One day not long ago, I found myself driving toward home musing on the many influences I see and feel in my little town and how they piece together much like a patchwork quilt. The idea stuck with me for days, playing in the back of my mind like rocks in a rock tumbler. I came back to the idea of a village as expressed through the BBC shows I love to watch, including Midsommer Murders, and how they compare to the places I’ve seen and lived in here in the States. Underneath the advertising, racket, and bustle of city life, I’ve found village-like qualities. That’s what I wanted to explore through my American Village series.
In this series, I’m working with a variety of patchwork and traditional pieceing techniques, hand and machine applique, fusing techniques, and surface design and decoration. The fabrics are all natural. Many of them come from past projects. The techniques and materials I’m working with in this series reflect the mix of past and present in village life, or urban village life, which is a more technically accurate description of the community in which I live. Many of the fabrics, for instance, are bits left-over from past projects much like the architecture of my area reflects some bits of a shared past while others are freshly acquired for this series. Arts and Crafts, post-WWII, some Art Deco, these reside next to modern development, tract housing, and pre-fab buildings.
Beyond the man-made aspects of city life, I wanted to play with the way in which the natural world anchors community. Often we’re not fully aware of the power of the plants and trees that life among us or the mountains, rivers, and streams that cradle and nurture our community. Connection with the natural world is paramount to harmony within any community. Village life often centers around shared community spaces, many of which are partially wild and partially shaped by humankind.
In modern American life, it’s easy to lose sight of that connection to nature that most sustains us. Still, the trees, plants, and natural features of the land in which we live quietly stand watch both to the crazy energies and distraction we create and to the moments of beauty, centeredness, and peace we deliberately create. Part of my exploration is about finding the balance of harmony and peace against fiery motion that comes with living as a villager in what really has become a large town or even a small city.