Art Quilt: A Way, and Wen Redmond's Inspiration

I've been interested in the art quilts by Wen Redmond since I saw two small ones at Studio Art Quilt Associates fundraising auctions. They are beautiful and mysterious and have a slightly wistful quality and a distinctively personal style. She recently wrote a book about her techniques, [Amazon affilitate link] Explorations with Collage!: Merging Photographs, Paper, and Collage, a fascinating guide. After layering images in a photo program, she merges and uses filters to blend and get harmonious, colorful, and dimensional effects. Once it is printed she often divides up the larger image, then paints the edges, and pieces and stitches or ties it back together. Her subjects are textures and the natural world, which resonate with me as well. The book comes alive with her enthusiasm, and she shows a variety of approaches and multiple examples. If you are already familiar with a photo program this will deepen your knowledge and appreciation. It may be a steep learning curve if you aren't.

I've been using a photo program (first Photoshop, now a shout out to Affinity Photo, which, as of this writing, has no subscription or fees other than the initial reasonable purchase price) for decades now, but primarily focused on getting my physical artwork looking its best for documentation and other basics. I've also been making quilts with my own photos, creating my own negatives on transparencies and using Jacquard's SolarFast dyes since 2017, for my quilt, Hand Gun, and then again for Sweet Osprey Dreams, as well as several others over the years. Always curious and willing to try new methods, I wanted to explore solar printing with the new (to me) image-merging, or "sneaky layering" as Wen calls it.

I chose two photos to layer: one a silhouette of me balancing on the train tracks at the High Line in New York City, the other of the Japanese raked rock garden in Lithia Park, taken on our recent trip to Ashland, Oregon. Both images evoke good memories. I added hand drawn and cut stencils, gold fabric paint, lots of stitching, and embroidered a phrase that came to me: not a shell to carry but a web. Thinking about times of feeling like a hermit, and other times grateful for the connections with people, creatures, and places in the outside world.

The shape of my silhouette also reminded me of the shape of Japanese stone lanterns, so I free-motion quilted those throughout.

A Way
32"w x 36.5"h (81 cm x 93 cm)
Hand-dyed cotton, solar-printed cotton from original photos, commercially printed cotton, solar-printed linen, silk organza, Japanese woven cotton; stenciled images; fabric paint; embroidered; hand and machine quilted.

I used patching to integrate the cloth from the outer border into the composition.


The phrase from the series The Mandalorian is on a loop in my head: "This is the way." 
This piece isn't The way, but it is A way.