Friday, August 1, 2008

The Fourth Day

illumination

It was so interesting for me to create this quilt as a continuation on the themes I explored in our Water challenge. My water quilt is titled "Firmament" because the arches at the top of the quilt made me think of the firmament that God created to separate the waters from the waters in the creation story in the book of Genesis. I took additional inspiration from Genesis for our illumination theme.

One of the definitions of "illumination" is "The art or act of decorating a text, page, or initial letter with ornamental designs, miniatures, or lettering or (b) An example of this art." I knew I wanted to focus on this concept.

I browsed tons of examples online. My favorites come from the St. John's bible. I even traveled all the way to Los Angeles to look at actual illuminated pages at the Getty Museum. I made tons of sketches of compositions inspired by the grids and rectangles found in illuminations. And then I tried to transfer it to fabric. I chose text from Gen 1:14 to 19 in which God created two great lights -- an illuminated page about illumination!

I chose fabric and wrote some text. Foiled some letters. Tried some compositions that matched the pages I had been studying. I was totally frustrated. Eventually, I realized that I needed to do it in my own style. (Duh.)

I used elements from illuminated pages like the large metallic letter (or number), the stacking of blocks of text (or fabric), the bits of gold foil (or sequins) and the dynamic backgrounds (a monoprint, in my case). The process was quite labored and I auditioned about 800 pieces of fabric for the eight I ended up with.

illumination close up

I agonized over how obvious the symbolism should be. Since the passage is about two great lights, should I have only used two washers for embellishment? Will viewers wonder what the 4 means? Does it matter? I wrote the passage on that white fabric, but is a distraction to bury it under the other pieces? Maybe.

Ultimately, I focused only on the design of the piece and let the symbolism take a back seat and I'm thrilled with the results.

12 comments:

Dale Anne Potter said...

Another WOW!
Especially am LOVING the monoprinted background.
GREAT JOB Deb!

Gerrie said...

it is sort of deconstructed illuminated text and so Deborah. I really like the background monoprint.

Diane said...

Ooh, another wonderful piece. I love your description of how you arrived at the realization that you could (and ultimately needed to) interpret all these concept in your own style, your own way. It's beautiful, and it's a piece I could happily look at for a long time. Your gold background is fabulous. The washers are perfect (and do have a very universal sort of sense) and I really like the detail of the outline stitching around the 4. I'm glad you're happy with this, because it is a terrific piece.

Brenda said...

When I set this theme, I really hoped that someone would explore the avenue of illuminated manuscripts. You have really applied your own style to this work capturing the starry night and the blaze of day. The embellishments and layering pull the viewer in. If the symbolism is not immediately apparent, once revealed the quilt is even more memorable.

Kristin L said...

I think the title does a great job of explaining teh 4 and the viewer can take it from there. The passage as a secondary design element works well as it gives us something meaningful to linger over. I don't like bits of text used just as texture -- i much prefeer it to have meaning to the piece as a whole, and your definitely does. Great job!

Terry said...

This is so thoughtful, so meaningful and so incredibly beautiful I don't know what to say about it. It is illumination itself. You nailed it.

nicolette said...

I really love your translation of illumination, the symbolism and the use of text and day 4!

I can’t stop looking at it, there is a lot to discover!

Françoise said...

I liked reading about how this piece was thought of and born. It's beautiful, and it's very you.
Love the background very much too.

StegArt said...

Your piece really keeps my eye moving and interested Deborah. The monoprinted background really makes it, in my opinion. Great idea.

kirsty said...

There is so much to love about a little jewel like this - the background is fabulous (the curved lines of the print are a wonderful balance to the straight lines of the composition and I like that they reflect the curve of the gold leaves), the hand-stitching around the 4 is spot on, and the washers! They are my favourite addition.You couldn't have chosen a better embellishment than those.

Nikki said...

I love the direction you are taking with your water and illumination quilts. Your non-traditional interpretations of scripture are inspiring and exactly what my soul needs right now. I'm always amazed at how each person in this group was pick to touch me in some special way. I can't wait for the day when I can see each of these quilts in person.

Karen said...

Deborah, this piece is so meaningful and the layers penetrate so deeply, it's really an inspiration. Technically it's perfect, but what really gets me is the thought behind it.