Portland City Center Art and MSF Exhibit

Every time I stroll from the MAX stop at Pioneer Place to Pioneer Courthouse Square I am amused by the sculptures along Morrison Street. This time I took photos.

I imagine the beavers and ducks reference OSU and OU mascots; I don’t know of any sport significance to sea lions. I do know the sea lions are a feature of coastal towns, in some cases overrunning certain piers.

Pioneer Courthouse Square is the site of many events: festivals, political rallies, craft markets, and sand sculptures among others.  This week it hosted an exhibit produced by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF).

MSF 1

Visitors are greeted, given a refugee identity (mine was a Syrian asylum seeker), then ushered through the various exhibits by an MSF volunteer. The tent pictured above housed a 360-degree video of variousl refugee camps and in some cases modes of transportation as if we were in the train or truck.

A more specific transportation exhibit allowed us to sit in a small boat made for 8 and imagine 20 or more in it as we listened to the benefits and trials of the various options.

MSF boat

The hour-long tour of the exhibit increased my understanding of the physical hazards refugees face as well as political challenges met by various category of people fleeing. Nor are all countries signatories of the UN declaration. Those who are must provide basic needs of refugees; others are under no obligation. And it expanded my understanding of MSF: previously I’d envisioned only field hospital type medicine rather than the holistic care of refugee needs.

If you are in Portland, the exhibit is up till 5 pm Sunday in its west coast travels.

More information on the exhibit here (with a nice photo of Pioneer Courthouse Square) here.

More information on MSF here.

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Mostly Traditional

At guild a long time ago, I picked up a kit to make a twin sized charity quilt. The Rail Fence pattern needs one dark, one medium and one light. The kit had two darks and a light. So it sat a while.

I had a lot of left overs from the Urban Chickens quilt–strips conveniently 3 1/2 inches wide.  Lots of medium, but not a single color. I decided to sew and figure out an arrangement later.  I finished the sewing of the blocks at last year’s fall retreat. I delayed a long while because I don’t particularly like trimming blocks and these needed it.

Today I am getting ready for this year’s fall retreat, so finally trimmed. Next comes the fun part, arranging the colors. I started out alternating horizontal rows. I dismantled that before I thought of photos, but trust me, it didn’t look good.

Rail Fence

I think because the design moves diagonally that alternating diagonal rows works better. (To echo or to contrast? That is the question. Today the answer was to echo. )I’ll have to stare at it for a while and move a block or two before I pack it up.

It will need a border.  I don’t like the fabric from the kit for the border either.  I’ll go stash diving later and see what I have that works.  I guess that kit will end up making two tops.

Assembly should go fairly quickly. I have one other project kitted and another two planned. Lots of cutting in my week to get ready!

 

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Welcome ‘Blanket’ Finished

You may have noticed a delay in finishing.  When the Welcome Blanket project announced that the deadline was extended to November 4, I shifted my attention to other activities and books and planned on making two. Today the first one is bound, and as soon as I write the note to go with it, I’ll package it for mailing.

welcome blanket finished

I did get a friend to hold it for a flat photo, but that was before it was bound.

welcome blanket quilted

Once again, I am amazed at the difference a binding makes in the look! You’d think I’d be used to the transformation by now.

Here are the corner blocks, quilted. You can click to enlarge any of them.

I borrowed Angela Walters’ Shape by Shape again from the library for help in designing quilting on another quilt. While I had it in my hands I looked for the fancy name for the tilted square design I’d learned from the book. Prepare yourself: it is “Square 1.”  I used that and ribbon candy (with a few pebbles) on the corner blocks. In the future, I don’t think I’ll use Square 1 on a pieced square. To my eye the quilt lines clash more with the pieced lines than I’d expected.

That border print really hides the quilting. Here is a diagram of Wonky Triangle border pattern from Night Quilter. It is fun to quilt and goes quickly. I thought Wonky Triangle a good link to the Square 1 motif, and both made a nice contrast to the paisleys, pebbles, and other curves in the star blocks.

It would be such fun to be in Chicago and able to go to see the installation, to join a group knitting there or an unpacking party. Here is a link to their blog on the day of their receiving 1001 packages. Browse the blog for photos of blankets on the walls.

My several planned projects for today became this one finish. While stitching the second seam of the binding, the thread broke once, the bobbin ran out, and I broke three needles. That did something to my enthusiasm!

Suddenly, it seems the needle position is too close to the edge. All is well when I sew slowly, but the slightest increase in speed produces that horrible thump. So it will be off the the repair shop and hope the problem is fixable and in time for me to finish a second quilt. I have a top and back already prepared. Who knows why it got set away. I can sandwich it while I am without machine. I also have a lot of blocks to trim. Plenty to do for the duration.

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Sending Quilts to Texas?

Quilting and knitting friends, this is important information–know when, where, and how to donate!

Catbird Quilt Studio

The hurricane disaster in Texas may displace people from more than 100,000 homes for at least several weeks. They need housing, food, water, and some way to replace all the goods lost to water damage, or simply washed or blown away. Should you send replacement items? Should you send quilts?

It’s tempting, isn’t it? A quilt is a tangible item to show your concern, to offer both comfort and warmth. I’ve already seen a number of requests for quilts for Texans. I’ve also seen one of those requests in a Facebook group called a fraud, and deleted after the group moderator couldn’t affirm its legitimacy.

In the past I’ve made quilts to give post-disaster. But unless a disaster is local, I won’t do it again. Why not? Very simply, if a community is facing the scale of tragedy that Houston and other Texas cities are facing, figuring out how…

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Political Art, Abstract Art

Sometimes a blog post is a way to place a marker for articles I want to refer back to later. This is one of those.

People who have read this blog for a while know of my interest in abstract design. A short look back for new followers: This was my first attempt (ignoring the fact that most traditional quilts are abstract).

finished quilt

24 x 30

It started with a photograph of my street.  (Its history, reverse order, starts here.)

Then there was “Hole in the Safety Net,” which started as mere shapes and evolved into concept.

feb cla draft 2

And was helped by title to make a statement beyond what mere shapes could say. Its history is here along with a link to the finished product.

Enough background. On to the articles.

The first responds to an exhibit of abstract works of 12 black female artists and tells of their struggle to be recognized in a white male art world, a world where even black art critics considered abstract art to be white art. “Women of Color Find Their Rightful Place in the History of American Abstraction.

The second does two things. It places black artists firmly in both abstract and political (racial in this context) camps and makes a profound statement about race: “How to Embed a Shout: A New Generation of Black Artists Contends with Racism.”

And the statement: “Adrienne Edwards, curator at Performa, the Walker Art Center, and a scholar who has written a good deal about Pendleton’s work, professes: ‘Blackness is the original abstraction; people are living abstractions, meaning [they are] made up, conjured.’ Yes. I have to agree. For others, this sign of dark skin might symbolize anything and its opposite: strength, weakness, triumph, and debacle, membership or exile. The racial imaginary conditions all of us raised under its auspices to project onto black people one’s fears or desires, so that it becomes difficult to be seen as a human being rather than a space for projection. Lowery Stokes Sims, a curator and former director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, adds the historical fact: ‘If you take the track that abstraction came out of African art, then we are just claiming our birthright.’

“Blackness is the original abstraction”: think on that . . .

And yes, I remember that I promised to do the whiteness syllabus (here); it is still on the back burner where my subconscious can work on it while I finish up a few other projects.

 

 

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Thread Color on Welcome “Blanket”

Six blocks are quilted using an Angela Walters approach (so it is taking longer than an all-over design would.) I’d considered all-over paisley, then thought this was a great time to try custom quilting a slightly different design on each block.

As I usually do, I started in the center.

40 center q

Most quilting designs here are Angela Walters inspired. The center is from her first Shape by Shape book. (I don’t remember how she named the nesting squares.) Yep, I know the center isn’t square–I stitched the square then did the design.  I’d decided that the nesting square would be in each block as a unifying feature. The pear print prompted paisley after outlining them. This block was done with thread that matched the brown background.

The edge blocks are quilted with light beige thread, Aurofil 50 weight. Another of Angela’s ideas is that a single color of 50-weight thread will sink in and not show contrast much.  It speeds things up by eliminating thread changes. So I tried it.

My first thought, while quilting, was that it doesn’t hide well enough.

40 red close q

The center here begins to show how bold the thread looks up close (though in real life it is much more of a contrast). I began to think Angela had misled me, or maybe I had more contrast than she had intended. Then I saw it from a distance.

40 quilted stars

And the thread was much less visible. I think when the quilt is washed the thread will be even less visible.

For unity, I decided not to use too many different motifs. So I limited myself to spiral, pebble, and paisley at first. Those didn’t quite fit the background of the star to the right, so I did a  modified feather with pebbles at the one edge.  And I added ribbon candy to some of the wider log cabin like strips that don’t show here.

I tried to do as few stops and starts as possible so combined outlining he points with moving into the background, something I couldn’t have done had I been changing colors of thread.

Here’s a look at the two blocks with similar brown fabric.

40 two browns close q

The lighter thread does a pretty good job of disappearing.

Three blocks and binding yet to do and a welcome letter to write. Luckily the due date has been extended to November 7.

First post about this quilt with information about the Welcome Blanket project here.

You can view the project’s progress at the Twitter site and (if you live near Chicago) find days to go and knit or sew at the Smart Museum installation of welcome blankets. https://twitter.com/WelcomeBlanket

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August 6 and August 9

August 6, the day Little Boy fell on Hiroshima, and August 9, the day Fat Man fell on Nagasaki, have become haunting days for me. Oblivious until the 80s, I became involved when Church Women United planned a Ribbon project. They sought a mile’s worth of individual yard-long muslin pieces decorated with a peace message to be held hand to hand around the pentagon.  More than a mile of ribbon and people converged on Washington.DC for that march.

For me the most profound part of that weekend was sitting in the park across from the White House observing the annual moment of silence concurrent with the people of Hiroshima at exactly the time, their time, the bomb had fallen..

That moment has been surpassed by this year’s installation, Suspended Moment. It’s the first time I’ve attended an installation enacted and not just one in a museum with a continual loop video.  The artist, a third generation Hiroshima survivor, made a sculpture, a cloth version, to size, of Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb. She made it from silk from her grandmother’s kimono studio and stitched her hair into it to meld the generations.

D setting

The installation, lasted half an hour. The action was a poem read at the beginning and end that consisted of words from Obama’s speech at Hiroshima. Single words. First in English then in Japanese, as chanted dialog, each word repeated several times. The two walking toward each other, then together, then apart. “Mirror.” “Suffering.” “We look.”  “We survive,”  “We survive fear.”  (I don’t remember them all.) In between a butoh dance (somewhat like mime). In the Q and A afterwards, the choreographer said he’d aimed to create moments rather than a narrative, moments like combing hair, putting on lipstick. And there were more obvious moments of fear.

Dance 1
The sound was part vocal and part computerized music, haunting, along with occasional voices of children playing and an almost continual drone of planes.

Suspended Moment has been performed at Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, and at Hanford, where nuclear waste is awaiting cleanup.
The atrocity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings (and all the health/environmental aspects of nuclear programs) is certainly one of the “Never again” moments of history. To that end, 122 nations recently ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (info here and here)

It is not a big surprise that the nuclear holding nations boycotted the negotiations. However, the hope is that making nuclear as illegal as biological and chemical weapons will change the discussion. To that end we can communicate with our representatives.

The memorial event was sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility . They are concerned with other problems (“we must prevent what we cannot cure”) as well and are worth following.

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