Chandler show celebrates quilts’ story magic - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler show celebrates quilts’ story magic

December 20th, 2021 development
Chandler show celebrates quilts’ story magic

By Srianthi Perera, Contributor

Linda McCurry’s art quilt depicts adversity.

Years ago, her Gilbert home caught fire around the chimney; the fire burnt downstairs near the fireplace and upstairs through the master bedroom. Her koi fish died in her pond due to firefighters putting a flame retardant in it.

In flaming red, orange, brown and yellow, she traces the story in her quilt titled “From the Ashes.”

“There was a lot of restoration to do,” McCurry said. “You could say from the ashes we rose and came back as strong as we could.”

Stories such as this are what exhibit curator and judge Ellen M. Blalock sought when she was invited to assemble the City of Chandler’s annual art quilt show. Art Quilts XXVI: Stitching Stories, featuring 64 story quilts made by 53 artists from across the country, runs through Jan. 8 at Vision Gallery and CCA Gallery.

A resident of Syracuse, New York, Blalock is passionate about story quilts.

“I know that quilters work and artists work in all kinds of different ways and I wanted to be inclusive of a lot of people’s voices because not everybody does figurative work,” she noted.

“What is also important to me is the story behind the quilt and not just a story the quilt is telling. Somebody may be having the story of why they made the quilt and or it could even be the process,” she added.

Blalock herself is a narrative artist documentarian who works in photography, video, drawing and fiber. Most of her creations come in series form, such as the 32-piece Family Quilt Project; Not Crazy, which looks at mental illness in the African American community; and the one on feminism.   

In addition to creating picturesque fabric art, Chandler artist-novelist Laurie Fagen often portrays causes important to her. For this show, Fagen chose to highlight a photograph her brother, a nurse practitioner, sent of himself: gowned, gloved and masked for work in the Covid ward.

“I don’t typically manipulate photos in Photoshop for my fiber art, but this one I specifically did because it was the year of the pandemic, he was frazzled and the world was frazzled,” she said. “So, I changed the colors, I left threads attached to it, I just made it as frazzled as possible.”

Fagen, who also authors crime fiction novels and creates polymer clay jewelry, imparts texture and dimension to her work.

Her recent line of fiber art involves taking photos, printing them on the fabric and thread painting with a few miles of thread.

“I embellish the art quilt with thread, give it texture and dimension. That’s my basic technique that I’ve been doing recently. Oftentimes they’re embellished with other things – charms, yarn, ribbon, surface designs, foiling techniques and adding paint,” she said.

“I love the tactile feel of the fabric and being able to take any fabric and work with them is always just something that’s very satisfying to me,” she said, adding “everything from the design to the creation to the actual manipulation of the fabric, I enjoy the whole process.”

Annemarie Comes of Mesa works in a similar process to weave photography to fabric.

Her quilt titled “Branching Out” is a cyanotype of one of her photographs.

“My image was printed in my dark room in black and white, then turned into a large-scale transparency which was exposed overtop of chemically coated fabric,” she said. “Our Arizona sun was then used to transfer the image onto the fabric.”

“As an Arizona-based photographer, I try to capture special moments in time – a lot of sunsets – so others can enjoy the beauty, as well,” she added.

After isolating for much of the past months due to the pandemic, Comes relishes the freedom to create art.

“It was wonderful to revisit fabrics/quilting and the cyanotype process in the past year. It’s so wonderful to allow others to enjoy my image in a quilted form once again,” she said.


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