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Sunday, July 3, 2011

More MEEC Exhibition Part 4 Brother Andy's Quilt and a Piece of Wearable Art

I admit it, I am focusing on the textiles/fiber art at the Marianist Environmental Education Center's Show.  While I have shown some of the other pieces, there was a lot of very nice photography and other fact, some knock your socks off sand paintings...  But I know that a lot of my readers are interested in the quilty, fibery bits.. One piece which was interesting was this quilt called "First Flowers" by Brother Andrew Kosmowski, SM.  The piece is fairly simple, it incorporates traditional applique with embroidered embellishment with broderie perse, the method of cutting out a printed element from a commercially printed fabric and appliqueing the piece down on a background.

I was interested in how a Marianist brother came to make a hand quilted, hand appliqued, I asked him a few questions about his piece.  Here are his responses.

> How long have you been quilting?
I started First Flowers in Jan. 2009.  This is the first quilt I finished by hand.  I also worked at a parish school at that time, and the ladies' sodality quilted as a fundraiser.  They saw a quilt top I made and then outsourced to one of them and said, "If you can hand-appliqué like that, you can quilt."  So I saw them quilt and ran with it.

> How did you start quilting?
When I came to Saint Louis, where I now live, I expressed to one of the brothers that I wanted to do it.  He encouraged me, and so I started.

> What was the inspiration for "First Flowers"?
I saw a pattern at Jackman's Fabrics in St. Louis and wanted to do it.  This was before I got a sewing machine, and it was "Quilt with your embroidery machine" pattern by Smith Street Design.  Fortunately, it also had paper patterns, which I used.

I bought the panels on the cheap.  They were from a Jo-Ann's near my parents' house.  I think they set of the appliqué nicely.

> I am pretty sure that you didn't use any stamping or embellishing,  but I wanted
> to make sure that what I saw as a commercially printed fabric was indeed that
> (the center of the reddish colored flower with the line/print on it).

You are correct; just appliqué and embroidery.
> What would you like to share about your work?

1) The sashing material was a Halloween print. Those bright dots are eyeballs!  I just looked for the right material at one of the local quilt shops.  If they had it with the Halloween prints instead of the green, I easily could have overlooked it.

2) I wanted to make some of the flowers based on real ones, even if the scale was different.  I just made up the four lilies, located on the centers of the outer rows and columns.  I don't recall the panels, but they had boring names like "large leaf bouquet."  The others, not counting the panels or lilies, are as follows:

Top row: pitcher plant, purple trillium
2nd row: poppy, ox-eye daisy, purple coneflower, forget-me-not
3rd row: Indian blanket
4th row: aster, tahoka daisy, black-eye Susan, violet
5th row: white trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit

3) I prefer hand-quilting because I feel I have more control over it.  This may be because I don't have a lot of experience quilting by machine.  It also makes it easy to work when I travel, wait for doctor's appointments, watch television or the fire, wait between sessions at conferences or retreats, etc.  I also find the rhythm relaxing (until the needle or thread breaks or the thread knots!).

4) I often piece my backings.  I know some people want the quilting to show, but I find a pieced backing can mean a pair of quilts in one.  The fish print you saw on the sleeve is part of the backing.  So is a bit of the blue in the purple and blue lily.

5) I appliqué raw-edge because that's the only method I know.  It adds a nice dimension to this.

6) The daisies are palest.  My blocks are not trimmed to square.  "Show me a perfect garden" was my attitude.  Not all flowers are the stars; some back up others.  The daisies back up the Indian Blanket, which is in my mind the star of the show.

Here at left, you can see one of the squares with the Broderie perse, and the right a needleturned applique with embroidered elements.
This is the flower which had such great use of the commercially printed fabric in order to give the flower the shading.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see this piece of wearable art.  This is another piece by Chris Bohmer Stewart called 'Gift of the Sea."  I'm going to include the text of Chris' artist statement because she says it better than I could paraphrase.

"The original incarnation of this gently recycled shirt was made in celebration of the 60th birthday of a lifelong friend.  I incorporated 'combings' from her beloved Florida Gulf Coast beach, gathered over several years of 'girls trips.' It was, as is this variation, a veritable I Spy The Beach, with prints and silhouettes of mandrake leaves, shore bird feathers, sponges, starfish, crab shell, fish bone, lightening whelk shell and egg casing , scallop and ark shells, and spirals from shell interiors.  Only, the ripples are made from Mt. St. John sycamore leaves.

One month after Alice's birthday, the Deepwater Horizon  exploded- the worst oil spill in U.S. History.  I feared that "Gifts of the Sea" might become "Elegy for the Gulf" , as the world watched rusty ribbons of oil snaking around rich coastal islands and oil-drenched birds struggling to survive.

One year later,miraculously  no elegy, but restoration? Hardly. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration declared the Gulf "much better than people feared but the jury is still out on what the end result will be."

The earth as God's gift is a common metaphor but "gift" implies the recipient has no obligation to show how the gift is used.  The Earth is not ours to use and abuse, then hope to restore that which may be irreplaceable.  Creation is a trust , with the current generation not owners free to do as they choose, but stewards , honoring the Earth for those to come.  Can we prove worthy of God's trust?"

As you can see, most of the submissions to the M.E.E.C. show at Mt. St. John's are selected with care.  Artists who submit usually put a lot of thought in making sure that their pieces speak to the issue and theme that the center puts out.  The show is always a visual treat but is also stimulating for the mind as you can't leave without having something from the show resonate and provide food for further thought...and hopefully action.

So, artists..for next year's show, the theme is "Living Green."  M.E.E.C. has a facebook page in addition to their web page.  Details on the show usually hit in the fall or winter (deadlines...deadlines).  If you are so inclined, I suggest that you keep an eye out and consider entering your own work if you are so moved. Here's the website again: 

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