J Aird's Artwork Presentation for Art 507


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  • I enjoy creating complex cloth through using dyes, bleach, paints, rust, etc. I then use the fabrics to create art quilts. The background fabric for this slide was discharged using the Japanese shibori technique called Arashi. Discharging is the chemical removal of color. Arashi is an ancient Japanese technique where fabric is wrapped around a cylinder and bound tightly with string. The fabric is then scrunched together at the end of the pole and immersed in a bleach/water solution. When the desired amount of dye has been discharged, the fabric is removed. On this piece I discharged it once wrapping in one direction and then did it again in a different direction to get the layered effect of one pattern on top of another.
  • This background fabric was created by painting on soda-ash treated cloth with procion dyes in a wet into wet style. A plastic grid was placed underneath the fabric in places and more dye was layered on the top using a brayer to create layers of pattern, texture and color. These fabrics in themselves are not necessarily finished pieces of art, but will be used in future art quilts. This process is similar to making paper pieces for a collage. However, I enjoy the inherent warmth of cloth. Fabric has symbolic meaning in our lives. We are wrapped in cloth at birth and continue to cover ourselves with it throughout our lives. Fabric warms and comforts us.
  • This background fabric is another example of discharged shibori. I like how it resembles birch tree bark. As you will see in some of the upcoming slides of my work, I’ve been doing some pieces lately with trees as my theme.
  • This fabric was created through a shibori discharge process. The first time around, the fabric was folded and clamped. To add more pattern and texture, I bound the fabric with string and again discharged more color by immersing it in the bleach/water solution.
  • Background fabric was created by using a squeege to press syringed dye through a stencil opening and then doing rubbings through the fabric of a grid placed below.
  • This art quilt is a mix of old and new. I used a traditional pattern called “Storm at Sea” but used non-traditional hand-dyed fabrics to create the layers of pattern. I chose a triadic color scheme and focused on value to create the overlapping circles. I like how the hand-dyed fabrics and batiks allow the light to shine through. This piece is 78” by 78”. It was accepted into a juried international quilt show in Santa Clara two years ago.
  • This is a close-up showing some of the machine quilting done with a metallic thread to add more light reflection. In quilting, stitching is like drawing.
  • This is my still life in homage to Matisse done in fabric, using hand-dyed fabrics and batiks. Highlights and shadows were added to the cups and tea pot with acrylic paint. I did free motion machine quilting of leaves and flowers in the background to resemble the wallpaper often seen in Matisse’s paintings. This piece measures 20 x 23 inches.
  • This close-up shows the machine quilted wallpaper background and the highlighting and shading done with paint over the hand-dyed fabric.
  • Revelations This piece is about what we choose to reveal to others and our layers of complexity. What we peal off to reveal to some is usually not the same as what we reveal to others. The top layer has had the dye discharged twice in two different ways. The bottom layer is the same fabric but has only been discharged once. This quilt measures 32 inches long by 24 inches wide.
  • Close-up of the discharged fabrics. I really like how the two separate patterns overlap each other creating layers of pattern, texture and color.
  • I wanted to showcase some of my new hand-dyed fabrics in this piece about the power and mystery of an undercurrent. Again, my theme here revolves around layers. There is the surface layer and then what lays below. It is important to be in touch with your true self and feelings. If you are not, they will rise to the surface anyways and sometimes, not in the way you wish them to do so. I used a reverse appliqu e technique so the center, lighter piece would look recessed. Purple and turquoise dupioni silk triangles were fused to the quilt and attached with small iridescent beads. This quilt measures 36 inches long by 16 inches wide. 
  • Close-up of hand-dyed reverse-appliqued section. I gathered, bunched and folded this fabric to give it more of the appearance of running water. The yarn over the top is couched into place and the small floating triangles are Dupioni silk fused on and also attached with a bead.
  • This non-objective art quilt features a potato dextrin resist fabric I made. I love the juxtaposition of the different patterns and textures. I embellished the quilt with many beads, including some beautiful lampworked ones, fabric covered buttons, foil, couched ribbon, and machine quilting. This piece measures 19 x 31 inches. This piece is about the sad state of print journalism. When I was growing up there was an old riddle that asked, "What's black and white and read all over?" The answer was, "A newspaper." Unfortunately many people now get their news in inadequate sound bytes as opposed to reading about issues in depth. With both of my sons being journalists we have talked a lot about the demise of the printed newspaper. Newspapers in our country our going under. Journalists are being laid off and soon fewer voices will be heard. To me, this is dangerous. We need to have good investigative reporting and take the time to read it for the health of our country and world.
  • Close-up showing beads and fabric covered buttons.
  • This quilt features two fabrics I made. The orange one with the bright turquoise area is a low immersion dyed piece, where I put dye into a syringe and discharged it into carefully arranged fabric. The fabric on the right was painted and splattered with procion dyes while it was still wet and then I did a rubbing on top of it using a plastic computer grid component under it. I wanted the machine quilting to emphasize the shapes in each area, especially the bright surprise of turquoise in the orange. This piece measures 24 x 21 inches. The left side symbolizes nature with its organic leaf shapes in contrast to the more industrial, polluting, skyscrapers of the cities. A small river of bright blue Dupioni silk runs through the top symbolizing our decreasing precious water supply. Water must be shared by all and increasingly there is a large chasm between how this is to be done by residents of these areas. At the very bottom there are three very fragile silk cocoons on beaded thread.
  • This is a close-up of some of the machine stitching.
  • Petalicious As trite as it may sound, I love flowers. I’ve always enjoyed looking at them, growing them and being given them. Georgia O’Keefe, one of my all-time favorite artists said, “ W hen you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” This piece has hand-dyed fabrics and a very complicated, labor-intensive center circle of 80 pieced strips sewn together. There is yarn, beads and machine quilting to add details and dimension. It measures 48 x 38 inches. This piece was also accepted into a juried international quilt show in Santa Clara two years ago.
  • Close-up showing the beading, yarn and piecing.
  • This quilt is entitled, “From a Distance.” All humans have the same basic needs and emotions. Although we are not exactly the same, we are probably more alike than we are different from culture to culture, race to race, religion to religion or no religion at all 

Most of the fabric for this quilt came from one piece of black Kona cotton, just as we, as a human race, have roots in common. However, we are not exactly alike. Our life experiences, and our homelands make us diverse, just as the shibori methods I used on the different pieces of the same cloth, created different values and textures on them.

We all share space on this one planet, just as these fabrics do. Some take up more space than others, just like countries do. We need to fit together so the planet survives. We need to share our natural resources wisely and take great care that we don't abuse them. The wooden beads and the metal buttons are representative of our natural resources, like trees from which the beads came and buttons made of metal, mined from underground like many of our natural resources.

There is unity in the color but diversity in the textures and values. The arrangement of the pieces was loosely inspired by a photo from the book , Earth From Above, 366 Days , by Arthus-Bertrand, a great book about the human impact on our planet. This quilt measures 31 inches long by 20 inches wide.
  • Close-up of one of the discharged fabrics with brass buttons.
  • This quilt entitled “Autumn Leaves” was inspired by the many beautiful fall seasons I experienced the spectacular fall foliage while living in Wisconsin. This quilt features a lot of hand dyed and some commercial fabrics. It is machine pieces and hand quilted. There is also embroidery and hand couching of yarn. I wanted to capture the quiet, yet brilliantly colored experience of a Wisconsin Fall. While working on this piece and the others this summer, the air has been and is filled with smoke and our skies hazy from the multiple forest fires burning to the north and south of us. We need to find a better balance between nature and people so all can survive. This quilt measures 47 inches x 15 1/2 inches
  • This is a close-up showing some of the hand quilting and couching on the hand-dyed fabrics.
  • I live in a city formally named, El Paso de Robles, which is Spanish for Th e Passing of the Oaks. There are numerous, wonderful, old, gnarly Live Oak trees in our city and on our property. There is even an Oa k Tree Preservation Ordinance in our city, which prohibits anyone on private property from cutting down an oak tree without a permit. In this piece I wanted to show some of the great textures in the bark on these trees. This art quilt features hand dyed and commercial fabrics, shibori fabric, reverse-appliqu e fabric, machine quilting and overlays of painted cheesecloth in some sections. Reverse applique is a process, which was first done by the Kuna Indians, who are the native people who live on small coral islands in the San Blas Archipelago along the Atlantic coast of Panama and Colombia. In the traditional process, two to seven pieces of different colored fabric are layered together. Designs are cut through the top layer to reveal layers below. Cuts can be made through just one layer or through two, three, or four to reveal different fabrics. Edges of the cut fabrics are turned in and stitched down. In my piece, I used five different patterned fabrics and the sewing machine to outline bark-like shapes. I then carefully cut through the layers to reveal the different textures below. This was quite a labor-intensive process to create this one section for the quilt, but I feel it is worth it. I think it captures some of the nuances one finds in the bark of these old trees. Leaving the edges of each cut section frayed conveys the roughness of the bark. The organization of the quilt is quite formally balanced to show the timeless elegance of these old trees. I added a layer of painted cheesecloth in some areas as a metaphor for the fragility of trees and to add movement and more interest. If we don’t protect our trees, they will be gone forever. This quilt measures 20 1/2 inches by 36 1/2 inches.
  • This close-up shows the reverse applique section.
  • Into the Redwoods This piece was inspired by a photo I took of a road going into the redwoods in the Santa Cruz area. I enhanced the photo using Photoshop, enlarged it, and then printed it into four sections on silk. Next I printed a photo of an enlargement of a leaf section onto a piece of transparent organza and layered it over part of the photograph to emphasize the sunlight coming through the forest. I noticed that the veins of the leaf looked like smaller trees in the forest. To take advantage of this I stitched their outlines through the layers of fabric. Beads and a shiny embroidery thread add to the look I wanted of how sunlight filters through the canopy of tree leaves. This piece measures 21 1/2 inches by 18 inches.
  • Close-up of the area with the sheer overlay of the photo of an enlargement of a leaf printed on chiffon. If you look carefully you can see the veins of the leaf which look like new trees in front of the old redwoods.
  • Background fabric is a low immersion dyed piece with the addition of syringed dye.
  • J Aird's Artwork Presentation for Art 507

    1. 1. Selected Works of Jeanne Aird Graduate Seminar - Art 507 University of Idaho-MAT Program Jason Ferguson, Instructor September, 2009
    2. 2. I am an artist who uses fabric, dyes, paints, beads and thread as my medium of choice. I create what are called ‘Art Quilts.’ The ones I create are never meant for a bed, but for a wall. Most people think of quilts as bed coverings. When I tell people I make art quilts, they usually have little understanding of what that is.
    3. 3. An art quilt is defined by the Studio Art Quilt Association as: contemporary art work exploring and expressing aesthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts, painting, printing, photography, graphic design, assemblage, and sculpture, which retains however through material or technique a clear relationship to the folk art quilt from which it descends.
    4. 4. I am not an artist who enjoys working in series. I know many artists do enjoy working in series and I have been encouraged to do that. Exploring color, texture and pattern are what interest me the most in creating art. So, I guess you could say I’m a formalist, if you have to categorize me. Creating art quilts and the fabric in them is a slow, methodical, meditative process, one that I thoroughly enjoy. My life is usually quite hectic and making fabric and art quilts is an antidote to all the hustle and bustle.
    5. 5. Nature and the environment are issues I feel strongly about, and some of my work addresses that. But I am equally concerned about personal and public ethics, integrity and how we treat each other in this world. As a mother, a wife, a friend, a teacher, a citizen and an artist, I have a variety of concerns or layers, just as quilts have layers. If through looking at my work and reading about my thought process while creating them, I can get you to think about any of the above issues, I feel my work is successful. If you just enjoy them, for whatever reason, like how I enjoy creating them, then they are also successful.
    6. 28. Thank you for looking at my work. I look forward to your comments.