A smaller group gathered at the Soup Spoon Cafe this week for our latest challenge quilt reveal. Three of us – Brenda, Candace and I – took advantage of the opportunity to beat Michigan’s sizzling summer heat and slipped in to the Cafe for some cool beverages, delicious dinner and friendly conversation. Revealing our quilts to each other was the dessert.
It was surprising to realize that the process of creating a self portrait caused a sub-theme to emerge for each of us…the idea that who we are on the inside doesn’t match how we are perceived from the outside. How that concept manifests in our individual lives varies but the basic reality is the same – we are seasoned, complex women who have reached the stage of life where we may now be (if we had not already been) easily overlooked or dismissed in a culture where aging women become undervalued and invisible.
Brenda expressed regret about the simplicity of her quilt but in actuality it’s simplicity serves to highlight the profound statement it makes. In her mind’s eye, Brenda sees herself as a thin person although she says she has been heavy much of her life. How she feels is represented by the inner blue figure while the black outline indicates how she is seen. In a relatable moment, Brenda shared the occasional surprise of catching sight of herself and realizing the mismatch of her inner and outer self. When I asked about the red hat, she said that a red hat seems fun and she sees herself as a fun person (she is 🙂 ).
In Candace’s quilt we see a glimpse of her framed in a way we’ve all become familiar with. She states that she “caved to the easy and ubiquitous selfie after a long and painful process of trying to produce an abstract self portrait”. Her plan for a quilt with a mundane front and vibrant back was scrapped. In constructing this quilt, Candace had fun using metallic thread to give herself shimmering silver highlights. I’m enamored of the thought that it was a proverbial Freudian slip and not a mere typo that caused her to describe them in a message to me as “simmering” highlights!
I knew from the start that my quilt had to be about the contrast between the richness of my internal life and the ordinariness of my external self and life. I wanted to present a portrait where you had to really look to see me but when you did the color and texture and meaning of it all was so intriguing that you wanted to keep looking…and by so doing saw the real me. My quilt contains references to family, work, creativity, and spirituality, as well as lots of quirky items representative of the space such things take up in my generally free associative thought processes. I make no apologies for the prominence given to food and body image – quite honestly, they are the backdrop to nearly all of my thinking. I am a product of my culture, after all.
Among the details…if you can find three gold hearts (two with a blue bead and one with a pink bead) those represent my grandchildren. “414” is an especially meaningful reference to my sister, Karen, hence the ribbon and pink stitching. There is a gold frog, a tiny 4-leaf clover, plenty of daisies, books and music. I might have been a little sensitive/grouchy initially when approaching the idea of this quilt but by it’s completion I found myself expressing a sense of whimsy and gratitude. It was a good place to get to.
In two months we’ll be revealing the quilts from our “Vacation/Travel” Challenge 🙂
For more interesting quilt art follow this link to Off The Wall Friday.