One of these people is Paula Kovarik. I first saw her work in the 2013 Quilt National publication (her artwork was used for the end pages...insert big high five here) and I contacted her not long ago to ask if I could use some of her images for a blog post; we've had a couple of online discussions since about the world of textile art (mostly she is answering my neophyte questions) and someday I will spend about 4 hours with this lady drinking tea or perhaps something stronger.
She asked me to participate in this World Wide Blog Hop, which started in Europe and has since hopped all over, so I'm super excited to be included. Here is the link to her Blog Hop post, and below are the 4 questions that I now get to answer:
1. What am I working on?
I received an Individual Artist Fellowship grant this year from the Rasmuson Foundation, which is allowing me to take risks (Oh, beautiful patron!). I'm working on several projects that consider various ways to house found objects within the quilt form, all of which focus either on the body or fear or loss (or all three). One series, "Girl Story," explores menarche through the use of heavy embroidery and vintage textiles. It's brave and scary for me to put it all out there. Lastly, I've started this blog, because ever since I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing 10 years ago, I've been a writer who wasn't writing and I was sick of hearing myself whine about all that.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm not the only textile artist who incorporates language, but let's just say we aren't lined up around the block banging down the gallery door. We're sort of a petite group. The impetus to use text in my work comes from writing memoir, but it also comes from a need to go deeper into a visual narrative. I can't help but feel like the the pieces I've completed that don't incorporate text feel unfinished, or are lacking a layer. Litany is an important component for me because it's what I hear in my mind constantly, and is a way to approach an idea from every possible angle.
I'm also dark and stuck in my head and intense and think using the quilt form as a vehicle for a story is just really compelling.
3. Why do I do what I do?
Because I'm dark and stuck in my head and intense and (no, wait, I said that already).
I do this work because, like any other artist, if I don't then I'm suppressing my voice, I'm not being brave and I'm not taking risks. Does it bother me that each piece takes hours and hours and hours? Ummm ... yes. Do I care if anyone likes it? Oh my God, of course ... I want everybody to like me. I want everybody to want to be my friend. I want to make everybody happy because it's my nature to avoid conflict and to change topic to keep it so. Will a personality like this tuck my work into a safe cozy place? It could and has before. But I'm practicing the fine art of sticking my fingers in my ears (la-la-la-la-la) and not listening to myself. I've had enough people reach out (mostly women, but an interesting number of men) to know that I'm creating imagery that stays in their minds. People are saying thank you for doing the work. I never expected that.
(Sideways glances and total avoidance maybe, but never a thank you).
4. How does my process work?
I also: work on the wall, hoard fabric, cut apart clothing, allow an entire week to read the Sunday edition of the New York Times, add to/edit my highly curated Pinterest boards (sorry, no recipes), scour thrift stores for fabric, talk to my mother on the phone, avoid cooking dinner ("No, it's not the same leftover soup, this soup has rice in it now!"), periodically go through the house like a dervish and send everything to good will and feel intensely wonderful about this, spend a lot of time studying what other artists are doing, then spend even more time talking myself off the ledge when it's obvious I'm not doing what they're doing and feel intensely horrible about this, then I shut my studio door and work and work and work. And when I can't move my neck I hobble into my chiropractor's office and he says, "What have you been DOING?"
And then I write about it, which has become an equally important component to the work, because it's through the distillation of voice that I find the essence of what I'm trying to achieve. Often, I don't realize what the visual work means until I explore its literary component.
Oh, and I listen to my kids, because sometimes they ask little things like, "Mama, what in this house can catch on fire?" about a million times and it's so freaking brilliant I just have to write it down.
So that's me.
Now for something completely different.
Up for next week (October 18 -- mark your calendars), these same 4 questions will be answered by the two artists I've chosen: Kate Bowles and Jonathan Bower.
Kate Bowles uses recycled fabrics, papers and assorted vintage haberdashery ephemera to create hand-bound notebooks and journals. She lives in Yorkshire, England and somehow we met through Pinterest (of all places) because we'd pinned all the same images, and now we're buddies and I'm permanently invited to "Darning & Gin Night." Those Brits.
Kate's ideas & inspiration are dictated by the discarded & found materials she uses. Her love of vintage haberdashery items and papers (much of it with little commercial value or status) compels her to salvage and reincarnate these items into functional, beautiful books. Most importantly, these pages are meant to be filled by others, so the creative process continues when they leave her hands (for her this is “the best bit”).
Exposing the stitching on the spine, plus embroidering and darning the book cloth, is her nod to women of the binderies in the 1800s.
Jonathan J. Bower is a writer, songwriter, father, and creative writing instructor living in Anchorage, Alaska. We go way back to creative writing MFA days and there is still imagery from his writing that is burned in my mind. Plus, he's just a super nice guy with meaningful things to say.
He recently survived the final days of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which will cover the post-production costs of his new album, Hope, Alaska, (official release in late October). You can hop into the Listening Booth on his site for a preview of his music and a peek into Alaskan life. He's one of the many talented people living here in this impossibly far-off land so I hope you'll check it out.
(Can I just say here that I always new Jonathan as a writer, so learning about him as a singer and song writer has been very cool).