Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quilt Artist, Jeanne Beck

For me the best part of the New Jersey Quilt Fest was seeing the one woman show of quilts by Jeanne Beck, a quilter/fiber artist who lives in the Finger Lakes section of New York. Her works are about texture with inspiration -- for most of the quilts shown, although she has another series about people/places -- from natural textures. She manipulates fabric in all the ways that are being written about lately, dyes with various techniques, painting, adding layers of different textiles, felting, gilding, plus quilting and embroidery. Complex surfaces draw one in to study all the variations, the use of interesting embroidery stitches and threads as well as subtle color changes and textures. [I believe the picture at the top should be rotated once to the left -- I thought I did that in my edit program but apparently not]

I've gone to Jeanne Beck's website, www.jeannebeck.com, [if I had learned the technique the guy at Apple tried to teach me you'd be able to click that but I don't understand how to add it that way]. It's a lovely website with excellent pictures but no picture can show the texture, the complexity of the surface. While these are quilts, with three requisite layers [and more] a backing and binding, they would not be recognizably quilts to anyone who does not know about the modern movement of art quilts. In fact, for my enjoyment, they don't need to be quilts at all. I don't care if they are backed or bound, the important part is the surface.

I cannot say that any one was my favorite. I found the embroidery especially fascinating. For instance the cream/black one in the middle had a great many French knots for texture in the middle section. They are a simple enough stitch but were used very effectively. And the top quilt had lines of embroidery stitches I had not seen before, not so complex, but remaniscent of Oriental calligraphy.

Sometimes i wish I were a wealthy lady with a big house with many walls on which I could display art. It would be wonderful to have many pieces and to change them every few weeks so I never stopped really seeing them as one does if something becomes too familiar. But I have no space to spare, nor money for art purchases. Perhaps that makes me look all the more intensely when I come upon someting like Jeanne Beck's work which I looked at closely, and wandered on and then an hour later returned and looked at all over again. They not only good enough to look at twice but to live with as well. And I had a few pangs of serious envy. I wish I could do that. I don't believe I will ever attempt that sort of art quilting, it's the accomplishment of self-expression that I envy.

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