This piece pushed my skills a lot. Perspective is one of those drawing techniques I understand intellectually, but somehow I find it really tough to incorporate into my quilting. My drawing skills are rudimentary, which I think contributes to the challenges I often find in getting what’s in my mind into my work. I wanted to work with perspective in American Village II, using my initial work with technique (crazy patch, balance, framing) from American Village I.
Adding perspective into this piece turned out to be a lot harder than I’d expected. I pieced the crazy patch background, then found that background really distracting as I tried to add the perspective bits to the school. I auditioned several different versions of the football field and school before I found a set I liked, although even those weren’t entirely satisfying.
As this piece was coming together, it felt like I was losing control of the reigns. The background wasn’t balancing against the mountains and road, the spaces I’d thought were right for the school area and residence area didn’t end up the size and shape I later decided I needed. While I worked with the tree at the heart of this piece, I saw my grip loosening. I loved how the tree was shaping up, but the city clearly wanted to engulf it. I realized that my own vision was shifting. The energy of the city wanted to come alive and direct it’s own shaping here…and I wasn’t quite letting it.
I was afraid to just let go and let the city take over. I feared the city would overtake the mountains, the sky, the tree, and all that’s natural in the world. That, I have discovered, is one of my deep seated fears…or frustrations with life in my American village. Balance is a struggle amidst all the noise and bustle. We Americans are a people of extremes. That throws us off balance. It frightens me to see that happening in myself and my work, but it also speaks to something emerging in my work at the same time. American Village II is a slice of life as seen from a highway bridge. Kinda messy and not quite balanced or working, yet functioning as any American village does…in flux.
American Village II is a 11.5 x 8.5 inch wall quilt constructed of all cotton using machine and hand piecing and applique techniques with surface design including drawing and painting.