Friday, April 13, 2007

Asian? Zen? Prairie?

What are Asian colors? What does "Zen" mean? What about the lines associated with Frank Lloyd Wright and his Prairie style? Asian architecture isn't exactly linear, is it? Just think about the lines of a pagoda. I'm afraid that Pottery Barn and Pier One have defined for me things that are Asian, Zen, and Prairie into a style that I should probably call Pottery One or Pier Barn. So I do have a sort of gestahlt that is emerging for Rachel's Wall Hanging.

Rachel is one of my Kennedy colleagues and someone who is on the frontline at Kennedy in the English classroom. Her students are lucky to have her because of her patience, her world view, and her respect for all. Rachel along with Susan, Corinne, Tanya and Deborah worked along side of me with our grant from the Fry Foundation, and I have a deep fondness for each one of these women. Corinne has a Christmas Tree wall hanging. Susan has a colorful log cabin that I made for her wedding - it's on the front page of my web site. I made buddy Tanya a log cabin wall hanging quilt when she bought her condo in Bronzeville. I willed Deb a piece I originally made for my Kennedy offiice, Amish Jewels, and offered to donate to the Kennedy Art Auction. It didn't get a bid, but it did wind up in Deb's house when I retired.

So, back to Rachel. She bought her first place, a condo in Oak Park, in 2005. She's been saving her Dining Room wall for me. I've known all along what I've wanted to do, but it's been one of those projects that's had a hard time gettng out of my head. The trip to Beijing in March, 2007, helped to solidify the whole "Asian" theme for Rachel. A color palette of reds, greens, black-browns, and neutrals. Strong lines with a vanishing point. Touches of bamboo and the Great Wall. New techniques like fabric weaving, pleat tacking, and raw-edge applique. Midway through the project I met with Rach to show her what I had. The one sure-fire piece in my mind used a lot a red and was a variantion on the Kimono theme. And it was the first one Rachel eliminated because of all the reds in her living room. And all along I was thinking to use brown to unify these 6 little mini-quilts. One meeting with Rachel made me realize that black - or perhaps a brown-black, should be the unifying color.

I'm excited about this wall hanging for Rachel. It's been a wonderful leap from my safety zone. Each one of the techniques I've used in this quilt is something I want to try again - and again.

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