Saturday, July 31, 2010

Step into Ellen Anne Eddy's World

Ever since my first glimpse of Ellen Anne Eddy's world, I've wished I could simply step into her art and become a part of it. There's something so pure and inviting -- magical. She creates a stress-free and other worldly place. And yet, she tells us -- not really so far away. Please welcome a dear sweet friend, although we've never met, I have felt her caring and compassion and smile so I call her friend. One of my all time favorite fabric artists, Ellen Anne Eddy! -- Dawn

"It's not just what you're born with

It's what you choose to bear

It's not how big your share is

But how much you can share

And it's not the fights you dreamed of

But those you really fought

It's not what you've been given

It's what you do with what you've got". Si Khan

"A real artist can draw on a fence with a berry" Tim Powers, Reach for the Sky.

You've asked me how I arrived at my very different kind of quilting. I'm used to hearing that I'm an artist. I don't attach much to that because I truly believe it's simple human birthright. If we are a human being we have the seed germ of all the creative possibilities. We are from the beginning a potential dancer, singer, gardener, story teller, drummer, and of course, artist. After years of teaching I've come to the conclusion that the gift is everywhere. Sometimes it focuses in verbal ability and sometimes it focuses visually. But the gift is universal.

You asked about the stories. I don't really tell the stories. The stories tell me.

It doesn't happen always.Many quilts are simply an exercise in color or form or a new technique. If you never build those, your art is sadly stuck, so that's not a bad thing. But those quilts never have the same power. You would think it would be just for big or important quilts, but it doesn't work that way either. I'll see an image I have to work with and it simply won't let me alone. So I start, usually by embroidering the major images separately. Then somewhere, within the process or sometimes even after, I get this flash and I can see what it's about.

I believe the images we have to work with, the ones that are out of our truest voice and self are always about us in some way. In my case, I'm trying to make sense of my world and my place in it.

It helps to understand that I really do see people as my creatures. Not in a negative way. I just do. I often see myself as a fish or frog or bug, which is why I keep coming back to those images. It's about ecosystem, socially and politically. It's about social comprehension. I just don't comprehend it while I'm making it.

Balcony Scene was a case in point. I'd seen this fabulous picture of a frog nestled in a calla lily. I ended up for reasons I still can't say, drawing two frogs, one in the lily, one reaching up to it. I was a good month into the quilt when my godson came to visit.

Tom is as much my kid as he is his mom's. He's a grown and lovely man by now, but for some reason, he's always come to visit me and been willing to play in whatever puddle I was in at the time. At one point he moved 500 pounds of Sams's Choice ( and I don't mean Sam's Choice potatoes) into a new garden bed. The upshot of all of this was that he can have whatever he wants. It usually boils down to designer root beer and cookies.

He came to visit me from his school. He told me he was bringing a friend. That was not exactly it. He'd found his love and he was bringing her home to me.

As he walked her through the garden gate, I looked down at the girl from my studio steps and saw myself, a bit tougher, certainly younger, definitely smarter. After we got her inside and she saw the waiting root beer, cookies, and pork roast she said, "Is this what Episcopal godmothers are like?" Tom and I both laughed and I said, " No dear, this is just what happened." She stared him down and said,"You are so spoiled! " True enough. I'd done my best.

Then she said to me,"How do you get to be a godchild?"" If you ask, you are." I said.

It's a good thing they like each other. It's a good thing. They're both mine in the way every child who needs you is. I knew he'd marry someone. The last thing I expected him to do was bring me a friend when he did.

Then I looked at my quilt. My green bean leg-long godson.And this Zaftig girl with an iron will and a golden heart. And my frogs, standing in their stead. I knew the quilt I had started had told me they were coming. And the blue butterflies surrounding them had begun my wishes for their joy. I don't tell the stories. The stories tell me.

copyright 2003 ”Balcony Scene” 30” x 36 “ Irregularly shaped. Hand-dyed cotton, and novelty brocade, hand painted organza and cheesecloth, direct appliqué, machine embroidered appliqué nylon threads, machine embroidered, and quilted, rayon, metallic.

The pictures of Tom and Sarah are at the ren fair and with Finnie, the newest greyhound in my pack.

For more of Ellen's work and world and thoughts on life and everything, visit her blog: Thread Magic Studio.


Laura Krasinski said...

That was a touching story. I think I could spend hours, no days listening to you. I loved your lecture in Rosemont and would have come back for the second one if I wouldn't have had to leave so suddenly. Next time for sure. Thanks for sharing another piece of your life and philosophy.

Virginia Greaves said...

You're right -- I see them in the frogs. The personality is definitely there. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Beautiful. Thank you so much for posting this.

Quilt Art said...

Truly a great story. I always enjoy reading such wonderful posts.