Themes and Art Quilt: Wind Song

All through schooling we are given topics: write about this, draw a picture about that, and so we do. Or, if we bristle at being told what to do, we don't, or we find a work around, such as writing a poem instead of the required essay, or drawing a comic instead of a realistic tree, all valid creative forms. Over time or maybe through temperament, we may learn to look inward and try to find a meaningful connection for ourselves, not just for the assignment. 

Exhibition and literary calls often have themes to give a coherent shape to them; some themes are broader than others, allowing for free range, other themes feel tightly constructed, as if the curator had a preconceived plan. Sometimes we may be on our own path and in our own groove and need no outside cajoling, other times, a theme can be a catalyst for a focused creative work. Two SAQA calls for entry themes have come up recently that had different effects on me: "Forever Changed, "which is supposed to be a response to the pandemic, and "Primal Forces: Wind." The first I just couldn't get behind in a visual way. I looked through all the quilts I made during this pandemic, and there are so many, but none address that theme; I seem to have been in the moment, whatever I noticed right then, more as a journal entry than a global response. So I'm letting that one go.

But wind. The theme of wind is broad enough and has so many superpowers. And I wanted to make a quilt where wind was actually integral to the piece, would be needed to interact with it and animate it.

Here is the first.

Wind Song
30.5 x 43.75" (77.5 x 111 cm)
Various Japanese cotton fabrics, linen, hand-dyed velvet; stencil with fabric paint; embroidered poem; hand-dyed perle cotton; cotton and metallic threads; bamboo, wooden beads, waxed linen thread

That circle (where the hanging bamboo and wooden pieces are) is a hole, cut out and raw edges stitched. The sashiko stitching patterns are based on "rising steam" (in the upper right) and "crossed birds" (detail below).

I used free-motion stitching as hills for the stenciled windmills and a little for the dragonflies.

And, like many of my quilts, this one has a poem, which made it into the quilt this time.

wind - our relative - intake of breath - outlive of word - treble - tremble - bass - bass rumble - riding spirits out of town - leaving a note - lifting a wing - sparking a light - a song - wind needs a partner to push against - shush - to be heard