My personal challenge project for this year (2019) was: create 50 mandalas on fabric squares 10 x 10 cm. I started off diligently and efficiently in February while I was on skiing vacations with my family. I could not ski due to a foot injury, so I figured I would have plenty of time to embroider.
Turns out that after having my foot fixed, I also lost interest in my mandalas… (maybe creating mandalas is forever linked to hurting in my brain now…) 😉
Now: what to do with 16 mandalas? Too little for a wall hanging or some wearable art or home decor, but also too many to just throw away… So I ended up putting them on cards! (Availabe here, if interested.)
Here is some eye candy (meaning my failed effort of creating 50 mandalas – I still like some though):
When it comes to the sewing machine, I am certainly NOT an advanced user. I can sew straight lines, shorten some curtains or mend jeans – but I am not good with interpreting sewing patterns or creating intricate wearables… I am more of a “try and error” gal. So making a quilt was definitely not on my mind!
But that is what I finally chose to create: a freestyle art quilt. But first of all, while I have been visiting Venice last year, I admired the decorated windows of the houses and took some pictures for inspiration. Back home, I edited the photographs and had them printed on fabric. Then, I began to stitch onto the pictures, emphasizeing elements and adding further items as I went along. After three pictures were worked on, I realised that the heart symbol was a recurring object and thus decided to incorporate it into all window portraits. The heart and other symbols turn the pictures surreal; and each window opens the way to another allegory…
Let me explain the individual works a bit:
“Snake bite” is an allegory of temptation. The heart is tempted and failed to resist. Thus it was bitten by the seducer.
“The catch” is an allegory of possession. The heart is possessed by a hunter, probably someone with power (the bait arsenal).
“Flying the tightrope” is an allegory of frivolity. The heart is ready to take great risks. This mentality can give the mind wings. But it can as well shatter the heart.
“Growing pain” is an allegory of growth and – more universal – evolution. Tiny heart-buds are blooming. The balcony is entered through the window of youth and left through the window of seniority. All development comes with growing pain.
“Aerating” is an allegory of self-care. Not only the outer layers are to be held clean and fresh, also emotions (good AND bad) need to be cared for and not neglected. Only thus can the heart recharge.
“Ying and Yang” is an allegory of opposites and commonalities. Sun and moon, heart and brain – they compete against AND complete each other. They often stand opposite yet still on the same balcony.
“Escape” is an allegory of emotionality. When windows are closed by reasoning, emotion has it’s own life and can still escape the rationality.
“Freed” is an allegory of salvation. The body might be tortured, but the soul is freed.
Back to the process of creating the quilt: After having finished the eight window portraits, I machine sewed fabric scraps losely together for the background of the piece. I then handquilted them properly in Boro style. This took hours, I can tell you! But it is a very calming work and I like doing it. The fabric scraps are all upcycled; I collected them as leftovers from other projects, as pieces of once loved clothing or I was given them by friends. In this particular piece, I wanted to include all the colors of the color wheel to show the rainbow of all possible emotions and situations life holds.
The next step was fixing the window portraits on the background. And then I watched a bunch of Youtube tutorials to learn how to batt and bind a quilt. My result is rather crippled (don’t look at the backside of the quilt…) but at least I could use up some old cloth and random pieces of batting for it! 😉
I am fairly pleased with the final piece; it speaks to me in many ways. I like symbolism and surrealism, and I like the colors, and I think my work transports the messages I wanted it to transport.
From time to time, I love to participate in art projects of other artists. This gives me the opportunity of working for a concrete assignment given by someone else then myself. I like to send work not only to textile artists but also to artists working in other media. I see it as a welcome challenge to create a fiber art piece that “fits in” with the other media art pieces and it is also another try to let the art world know that textile works have a right to be regarded as art pieces just as well. Plus, taking part in other’s projects provides the bene of having my work more widely shared.
Below are my works that I sent to other artists within the years of 2015 – 17.
Creating “The key” was my very first time participating in a mail art project. I was approached by the talented and friendly contemporary mixed media artist MOO (Monika Mori) and instantly loved her project! The project’s theme was “Turquoise” and you can see all the amazing entries in this online gallery. Since this first participating in an art mail project, I love the concept!
In spring 2016, I came across an open call for another art mail project on facebook. The project was initiated and curated by the Spanish photographer María Hernández Laplaza. The project’s theme was “Confidencias mudas” and the resulting exhibition toured throughout Spain. Some pictures can be found here. Unfortunately, my work was stolen during the first exhibition. 😦
Another interesting art project I found in 2016 was author and artist Sabine Küster’s mail art project “…mir ist so daDa im Kopf!”. As a Swiss artist and author myself, I feel closely connected with dadaism and I love playing around with words as much as I love embroidery! My entry (see above right) was selected for publication in the project’s work book (above left). The book is available here.
Inspired by the three art mail projects I took part in, I decided to give a go at curating my own exhibition after all. As a founding member of the Swiss Hand Embroiderer’s Guild, I organised the project “IN BETWEEN / DAZWISCHEN” under the Guild’s roof. The project resulted in an online gallery and a one-day exhibition in a pop-up gallery in Winterthur, Switzerland. My three entries are shown above. The project was a very time consuming but also very exciting and satisfying undertaking. 🙂
PS: The Guild hosts a yearly fiber art project since then. Go check out their website!
Also in 2017, I worked with one of my favorite artist collectives Art in Open Roomz again for a small yet funny art project: upcycling cd’s into art objects! You can view pictures of the resulted mobile sculpture here.
Further this year, the Swiss Hand Embroiderers’ Guild orchestrated an art swap. I was assigend an ukulele loving fiber artist and created “My tune” for her.
My last project entry in 2017 was “Beautified”, a quilt square for a collaborative art quilt by the Upcycled Cloth Collective founded by upcycling textiles virtuoso Melanie Brummer. The square has to be made of recycled materials and has to show a word paraphrasing “upcycled”. If you are interested, join the collective here.