Category Archives: New Work

Things That Matter

Update – The catalog for Things that Matter is now available on Amazon! The artwork is beautiful and arresting, the artist statements are thoughtful and provocative. A great read full of eye candy.



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.”


Also posted in Exhibitions

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!

Also posted in Exhibitions, Infinity series

The Art of Layering

I took another pass at my Pears painting in class last Friday by adding more layers to the under-painting.

Working with acrylics is such a different experience than working with textiles. Acrylics dry fast! Rendering them unworkable. The first day of class, our instructor Maureen had supplied us with an acrylic retarder which, when poured on top of and blended into acrylic paint, keeps it from drying out so fast and prolongs its working time. We were on our own for the second class and I thought I had purchased the correct product, a blending medium with the word retardateur in the French translation, but it wasn’t the same at all. So, I was at a disadvantage struggling to keep ahead of the drying paint and mixed the colors as best I could. Despite it all I’m happy with the results…

 Pears under-painting

Pears under-painting

I enjoyed mixing my own colors and layering them to achieve color, shape and texture. It was very interesting. And challenging.

Pears, day 2

Pears, day 2

One of my reasons for embarking on this painting journey is to stretch my abilities in how I work with textiles in my artwork. I’m already accustomed to using textiles as a painter uses paint but instead of blobs of paint, I use bits of fabric to recreate my imagery. But, in past work I’ve used an orderly structure of horizontal strips which is wonderful in creating depth as with my impressionistic landscapes like Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris. It’s a difficult and meticulous process that, if so desired, can help one develop a galloping case of OCD.

Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris detail

Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris detail

Which is why I turned to abstract work as with my Infinity series. It’s still meticulous work but not as exacting. I can improvise more with the color, shapes and lines until it feels right.

Infinity IV detail

Infinity IV detail

So, after my first painting class, I tried a small landscape, 6 x 8 inches, with a looser, semi-abstract feel. I tried layering smaller pieces of fabric in a less structured way, a more painterly way. This piece is Horizon II, the second in a new series which lies somewhere in between my impressionistic landscapes and my Infinity abstracts. I made this one to donate to the upcoming SAQA Spotlight auction during the 2016 SAQA Conference in Philadelphia, PA on April 1st.

Horizon II

Horizon II

I’m liking this direction and want to take it even farther.

How about you? In what ways do you find yourself pushing and stretching yourself and your art?

Also posted in SAQA, The Learning Curve

Quilt National ’15

The party’s over. My first Quilt National has come and gone and I’m exhausted – still. But, now I can share with you Infinity, the first in my series of abstracted horizons made entirely of re-purposed silk saris from India and Nepal.

Elena Stokes - Infinity

Infinity by Elena Stokes, 43 x 67 inches


Quilt National, held at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio, is one of the most prestigious quilt art venues in the world.  From the Quilt National ’15 webpage, these are the statistics for this year’s exhibition: “There were 689 quilts submitted by 378 artists from 44 states and 19 countries including 3 Canadian provinces. Jurors Rosalie Dace, Ann Johnston and Judy Schwender selected 84 quilts by 84 artists. The exhibitors represented 33 states and 8 foreign countries. In this exhibition 30 percent of the exhibitors are first time Quilt National artists.” The jurors did an outstanding job and it is truly an honor to included among so many notable and talented artists in an exhibition of such high caliber.

I have arrived at the Dairy Barn! ~ photo by Betty Busby

Looking back, the weekend is now a blur of happy faces, stunning quilt art, long days and late nights. I have met lovely people and made many friends with artists whose work I have admired for years. It was a wonderful experience I will always treasure. Many thanks to all the hard working, dedicated staff members of the Dairy Barn, especially Dairy Barn Executive Director Jane Forrest Redfern and Quilt National Director Kathleen Dawson who really rolled out the ‘red carpet’ for us.


Also posted in Infinity series Tagged |

The Big Reveal…almost

This weekend is the long awaited (by me!) opening of Quilt National, when I can finally reveal Infinity…but not yet. I have also been reluctant to reveal some of the other pieces in the series that were a bit too similar which I will reveal now…

My Infinity series takes my work in a new direction into abstraction and minimalism. I haven’t completely abandoned landscapes though, instead I focus on a single aspect of the vista, the horizon line stretching into infinity. To me it represents the point of transition, transformation and transcendence, the line where the past meets the future of infinite possibilities.

Elena Stokes - Infinity IIAbove, Infinity II was made for my doctor as a way of saying thank you for taking such good care of me during my surgery last fall. Yes, I know, it does look a bit like a scar, but a pretty scar, which was my intention. This piece is about 36 x 25 inches and made with the same reclaimed sari silks and technique as Infinity. Infinity III I already posted in the previous post, Infinity and Beyond, as it is quite different in color and design.



Elena Stokes - Infinity IVInfinity IV, 60 x 43 inches, is currently in the Nurture Nature Center’s ‘Weather’ exhibition in Easton, PA and runs until May 30th. Wind was my weather inspiration and it is actually a diptych but the size restriction of the exhibit was 60 inches so there will be more revealing to come for this one.



Elena Stokes - Infinity VInfinity V, 40 x 26 inches, is the latest piece in the series but I have lots of plans to do more so stay tuned…

And, now I must go finish getting ready for my trip to Athens, OH and my first visit to Quilt National! I promise to post pictures of Infinity and the opening reception on facebook.


Also posted in Infinity series

Infinity and Beyond

This winter has been short on daylight and long on snow and ice. It can’t end soon enough for me but it has been a productive time. First, here is the third piece in my Infinity series. I haven’t yet posted Infinity I or II because the first must remain unpublished until the opening of Quilt National and the other looks so similar to it, I don’t want to take a chance. Number three is very different, so here it is.

Infinity III


I also just finished a commissioned piece based on a previous work, Moonshine. This one is wider and shorter but otherwise very much the same. It’s actually much more the orientation I’d have preferred for the first but there was a size limitation for the exhibit, though I managed to achieve a sense of width with Moonshine. Anyway, meet Moonshine’s cousin, Clair de Lune.

Clair de Lune

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