Category: New Work

Work completed this year.

The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water, mixed media textiles, by Mary Vaneecke

The Weight of Water  by Mary Vaneecke, 20” x 20” by 12”

Artist Statement

When I attended a photo shoot for  The Migrant Quilt Project I was struck by the fabric slings for water bottles that Jody Ipsen brought from campsites along the border.  Jody is the founder of the MQP.  Crossers or their loved ones or immigrants rights groups make these slings hastily. They sometimes include encouraging messages like bueno suerte (good luck) or contigo en la distancia (with you on your journey).  It hit me how these migrants had to carry enough water with them to survive their journey.  They had to decide what to carry with them across the border, and what to leave behind on their way to a new life.

The items left at campsites or layups tell of a journey fraught with peril and loss.  Jody allowed me to photocopy pages from a book for prayers to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.  Santa Muerte is important because she can protect crossers from violent death.  Jody also shared copies from a small notebook filled with handwritten poetry or Verzos.  (One of those poems is for Mother on Mother’s Day.)  Ten dollars worth of pesos secreted into hand-stitched hems is another frequent find.  Migrants often carry milagros or votives with them.  Empty gallon jugs and carpet shoes, which mask footprints when worn over street shoes, are common in layup sites along the border.

My version of these slings include headlines from American newspapers about the official policies dealing with migrants, as well as reproductions from prayer and poetry books found on the border.

Materials

Found objects (water bottles and carpet shoes), deconstructed American flag and denim jeans, vintage mola (maker unknown), milagros, woven textiles from South and Central America (makers unknown), silk organza, cotton, vintage Mexican flag collectible, Virgin de Guadelupe fabric, facsimiles of found objects, fusible web.

Techniques

Machine and hand stitch, image transfer, fusing, applique.

New Work:  Back to ‘Mending’

New Work: Back to ‘Mending’

New Work:  Back to ‘Mending’

Yet another new work inspired by Hazel Hall’s poem, “Mending.”  Full text of the poem is here.  Written about 100 years ago (Hall died in 1924), it is the gift that keeps on giving!  Hall describes a mundane household chore as a subversive act, ‘a little travesty on life.’ It just seems to fit our zeitgeist, doesn’t it?

This piece combines several of the techniques I have used in the last year: layered sheers, cutting, burning, and visible mending.  It feels radical to me, but still beautiful.  Similar to Haiku III, but dimensional instead of fused flat.  Best of all, I have ideas for several more pieces in this style.

Stay tuned.

Yes, I have been Mending III, 40'' x 30'' by Mary Vaneecke
Yes, I have been Mending III, 40” x 30” by Mary Vaneecke

 

Yes, I have been Mending III by Mary Vaneecke, detail.

Materials

Fabric, dyes, fusible web.

Techniques

Fusing, dyeing, burning, machine stitch, cut work.

photo credit: Jack Kulawik

(White) Silence is Violence

(White) Silence is Violence

While this work is a modern quilt with a contemporary theme, it stands firmly in the tradition of subversive stitching in quilts.

When officers of the law become judge, jury, and executioners, killing unarmed black citizens, we all have a problem.  The police act on our behalf.  This slogan from the Black Lives Matter movement challenges our complicity in the face of these injustices.  It demands our attention.  We must find a way to hold our police officers close, and still hold them accountable.  This piece is included in the Studio Art Quilt Associates Loaded Conversations exhibition.

The work is silk dupion, hand-painted fabrics, layered and stitched.  Embellished with hand-painted, frayed twine.
letters on white quilted silk
(White) Silence is Violence, by Mary Vaneecke
text on densely quilted white sillk
detail, (White) Silence is Violence by Mary Vaneecke
‘Desconocidos,’ for The Migrant Quilt Project

‘Desconocidos,’ for The Migrant Quilt Project

Desconocidos, Tucson Sector, 2015-2016, 94” x 61” by Mary Vaneecke, 2017.

About the Work

This piece was commissioned by The Migrant Quilt Project to honor and call attention to those who died crossing the border in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  It is made in part with clothing discarded at the border by migrants.  The Project commissions a quilt each year, and the quilt must have the names of those whose have died while crossing, or, in the case of unidentified bodies, the word desconocido (unknown or stranger in Spanish).  It was an honor to make this piece with Julia Moore, a high school intern who worked with me this winter.  TMQP has received a grant for travelling exhibitions of these quilts beyond Tucson.  Watch my blog for the next venue.

At the corner of East 15th Street and Kino Blvd. in Tucson is a monumental equestrian statue of Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino.  He was the first European to come to the area.  He is, in a sense, our first border crosser.  The statue (by Julian Martinez) looms large above the intersection and for years, I confess, I have wanted to quilt bomb it with an immigration theme.  I am not sure how that is possible without access to a cherry picker.  Not so subtle!   I  made a transparent silhouette of the statue to incorporate into this piece.  The quilt also features a Virgin of Guadalupe, a marijuana-themed bandanna, and 400 pesos (which I found secreted into the hems of two pairs of jeans).  Money and drug cartels frequently prompt these attempted crossings.

The Numbers

The numbers for Desconocidos The Migrant Quilt Project this year?  One hundred forty-four deaths.  The identified are aged 18-51 years.  Ten women, 128 men, 6 unknown.  Three are teenagers.

Techniques and Materials

Materials:  fusing, clothing, synthetic sheers, thread, canvas, felt.

Techniques:  Burning, machine quilting, fusing, embellishing, image transfer.

Desconocido, detail
Desconocidos by Mary Vaneecke, detail
Desconocidos by Mary Vaneecke, detail showing fabric that has been partially burned away
Desconocidos, by Mary Vaneecke, detail.
Desconocidos, by Mary Vaneecke, detail.
Yes, I have been Mending II (A Little Travesty)

Yes, I have been Mending II (A Little Travesty)

Hazel Hall’s poem ‘Mending’ reveals mending as a subversive act, an act of defiance, ‘a little travesty.’ Those who disagree with the current administration must put aside our shock and grief at the loss for what we thought America was, and fight for American ideals, to mend what is broken in this country.

Those who work in textiles have a long history of political activism.  Like Betsy Ross.  Or Madame Defarge.  Watch Threads of Resistance for many political art quilts, or little travesties.

Yes, I have been Mending II, 32 x 33.5” 2017

 

Yes, I have been Mending II, detail

The full text of the poem is here:

Mending

Hazel Hall

Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.

 

 

 

Yes, I Have Been Mending

Yes, I Have Been Mending

My latest art quilt, Yes, I Have Been Mending was inspired by 2 ideas.  One is Hazel Hall’s poem, Mending. I recently discovered her poetry through Poets.org’s Poem-a-Day program.  It is great to have a poem delivered to my in-box every day.  I don’t always read it, but it is there!  Hall used stitch imagery in several of her poems, so I was delighted to read her work.

The second idea that inspired me was the visible mending trend.   It’s a lot like it sounds, but check out the link or Pinterest for some examples.   ‘Yes, I Have Been Mending’ uses several gorgeous layers of hand-dyed silks, which I layered with eco-felt.  And then I took an Exacto knife and sand paper to it to create holes.  A bit of a travesty, but that is part of the poem!  I then patched the red quilt with green thread and some more hand-dyed silks.

My favorite line in Mending is the last.  The complete text of the poem is below:

Mending

Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.

 

art quilt 'Yes, I Have Been Mending,' 2016, 38'' x 23.5''
‘Yes, I Have Been Mending,’ 2016, 38” x 23.5”

 

'Yes, I Have Been Mending,' detail
‘Yes, I Have Been Mending,’ detail

 

Haiku II

Haiku II

 Haiku II is a visual interpretation of its namesake Japanese literary artform .  Translucent silk fabrics were dyed using the Japanese shibori technique itajime, then layered with synthetic fabrics and machine stitched. Photography by Jack Kulawik.

But I could hardly name an art quilt Haiku and not write a poem for it, now could I?  So here goes:

Haiku II

Take two images.

Separate and relate them.

It’s not so simple.

Winner of an Honorable Mention at the Studio Art Quilt Associates – Arizona Chapter 2017 exhibition, Exposures.

Haiku II, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke. 54.5'' x 41''
Haiku II, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke. 54.5” x 41”
Haiku II by Mary Vaneecke, detail
Haiku II by Mary Vaneecke, detail

 

 

 

Haiku III

Haiku III

 

Haiku III

The silk remembers

The loom, the folds, the needle,

The thread, and the flame.

Shibori is a Japanese word for creating pattern on fabric.  In the shibori process, many items can be used–folds, clamps, string, needle and thread.  Haiku III  is a visual interpretation of the poetic literary art form.  Translucent silk fabrics were dyed using the itajime and machine-stitched Katano shibori.  They were layered and machine stitched with burned raw edges. While the four complexly dyed fabrics relate to one another, each is beautiful in its own right.  Photo by Jack Kulawik.

Haiku III, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke, 38'' x 46''
Haiku III, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke, 38” x 46”
Haiku III by Mary Vaneecke (detail)
Haiku III by Mary Vaneecke (detail)
Haiku I

Haiku I

 Haiku I became a study of sorts for a larger work (Haiku II) and launches a new series.  Both feature hand-dyed sheer silk fabrics over-layed with synthetic sheers, and machine stitched.  This allows for a fascinating interplay between colors, values, and repeating shapes.  Haiku I is more intense, and reminds me of a Rorschach test, if you had double vision.  The namesake poetry, and the dyeing technique, shibori, are both Japanese.

Haiku I by Mary Vaneecke, 2016. 29.5'' x 22''
Haiku I by Mary Vaneecke, 2016. 29.5” x 22”

Of course, I had to write a haiku to celebrate this new series.

Haiku I

Two colors: red, black

Layered to affect the mood–

Simple yet complex.

 

Frozen in Time II

Frozen in Time II

Frozen in Time II is a translucent art quilt that incorporates many hand-worked and underappreciated vintage crochet pieces layered between hand-dyed sheer fabrics.  It hangs away from the wall to allow for shadow play behind the piece.  Rust-dyed and machine stitched.  This was included in the Visions Art Museum show, Iterpretations: Conversations exhibition.  Photo by Jack Kulawik.

Frozen in Time II is perhaps an elegy for lost arts and loved ones.

Frozen in Time II, 50'' x 34'' by Mary Vaneecke
Frozen in Time II, 50” x 34” by Mary Vaneecke
Frozen in Time II by Mary Vaneecke, detail.
Frozen in Time II by Mary Vaneecke, detail.
Frozen in Time I

Frozen in Time I

Frozen in Time I, with detail.  (Photo by Jack Kulawik).  This new art quilt combines new hand-dyed silk fabrics with vintage handworked crochet (makers unknown).  Rust dyed, layered and stitched on eco-felt.

This piece continues a new series utilizing under-appreciated handwork of unknown makers.

Frozen in Time I by Mary Vaneecke. 43.5'' x 34.5'' 2016.
Frozen in Time I  by Mary Vaneecke. 43.5” x 34.5” 2016.

 

Frozen in Time I by Mary Vaneecke detail
Frozen in Time I, detail. By Mary Vaneecke

 

Poisoning Flint

'Poisoning Flint' is made of hand-dyed, rust dyed silk organza, felted wool, stitch, and a drinking glass.
‘Poisoning Flint’ is made of hand-dyed, rust dyed silk organza, felted wool, stitch, and a drinking glass.  The piece is 4.5” x 18” x 4.5”.  It was a part of the Surface Design Association’s Transgressing Traditions exhibition at the Schweinfurth Art Center in 2016.  ‘Poisoning Flint’ will travel with the Studio Art Quilt Associates H2Oh! show through 2019.  
Elegy for the Beautiful Son

Elegy for the Beautiful Son

The Beautiful Son, hand-dyed, hand-worked liturgical linen (maker unknown), layered and quilted with the names of African American boys and men killed at the hands of police, and burned.
Elegy for the Beautiful Son, hand-dyed, hand-worked liturgical linen (maker unknown), layered and quilted with the names of African American boys and men killed at the hands of police, then burned. 36” x 33”.  It is part of the Sacred Threads 2017 exhibition.  
Elegy for the Beautiful Son by Mary Vaneecke.
Elegy for the Beautiful Son by Mary Vaneecke, detail.
Abuela’s Garden – SOLD

Abuela’s Garden – SOLD

Abuela’s Garden, 2015

The Barrio Viejo (old neighborhood) of my hometown is home to many Mexican immigrants.  Their distinctive gardens are often surrounded by an ocotillo fence, a living fence made of a cactus-like plant.  The gardens will contain flowers like marigolds and sunflowers, and foods that remind residents of home.  Neighbors share seeds and cuttings, and other fruits of their labor.  What a lovely metaphor for migration and transplantation.

Materials include hand-dyed and painted handmade textiles (makers unknown), felted wool ropes, new fabrics, silk sari ‘yarn,’ window screen, felt, and machine stitch.   In a private collection.ABUELA'S GARDEN copy