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Posts Tagged ‘quilter’

As an artist, you have to be proactive about getting your work out there in the world. Since I belong to a quilt guild, I can count on being able to enter my work in the triennial show we put on. And as a member of a group of fibre artists in my community, I find it’s a struggle to find a suitable venue for our annual group show. But in June, I learned about an unusual call for proposals for art to be hung at a new health and community services centre being planned for the neighbourhood.

When it opens in 2019, the Oakwood-Vaughan Health Clinic will offer “a range of services with a focus on community members who face barriers to health care such as people living in poverty, isolated seniors, non-insured, people with complex mental health issues, those requiring interpretation and living with unstable employment.”

Artists in the surrounding community were encouraged to submit proposals for artwork that will be displayed in the programming space, clinic offices and foyer of the new centre. Themes could focus on community, health and youth, as well as the cultural history of the area. “We hope to promote the creativity that allows all to express and trust themselves. We want artists to show a spirit of inquiry and exploration through their art pieces.

Of course I was thrilled when my proposal was one of the 25 accepted. They called us all together for a “meet and greet” session on July 31. The organizers explained timelines and next steps and also issued $150 honorariums to each of the selected artists.

I had done a great deal of pondering and planning up to this point, but now that I had the green light, it was time to move on to the construction phase!

My concept for this piece is to evoke the new health centre’s intent to reach out to the community.

Here’s my artist statement:

“The arm is not one colour. It is not white, black, beige or brown, but in keeping with the multi-cultural diversity of the Oakwood Vaughan community, and indeed Toronto as a whole, it represents all skin colours. Our skin colour is immaterial. We are all part of this community … we help each other.

From my own collection of pressed leaves, I selected five different species of oak leaves and used their shapes to create fabric ones that “sprout” out of each finger and thumb. This represents healthy growth and renewal, while also supporting the importance of diversity.

Reaching out for strength within. 33″ w x 20″ h

The tree trunk, from which the arm is protruding, portrays the strength, not only of the mighty oak tree, but of our community, when we work in unison.”

picture of health centre exterior with Janet in foreground with her bike

Delivering the artwork

I delivered my completed piece in October, and on November 15, a “sneak peek” event was held to view all the submissions. What an impressive range of artwork has been gathered from community artists!

On October 22, a jury will announce their decision on the top three artworks that will receive significant cash prizes. But I feel that it is rewarding enough to be able to create what I hope is an uplifting piece of art that will be discovered by both staff and visitors at this valuable new centre.

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Ever since I was able to read (or perhaps it started when I was a toddler, devouring picture books) I have had a strong attraction to public libraries. I think it’s the thrill of walking in and being surrounded by all those possibilities, let alone being given the chance to take some of them home!

The library interior librarysystem where I live is like an old, reliable friend. I can count on it to satisfy my curiosity about anything I care to dream up. Right now, I’m reading a novel, learning about owls and woodpeckers, listening to a Miles Davis CD and researching a trip to Scotland – all using materials borrowed from the library. And throughout my journey as a textile artist, I have relied heavily on the Toronto Library system’s impressive resources for textile artists and quilt makers.

Imagine my delight when I walked into one of the library branches in my community and discovered a notice inviting artists to display their work! This would be a chance for two of my favourite pastimes to converge!

For the month of February, I’ve mounted a small, colourful exhibit of textile art on the second floor of Maria A. Shchuka library in Toronto (Eglinton Ave. W. near Dufferin St.). One wall is near the stairwell, and the other one is in the “Quiet Study Room”.

textile art displayed on wall

The drab, grey wall is much brighter now!

I have chosen pieces that I think will invite library patrons to look and linger, and called the show “Stories in Stitches”. I hope to spark emotional connections, and expose people to the possibilities of telling stories with fabric and stitching.

This is far less formal than a gallery exhibit, and I hope that my art will evoke interest from a broader audience than would normally come to a gallery exhibit or a quilt show.

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Coming up fast – the York Heritage Quilters Guid show and sale for two days only: Friday, Nov. 14 (10 – 6) and Saturday, Nov. 15 (10 – 5). A Celebration of Quilts only comes around every three years, so you will have to wait until 2017 if you miss this one! I can guarantee that it will be a dazzling display of all sorts of textile creativity.

The location is Toronto Botanical Garden (Edwards Gardens). A Celebration of Quilts event postcardIn addition to the 200 quilts made by some talented people,  there will be a marketplace featuring 16 vendors (fabrics, books, patterns, etc.), two café locations to grab some lunch, plus a boutique filled with unique one-of-a-kind handmade items just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.  In addition, for a very reasonable price of $24, you can purchase a 12”x12” mini-quilt made by one of the Guild members.

See you there!

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With all the recent weather-related and other catastrophic events happening in Canada and around the world,  we are sometimes uncertain as to how we can help our neighbours.

Luckily, I came across the Just One Slab Quilts Recover Southern Alberta project – the brainchild of Cheryl Arkison. It was an easy way for me to contribute my skills to a worthwhile endeavour aimed at providing some comfort to the many people affected by the damaging floods.

The distance between us is more than 3,000 kilometres, but I felt I was part of one big community of quilters putting our hands, hearts and needles together in an effort to let others know that we care.

All Cheryl asked was for people to make a slab 15.5” square. “You can insert the white bit or not, that’s your choice. Just aim to make your block in a single colour. Make as many as you like,” she stated on her blog. The blocks were inspired by Cheryl’s “The Missing U” quilt from her book, Sunday Morning Quilts.

Cheryl has local volunteers all lined up to put the blocks together and produce the quilts. As of the middle of July, she already had 276 blocks. I contributed two blocks, and because I packed them in an unusual way (rolling them around a foam cylinder and then wrapping brown paper around it) I could easily  pick out my package out in the photo showing a pile of the latest arrivals in her blog post of July 29!

Quilters are Warm People

I am really looking forward to seeing the colourful results of this comfort project. A big thank-you goes out to Cheryl for her leadership. Quilters certainly are warm people!

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