Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Statement from: Sunbonnet Sue in trouble

Sunbonnet Sue in Trouble Melissa Vogley Woods

Ohio Art League Curated by Helma Groot


For the last several years I have worked with quilt patterns as a source for the content in my work, both visually and symbolically. This project focuses on the pattern Sunbonnet Sue.

I became interested in the Sunbonnet Sue quilt several years ago when stumbling upon an old Cutter Quilt (Cutter refers to the undesirable state of the quilt, good for cutting up) and was immediately attracted to the anonymous figure and its potential conceptual content hidden in this historical and traditional quilt pattern. Could such a cordial American symbol laden with nostalgia be a metaphor for contemporary society?

The original pattern is made up of small characters that are usually portrayed in a grid layout, in multiples and tucked safely into their own quilt block. The repetition in the original format of the Sunbonnet Sue character, tweaked my interest in singles, multiples, and masses of people, and the various struggles, hopes, and complexities of community, society, and power.

Using Sunbonnet Sue’s intrinsically symbolic form as a metaphor of Icon and Persona I blend representational natural and man-made elements, such as garbage bags, screeching warning birds, shopping cars, foxes and the corralled and dispersed figures to create human camouflage, towers, piles, partners, problems, and peace.

These works fluctuate between fabric and painting from small to large with the tactile reality of paint and stitch, to create an analogy of fine art and craft. Also presented is a piece that is to be worked on by the public, a recorder of this time and place, an Urban Quilting Bee. I invite all to quilt on this piece as a hands-on investigation of the quilt and what it means to society, past and present.

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