Monday, April 23, 2012

When Will They See?

I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen 
when company comes,
but I laugh,
and eat well,
and grow strong.

I'll sit at the table 
when company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen."

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes published this poem in 1926.  It is as poignant now as it was then.  With all of the fear and suspicion still directed at black men, I know that "tomorrow" has not yet come.

This poem provided the inspiration for my current work-in-progress, which will be included in an upcoming Fiber Artists for Hope exhibit.  My teenage son is smart, charming, talented, and handsome.  When he goes out, however, people see "just" another black kid.  When will they see how beautiful he is?

Fabrics for "When Will They See?"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Art Quilt Haiku

Thread falls on the floor.
Fabric scraps, some batting, too
Quilt is almost done.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Art Quilter's Haiku for Poetry Month

A General Statement on My Workspace

Fabric, fabric, thread.
Wonder-under, thread, fabric.
Where are my scissors?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Honoring Gran, Part 2

After my initial enthusiasm at being asked to create something to honor my grandmother, reality set in.  How was I going to capture my Gran in fabric?  Not only that, but this wasn't just about her being my grandmother, but about her commitment to the Links.

What to do?

My mother, two aunts, and one of my cousins served as an informal focus group as I bounced ideas around.  At one point I even had an idea in a dream that was so bad I had to share it with my mother, just for laughs. I don't remember what it was now, but it was hilariously bad.

I did not want to do a portrait of my grandmother, but I did want to represent her.  We all agreed that the finished piece had to contain the color red, which was Gran's favorite.  The Links use the white rose as their flower, so there had to be at least one white rose.  And this is Texas we're talking about, so a yellow rose, too. And maybe one of Gran's favorite quotes.

I thought I had decided on a red vase with white roses and one yellow rose, with perhaps a quote incorporated in the quilting.  Everyone agreed that this seemed like a winner.

Honoring Gran, take 1
Then I started working on it.

As frequently happens when I am creating, the piece started dictating what it wanted.  I didn't feel the friendship coming from what was essentially a still life, so I thought I would add a woman.  One woman alone does not convey friendship, so it had to be two women.  I made sky for the background -- they would be at an outdoor table.  Since this was Gran, one of the women would be wearing red.  The vase would be white.  The result is at right.

The white rose against that pale sky was going to need some rethinking, but otherwise I was pretty pleased with it.  Unfortunately, that red was an issue.  The Links use the colors green and white.  Red is associated with a different group, one that my grandmother did not belong to.  I had not considered that as I merrily traipsed down the artistic path.  Since I could not simply swap red clothes for green clothes (try it, it doesn't work) I started over.

This is the finished piece.

"Love Never Ends" Jacqueline Bryant Campbell, 2012

I quilted the names of the other Fort Worth charter members into the hair of one woman, with Gran's parents, husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren quilted into the other woman's hair and the background.

Name quilted into background fabric

My Gran was a very loving woman.  Some of her favorite readings were about love, particularly The Prophet and 1 Corinthians 13. Excerpts from those works are stitched into the lighter green dress.

The title of the piece, "Love Never Ends," is taken from 1 Cor 13:8.  Gran loved her family and led by example.  Just as she surrounded us in her love, now we do the same for others.  Love never ends, indeed.

Love never ends, quilted into "Love Never Ends"
Jacqueline Bryant Campbell, 2012