This grandmother’s flower garden quilt was actually influenced by three of Prince’s songs. Although each song was featured on different CDs during his career, all of the songs carried the theme of spirituality that can be found within his music. The first song was “The Digital Garden” on the Rainbow Children CD. I listened to that CD a lot while making the quilt. It is both an artistic and spiritual song about the blossoming of creativity and the burgeoning of spirituality within lyrical metaphors of a blossoming flower garden. I was inspired to create a pattern of purple roses that blossomed from the inside out with the light, medium and dark colored fabric framing one another. The second song was “When Doves Cry” from the Purple Rain soundtrack. Doves represent spiritual awakening. The border fabric has a purple background featuring white doves with the word “peace.” The third song was “Seven” from The Love Symbol CD. The song was about the symbolism of the number seven within the Bible. Prince was very emotionally connected to his faith, so I used seven rows of grandmother’s flower garden blocks appliquéd to the dove border fabric.
I worked through the entire holidays, so seeing Funkadesi at City Winery right after the New Year was a reward! Surprisingly, there were people in the audience who had never heard of them. After watching them perform, even they had to admit that they didn’t know they were in for a real treat.
I learned about them when I was a graduate student. I saw them at a local street festival in Evanston. I had no idea that they were Barack and Michelle’s favorite band. I learned that bit of information later. I also learned later that they have won the Chicago Music Awards 6 times. All I knew was they were great performers. There are a number of healthcare workers in the band. They have been together for nearly 20 years. They all come from different ethnic backgrounds: Latin American, Jamaican, African American, and South Asian. The music is a cross section of rap, Latin, Indian music, blues, reggae, and of course, funk.
As a result of this combination of musical and cultural influences, when they perform, you can’t help but move your behind, even if you don’t think you can.
They even cleared the areas near the wall for people to dance, which they did. Their ending song was “Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley, which made the audience feel real good about coming out and dancing in the middle of a cold winter night.
I know this is coming late, but I have to mention MAC’s Guo Pei makeup collection! Guo Pei is a fashion designer in China who made dresses for both Rhianna and Zoe Saldana for the 2015 and 2016 Met Galas, respectively.
I really appreciated Guo Pei sharing that she had been influenced by American Westerns, especially the petticoat designs. No one was there to teach her how to make them, so she learned how to make them herself through trial and error. Hearing that story made me feel better about the 1,200 inch and a half hexagon pieces I went through trying to learn how to make grandmother’s flower garden quilts.
MAC’s Guo Pei makeup collection is stunning! With the packaging being in silk fabric, I had to support someone who was making textiles as art!
I don’t even know how to say this (and one week doesn’t even ease the pain), but I just have to say it: I WANT MY PRINCE BACK!!!! I am trying not to cry as I write this. I was really hoping the news was a horrible internet rumor, but it wasn’t. I have been listening to his CDs going to work and coming back home all week, but it is not enough! Just give me one more concert, okay? Am I asking too much?!?!?! I have most of the CDs, so I didn’t have to buy them when I heard the news.
I did actually see him concert at the Allstate Arena when it was the Rosemont Horizon during the Lovesexy tour when I was in high school. He was amazing! The Sign O’ the Times concert dvd. It was one of the best, if not the best, concert dvds I ever saw. I saw him perform during the Superbowl half time show 10 years ago an television. Not taking away from anyone else, but his performance was one of the best I had ever seen. I can’t say I had a favorite CD because I loved them all, ESPECIALLY the B sides of his LPs! I mean, kids used to sing the b sides at my school.
The movie and CD of Under the Cherry Moon made me so happy during my freshman year of high school! I danced around in my family room at my parent’s house to the Mountains video on MTV all summer long!!! I especially loved visiting Minneapolis about 7 years ago because I could not go to the quilt museum, the gas station, a Chinese restaurant, Target or even Macy’s without hearing Prince. I really felt the people there understood me. And let me say I thought he was a very handsome man! He was truly a wonderful artist and I WANT MY PRINCE BACK!!!!!
Finally! The discussion I have been waiting for! Is fashion art? Or more specifically, can textiles be classified as art? If you’ve been reading this blog, I’m sure you know what my answer is to this question. I am glad that the New York Times took on this topic. I know when I was growing up, textiles, particularly those having to do with fashion, was HUGE!!! People respected their seamstresses and their beauticians.
When I was growing up, I saw women who did not make it to the covers of Vogue, but Vogue was the one missing out on seeing some truly beautiful women. They could be seen walking through a store, immediately look at something on a rack, say, “I can do better than that.” And within less than a week they had either sewed, knitted, crocheted a piece that was better than what the local department store had on display.
Sometimes they used a pattern and sometimes they didn’t. They walked with their heads held high and they did not let themselves be defined by other people’s standards of beauty and art. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be just like them.
When I was in graduate school, however, I was continually bombarded with standards of “high art versus low art” when I told people I was a textile artist. Eventually, I learned that quilts and clothing were major exhibits in art museums around the world, which made me wonder about the people I met in graduate school who sought to demean textiles.
I must admit not everyone in my graduate school experience created these lines of demarcation. I had a professor named Michael McColly who encouraged me to enter my quilts into community art exhibits. I am very grateful. One opportunity led to another. I picked up with my love of textiles right where I’d left off after graduate school. Eventually, I exhibited a quilt at Macy’s on State Street in Chicago.
I was SO EXCITED to hear that Guo Pei made Rhianna’s dress last year for the Met Gala! I related to her when she said that she had a hard time learning how to sew petticoats. She was highly influenced by the clothing she saw in American Westerns, but she had no one there with her in China when she was in design school to teach her how to make them. So, she did it by trial and error as we all do. I went through 1,200 pieces of a grandmother’s flower garden quilt before I learned how to make them correctly. I especially loved her makeup collaboration with MAC Cosmetics last year!
To the outside world, this type of attention to fashion, makeup and hairstyles may look like low self esteem. However, from the point of view of textiles and textile artists, I believe that a redefinition of both art and self esteem is in order. If nothing else, I am also grateful that most major museums across the country have a textiles section and they decide what to put on display:
If you haven’t done so already, please read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert! I find it amazing that she and I both came to the same conclusions about creativity. For me, I came to the same realizations she writes about. My realizations did not come in a straight line, but still, I found myself howling with laughter and nodding my head in shared recognition through much of the book. This book is really about how to make your life fuller and more expansive and having the courage to do that. It needs to be required reading for every child starting in grade school. If you haven’t already done so, go and read it now!
Soma Intimates is one of a number of business organizations that has agreed to help with domestic violence awareness. Here is the link and thank you:
I worked all the way through the holidays for this moment-Thanksgiving eve Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. While everyone else was enjoying themselves, I was dreaming of World Quilt Florida right after the first of the year. I RAN OUT of Chicago’s Midway Airport just as soon as I could. I dreamed of sugar plum fairies and Pat Yamin’s hand quilting class in my head. It is hard to be a hand quilter these days. People look at you as if you’ve lost your mind OR they have to tell you about the best model of the newest Bernina sewing machine (as if you didn’t know about it already).
I try to take as many hand quilting classes as I can to learn what I didn’t learn from my maternal great grandmother about the craft when she was alive and I was too ignorant to ask the right questions then, so now I have to scramble all over the place learning what I need to learn.
I also took the Intuitive quilting course from Carole Shaw Lyles and learned a lot. The local PBS television station taped everything. I delighted myself with French crepes for lunch. I haven’t had them since high school when I took four years of French classes.
To complete the experience, I sat outside with the Orange County Convention Center’s panther and manatee statues, I just closed my eyes to pretend, imagining what it would be like to eat crepes and do hand quilting in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a lot cheaper than getting on the place and going to Paris.
I know this is coming late, but Happy Holidays to everyone and Happy New Year! I have had to work during a lot of it, but I am happy about it. I have a lot of plans this coming year, which means having the money to accomplish them. I hope everyone finds what they are looking for this upcoming year!
I have to work this Thanksgiving, so I was invited to have lunch as Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. Sabrina’s Restaurant in Hazel Crest has long been a favorite for many people I know, including myself. However, I haven’t been there in years. Like since before I moved back to Illinois of graduate school in 2006. The food was delicious as ever-Southern soul food cooking fan fare. I had the catfish, greens, yams and mashed potatoes and gravy with Johnny cakes. Having Angelica’s Bakery next door made desert to go wonderful to make the moment last longer with a cup of coffee for the sewing marathon I was going to have that evening.