BIG, BIG news.
The Maryland State Arts Council has awarded me the MSAC Creativity Grant to support my redwork quilt project. I am over the moon! I feel this quilt is perhaps the most important thing I’ve undertaken as an artist. Its purpose goes so far beyond myself. So, I’m deeply honored and grateful to have received this grant.
Specifically, this grant will support my hand-embroidered redwork quilt depicting the 23 species declared extinct in 2021 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. I am also producing a series of accompanying quilts honoring the wildlife haven I’ve been creating in my backyard while also teaching a series of embroidery related workshops in the community.
You will feel a unique kind of heartbreak if you listen to the final recording of a bird called the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō, which is the last of its species. Its call is like an unanswered question, leaving “a void space that shows you the shape of a lover that no longer sings a reply,” according to writer Sophie Strand. “The song of the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō is the song of Orpheus. The soulful dirge of the lover whose Eurydice is gone and will not return.”
We are living through the sixth mass extinction since the dawn of life on Earth. A million species currently face extinction but, unlike the other extinction events, this one is being caused by a single species: humans, and more specifically, humans living in wealthy societies. Each block I finish in this quilt is a journey through grief over the loss of these living beings whose presence on Earth has vanished forever. While I don’t think this act exactly absolves OUR or MY responsibility, I believe remembering and holding space for the loss is a moral and spiritual responsibility.
By using this uniquely American art form to depict extinct species, I am creating a different kind of redwork while keeping to its traditional subjects. In doing so, this project contributes to the dynamic development of this folk style to meet contemporary values while belonging in the realm of taxonomy and zoological illustration.
This project is also important in the context of contemporary fiber artists using traditionally female skills to break the bonds of domestic decoration to create messages of global significance. By also celebrating life alongside loss, this project also taps into the historical healing role that quilts and fiber art have played in material culture.
Looking for Exhibition Opportunities
I look forward to continuing to share the progress of this quilt in the coming months along with the educational and exhibition opportunities.
If you have an arts or wildlife-related public space in Maryland where this quilt could be displayed, please contact me at email@example.com.
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