QuiltCon and the effects of visual perception

Exhibits, improv process

My preparation for the visit in the US to QuiltCon 2024 started four months in advance. In these days, Fabia Delise mentioned the retrospective exhibition dedicated to the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko hosted by the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Perfect timing! I decided that my connecting flight had to pass through Paris, and I booked the tickets for that gallery.

It was a very strong experience. The large paintings by Rothko game me the idea of wide horizons, of the blocking of walls, of the wish to dive in, of the feeling to fly above… The luminosity of space was recognized very well by my visual perception system. This show made me wish to spend more time outdoor or, as paper engineer Annalisa Metus recently said, of being en plein air.

I spent the rest of my day in Paris walking in the zone of La Défense in Paris, where I found the monument “Iris” by Raymond Moretti, among skyscrapers illuminated in the night.

When I arrived to my destination, at QuiltCon, one of the first quiltmakers that I met was Scott Culley. His quilt Shadow won first prize in the Piecing category: congratulations Scott! Only at a certain distance, the composition of a face can be recognized. He made other works based on visual perception effects, such as the earlier quilt Mask-3.

A few days before going to QuiltCon, I read the impressive story of the work Reconceived by Jennifer Candon, and how she is aware of visual perception factors, while choosing colorful zones and areas for the eyes to rest, in her quilts. I commented her: “I bet on an award”. Indeed her work won the first prize in the Improv category.

Here you can see how big is the work of Jennifer, at right; in the center, still in the Improv category, was hanging my quilt “Night Lights” juried in the show.

Night Lights is intended as an abstract work, even if it is based on a real experience feeling. I use to walk by the sea in whatever hour of the day. Late afternoon hour in Winter is enough to find an extreme condition: a black sky above a black horizon of water. The tip of the pier is one of my favorite places, where only natural illumination remains, the last streetlamp and its wavy reflections left behind.

I was happy to find in the show the work Iridescence by Julie Reuben , which has been juried also in the Abstraction: Textural Elements (SAQA Global Exhibition) together with my quilt Open air. Her handwork quilting creates color play in a very interesting zone: the limit of visibility.

QuiltCon in depth

activism, Exhibits, joining events

“It takes courage to use, for the first time, an overseas flight”, recognized Irene Roderick @hixsonir, during the breakfast where she kindly invited me, in Raleigh (US), together with other quilters, in a nicely informal eat-together occasion. I was so happy to meet her in person, after the having attended her workshops only from remote. During that discussion, I was explaining that visiting US has not been in my plans ever: I was afraid to go, from my 7.500 miles distant hometown in Italy.

I was convinced to take the plane by the opportunity of attending the QuiltCon 2024 opening lecture by @davidowenhastings and Teresa Duryea Wong @third_floor_quilts who celebrated 20 modern quilts from around the world. Argentina, Guatemala, New Zealand, Korea, Switzerland, France and Italy were represented: you can find the featured quiltmakers on David’s web site here. I am so honored to have been part of the mentioned quilters during this session, attending in presence together with Cecilia Koppmann @ceciliakoppmann, and in the good company of the other mentioned Italian @fabiadelise, whose work I admire so much. I discovered, among others, deeply impressive Korean artists, who give meaning to their quilts with profound care and detail, such as Sung Hye Byun @konnimi who celebrates hometown architectures in a fascinating way, a subject that I love too.

I am grateful to David for having been a “good influence”, inspiring me to visit QuiltCon, and I’m especially happy that he has mentioned that part of me who is an “activist”. My featured work Heat Map is one of my quilts that tell stories of civil action, as I explained on my blog here. I have made other works combined with civil initiatives, such as the one for the petition to save the last savage river in Europe Tagliamento.

“Let’s transform passion into call for action” is a feeling which I shared with Lorraine Woodruff-Long @quiltinginthefog, who I had the pleasure to talk with. How to select striking messages? I started to wonder if my messages remain too hidden, when confined to the artist statements. For her messages, on the contrary, she uses phrases and images so powerful that I could not smile at the photo taken aside her quilt “The Number of Holes”, due to the severity of the addressed subject, but sure I was smiling and happy during our selfie together! Thanks Lorrain for the time spent talking of experiences we both have had, in connecting art and science dissemination, as she did for the Art x Climate Project at the US Global Change Research Program (I’m so proud that quilts can help raising awareness on such topics, as Lorrain’s quilt powerfully did) and I did 20 years ago for the science communication project “Nanoworld” (you can find it mentioned in my bio). I didn’t expect that the visit to QuiltCon could bring to surface my deep past!