Saturday, July 31, 2010
Step into Ellen Anne Eddy's World
"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.
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.
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.