“Life is chaotic, dangerous, and surprising. Buildings should reflect it.”
Frank Gehry, architect
The human need to make order out of chaos fascinates me. We try to control other people, our feelings, and even the weather without recognizing the ultimate futility of most of those efforts. It seems to me that (unless we are very lucky) our happiness depends in some part on learning what we can control, and seeing the beauty in the chaos we cannot manage.
Themes of chaos are prevalent in my work: whirling, changing, contrasting, shapes and complementary colors. Images mutate, crack, fade, or recede. Surprise elements may fall away from the wall and into three dimensions.
I hope my work reminds the viewer to look for beauty and complexity in the chaos that is all around us. But I must also admit that one reason I create is to control some small part of my life. My work is solely my responsibility—a fact which is both daunting and exhilarating. Finally, I make art to take up the intriguing challenge of a friend of mine: Show me something I haven’t seen before.
I hope you find my work surprising, chaotic, and maybe even a little bit dangerous. Or at least, like nothing you’ve seen before.
I take plain fabrics (black or white, silk, rayon, or cotton) and alter their surfaces in different ways. Some of my processes—bleaching, tearing, cutting and burning—are subtractive and destructive. Some are additive—like painting, dyeing, and stitching. Others—like felting and laminating— are both. In most of my work, I layer many techniques on a single surface. But my work has roots in the quilting tradition, so most pieces are layered onto other fabric and stitched to provided texture, dimension, and durability to each piece.
Mary Vaneecke is an award-winning artist, author, and teacher. Her mixed media art on textiles has been exhibited at regional and national shows throughout the US, and in Europe. Her work and articles have appeared in Quilting Arts Magazine, Machine Quilting Unlimited, the Studio Art Quilt Associates’ Journal, and The Quilting Quarterly. She founded a community fiber art project, TheMourningProject.com to draw attention to the problem of infant mortality in the U.S. in 2018.
Vaneecke began her art career with a round-robin quilting project in 1999. That quilt is still in pieces, but the project inspired her to open El Sol Quilting Studio five years later. In 2010, her work Homage won the American Quilters Society’s Longarm Workmanship Award for a Wall-sized quilt in Paducah, KY.