TIF January 2008 - Part I

SharonB has posted the key concept for the January 2008 Take if Further Challenge:

"The key concept for January is a feeling we have all had, the feeling of admiration for another. Ask yourself who do you look up to and admire? Why? What is it you admire about them? This is the first Take it Further challenge in 2008. Take the idea, develop it into a resolved design during that month and apply it to fiber or paper."
The person I have chosen is not someone I know personally but whose diaries I read shortly after they were published in 1983 in a book entitled An interrupted life : the diaries of Etty Hillesum, 1941-1943. There is a short biography about her life here on the Etty Hillesum Research Centre website. What I most admire about the way she lived was her absolutely steadfast determination to embrace life even under the harshest conditions. I'll use the following words she wrote to get me started working on the piece:
Let this be the goal of meditation: to become like a wide-open space, without that sneaky brushwood taking away your vista. That something like 'God' can enter, just like there is something of 'God' in the Ninth of Beethoven. (June 8 1941)


In the sketch above I have tried to capture an image of what she describes in the quote: "A wide-open space" beyond "the sneaky brushwood". I've drawn some thorny brambles to represent bitterness, hardship and pain, things which were certainly part of her experience. Beyond these I'll represent open windows, to symbolize the mystery of what may lie beyond the human or physical realm of existence, and birds flying in the distance to symbolize the spiritual freedom that she speaks of when she says that her goal is "to become like a wide-open space...that something like 'God' can enter."


I chose this fabric as the background, as there is already a feeling of wide-openness in the upper right-hand half of it and a feeling of underbrush along the bottom edge (hand-dyed cotton by Elaine Quehl). I'll probably reverse appliqué patchwork windows into it and then paint or stencil silhouettes of birds flying across the open green area. I'll add more brushwood to the piece using dark shades of gray acrylic paint, on top of which I'll add large, dark, thorny brambles sewn in shades of gray and black fabric, probably reverse appliquéd, then hand and machine quilt the finished top.

I have two goals for this quilt. First, to capture something of the essence of the words cited above. And secondly, to create the feeling of three-dimensional space, so that the viewer has the impression of looking up through the underbrush, into the opening beyond, from a dark, enclosed space into a light, open one.

Now, I don't really like talking this much about what I intend to do and why. Call it superstition. Robert Genn talks about it here. However, I think I'll do it for the purpose of experimentation, as I believe a big part of what Sharon wants to do is have people share the development of a design from a simple key concept. We'll see where it goes.


Barbara Hagerty said...

Beautiful choices for illustrating this theme! I can't wait to see this one develop!

zquilts said...

Well thought out and OMG what a glorious piece of fabric that is !

Gwen said...

I love this concept, and how you are planning to execute it. The background fabric is beautiful, and really speaks to the quote.

Annica said...

Great interpretation of the challenge! Looking forward to seeing some more.

alsokaizen said...

I just saw some of your photos of this piece over at flickr, I really like both the concept and the way you are using the fabrics to illustrate it!

Glorious Hats said...

Thanks for sharing. That is the hardest part for me as well. On the other hand, am finding that it is really neat to read pieces such as this one of yours that talk about how and idea is developed. You are inspiring me to attempt to share my own thoughts on work in development. Thanks so much. Jane