Category Archives: Inspiration

Artistic Endeavors – Elias Sime

A just opened exhibit at the Akron Art Museum introduced me to the work of Elias Sime (pronounced SeeMay.) Sime is an Ethiopian artist whose media are colored wires, buttons, carpet tacks, and electronic and computer parts. His work is abstract and from a distance resembles mosaics, though some is 3D with pieces extending out 3 or 4 inches from the base.

What fascinated me about Sime’s work was how well it subsumed the materials to the art. At first I didn’t see all the motherboards and buttons, but enjoyed subtle changes in textures and colors. Too often it’s difficult to see past the component parts of assemblages and collages.

“Familiar Yet Complex 6” was one of the first works I saw. From across the room I thought mosaic.
Close up I saw all the keyboard keys and the braided colored wire. Sime and his assistants braid the wires together, coil them, and hold them in place with carpet tacks.
Detail from “Behind The Beauty” shows the subtle coloring achieved with the wire.
Detail from “In Boxes” shows part of the central “medallion” of motherboards surrounded by squares in squares.
Earlier work like “Ants and Ceramicists 11” used canvas and stitching.
Detail shows the amount of stitching involved. I gather Sime found this way of working too hard on his hands.
“While Observing” uses the different reflective values of the materials to enhance the effect.
Detail of “While Observing”

One aspect of Sime’s work not shown in the exhibit is the Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa which Sime co-founded, designed, and helped hand construct from mud and straw. The short video that accompanies the exhibit has gorgeous shots of the center.

mud brick exterior of Zoma

The exhibit I saw will be up until May 24. It will then move on to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11–September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (October 24, 2020–February 21, 2021).


Filed under Exhibits, Inspiration

More Artistic Endeavors

I had to bring back this feature for a one day stand when I came across the following websites. Besides I haven’t done much sewing because of a long lasting cold. Eye candy is more fun than reviews of cold remedies.

Jane Perkins

Perkins says, “In my current body of work, Plastic Classics, Old Masters are given a contemporary twist. I use anything of the right size, shape or colour: toys, shells, buttons, beads, jewellery, curtain hooks, springs etc. No colour is added – everything is used exactly ‘as found’.” I enjoy Perkins’ cheeky renditions of art classics and applaud her chutzpah in using throwaway plastics.

The Birth of Venus
Monet’s Water Lilies

Holly Wong

From her website: Holly Wong is an artist who lives and works in San Francisco, California. She was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in New Genres. Holly creates installations, assemblages and works on paper, integrating non-traditional approaches with more traditional sewing techniques associated with the history of women. Her approach is both non-conventional but also deeply rooted in her history and culture.

I love the transparent nature of Wong’s work and the interplay of shadows in the free standing pieces.

Wong uses dichroic film, vinyl table cloth, plastic bags, gold foil, hand-painted vellum, thread, candle smoke, polyester tulle, duralene plastic, plastic rope, cotton gauze, origami paper, and monofilament wire in installations, works on paper, mixed media, and photography. I give her full marks for listing candle smoke as a medium.

WPA Posters Documenting and Presenting the Posters of the WPA 
(U.S. Works Progress Administration 1936 -1943)

From the website: The lavishly illustrated book Posters for the People: Art of the WPA amasses nearly 500 of the best and most striking posters designed by artists working in the 1930s and early 1940s for the government-sponsored Works Progress Administration, or WPA. Posters for the People presents these works for what they truly are: highly accomplished and powerful examples of American art. All are iconic and eye-catching, some are humorous and educational, and many combine modern art trends with the techniques of advertising and commercial designs.

Mind you, many, many of the posters are bog standard and could have easily been produced by high school students. You have to search for the gems.

I’m linking to Off the Wall Fridays.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Catching Up With Artistic Endeavors

Although I no longer highlight specific artists and art/cultural shows as a regular feature, I still collect websites that especially appeal to my artistic sensibilities. Here’s a collection of some of them. May you find one or two intriguing or entertaining.

Matthew Wong Sadly, this artist who I just discovered died at age 35. I can’t explain why the work below draws me, but it does.

“Blue Rain” Matthew Wong

American women artist podcasts The Getty Institute has released podcasts about six women artists in the 1960s and 70s – Lee Krasner, Yoko Ono, Alice Neel, Bettye Saar, Helen Frankenthaler, and Eva Hesse. Each lasts about 30-35 minutes. The era can be summed up by Alice Neel’s narration of her mother’s response to her artistic ambitions – “well I don’t know what you expect to do, you’re only a girl.”

Alice Neel in front of her portrait of Andy Warhol

Sarah Amos Who would have thought of combining printing on felt and thread? I want to run my hands over Amos’ work.

“The Narrows” Sarah Amos

Eleanor Ray Ray’s very small works (usually no larger than 10 by 10 inches) are usually of a landscape viewed out a window. The work below captures how winter light looks at the end of the day.

“Museum Windows” Eleanor Ray

Kyoto Costume Institute Warning, you could easily lose hours at this site if you have a fashion jones.

I love the dress by Hanae Mori featured above.

Art Trip: Columbus, Indiana This video is part of a series that spends about 15 minutes each on the art found in several U.S. cities. I chose to link to the episode about Columbus, Indiana, rather than San Francisco or Chicago because it’s not your typical art mecca, though there are many other episodes in larger cities. I love all the textiles in the Miller House’s conversation pit’s pillows. The house was designed by Eero Saarinan, and that conversation pit was groundbreaking at the time.

Conversation pit, Miller House, Columbus, Indiana

I’ve bookmarked many more sites but I’ll save them for another post. After all, you need to save time to eat cookies.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Back To Business

Now that I have my save the planet message out of my system I’ll return to my usual programming. Lately I’ve been playing with additions to old surface design pieces and using up scraps and pre-assembled bits.

Thanks to an inspiring collage workshop with Andrea Myers I came away with renewed interest in my old surface design pieces and some ideas for adding layers on top of already made quilts.

First, I stamped over painted/printed interfacing to add a third (maybe fourth?) layer. I have many other pieces that may benefit from similar treatment.

Then, I used the outline of the squiggle from my Rex Ray embroidery to cut out a piece of red felt and cover it with fused fabric scraps. I will sew it, plus a few additions, on top of leftover pieces from my Nancy Crow project. I’m calling it “Oops.”

My idea comes from Andrea’s work with industrial strapping that she showed us at the workshop. I think “Oops” has some family resemblance to a sculpture made of railroad track I saw on NYC’s High Line.

Finally, I pieced a “real” quilt top from scraps, inspired by a blog post from Christina Camelli. I pretty much followed her directions, and enjoyed the on-the-fly creation of scrappy strips. You can see the size pieces I began with. The largest size unit I cut up was a fat quarter.

“Sunset” 48 by 65 inches

I believe I’ve followed my own advice about using what I already have, and feel virtuous. Now I need to get to work and use more of my surface design experiments.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

Vacation Inspiration

I just got back from a visit with my brother in southeastern Pennsylvania, and we packed a lot into six days. If you want to see photos of quilts, go back to last week’s post. This one is quiltless, though some of the photos may become future quilts.

We began at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, right after I got off the train.

Love the ornate curves and play of light/dark.
Maybe use one quilt to frame another?

The next day we headed for the Barnes Foundation in downtown Philadelphia. Lots of history and controversy surround Dr. Albert Barnes’ unparalleled collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. I’ll leave it to you to explore how the present museum came into being, if you desire.

Of course this isn’t Impressionism, but 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch. Dr. Barnes mixed up all sorts of periods in his displays. I love the painted designs, especially the arcs on the black bands. To see the paintings in the collection click here.

After a day visiting family in the area, we headed next to the Brandywine River Museum of Art and Longwood Gardens. We caught the last day of the N. C. Wyeth exhibit at the former and enjoyed work by other Wyeth family members and friends. Again, the website has much better reproductions of the collection than my photos show.

Most people know Longwood Gardens for its winter holiday displays, but pretty much any time of year is worth seeing. We were especially impressed by the conservatory’s offerings. Click here to see all the gardens.

Why show orchids when you can feature variegated water lily pads that contrast so well with the chartreuse ones and the blue tiled fountain floor

For our final day we headed up the Delaware River to Washington Crossing and New Hope. The river looks a lot dinkier than it does in the famous painting.

Yup, it’s a peeling door to the boat barn, but I love the texture.

We climbed Bowman’s Hill tower for an overview of the area, but my eye was caught by something more mundane.

Fencing designed to keep humans from falling off the observation deck.

We couldn’t leave the area without a nod to the Quakers who settled the area after William Penn received a land grant from King Charles II of England. Newtown is a lovely place full of old buildings and a Quaker meeting house.

I think I could base a modern quilt on this.
I couldn’t resist capturing this tray of painted rocks (in my favorite color palette) we found on a bench outside the meeting house.

Aside from seeing three of my gifted quilts on a wall, my trip was quilt free. I hope to break my abstinence now that I’m home.

Linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Swimming Pool Art

How could I not like a swimming pool that was also a work of art, AND looked like an art quilt?

Bizarrely, this pool is outside Edinburgh, Scotland; not in Spain, Portugal or southern France. It’s at an outdoor sculpture garden called Jupiter Artland, and is called “Gateway.” I don’t know how much use it will get in that climate, but you can book a slot for swimming until August 22.

The tile grout lines look like nothing so much as grid quilting to me.


Filed under Inspiration

Work To Crow About

For almost all my quilting life I’ve been in awe of Nancy Crow’s contemporary quilts. I use that term as she dislikes the term art quilter. “I don’t want that term anywhere near me,” the artist [said in a recent article in Ohio Magazine.] “I consider it derogatory.”

So of course I had to see the Mansfield (Ohio) Art Center’s exhibit of 32 of her works. They were made mostly between 2000 and 2010, and encompass her bold striped designs as well as prints on fabric. Most are made with her hand dyed solid fabric and are hand quilted by Amish and Mennonite craftswomen. A few are machine quilted.

Here are ones that I swooned over. My photos don’t capture the vibrancy of the colors nor the glowing effects of color juxtapositions. Nor do they convey the soft texture the gridded hand quilting gives the hard edges.

As I descended the stairs from the exhibit area my eye was caught by the construction materials outside the center. I thought they went well with the quilts.


Filed under Exhibits, Inspiration