Geography of the heart

The midsection of this work-in-progress uses a contour map print for the central form, leading me to call this and others in the series, “geography of the heart.” The embroidered word “love” below the heart underscores the theme, but in a generic and possibly saccharine way.

I was nevertheless prepared to finish it up when I came across some spoonflower fabric that used a collage (above) that I made a while back as part of the second of two sketchbook projects.

The scrappy fella silhouetted speaks of war orphans, Spanish flu orphans and children of immigrants in New York City.

More specifically, this jaunty man-boy is a stand in for my father who grew up in Woodhaven, New York (an area sometimes claimed by Queens, sometimes Brooklyn). As a teenager he worked as a runner on Wall Street. I can imagine his wiry form, his scrawny athleticism. Eventually he earned enough to attend Pratt Institute and set himself on a path out of the boroughs and into the suburbs.

Suddenly, the idea of the heart’s geography comes alive with particularly.

‘Design is working with what you have and doing the best you can to hold it together.’ Jude Hill

One of the biggest challenges for a collage-style quilter is holding onto the feeling of the piece as you adhere the components. Things that are overlaid in the design phase may lose an element of spontaneity or positioning or something when pieced. On the other hand, if elements are simply stitched down, they may not relate well enough to each other.

Problem one: to lend more meaning to an otherwise generic notion of origins. Solved: by inserting scrappy fella.

Problem two: adding one overlay guy on the left (circled in red). The strip of spoonflower fabric under him will be seamed — just like the right-side panel. But the guy? If I appliqué him will he float too much? And if, on the other hand, I piece him in, will the narrow seam allowances be significant enough subtractions of pattern to disrupt what’s going on?

I’ve gone both ways with this over the years without having formed a real preference. This time, I think I’ll use appliqué.

[Couldn’t find my xerox copies of the sketchbook and so grabbed a few images from Flickr. The first two page spread below is shown two ways. It reads: When will they try to steal your liberty?

The bottom image shows the title page, “It’s Not About Me” — which was one of the themes offered that year.

You can see the entire sketchbook on their site. My user name is katydidart.

5 thoughts on “Geography of the heart

  1. snicklefritzin43

    Love the Jude quote. The choice of appliqué for the spoonflower print on the left side is to my eye perfect. The hearts geography is a winner. Looking forward to seeing the piece progress to completion.

    Reply

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