A true member of the hippy era, a step away from the Kent State shootings, and always, always, always, marching to her own drummer, Susan makes her voice heard, and loves fiercely. She's a true Subversive Stitchers armed with not only needles but courage and determination. And most of all she is the sweetest most generous woman I've ever had the opportunity to work with. Just know that she has a core of steel and will not stand down when it comes to defending what she believes in. We are so lucky that she has taken time to guest blog about her latest project: Philadelphia Freedom.
I believe the photos are self explanatory. The final two are of 1. Susan Shie and her Granddaughter Eva Miller and 2. Eva's depiction of her lemonade stand, etc. Another generation of the Shie talent growing before our eyes! -- Dawn
Susan Shie in Her Own Words
Lots of Baby Boom artists have designed their own Tarot decks. Mine is the Kitchen Tarot, which I decided to make, because it would allow me to work with many symbols of women, family, and nurturing. I believe that cooking for those we love is an exercise in the gift of healing, a supreme act of love. And it is my feminist choice to celebrate the strength that women pass from one generation to another, of providing for our families. Extend that out from the stove and table, to the community, the country, and the world. As the Communist Chinese used to like to say, “Women hold up half the sky.” (I think it was them!)
In making my Kitchen Tarot series of quilted paintings (art quilts), which I began in 1998, I’ve finished the 22 major cards, and am 5 art quilts into making the 56 minor cards. For the Major card quilts, I proceeded in chronological order, but for choosing which Minor card to work with next, I randomly draw a card from a traditional Tarot deck. This is because I think it would be boring to do all of one of the four suits all the way through, or one of the card numbers all the way through, etc. I like variety and surprises!
In the 13 years I’ve been making these pieces, their sizes and shapes have varied considerably, and they’ve shifted from being intensely hand stitched, mixed media, and beaded, to being very simply painted, written all over with tiny airpen writing with paint, and mostly machine, simple grid sewn. My art’s topics have shifted from being mostly personal diary imagery with a small amount of actual writing, to a mixture of personal, community, and world-events diary and imagery, with a stronger and stronger political lean since 2003.
Through the magic of Photoshop, all the actual Kitchen Tarot “cards” come out the same size, in spite of their physical disparity. The deck of my major cards coming out in August is a tidy packet of 3.5 x 5” cards, even though the actual art quilts vary from 32” to 93” high and are of varied proportions. (You can pre-order them now through Amazon)
In this blog I want to show you some aspects of the piece I began painting on April 10 and finished on June 4. “Philadelphia Freedom” is also my Kitchen Tarot card “the Two of Paring Knives.” Paring knives are my more kitchen-tooly version of standard Tarot’s Swords suit. Swords sound military and violent, but paring knives seem useful and practical. I love my paring knives in my kitchen! (My four Kitchen Tarot suits, compared to the traditional Tarot suits are: Pyrex Cups for Cups; Wooden Spoons for Wands; Potholders for Coins; and Paring Knives for Swords.)
Early on in making this Kitchen Tarot series, I would concentrate on the meaning of the traditional Tarot card and interpret it in terms of kitchen symbolism, throwing in a little personal diary, whose writing I would hand embroider over. Now I work more with current events or situations from history, lacing them with my own diary thoughts and commentary.
When the painting was finished and I’d machine quilted it, I felt I still really needed to use that stamp. It would mean a lot to me, to collaborate with Michelle in this way, plus it would be fun to take the risk of using it, when the piece was done! I had never stamped on a padded quilt before, so let’s go!!!!
To read my full statement about this piece, visit my 2010 Gallery on my Turtle Moon Studios site. When you read this statement, you’ll go through a list of some of the current events topics I wrote about, besides giving long explanations of the main event of this piece. You’ll see reference links to my airbrush painting development of the composition and to Edward Lawler, Jr’s articles about The President’s House. Please note that, though here I’ve referred to the nine people as slaves, the better term, as chosen by descendants of slavery, is “enslaved Africans,” because this shows them as who they were, before the condition of slavery, which was thrust upon them.
I think the small words now take the place of the massive amounts of small embroidery stitches I’d gotten myself into, before I got my airpen in late 2002. By 2006 my fingertips were numb from hand sewing, and I had to back off. I started switching to machine free gridwork sewing in 2004, and after the hand numbness, have almost completely stopped hand sewing. To me, it’s the messages in my work that count.
Turtle Art Camps for Summer, Fall 2010 now listed