Monday, March 31, 2008

Kristin's Community




You'd think that since this theme was my idea, it would have been easy, but you'd be wrong. I did decide rather early on that I wanted to express my specific relationship to a community -- where we have lived for the past decade or more. I wanted to express the feeling of being in a community without actually belonging to it. I found this abstraction to an emotional state difficult.

I think I my solution ended up pretty pictorial, but I'm not sure that matters. I started by creating the actual community. In my case, this was photos of some of the houses and apartments in my neighborhood. I traced the pictures onto strips of hand dyed cotton shopping bags as these bags are my personal symbol for people. Everyone needs food; everyone carries their food in these bags; bags are available from nearly all the services a community needs to function; etc., etc. Then I wove the strips together since a community is all the people and services woven together by their common history and their interaction. It's not perfect though, hence the raw edges.

Now to express my exclusion. I'm afraid the best solution I came up with was a variation of the universal symbol for "don't" -- the line-through, or X literally slicing through the quilt. I didn't want the anger of a red X, so I chose basic black. I skewed it a bit as well and like that it can be read both as an X shaped barrier or as a window. Either way, I can see the community, but I don't really have full access to it.





Of course, I've confused things a bit by including our house in the community (over the rainbow, the one in the center with the criss-cross fence). Yes, we're there in the community, but there's still barriers (the latest being the day before yesterday when one of our mayoral candidates came door to door to introduce himself -- I recognized him from the posters around town and the local publication, but had to admit that I couldn't vote for him even if I wanted to because I'm only a guest in the country and have no voting rights here).

When I had finished this piece, I wasn't as wowed by it as I was by The Marquise de Coëtlogon, so a week later I tried another take on the subject. In the end I preferred this one.

15 comments:

StegArt said...

It's wonderful Kristin. I think you have portrayed your community feelings very well in this quilt. I also had a laugh at how this theme was a challenge for you even though you picked it. I think most people would tend to pick a theme that seems easy to them. Great challenge!

Natalya said...

This is very different from the one on your blog. I like this one a lot too. and as usual I am loving your description of the thoughts behind the work...

Karen said...

The houses and apartments are so cool looking and the X thru it realy shows your ambivalent feelings.

Helen Conway said...

I like the idea of the bag symbolism. It teaches me that not everything has to be obvious (thats what description is for!). I actually like your spare one too - the ribbons hanging loose are very pretty as well as functional

Nellie's Needles said...

Wonderful! What is hidden behind the surface of the woven strips? Parts of the community that are not accessible? I like your other one, too.

Diane said...

This is great, Kristin. I really like the weaving concept and your use of shopping bags, and how the black cross is both a window and a bar. That is a very appropriate way to illustrate your conflicting feelings. I think the final piece does reflect your emotions about your community. It's lovely and thought-provoking.

Kristin L said...

Nellie, I was thinking about an appropriate fabric to use behind the weaving, but once it was all put together, it wasn't necessary. I basted the woven "top" together before the slicing and when the sliced X was all sewn in, I just layered the top with batting and a black backing and quilted it to keep anything from shifting or letting the batting show through at the intersections. I highly recommend weaving with fabric -- lots of possibilities!

jude said...

i really like the way this came out. and i like the harsh edge of the x against the woven edges, really well done.

Françoise said...

Great quilt Kristin! I understand perfectly your feelings. I had the same ones when I was living abroad. This black X is really strong though!
BTW, I had a hard time with my own theme as well.

Gerrie said...

I sort of felt this way when I lived in the south for 6 years. I really felt as if I was living in exile. I know that is not your feeling. You love your community and so the angst of not really being part of it is very meaningful. I think the transition you are facing is also involved. I love the look of the houses traced onto the shopping bag fabric - nice symbolism and visual.

Nikki said...

I love the weaving. I made a very lame attempt at weaving and posted a photo on my blog. Yours is wonderful. I enjoy the close up view where you can really see the texture.

The contrast between the hand stitching that builds the community and the machine stitching which keeps one out is very symbolic. The things that bind people together have a personal touch, while the things that keep us apart are often imposed upon the individuals.

Wonderful quilt!

Brenda said...

Wow - you pack lot of meaning and imagery into 12 x 12 inches of quilt estate. I particularly like the raw edge weaving.

Deborah said...

Love the weaving! Such a unique technique. You didn't mention the hand quilting. It's perfectly executed and so meaningful. Though it does scream "Kristin" in style, I can totally see your hand in the work.

twolimeleaves said...

Kristin, with each of your quilts I have appreciated how very thoughtful you are throughout the process of making them. The results are quilts that command sustained attention and require that the viewer THINK as well. Fortunately you make them visually rich enough that they CAN be viewed for a long time and not get old! This one is lovely. And also kind of confronting.

Terry said...

I also love the weaving, but even more I really love your little drawings of the houses. I am finding it positively spooky that you and Gerrie incorporated THE SAME BLACK X in your pieces! Transcontinental esp?