself is a narrative documentary artist who works in photography, video, drawing, and fiber. Most of his designs come in series, such as the 32-piece Family Quilt Project; Not Crazy, which examines mental illness in the African American community; and the one on feminism.

In addition to creating quaint works of art on fabric, Chandler’s novelist-artist Laurie Fagen often portrays causes close to her heart. For this show, Fagen chose to highlight a photograph that his brother, a nurse practitioner, sent of himself: in a robe, gloved and masked for work in the Covid service.

“I don’t usually manipulate photos in Photoshop for my fiber art, but this one I did specifically because it was the year of the pandemic, it was exhausted and the world was exhausted,” she declared. “So I changed the colors, I left some threads attached, I just made him as worn out as possible.”

Fagen, who is also the author of detective novels and creates polymer clay jewelry, gives texture and dimension to his work.

His recent line of fiber art is to take photos, print them on the fabric and paint over with a few miles of thread.

“I embellish the art quilt with yarn, I give it texture and dimension. This is my basic technique that I did recently. Often times they’re embellished with other things – charms, thread, ribbon, surface patterns, gilding techniques and the addition of paint, ”she said.

“I love the tactile feel of the fabric and being able to take any fabric and work with it is always something very satisfying for me,” she said, adding “from design to creation. going through the actual handling of the fabric, i enjoy the whole process.

Annemarie Comes de Mesa works in a similar process to weave photography into fabric.

Her quilt titled “Branching Out” is a cyanotype of one of her photographs.

“My image was printed in my darkroom in black and white, then made into a full scale transparency that was exposed on chemically coated fabric,” she said. “Our Arizona sun was then used to transfer the image to the fabric.”

“As an Arizona-based photographer, I try to capture special moments in time – lots of sunsets – so that others can enjoy the beauty as well,” she added.

After isolating himself for much of the past few months due to the pandemic, Comes relishes the freedom to create art.

“It was wonderful to revisit the fabrics / quilting and the cyanotype process over the past year. It’s so wonderful to allow others to enjoy my image again in a padded form, ”she said.


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