My Community Quilt

Challenges seem to be the life blood of art quilt groups and the latest one I participated in had a community theme. I began one piece that I thought showed a community of women, but that veered off in another direction. It still features women but I think the viewer would see it more as a portrayal of friendship.

I decided to fill the gap with another piece I had set aside the parts for when I was playing with tissue paper fabric.  It shows wind tossed bare limbed trees set in a frame of greens with some purply browns and reds.

DoTreesHaveStandingFirst I free motion quilted the trees layer (a stencil spray painted on interfacing) between dyed silk organza and batting. After I sewed the ombre red band on the tissue paper background, I put the trees piece on top of the paper fabric and quilted wavy lines through all layers, including the green felt.  I sewed on a strip of leftover tissue paper to give some punctuation to the bottom. Then, I stitched on the brown/red/yellow cording to frame it up. I still haven’t decided how much of the felt to leave showing.

It’s meant to be a community of trees, which I call Should Trees Have Standing? The title refers to an influential law review article by Christopher Stone, written in 1972, arguing in favor of legal rights for natural objects and areas. The reference harks back to one of my varied past careers.

To me a group of trees forms an interdependent system that suffers damage when even one part of it is taken away. I always said I wouldn’t make social commentary quilts, but I have shown myself to be a liar.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

8 responses to “My Community Quilt

  1. One aspect, maybe unintended, is the trees are in a forest fire. That is a tremendous test of a community. Some survive, but a new community arises from the ashes, surrounding the survivors and providing support for a time. Interesting piece, a lot to think about.

    • I love different interpretations of this piece. I had intended the red to signify autumn and the swoops of quilting to be wind, but the image certainly supports your take.

  2. I think it is good when we voice social commentary through our art. I personally find it quite a challenge that I have yet to conquer. Regarding the art itself; Successful layering; painterly layering, in a quilt is not an easy task but you have accomplished it in this piece. I like how the quilting seems to breeze around the trees as if to hug them.

    • I think the reason I’m leery of social commentary in art is that it’s often done badly. Not to belittle the seriousness of the topic, but many quilts about environmental damage are didactic rather than artistic. And the sludgy colors are not what I want to look at daily.

  3. jennyklyon

    I absolutely love this piece! The combination of materials and color is divine. Fabulous composition.

  4. It may be a social commentary quilt but it isn’t strident and didactic at all. I like that quilting gives us the opportunity to include symbolic elements and meaning, along with the artistic possibilities.

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