Author Archives: elena

Things That Matter

 
More than a year ago, Sandra Poteet and Lin Schiffner reached out to several highly accomplished, diverse and passionate fiber artists in a grassroots, artist-initiated effort to form a Coalition of Artists with Purpose. I was one of those artists. They invited each of us to create artwork on the theme Things That Matter.
We were charged to create artwork at least 6o inches wide, either one large single piece or multiple smaller pieces, focused on one single concept, just one 'Thing'.  It could be anything the artist felt strongly about - family, justice, clean air, fairness, democracy, honesty, re-cycling, faith, climate change, equality, respect, literacy, peace, humor, education, etc. We were to create a visceral reminder, at this moment in our shared history when the world feels uncertain and divided, of things that truly matter.
Thirty one artists came together, committed to the project and retreated to their studios to ponder and reflect, to craft and hone their concepts into their creations. While finishing up other projects, I contemplated what I would make, letting ideas come and go. I struggled to find that one Thing that resonated with me the most and still fit within my body of work. As the months (yes, months!) passed, I found myself becoming overwhelmed and depressed by the constant barrage of the media. All media. Social. Mass. Fake. Whatever. I just wanted it to stop. I couldn't breathe. And, then I knew what I would make. I knew what my Thing was. Peace and Quiet.
Above is a detail of Horizon XII - Peace and Quiet and you can see the full image in my silk gallery. We were also asked to write a statement about our Thing. Here's mine:
"In this age of mass media and social media we live in a culture of information overload, with a growing dependency on our personal devices - non-stop texting, tweeting and selfies, liking, sharing and emojis. The media’s constant barrage of and obsession over the latest tragedy, scandal, ‘fake news’ bombshell and the increasingly hostile political climate are so overwhelming and depressing. More and more, for my own well-being and peace of mind, I just need to completely UNPLUG…
To turn off the television, put down the phone, walk away from the computer.
To silence the media madness.
To escape to the wilderness, to the water, to the vast horizon.
To listen to the gaping silence.
To breathe in the fleeting precious splendor of the dying day.
To feel lost yet found in the solitude of peace and quiet.
To just be."
Sandra and Lin, as well creating artwork of their own, tackled the daunting job of approaching art museums and securing venues for the exhibition. They have secured two definite venues so far and more are in the works. Next month, on April 21st will be the opening of a preview exhibit at the Vision Art Museum in San Diego, CA. It is a partial exhibit as the museum was not able to accommodate the entire show. Mine is one of the fortunate pieces to be included in this exhibit. I'm so pleased, I am. And, then later this year in November, the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ will present the show in its entirety.
Sandra and Lin have also been working on producing a catalog and that will hopefully be ready for the Visions exhibit. I won't be able to travel to San Diego to see the show so I am most eager to see the catalog.
I want to thank Lin and Sandy for all your hard work in mounting this very ambitious and important exhibition. I'm sure I speak for all the artists when I say how grateful we are for entrusting us with your vision and for empowering our voices.
Finally, I share with you the Exhibition Statement used to promote the show:
 
"Exhibition Statement:
 
Fabric and other familiar fibers, found items and cast-offs have great power when melded by the artistic hand precisely because of their everyday-ness. We are startled by how something so common can be transformed into something so new and unexpected. We are compelled to touch the artist’s textiles to reassure ourselves that they are indeed something we know. It is wondrous, but at the same time reassuring. The medium itself is relatable. When paired with purpose it is inherently understood.
 
Grown out of ordinary artist-citizens demonstrating mastery of their medium, this exhibition is a timely and powerful response to this moment in history. Fiber artists are using their collective talents to say THIS thing, this idea, this place, this part of humanity is important and should not be forgotten or undefended when at risk to intolerance, ignorance, indifference, or greed."
 
Posted in Exhibitions, New Work

Art Quilt Elements 2018 Opens! Part II

Continuing down the long hallway past the array of tempting edibles and potables, we found the second gallery space of the Wayne Art Center filled with a dazzling display of visual delight.
The Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery 
         
Left to right, Simple Joys by Kay Campbell, Recollections by Viviana Lombrozo and Lost and Found: Green Panel by Kay Healy.
 
Patty Kennedy-Zafred's Steel Town: First Shift and Teresa Barkley's The Life Cycle of the Little Black Dress.
 
Rosemary Hoffenberg's Cafe hangs beside Pat Kroth's Fiber Optics.
 
Marti Plager's Conversation and Bonnie J. Smith's Alviso.
 
Jill Kerttula's Urban Voyeur - Tracks with two detail shots below, and Gerri Spilka's Moving Through received the Wayne Art Center Award.
   
I love the combination of techniques Jill uses to build her imagery.
     
Liz Axford's Counterpoint 6, a wonderful example of resist dyeing.
 
Kathleen Probst's signature minimalist style in Corner.
 
More minimalism here with Sherri Lipman McCauley's Branches Orange, one of my favorites in the show.
Hand stitching takes center focus in Marianne Burr's Desert Pools, winner of the The Greater Than the Sum Of Its Parts Award. Detail below.
   
Best of Show Award goes to Niraja Lorenz for her amazing Strange Attractor #20. She only works with solids, every stripe, triangle and square is a separate piece of fabric, as you can see in the details below. Masterful!
     
And, to finish up the tour, winner of the Innovation in Medium Award, another of my very favorites by an artist I've admire for many years, The Crossing Times 13 by Chiaki Dosho, made with old Japanese kimono fabrics. I am always struck by juxtaposition of the power and the delicacy of her work, both simple and complex. I can get lost in these details...
 
I hope you enjoy my posts about exhibitions and contemporary quilt art and hope that they inspire you to go see them, to own them and/or to create more of them!
To see a more complete view of all the artwork (with better photos, too!), please visit artquiltelements.org.
Posted in Exhibitions

Art Quilt Elements 2018 Opens! Part I…

This was my first time being juried into Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center and I am truly honored to be among this group of artists, some of whom are on my must watch list. My photos do not do justice to the artwork due to my very old Iphone. I apologize in advance for any poorly framed and blurry photos or photos with inaccurate color.
I'll start with some overview pictures to whet your appetite and give you a sense of the spaces. There are two main galleries at the Wayne Art Center, for those who've yet to visit, the Davenport Gallery and, down the hallway, the Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery. The first time I attended an AQE opening reception in 2012, I didn't know about the second gallery until the end and almost missed half the show. So beware!
The Davenport Gallery
         
On the left, Sandra Palmer Ciolino's Precaria #8, Crucible won the Leslie Patterson Award for Best Use of Color. Scroll up to see the full piece. Center is Elizabeth Brandt's Slipstream beside Astrid Bennet's Fields and Fences 2.
Catherine W. Smith's Transfusion #3, Dan Olfe's National Gallery of Art in the center and, Lenore Crawford's Pinecones, winner of the Heartstring Quilters Award.
Susan Lenz's Large Stained Glass LXXXI, Heather Pregger's Banded Iron Formation #1 and Aryanna Londir's Red Flags.
 Diana Savona's innovative work Structurally Unsound hanging next to Karen Schulz's Juxtaposition 1: Crossing Lines, winner of the Juror’s Award of Merit.
 Erika Carter's Backyard II and Andrew Steinbrecher's Crossroads #5: This Could Be the Way.
Hope Wilmarth's Constructions III beside my own River Daze. 
Margaret Black's Curb Appeal V took the Carolyn Lee Thrasher Vehslage Award. Karen Brown's Seeking a Common Ground graces the cover of the AQE 2018 catalog.
 
Above is Ruth Marchese's Death and Destruction Amid a River of Blood, a lovely example of Korean bojagi.
I love the work of Marianne Williamson. This is one of my favorites, Perpetual Motion. 
 
And finally, just for sheer delight, I finish Part I with Betty Busby's stunning Wing, my favorite piece in the show. I love the way it moved and fluttered as people walked by.
 Up next in Part II, I'll bring you the work hanging in the Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery where Best in Show hangs. Stay tuned!
 
Posted in Exhibitions

Art Quilt Elements 2018

March 17th, 5 - 7 pm, is the opening of Art Quilt Elements 2018, one of the best exhibits in contemporary quilt art.
 
This year presents a stellar group of artists that I am truly honored and thrilled to be among. It's at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA, just on the north side of Philly.
 
I look forward to seeing many friends and a lot of great art. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and post them here so stay tuned!
Posted in Exhibitions

Quilts=Art=Quilts ’17, Part 3

And now for the award winners. I cannot even image how one would choose among this incredible collection of artwork but award jurist Marcia Young was charged with this impossible task. Here are the results...
The Shirley Hastedt Award: Red Jive and Blue Jive by Gerri Spilka...
The Catherine Hastedt Award for Hand Workmanship: Compaction & Drift by Shea Wilkinson... Sorry, I goofed and accidentally posted this one yesterday.
The Schweinfurth Award for Excellence: Tumbling by Naomi Velasquez, side angle detail below...
Juror's Choice: Frameworks IV by Julia Graziano...
Juror's Choice: Flying Geese- One Voice by Vicki Conley...
Juror's Choice: Breakthrough by Elizabeth Busch...
Award for Surface Design: Griffith and Broadway by Marian Zielinski...
Third Prize: Container by Kathy Ford...
Second Prize: Infinity IV by Elena Stokes...oh, that's me! I'm so honored!!!
So, I've been asked to talk about why I split the design into a diptych and its significance. What meaning was I trying to convey? Well, you all know the expression 'What came first, the chicken or the egg'? Well, if the egg is the idea and the chicken is what grew up out of it, I'm afraid the chicken came first.
When I prepare for my next project, I cut and prep my batting, sort of like prepping a canvas for paint. I cut it to size, iron on a fusible to both sides, fuse fabric to the back, then pin it to my design wall. I had prepped a 72 inch wide piece of batting in contemplation of my next project when a challenge came up in my guild. I only participate in challenges like that if they can work into my body of work and this one did. It was a proposed exhibition in partnership with the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pa whose focus that year was Weather. That theme worked well with my body of work and I decided to build upon my Infinity series incorporating a feeling of Wind. The only catch was it could be no wider than 60 inches. So, I decided to cut 12 inches off my prepped batting. I figured it could be cut up into 12 inch squares for small work.
As I worked on the design, the tapering waves were very effective and beautiful but I realized the main swath of color seemed off because it came to a blunt end at the edge of the quilt. I felt like it needed to continue to a point. Then I looked at the discarded 12 inch section and thought 'Why not? Try it. It'll either look really stupid or really cool.' Well, as you can see, it looks pretty cool. It's an odd place for split but somehow it works visually and, as someone said at the QAQ reception, it looks mysterious.
Lots of layered meaning emerged as well - the sweeping horizon line signifying the unending process of transformation; the winds of change that shape our lives; seeds blowing to far-off fertile lands. I have a subtitle for it, Like Seeds to the Wind, but mostly it's about my Infinity series.
And, that's the story of how the chicken came first and the egg of ideas and meaning came afterwards.
First Prize: People of the Wind by Shin-hee Chin, detail of intense stitchwork below...
Best of Show: Ruins 1 by Leah Higgins...
Funny story here, above is Ruins 1 as it was displayed at the Schweinfurth opening reception. But, I saw that artist Leah Higgins' post on Facebook announcing her Best of Show award and the picture she posted displayed it inverted, as I clumsily did below. The funny thing is, during the weekend I was in conversation with a fellow artist who said her work had been hung upside down. It seems the bottom sleeve intended for a secondary slat to weight the bottom was mistook for the top hanging sleeve. They didn't notice the label at the bottom right to guide them as to what was top and bottom. Well, it seems that's what must have happened here, I'm guessing. It's a lesson for us all - be careful of those bottom sleeves, they might get your work hung upside down! Always supply instructions as to the top of quilt if you use a bottom sleeve.
By the way, I did let Leah know about the inversion of her work and she contacted the Schweinfurth Art Center.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures of the show but they really don't do justice to the work. If you can get there, go see them in person!
 
Posted in Exhibitions, Infinity series

Quilts=Art=Quilts ’17, Part 2

In my second installment on the opening weekend of Quilts=Art=Quilts I will share some pieces in the show. I apologize in advance for the quality of the images, some are a little blurry. In fact, while I tried to get pictures of most the quilts, some turned out so blurry they're unusable.
I'll start with a few pieces inspired by water...
 
Below the Surface by Marianne Williamson is a beautiful example of her fascination with light and water.
Clapotis, another lovely watery piece, by Elisabeth Nacenta de la Croix.
Refresh III by Erika Carter captures the feel of water with hand painted silk. Detail below.
Out Beyond by Wen Redmond, her work is inspired by nature as she is drawn to water and trees. And, more trees...
   
Winter Woods by Kathy Ford.
Black Crows Blues by Helena Scheffer.
 
A little more water... Water, Earth 5 by Pat Pauly.
Mirage by Diane Melms.
Mourning After by Karen Hinkle is a photograph she took the morning after a fire burned down thirteen businesses in Garrettsville, OH. Another angle is below.
The Triangle Fire: Flightless Birds 1 and 2 by Helen Geglio based on the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York.
This Land Was Our Land by Patty Zafred- Kennedy.
Looking for the Pattern That Connects by Paula Kovarik. Check out the detail of the front and from the back.
The Language of Color 9: The Color of Dissonance by The Pixeladies, Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki.
Compaction and Drift by Shea Wilkinson.
Strange Attractor 18 by Niraja Lorenz.
Terra Mundi by Ellen Wong. Apologies to Ellen for this blurry photo, the camera in my phone isn't very good.
As you can see, it's a very strong show and I haven't even gotten to the award winners yet. I'm saving that for next time...
 
Posted in Exhibitions

Quilts=Art=Quilts ’17 – Part 1

This past weekend I went to the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY for the first time for the opening reception of Quilts=Art=Quilts. It was the first time my work was accepted into this prestigious exhibit and I was eager to see it. Out of 300 entries, 75 works by 65 artists were accepted and these are some exceptionally talented artists. So, I was deeply honored.
In this post, I will share some pictures of the overall exhibit so you can get a feel of the scope and scale of the venue. It's a lovely venue, too, large and spacious. Donna Lamb and her staff did a beautiful job hanging the show.
I hope these give you a feeling of being there, especially if you aren't able to go to the exhibit. But, I highly recommend going if you can. The exhibit runs through January 7, 2018.
I apologize for not giving attribution to the artists, there's just too many in this post (though if you ask me in the comments about a particular piece, I would be happy to provide info). Later this week, I will post more pictures, individual shots and some detail shots with attribution. And, for the finale, I will post the award winners! So, stay tuned...
   
Posted in Exhibitions, Infinity series

2017 SAQA Benefit Auction

Benefit Auction starts Sept 15th!
As a member of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, I'm happy to support their annual and ever popular Benefit Auction fundraiser which begins on September 15 and goes until October 8. Once again, I'm proud to be able to give back to this organization that has given so much support to artists like me and continues to work hard to promote quilt art. 368 members donated a small piece of art, 12 x 12 inches, which will be auctioned off in a reverse auction - bids start high and then drop each day. This year, I've donated a piece from my Horizon series again.
To find out more about how the auction works, visit click here. Check out each group to see the wonderful array of artworks available. My piece is in the third group which starts bidding on October 2. Don't miss the Dream Collections curated by member artists. It's a fun way to see the artwork through the lens of fantasy collections.
 
Posted in SAQA

Well, that’s THAT!

Last weekend was The Hunterdon Art Tour, otherwise known as THAT, the first county-wide artist tour of Hunterdon County, NJ. It's almost a week later now and I'm still exhausted, but in a good way.
The weekend kicked off with a celebration benefit party and exhibit hosted by the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, NJ. I was having such a good time I forgot to take pictures but I can tell you it was a huge success attended by almost 200 art lovers. The exhibit comprised one piece of artwork by all the artists, roughly 40 artists, on the tour and all for sale with a 50/50 split going to the artist and funding for next year's THAT. Nine pieces sold! My piece Horizon IX wasn't among them and is still available. hint, hint
Some artists opened their studios to the tour while others like myself (with a big slobbery dog) found local businesses to play host. My good friend Dr. Nancy Erb, holistic therapist and owner of Wellness Rocks! and the Awaken Health Center in Clinton, welcomed me and fellow artist, photographer Berendina Buist.
One of the center's practitioners, Karen Schweiger, was there all weekend offering free hugs. And, what hugs they were! She's a certified cuddle therapist. I had never heard of a cuddle therapist but I can tell you, she's good. Everyone needs a hug. Have you had your hug today?
The center was a great space to display artwork, big rooms with lots of wall space for big art...
and small art...
And even smaller art...
Or long art...
Not to mention, wearable art...
This was an amazing start to our annual artist tour here in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. I must give a huge thank you to the organizers of the tour who worked so hard for over a year to pull this together, three cheers to Val Sivilli, Catherine Suttle, Kathleen Thompson and Jay Raymond. Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray!
Posted in Exhibitions, Infinity series, New Work

Springtime at Morpeth

It was a beautiful spring day for the Meet the Artists reception at Morpeth Contemporary this past weekend. Viewers were greeted by soft palettes and soft textiles of the three featured artists, Mare McClellan, Jim Henry and myself.
   
 
New Hope, PA artist Mare McClellan discusses her love of gardening and how it informs her work. On display are her paintings as well as her fiber sculptures.

Mare McClellan

     

Ever Abiding #7 by Mare McClellan

The gallery is large and bright, a modern space warmed up with salvaged hand-hewn beams installed by gallery owner Ruth Morpeth.
 
Morpeth Contemporary at 43 West Broad Street in Hopewell, NJ. The exhibit will run through April 23.
Posted in Exhibitions