Category Archives: creativity

Racial Art Challenge

I have been exploring quilting as art; I have been exploring art as protest; I have been exploring racism and whiteness. Into that mix comes the challenge to Make a work of art about race as a white person in America. 

Not a challenge to a single work nor to a juried show, but a syllabus for personal reflection manifested (or not) in art production. A way of rethinking traditional art about race.

Instead of waiting till I have an idea to post, I am posting now in case some of my readers also want to do this exploration. Some of you are not in America; some of you are not white. I leave it to you to explore/make art that fits your situation.

6/6/17 ETA links to a different art installation and issues of representation as it relates to “Scaffold” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.  The articles tell the intent and the unintended impact and the removal of the piece. And several responses of art critics.

The first article and a quotation from it.:

The issue of the identity of the artist presenting work about a trauma that is not her or his own recalls the recent controversy around Dana Schultz’s painting of Emmet Till in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Schutz was criticized for depicting a historic trauma and creating an abstracted portrait of Till’s corpse. Schutz’s work was partly criticized for seeking to represent African American trauma, which many people considered problematic coming from a white woman. Both controversies bring up questions about whether or not white artists can create work about the pain of communities they do not belong to, and whose voices should be elevated to speak about the atrocities of our history.

The second article and a quotation from it:

At the same press conference, Viso admitted that the Walker’s process in placing “Scaffold” in the Garden had been flawed. “I apologize that we were not sufficiently aware of the implications of its placement or sympathetic to the pain and suffering that it would elicit,” she said. The disconnect that left both the artist and the Walker oblivious to the sculpture’s potentially painful meaning for Dakota and Native people speaks to the need for Native people to tell their own stories, as many Native critics have pointed out over the last two weeks.

“We need to tell our own narrative,” Rafael Gonzales, an anti-Dakota Access Pipeline activist and a descendent of the Dakota 38 +2, said in an email. “If non-Native allies are willing to teach our history, it is crucial that they spend time with our people and consult with us on appropriate ways of doing so.”

And the comments of art critics.

My source for these three was the June 6 emailing from Hyperallergic. I see from their website that there is an update.

Perhaps the bottom line is to listen and consult when tempted to represent another culture. Or as in the first “syllabus,” to focus on one’s own culture.

6/27/17 ETA a link to a counter argument. To what extent is

Endeavoring to make art from another person’s pain isn’t the same as cultural appropriation, but such pursuits, as generally conceived today, share a relationship to notions of identity-based ownership—of certain histories, certain cultural expressions. But while a different culture’s history shouldn’t be declared categorically off-limits to an artist, there are meaningful questions of quality, context, understanding, power, and purpose to be considered—and, along those lines, each work of art must be evaluated on its own terms.

Just why isn’t it appropriation? Perhaps I need a more nuanced understanding of “appropriation.”  The question isn’t answered in the review of the novel. But articles are cited, articles and books that I need to read because they deal with abstract art and social critique. Though applied to African American art, it seems they could be extended to all abstract art. All this in a review of a novel by Percival Everett, So Much Blue. I will admit to having read none of his work, but now I want to. More to ponder.



Filed under creativity, design, social issues

Saltwater Taffy Revisited

Today is Friday, and as I considered which project to get out, the various “finish” linkies helped me decide. So instead of working on “London Roads” which is no longer new and exciting, nor is it anywhere near finished, I got “Saltwater Taffy” and its binding out.

Bouncing from project to project has been called “Quilters’ ADD.” I have a new perspective from having read How to Steal Like an Artist. Kleon advises, “When you get sick of one project, move over to another, and when you’re sick of that one, move back to the project you left. Practice productive procrastination” (65). “Productive procrastination,” I like that a lot better.

So, here is the finished look.

The sun was just right to show the quilting.  For those new to the blog, the quilt’s history: Beginning, Piecing the Back, Quilting.

I had a little over 1/2 yard of binding left, so it goes into this pile:

box of binding bits

I’ve seen several scrappy quilts bound with leftovers, so I started to save them. Maybe one quilt or maybe a light and a dark. Time will tell. Linking with Oh Scrap!  for these binding bits. (The quilt is also made from scraps, but has been shown before.)

And  linking with three finished linkies: LAFF,TGIFF, and Finish it up Friday.


Filed under creativity, quilting

Around the World Blog Hop

Moira McSpadden of The Quilted Snail has tagged me to play in this blog hop. Moira and I met in two online quilt groups, Sunshine and Our Quilting Beehive–the Buzz, a Google group. The latter holds annual Swarms, so we also got to meet F2F.  Moira designs blocks, leads Quilt A Longs, and makes some fantastic quilts. Do visit her site.

1. What am I working on? First, let’s agree to omit the box of WIPs and the other box of To-Be-Quilteds. I am planning an ocean-beach themed quilt that is currently in the hunting and gathering stage, soon to be in the drafting stage.  I am currently making dolly quilts for my traditional guild’s Christmas project, the Firefighter’s Toy and Joy project. I have this Leader-and-Ender project that is ongoing (based on this tutorial).

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I am not sure it does differ.  “My genre” is “eclectic”: I like it all. And I dabble in traditional, modern, and art quilts.

I try to keep my art quilts quilty (i. e., no paint) and my traditional quilts arty in the selection of pattern and color. So when I shift groups, my work could seem different from others in one genre while being ho-hum in the other.  I have given myself a challenge that may be different: I want to design modern quilts that use traditional fabrics because I have this 12 tub thing called a stash.  I bought up fabric when I was working so I would have it when I retired to a fixed income. I did not plan for the change in fabric design over the years. Another possibly unique act: I do my free motion quilting on a Featherweight.

3. Why do I write/create what I do? I enjoy the processes of designing, piecing (rarely applique), and quilting. So long as I have a photo of a quilt, I can easily part with it. Some go to family, some to friends, some to charity (Wrap a Smile, Quilts Beyond Borders,Wrap Them in Love, and various local guild projects). Some go to friends and family, and maybe someday I’ll sell some. I do keep a couple for myself. I write because I enjoy it.  My blog is mostly about quilting design, occasionally about books I have read, travel (local and distant) and my grandson, who happens to be quite photogenic.  A blog is better than a traditional quilt journal for a couple reasons.  It is easier to link photos to words for documenting quilts. It becomes part of the ongoing contemporary quilters’ dialog. It allows me to learn through comments as well as share with others. Mostly, I value the friendships that spring up through comments that become conversations.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I have several starting points for quilts: challenges, photos, browsing traditional block possibilities, themes, or sometimes starting with a favorite fabric. The more restrictive a challenge is, the better. When they are too open ended, they aren’t rally a challenge. I think my favorite challenge was a crayon challenge where we reached in a bag and drew out two crayons and had to make a quilt using only those two colors. I groaned when I drew brown and cranberry.

Crayon challenge lap quilt

37 x 45.5

But I was happy with the result. Examples of quilts designed  from photos are  here and here. I love samplers and started one on a poultry theme.   After pulling red,blue and yellow fabrics to unify the various blocks, I searched my various lists of traditional quilt block patterns and started making one of each block that had poultry in the name.  It is currently hibernating while I decide what to do with blocks with more than one name.  Shall I make duplicates for Hen and Chicks, Duck and Ducklings, and Goose and Goslings when they refer to the same block? Shall I have a consistent color for each type poultry? Let’s see if I can import a photo from Flickr. (Ah the limits of my technical abilities; all I can give you is a link.)

I work in a variety of way as well.  Sometimes I draft first. Sometimes I make blocks first. Sometimes there is no block and I make templates: for Weighty Reflections I taped newspaper to get 40 x 60 and made full-size templates. No matter how I start, I allow the design to change as I go. There is something about seeing the design in fabric that jogs ideas in a way that sketching and thinking don’t. I have tried electronic quilt design programs, but  I find I spend more time trying to figure out how to draw what I want to make than it would take to pencil it on graph paper. If I could get the basic up, I’d like the ability to view different color ways. Maybe someday.

Now let me pass the baton to Tam of Quiltcharette. She designs some very interesting quilts and posts interesting questions for discussion.  You don’t have to wait for September 29, her blog hop day, to visit. Go now.


Filed under creativity

Brain Stuck?

Out of ideas? Take a walk. Click the title to see a study that shows that walking increases creativity.

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May 5, 2014 · 8:10 am

More Sand in the City

I made it back to Pioneer Courthouse Square for a better look at the sand sculpture. Not only was the light mostly better, but I could get closer now.  Off to the side, sculpture was still being created, so those who had not been here yesterday could see the process. Children could still play in the sand.

If there was a theme, I couldn’t fine the information. I did learn that the second place, the silver rake, had gone to “On the Right Track(s)” that I has pictured yesterday, created by OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). The third place, the bronze bucket, went to “Nemo.”


I think this one was “Nemo.”

If anyone else posts a different “Nemo,” believe them.

bear in grass skirtThe hula bear was fun; notice the ocean wave to her left, the bear tanning on the beach and the swimmers up front.

Ocean wave detailHere is a better look at the ocean wave.

bear and squirrelNote the different textures that were created.

mice and cheeseI expected this one to be “Who Moved My Cheese,” but it was “Don’t be Cheesy.” Cute mice.

boy and trainThe dog patiently waits while the boy plays with his train.

Front view of boy and trainThe other side of the boy and his train. The train was headed to Hillsboro, and we have a light-rail train that indeed ends its route at Hillsboro, but beyond that I don’t know of any significance. It would be nice to have stories somewhere, like artist statements at exhibitions.

front view of alligator under bedHere is a better view than yesterday’s of the alligator under the bed. The title, I learned, was “Imagination is my Super Power.”

campers and fireThe title of this one is “Please Don’t Feed the Bears.” The campers sit by their camp fire oblivious to the two bears driving their car away.  I didn’t take a photo of the bears because they had lost their noses. It was the only casualty I noticed. I was actually surprised there wasn’t some spraying of water to help preserve the sculptures–they will be up tomorrow too.

detail of campfireThe campfire creation was impressive; inside the flames was hollow.

It was definitely worth a second trip to me. I hope you think so too.

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Filed under creativity, Portland OR

Sand in the City

Today’s excursion was to the beach     downtown Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square for Sand in the City. I would like to have seen the pile of sand before teams moved it to their areas.

Crowds and teams

The 19 teams were identified by different colored T-shirts, creating quite a visual feast. I got there about an hour before ending time, so I got to see some action as well as the finished creations. Off to the side was a large sand filled area where young children happily played in the sand, sand-sculptors in training.

Tracks sculptureI love the serious mouth of the kid to the right.

Nike entryThis Nike entry we could recognize because they included the Swoosh. It ended up winning the Golden Shovel, the first place.

Alligator under bedThe alligator hiding under the child’s bed was my favorite. People hovered so that I never saw its real title, but it sure made me think of Where The Wild Things Are. Finished sculpturesAll finished except the clean up; waiting for the judging.

I may have to return tomorrow as there were many I could not photograph because the light wasn’t right. Summer is a great time to be in Portland.


Filed under creativity, Portland OR

An interesting story of a childhood adventure and skillful redirecting by the mom

For those who can't afford free speech

By Melissa Favara, Contributing Columnist

Forty-five minutes into the English Department subcommittee meeting on drafting a grading rubric for the English 101 final essay assignment, I folded up my notebook and made an announcement to my colleagues: “I’m sorry, but I have to go paint a ceramic owl.”

My colleagues on this committee are all non-breeders; most are younger than me and have great shoes, hip eyewear and are lovely people. They were accepting, if disappointed in my bailing early. I shrugged and said simply, “I chose to reproduce.”

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