Tag: textiles

(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
Inspiration:  What I did on my Summer Vacation, Part 1

Inspiration: What I did on my Summer Vacation, Part 1

I spent a week in Washington D.C. this summer and the highlight of the trip was two visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, aka the Blacksonian (according to VSB).  I wasn’t sure I could get in, because tickets are sold out months in advance.  A guard suggested I get in line at noon and wait till one o’clock when all the unclaimed will call tickets are released for the day.  It means you have only half a day to see the museum with that ticket (unless you wait in line another day, like I did), and you are not guaranteed tickets, but it is well worth the chance to get look at this amazing museum. Every American needs to see it.

More than half of the Blacksonian is below ground, so it is much larger than it looks from the mall. The lower floors focus on the history of slavery/emancipation/Jim Crow/segregation and the Civil Rights era.  The upper floors are displays of African American contributions to the arts and athletic achievements.

It was thought that the average visit would be about 3 hours, but it is more than 6 because there is so much history, and so many meaningful displays to see. And this is history we don’t read about in school.  It is difficult to just walk briskly by a pair child-sized shackles. A looming guard tower from Angola prison.  A chapel for the casket of Emmett Till.  At least half the exhibits and displayed items just stop you dead in your tracks.

I am going to post just a few pics of textile-related items.  The first is this gorgeous piece, a silk and linen shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria.  Think about that.  A woman born a slave in the USA could not only capture the attention of the Queen of England, but receive such an exquisite gift from her.

Shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria.
Shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria.

And this piece, a beautiful whitework dresser scarf.  I believe it is one of the few pieces documented to have been created by a slave.  Quilt historians had thought most of the fine quilting was done by plantation mistresses (neither would have signed their work).  We are discovering now that is not always the case.

Wholecloth quilted work by slave.
Wholecloth quilted work by an unknown slave woman.

But this last piece took my breath away.  It is called Ashley’s Sack.  It was given by Rose, a slave on the Middleton Place Plantation in Charleston, to her nine year old daughter Ashley on the occasion of Ashley being sold away.  Rose filled the sack with a few handfuls of pecans, a lock of her hair, and ‘her love always.’  The two never saw each other again. In 1921, Rose’s great granddaughter Ruth Middleton embroidered their story onto the sack.

Asley's sack, detail.
Ashley’s sack, detail.

This family kept this sack for generations.  Like the museum itself, it is a treasure.

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:


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