Women’s Work, a masterwork that has consumed, and fed, my artistic spirit for the last year and half, may finally be coming to an end. This journey started in September 2019, when I was approached by a representative from the Clinton Foundation about creating an art quilt for Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, Women’s Rights. This is an exhibit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the US. Originally scheduled to open at the Clinton Presidential Library in September 2020, COVID-19 delayed the opening 1 year. Not to diminish the devastating effects of this virus, but isolating at home gave me the opportunity to create the most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted.
What do you want to do?
This question stopped me in my tracks. Initially, I couldn’t decide on a single person or event to celebrate in my work; there are just too many options. The more I researched, the more difficult the decision became. Finally, inspired by Raphael’s painting, School of Athens, I realized that I could create a piece celebrating the work of dozens of women whose voices and deeds have contributed to the fight for women’s votes, rights, and equality.
In my mind, I saw a gathering of women representing a variety of time periods and vocations, and gifts. I would group them by theme to demonstrate how women’s work has progressed through the centuries, with each generation building on the progress of the previous.
Now, this was a bold, big idea, and big ideas need big space, so I decided to make the piece 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall. The unintended consequences of this decision are fodder for a future blog post titled “Bloopers and Blunders”.
How Do You Eat an Elephant?
Having a vision for Women’s Work, and knowing how to bring that vision to fruition are two very different things. My progress stalled as I just couldn’t decide what to do next. The project was enormous; something like eating an elephant.
One Bite at a Time.
Finally, in November 2019, this vision took off in 2 directions. First, create an appropriate setting
for the composition. Second, choose the women to be represented in the quilt. The project started to disaggregate into bite size pieces, and I found a way forward. Hungry for progress, I began to devour the tasks.
On physically active days, I drew a life-sized pattern and built structures from fabric. I discovered that organza made a great glass ceiling, as pillars morphed into caryatids. All the while, insufficient amounts of fabric prompted creative design decisions.
On mentally active days, I researched women and their achievements. Going “old school”, I
wrote information about each woman on a 3×5 notecards. Over and over, I laid them out, rearranged,, stacked, and paper clipped them.
Now, with Women’s Work is nearly complete, I’m impatient to share what I have done. Please, subscribe to this blog to get the full story. (A pop up window will appear when you leave this page.) In the months to come, I’ll share essays about the women who are depicted in the work, (there are more than 50) and tell you more stories about how the quilt was made. Later, when the conditions are right, I invite you will join me to see the quilt in person.