Monday, June 1, 2009


This theme was very challenging for me and I faced many of the same challenges I faced in the past. Evidently, I still have not learned to solve those problems efficiently. But, I pleased with the result. Here is "Palm."
When I first considered the theme, I knew I wanted to explore my own personal identity, but not delve too deep, because I just don't think it's really possible to encompass the many facets of my true identity in a small art quilt. Not to mention the fact that I'm still working on figuring it all out for myself.

So, I began with my name. Brenda posted a full list of all the "twelves" names and their meanings during our identity preparation. As she mentioned, Deborah was judge and prophetess in the book of Judges.

This little plaque hung on the wall in my bedroom when I was a little girl. Now, it hangs in my studio.
I reread Judges 4 and began to pull phrases out of the scripture that resonated with me.

Deborah "held court under the palm" (Judges 4:5). Perfect, I love tree imagery. I can use that. (When I began cutting fabric, I changed the palm tree to more a berry stalk.)

Sisera will be "delivered into your hands" (Judges 4:7). Good, I can use the hand as a symbol. Plus, it fits nicely with the "identity" theme.

There is also talk about the "hill country" and "tents" in the text. (See the hills and tens on the little plaque?)

I began with those somewhat disconnected images. Not surprisingly, I chose words that represented symbols that I use regularly in my art: plants, landscapes, houses. For me they represent growth, journey and home. The hand could represent creativity... creating art, creating a family.

As I worked on the composition, I hit a snag. As the piece developed, I struggled with whether particular elements still represented identity or did they just fit the composition for the sake of design. Ultimately, I decided to take identity as the starting point, but chose not to make every single color, stitch, shape and layer symbolic. I chose bits because they fit and I liked them.
I originally thought I wanted to put something in the palm of the hand shape. I blogged about it and got tons of wonderful suggestions. Ultimately, I added that larger leaf to lead the eye just a bit, but I decided not to put a specific symbol in the hand. Everything seemed too contrived, obvious or distracting.

I finished the quilt a couple of days ago, but I'm just giving it a title today. It never occurred to me until just now that I used both a "palm tree" and the palm of a hand, so that's why I titled it "Palm." My own personal identity has many double meanings.

And just for kicks, I used a bumble bee fabric for the backing, since Deborah also means "bee."


Karen said...

Deborah, I looked at this on your website last night and I think you found the perfect solution with the added leaf. You stay true to yourself with the spiritual tones in this piece.

Terri said...

Great quilt Deborah. I love the flowery/leafy motifs. Funny, I didn't even notice the hand on there until I was reading through your description.

Terry said...

Oh, I do love this piece and it reflects both the beautiful heritage of your name and something fundamental about you. Bravo!

I wanted to share another "Deborah under the palm tree" quilt with you. This one by Adriene Cruz, a wonderful Portland artist.

It's a compelling subject.

Kristin L said...

Using bee fabric on the back makes me smile :-)

I like this piece as an extension of all the little works you've been making recently. It's a wonderful exploration of your personal connection to one aspect of your life. And hey, if the elements are ones you use repeatedly, then that's part of your artistic identity!

Nicely done.

Diane said...


I didn't peek in advance so this is new to me today, and I LOVE it. Your work always has a true voice to it, and I love that your identity really shines through even without knowing how the elements fit the meaning of your name and related symbols.

It's interesting to me that you were troubled by the issue of the using the symbols as symbols AND design elements -- to me, you've integrated both in how you used the elements. In fact, I think that's the perfect use of your personal symbols with elegant design. I love the stitching, too.

Gerrie said...

Ah! So Deborah and there in lies your identity. It is you — spiritual, thoughtful and whimsical.

kirsty said...

I agree with Gerrie. A thoughtful quilt with a lovely sense of calm and an assuredness. The symbolism is gently there without being too shouty. Nice stuff, Deborah!

kirsty said...

I agree with Gerrie. A thoughtful quilt with a lovely sense of calm and an assuredness. The symbolism is gently there without being too shouty. Nice stuff, Deborah!