ISSUE #15 DUAL PRACTICE PATCHWORK

This week is focused on patch·work; the practice of taking small sections from larger works to assemble an entirely new construction all together. What’s exciting is that we’re doing this with both a 20’ tall cast bronze sculpture and 20” wide quilts alike!

I hope you enjoy this week,
Sean


What We’re Making

The 20’ bronze sculpture is being fabricated at UAP’s foundry in Rock Tavern, NY by a team of experienced tradespeople. While the quilt is as you guessed, a solo practice in my bedroom with a sewing machine roaring on a make-shift desk covered with scraps. Keeping both a collaborative and personal practice gets at the heart of Neon Fabrication’s passion to close the intimidating gap between small and large scale making.

While I cannot discuss the specific challenges we’re facing for the UAP sculpture, try to imagine pouring the largest bronze cast molds we know of any fine art foundry worldwide and all the tribulations that may come with this; from testing different bronze alloy recipes to the labor force needed to maneuver these elements.

For the quilt, it was my first time making custom patchwork. It shows in the construction but this also allowed my ‘beginners mind’ to create some unexpected patterning. More importantly I had a killer time sharing tribulations with 75+ of course mostly older women in an online zoom lesson this Saturday. We chatted, centered ourselves together before beginning to sew and they took care of this young man who was fully out of his element. In the end I felt “Ok, I can do this…in time”. And that’s all this is about.

Craft is social at its heart even for solo practices. You learn, share and construct for more than just you, no matter if you shred the piece immediately after making it or frame it instead. The idea of a quilting circle is fundamentally at once inclusive and caring. After the lesson, the instructor, Sherri Lynn Wood, shared a fully developed website she’s made to establish a digital community for improvisational quilters. And even though I questioned the graphic color choices and website’s cute fonts (it’s a different world!), it was wholly inspiring!

How We’re Feeling

I was introduced to Sherri’s work after following link after link originally inspired by my wonderful friend and textile artist herself, Allison Page. I mentioned that the quilting class was improvisational. This means that the quilts we were making had no predetermined pattern or color stories. We began the course with a meditation, created a loose set of rules to follow, what Sherri calls a ‘score’ like in music, and began intuitively patching a quilt together.

It’s what I needed. My practice as a project manager and architect is all about planning, getting one step ahead of the project’s needs by anticipating workflow and achieving a design that’s technically drafted in software by a team. It’s the same in art fabrication as architecture, which I’ve practiced since the start of my professional career. In short, I’ve had enough with creating instructions for making. I want to put hands to materials, full scale. It’s personal, but it’s also a sign of the times for all of us right now amidst a global pandemic. We are being called to act NOW.

I’m in a space right now where I crave immediate feedback and I believe we are all in that space together. We want to discover creative projects through making with our hands straight away, at every scale. Improv is about ‘yes, and’, you constantly build on top of the previous square without rejecting what was made even if you don’t like it. You then observe your intuitive response or just feel it in you gut, then move on with our next response by building off the last. It’s freeing and has allowed me to come more into my own, especially right now.


Who We’re Watching

After speaking about textile patchwork and quilting, I feel an immediate need to defend it from judgement. That’s because I judge it too. We minimize its worth by considering domestic crafts less worthy. Yet they’re more precise, utilitarian and prolific than any other art form. So this week, we’re highlighting two women I’ve come across only recently who make badass modern quilts.

Chawne Kimber is an African American mathematician renowned for expressing her social activism through quilting. You heard that right! Her quilts are sometimes playful geometric dances and other times deeply pointed with scathing text or social narratives. A brief interview with her at her home can be found here.

Jacquie Gering calls herself a quilter, but from my perspective she’s an architect. Her patchwork resembles intricate cityscapes, structured geometries and bold social narratives using the softest materials we like to wrap around our own bodies. I was introduced to her by someone in Sherri’s virtual class on Saturday and can’t get enough.

With care,
Sean


“I am
I am still
I am not still
I am still not free”

– Chawne Kimber –

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