Tuesday, January 7, 2014

influences: Nancy Crow

Another formative influence on my quilting practice is Nancy Crow.
My first forays into quiltmaking were copies of traditional designs and perhaps a slight alteration of a traditional design. I just hadn't thought much about art quilts. I started taking classes and, like any exposure to learning, my horizons were stretched. 

Nancy taught a class at Quilting by the Lake on basic structural design. She taught us that a composition has to work in black, whites and shades of grey before we can add colors. The structure has to stand up for itself. 

She is a fantastic teacher and pushed us all out of our comfort zones for three days. She taught me to leap past the traditional designs and trust my own creativity. I'd love to show some pictures of her work (where would I start?), but I respect her copyright on her images. Check her out on Google images. 

She also gave me new insight into fabric selection. Until that point, I had collected any fabric anyone was willing to part with, or anything that looked "pretty" when I had some cash in a fabric store. I had a mess of boxes of inappropriate fabric. Nancy showed pictures of her studio in a huge old barn in the Midwest, with piles of carefully organized fabric that she was actually going to use. I pitched most of my boxes of junky fabric and got very fussy about curating the fabric stash.

The third thing I learned in Nancy's workshop is that she outsourced the actual quilting after she had finished the quilt top. While I do all my own stitching, I was impressed that she focused on the quilt design and didn't have any qualms about having professional quilters finish the non-design work. It's about taking the design creation seriously and not wasting time on work that doesn't move forward one's design practice.

Me (in my Jo Diggs dress, in 1987) with the prizewinning quilt I made after Nancy's class, hung in a show at Schweinfurth Art Center.