Thursday, October 29, 2009

Emotions in Fabric by Nina Lise Moen of Stavanger, Norway

Mrs. Moen's art quilt Hot and Cold in the Blogger's Quilt Show touched me while telling me things I never knew. I can't get it out of my mind. Her choices when translating her story into fabric -- so perfect. The symbolism subtle but again, so meaningful and poignant. I have of course heard detailed accounts of anorexia, but Mrs. Moen's depiction of it seemed to finally get through to me what exactly this disease does. How it not only melts away the body's reserves, it eats away, leaving holes in the fabric of a life. I don't know if that is what she had in mind. But that's what I took away. The choice of background color further re-enforces emotions. I will forever see that quilt whenever anyone mentions the disease. Mrs. Moen's ability to turn complex issues and emotional topics into exquisitely simple clean designs intrigues me. Her Class Picture quilt also makes quick work of deep seated emotions with a playful style.

I'm so pleased to introduce you to Mrs. Nina Lise Moen.

Welcome to Subversive Stitchers! -- Dawn

My name is Nina Lise Moen. I’m 47 years old, and live in Stavanger, Norway where I share my life with my husband, our grown up daughter and our 2½ year old grandson.

I come from a long line of creative and highly skilled needle workers and seamstresses as both my mother and grandmothers have been avid crafters. I have been knitting, crocheting and embroidering for as long as I can remember, and have made my own designs and knitting patterns since I was a teenager. Now I am a textile artist, designing Mrs, Moen quilting patterns  and teaching workshops.

With a background previously in finance and the corporate world, this 11 year long journey into the textile arts has taken my life into a quite different direction.

Quilting in Norway

We have a long crafting tradition in Norway like embroidery of bunads (our national dress, of which I have made a Rogalandsbunad), Rosemaling, Hardanger embroideryLusekofte knitting, and traditional akel weaving.
When it comes to patchwork and quilting, we are highly influenced by the American quilting industry, and to some extent the German and Japanese. Even though our patchwork history has been well documented, it was not something everybody’s grandmother did.

We don’t have Norwegian quilting fabric, but there are interior fabrics with Norwegian design, some of them suitable for quilting. Even though we mainly use American fabrics, the choice of colours and colour combinations are often different. We have quite a few Norwegian quilting books authors and pattern designers, some of them with their own distinct style, others more influenced by American design. As we use duvets for bedding, we use our larger quilts for bedspreads. Smaller projects like table runners, pillows and bag are highly popular.

Guilds are a large part of quilting life all over the world and also in Norway, with traditional quilt guilds and Husflidslag. I am so lucky to be part of two; the regional guild, in which I serve my 4th year on the board, and 1st year as the leader, and a small informal group.

My work

At some point quilting evolved from being something I do, into a part of who I am. While I still do other kinds of fibre art, my main medium is quilts. I don’t work in any particular style, but enjoy making different kinds of quilts.

Always up for a challenge, I do a lot of experimenting with design and materials. I get an idea, and then figure out how to translate it into fibre. The design evolves as the work progresses, and I enjoy this process even more than the finished project. Often working in series, the focus might change with the ups and downs of my life, but the final product is always a reflection of me.

I love turning scraps of fabric into fun, small quilts, of which “But I have nothing to wear” and “Dance in the rain” are two favourites (pictured here.)

I also work with quilting as art therapy.

These are rather personal stories. One of them is “Hot and Cold; 7 and 1/2 years," which I entered into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival this fall. It was made for the European Quilt Association’s Suitcase exhibition. (See first photo above) “Hot and Cold..." tells the story of being a mom during a daughter’s illness.

Part of artist’s statement: “7 1/2 years ago, at the age of 11, my precious daughter got anorexia. She hit rock bottom two years later, when she did not even have enough energy to keep up her body temperature, and spent most of her time in a chair, wrapped up in one of her favourite quilts

At the age of 19, still struggling on and off, she is a brave, smart, strong and independent young woman - a truly genuine person - on her way out in the world. I’m so proud of her!”

It was quite a challenge getting each figure just the right size and in the right position, so that they seem to walk and drag the most fragile ones over the surface and into the future. You can read more about the quilt here.

“Class picture” is another favourite of mine. It started out as a hand appliqué project, and grew from there.

Artist’s statement: “A class is very much like a quilt; bits and pieces making up a whole. When you look closer, you’ll see the differences in backgrounds, styles and personalities; and who’s not fitting in.

You’ll find me in the back, by the window with the other oddballs; bright and shining.”

The quilt was a part of the exhibition at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England in 2007. You can read more about the quilt here.

Currently -- I’m taking my first art class learning to paint with acrylics. It is so much fun with just the right amount of theory and lots of playing with colours and textures.

-- I'm working on finishing UFOs and find a lot of inspiration in old projects and taking them into another direction.

-- I’m falling into a much slower pace with hand quilting using pearl cotton. My last finished quilt is “If I lay here”, which is a whole cloth quilt painted with fabric paints and quilted with pearl cotton.

-- I’m working on woollen projects like this bag (photo and detail photo) made from a knitted and matted self made material with appliquéd and embroidered circles.

-- I’m finishing my Christmas patterns and preparing for a workshop I will teach in November.

If you would like to know more about me and my work, visit me at MrsMoen


Robin said...

I will send out positive thoughts for your daughter having had my own struggles with anorexia. Your quilt depicts it very well. The 'cold' can be more than the physical: Cold can be how you feel society sees you or you feel society treats you (uncaring/invisible). Thanks for a peek into your world and Thanks, Dawn for bringing it to us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Moen,

Your work is intriguing--such simple shapes combined with bold colors holds a lot of visual power!

Best wishes for your daughter's good health,

Linda Laird

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

Thank you so much, Robin and Linda, for leaving such kind comments and well wishes here at Subversive Stitchers.

I am happy (probably not the right word..) that my quilt touches others, even if I made it as a way to deal with the whole thing myself. I have to add that I did ask my daughter’s permission to tell our story, and she was only happy I would do it. Some stories just need to be told.