Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shelter


It is entirely possible that this quilt has way too much symbolism in it. See if you can distinguish between was really intended and what I am chucking in at the end to justify bad workmanship ( see previous post). When I discovered the theme I was reading a book written by a dutch refugee and it set me thinking about my time as a lawyer working political asylum cases.
Also, the international law is meant to act as a kind of shelter from persecution. I decided to print words from various treaties which give us 'human rights'. For obvious reason a log cabin format seemed appropriate to display them and I chose browns as a reference to physical log cabin shelters but also chose the courtroom steps setting to refer back to the law. Also the log cabin is usually associated with the Amish who of course fled Europe to escape persecution. I left in all the imperfections which occurred in the making to reference the myth that the Amish put deliberate mistakes in their work, to reflect the rough hewn nature of real log cabins and to represent the imperfections of the law and its inability to prevent persecution happening.
However, that seemed rather simple and my participation in this group is all about stretching myself with design ideas and techniques I have not used before. Also, I found out about the theme when using the free Internet in the Troppenmuseum in Amsterdam which has several replicas of shelters from a Mongolian yurt to a Moroccan cafe. I had also been thinking about the emotional shelter that quilts can bring. How we give them as gifts to people who are ill or bereaved. How we snuggle under them when we are sad or tired and need to get away from life for a while. I decided to make a 3D piece with the quilt as the actual shelter. I printed a photo image of the holocaust on Lutrador to give a nice hazy effect, framed it with fabric and made a sandwich of it with Fast2Fuse to give a nice rigid backboard. I chose a photo of inmates of Auschwitch in barracks to give yet another persepective to the 'shelter' theme. However, I am carefully not revealing that photo here as although I thought it was OK to use it it turned out at the last minute it might be copyright and need replacing. Sigh. The edges were stain stitched. then I made 'doors' of the same fabric and Fast2 Fuse and quilted them with a barbed wire pattern inspired by a drawing in my sketchbook of a picture at the Franz Nussbaum museum in Osnabruck, Germany. These were creased about an inch in from the edges with a line of stitching and then satin stitch hinges added over the background piece. The quilt is sewn to the top of the background so that when the doors are pulled partially open the law operates as a physical shelter over the holocaust scene.

I am pleased with the idea but ashamed of the quality of the work. Really this should be the model and I should have done another one to show but time has run out and this is it.

10 comments:

Kristin L said...

Wow, there's a lot going on here! The nice part is that it's still pretty simple and invites you to look deeper. I would be satisfied with the words on shelter in the log cabin format. I totally did the "Duh!" forehead smack when I read why you used the Courthouse Steps arrangement! Brilliant and appropriate. The structure underneath reinforces the more abstract messages on top, but I actually think that both parts could work independently of each other. Re-do it if you want, or use just the top quilt, but be happy with what you've done. You're making me look bad now with all the meaning and symbolism you've managed to cram into this little piece! ;-)

Gerrie said...

Helen, you just get so involved in the meanings of these pieces that you are doing. It sort of makes me feel like a dilettante!! Just going for something pretty! You have done a masterful engineering job of constructing the shelter. I love all the imagery that you have referenced. It all works and I am honored to be part of a group with you.

kirsty said...

I agree completely with Gerrie and Kristin. The depth of your thinking makes me feel woefully inadequate! And although I like the shelter, I also think the quilt more than easily stands alone as a successful piece.

Nikki said...

Now, I once again have to say me too! You always amaze me with what you say in your art. You have created so many layers of meaning. I look forward to being able to see it in person one day.

Diane said...

I'm awestruck, Helen.

First, I am so impressed (and humbled, to tell you the truth) at your finding a way to connect the fundamental legal principles to the concept of shelter. It's a profound idea, and I love that this piece drew that out of you.

Second, I am very impressed at how you went on with more deep thought to illustrate your ideas with the log cabin structure, the barracks shape, the holocaust reference, the barbed wire stitching ... you have said a lot with this piece, and it all hangs together.

Sometimes the intellectual cleverness of an idea is better than the resulting piece, but that is not the case here. I think the piece portrays so many layers of the idea of "shelter" really well.

And as for your fears about your technique? I think you are a very harsh judge on yourself, because I do not see ANY sign of technical deficiency. AND, the way, if there really are imperfections? I'm sure that theyu're really an unconscious commentary on the imperfection and fragility of shelter in a tumultuous world. (grin)

I can't wait to see this in person some day. And I always look forward to your amazingly thoughtful response to each theme.

Terry said...

The others have left me little to say and I agree with all of them. You have combined a very intellectual approach to a deeper emotional connection that works on all levels. It speaks like a comment on why the rule of law reaches down into the heart of what makes/keeps us human at the very basic levels.

Françoise said...

What can I say that the others haven't said yet?..
I told you that your piece would be more profound and meaningful than mine!

StegArt said...

Wow, you've gone 3D!!!! How amazing Helen! I really enjoyed reading about your take on the theme and how you incorporated the text and rights onto the quilt. And the dimensionality of it is unexpected but so wonderful.

Karen said...

Helen, if you did not do symbolism, I think I would be disappointed. The effort and thought you put into your pieces really shows. I know you are not happy with this piece, but I think you are ahead of the curve on showing us what we can accomplish

Deborah said...

Oh I sure wish I could see the picture inside. But, of course, I totally understand your concern about copyright. I think this piece is very powerful and I really love the use of text on the top piece. The text adds to the whole piece without disturbing the graphic design of the logcabin/courthouse steps pattern.