56” x 56” © 2002
Rose Garden is the first quilt in a series that has been brewing in the “little gray cells” for a while. I have been wanting to do some very large, very direct graphic shapes, instead of the traditional technique of seeing lots of small pieces of fabric together. I am working up the courage to make very stark, two color quilts.
I always try to have movement and energy in my work. Rose Garden’s action comes from the play of undulating and interlacing branches. The play of interwoven shapes is a recent development, however. I began experimenting with this idea in the Vortex series, which was originally inspired by an enthusiastic tangle of aloe vera – curly, spiky spines winding together. You can also see this idea carried through the “roots” in Minor Miracle.
Most of all, Rose Garden is about duality. I often like to mix thorns and weeds into my metaphoric gardens and this quilt grows from a classic tale of contrasts, The Beauty and The Beast. If you remember the story, Beauty’s father picks a white rose for his loving daughter in the Beast’s enchanted garden. The Beast demands that the father of a willing substitute must return in 3 months for his punishment. Beauty insists on taking her father’s punishment and returns to the Beast’s castle, where instead she is given a beautiful room and has nothing to fear except an occasional visit from the Beast who presses her for her hand in marriage.*
There are many polarities in this magical story: beauty and ugliness, kindness and cruelty, male and female, nature and spirit. So too, is this quilt a combination of opposites. The powerful thorns are easy to see against the white damask background. But the apparently empty background is “free motion” quilted with exuberant white roses, creating a contrasting texture to the smooth and flowing quilting lines of the interlacing branches.
This quilt is deceptively simple, both metaphorically and physically. Large dark shapes make big statements but white on white quilting makes only a whisper (unless you are in front of the quilt). And large shapes actually make construction more challenging. So much for simplicity!