This is ART, bitches!

My latest quilt is Capital-A Art. Know why?

  1. It’s white on white
  2. It depicts a nude
  3. It is on canvas stretchers

Ladies and gentlemen, I unveil the fourth and final installment of my 4 Elements quilt series: Air/Nude!

77″ x 23″ (yielding a life-size figure), unbleached cotton muslin, cotton batting, polyester thread.

She counts as “Air” in the series because that’s what the model is wearing. Also, unless you look carefully you see nothing, just like air.

The photo above links to a super high res, 3,000-pixel-high version so you can zoom in on all the detail. Also check out these closeup shots (which link to 960-pixel-high versions):
Evident everywhere is the influence of Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project. In the section above you can see Free Motion Quilting basics like Basic Spiral, Pebbling, Feathers, Echo Rainbow, and Stippling, along with some of Leah’s signature designs like Brain Coral, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Flame Stitch, Ocean Current, Wormholes, Goldilocks, Chain of Pearls, Pebble Maze, Trailing Spirals, and Circuit Board. I started filling in the quilt on the right side, just over the foot where those very dense spirals are, and worked my way around counter-clockwise.

By the time I got to the head I had internalized many of those stitches, which became part of my vocabulary. It becomes difficult (and probably pointless) to say which patterns are “mine,” which are “Leah Day’s,” which are derived from vague memories of pen-and-ink shading patterns and old Zip-A-Tones, and which are simply failed imitations. (“Originality is failed imitation” – someone on Facebook. Bill Benzon, maybe?). Some of the spirally flame patterns I used in Fire return for a cameo here.

I had bountiful opportunities to try new stitches and patterns. As long as the negative spaces were densely quilted, it didn’t matter what was in them. I tried various hexagonal-based “snowlflake” patterns, like the one above. In the midst of my experiments, Leah posted this Icicle Lights pattern, which is much easier than hex-based ones. Below it is an homage to DNA molecules, and a “scaly micropebbling” experiment.

As you can see, the nude depicted is a real woman-person, not a professional model. Who was the model, you ask? Suffice to say I will not be sharing the “pattern” as open source code. You’re welcome to copy this quilt, but you’ll have to reverse-engineer it, or use another model.

Here’s what she looked like before stretching. Maybe vanity drove me to it – I may be a little saggy, but I’m not that saggy. But seriously, the subtle white-on-white quilting technique relies entirely on shadow to reveal texture and outline, and only works if light hits the surface evenly. She was professionally stretched on canvas stretchers by 567 Framing. It took 2 and a half weeks, but was worth the wait.

Here’s “Air” leaning against the wall with her friends Earth, Water, and Fire. Unfortunately I can’t hang her next to Fire, because she’d abut the radiator which could discolor her. I don’t know where I’m going to put her, actually. How ’bout a prestigious museum? She is, after all, Capital-A Art.

31 comments to This is ART, bitches!

  • susmita

    just in its element! exquisite!!

  • Mike Caprio

    I bet you would do some incredible Lovecraftian style stuff, Nina. Whenever I see the detail of your spirals and bubbles it makes me think of tentacles and elder things. :)

    This recent find made me think of your detailing too: http://florianbertmer.blogspot.com/2011/04/paradise-lost-and-call-of-cthulhu.html

  • With this well developed evidence of art and craft sensibility, I might say ‘mastery’, but that it’s mistress is the other gender – what is it’s accompanying ‘bitch’ banter indicating? Aside from it’s meaning as a female dog, it’s also an “informal derogatory for a woman whom one dislikes or considers to be malicious” -the use here would indicate the artist finds her audience hostile. If my response seems hostile, so be it. I am not.

  • Your “Air” is beautiful!

  • Wonderful! Gorgeous! Stunning! I love the detail. Wish I had a museum, or gallery; I would definitely display your art.

    Is there room to hang “Air” on the wall abutting “Earth”? Your photo seems to show enough space. The one-and-three display would have an interesting symmetry in it asymmetry.

    Do you teach? I do not quilt, yet, but have much interest. I would love a hands-on learning opportunity, even only for a day.

    Thank you for sharing your creations!

  • Kate Freed

    Those little knee-notations are just perfect!

  • Just gorgeous Nina! Gosh, to see what you do with the designs is amazing. You are so brave, daring, and experimental – truly enviable qualities from one artist to another.

    You know what she reminds me of? An ancient Greek statue. Not sure if that’s what you were going for, but she could easily be carved from white marble, she is that beautiful.

    I’d say hang her on the other wall, across the corner from Earth. That way the light cast from the window will fall across her and show her stitches.

    ~ Leah

  • You feminist interlocutors are on the wrong track — this quilt is clearly a statement about WHITENESS!

  • Nina,
    You are my SHE-RO! Your quilts are amazing. I never doubted that they are Art with a capital ‘A’. They truly belong in a museum. Until then, I know of a high quality quilt & textile gallery in Santa Fe that could be an excellent showcase for your work. If you’re interested…
    Thirteen Moons Gallery
    652 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501
    505.995.8513

  • I LOVE it that this is also a mini-encyclopedia (minipedia?) of stitching patterns.

  • “She counts as “Air” in the series because that’s what the model is wearing. Also, unless you look carefully you see nothing, just like air.”

    And the minipedia of patterns is in the air. Yes, really.

  • Chris McMahon

    What a gorgeous series of quilts. It was worth the effort – they are a joy to behold!

  • On the ceiling above the other three quilts, feet towards the wall if you want a “floor” for her to stand on. The human is above the concepts she creates to encounter and live among; the air is in the sky; and the intellect (a traditional air-association, and perfect for an image of radical unveiling and of unexpected microscopicesque patterns) constantly recreates the world but does tend to yellow and grow stale if allowed to compete with and jostle the will, emotion, and sensation/intuition that should furnish our everyday world at the human level. Intellect is in part as exalted as it is so as to keep it out of our way when we experience the world, the body and the heart and the spirit, the things of actual color. Melville talks about this with his “all-color of atheism” in his chapter on the color white (fitting nicely with the coral insects spinning their orbs in the needlework – or not, I dunno). Gods and the soil and waters should be closer, but intellect and the naked human, and all that is revealed in moments of heightened focus, all that needs the right light to see properly, shouldn’t be confronting us in the everyday. Hell, Art shouldn’t – it should be close but not a constant rebuke. So, out of the way on the ceiling.

    OR!

    Hide her behind a different tapestry on different days, depending on whether body, heart, or spirit are occupying her, or as the mood strikes you. Peeking out between if you like.

  • (a little ledge behind the tapestries at the height of their bases, so her feet aren’t awkwardly showing – or a nail behind each tapestry to hang her on, although one shouldn’t publicly hang nudes except in horror stories/frontier justice.

  • And probably not then.

  • Nancy Husari

    These quilts are absolutely stunning. I can’t believe that you just recently learned how to work with fabric.

  • Love the combination of detail/simplicity in one piece. Look at the head for example. By use of a very few lines of stitching you get complex looking waves of hair, eyes, nose, and a smile.

    Very nice. Very nice indeed. The breasts (yes I’m a man) are the same, again, very simply done, but they look very real. The dimples in the knees are downright cute.

    And the hands and feet look natural. My cousin Stan was a painter. He was heavily into surealism in his later years (he passed away about ten years ago). One thing that Stan never mastered was hands. Hands and feet are the most difficult things to do, and the way you’ve done them just blows me away.

    Wonderful. Just wonderful.

    I thought the others were really good, and they were. This one is ‘tres fantastique’.

    Wayne

  • Okay… so I just saw Sita on TV loved it, looked you up on the interwebs and realized you are awesome… and then I saw this quilt which is absolutely stunning. I’m just beginning with free motion quilting and this is VERY inspiring. I think you’re my new hero :)

  • Jimbo2K7

    So what is next? Animated quilts?

  • > So what is next? Animated quilts?

    Ha, that would be so cruel.

    Ok a 90 minute film is about 130,000 frames, so all we have to do is wait for Nina to quilt every frame of Sita…

  • NancyH

    These quilts are INCREDIBLE. I love the detailed stitch patterns, looks like it would take forever.. i’m off to check out this “free motion quilting” thing.. WOW!!

    gorgeous work!!

  • Gee, before I read your explanation of the “air/nude,” I thought you were making a clever play on the Japanese term for the new pornography they’re doing where they don’t digitally obscure the female genitals: “hair nudes.”

    Other than that, it’s obvious that “Fire” should be abutting the radiator.

  • Abhishek

    I LOVE YOUR WORK!!! YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

  • Tsigeyusv

    I found your blog from a Leah Day link. All I can say is WOW. I’ve spent far too much of the day reading and watching your work. It’s inspirational. I also love the “copying is not theft” video (isn’t it the sincerest form of flattery?) and I have started Shiva Sings the Blues, but haven’t finished it.
    I’m looking forward to reading/watching more and to continue to be amazed. Thank you!

  • Beth

    What an incredible piece of art. Not only is your artistic vision wonderful, but your craftsmanship is exquisite.

  • Hello I would like to send their jobs to attend an exhibition here in Brazil?’s Theme is about the elements. Please write to my email, ok?

  • Jeannette

    This is fantastic, I am undertaking a local quilt guilds challenge women in world war one a would love to use this as a starting point for my challenge if possible please.

  • Sue

    I’m a quilter, and this is awesome, and yes, Leah’s Day’s designs are great. I’ll bet it was fun to try out many of her designs. I used them when quilting old cutter quilt squares to make throws (I’ve made 4 each with 35-42 10 inch old cutter quilt squares). I love this. Wouldn’t this be a hoot at the next quilt show!

  • Just absolutely stunning! I was wondering how you had gotten rid of the dimpling that occurs when you quilt heavily but leave part undone – I did a nude like that once but she had more cellulite then I did in real life (saying something!) so I had to go and thread paint her body to even out the shrinkage. I never thought of stretching! Luckily that one was a painted whole cloth so the thread painting worked well as it was already coloured.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>