Monday, August 4, 2008

Hanging Out With Margot Lovinger

Warren and I had a great time visiting with Margot Lovinger in Seattle. I have, in my years of learning about alternative techniques, seen an awful lot of innovation. But I have to say that I have not ever before seen anything like Margot's work.

I ask just about every artist I interview to tell me what they think about the word "quilt" as a description for what they do. Some shy away from using the term "quilt artist" to describe themselves, preferring "textile artist." This isn't so much a shunning of the craft root of quilting. Sometimes what it's about is recognizing that some gallery owners, art buyers, and museums pass unfair judgment and are immediately dismissive when they hear the term. Others embrace the word quilt and find that it opens doors for them because so many people instantly get a good feeling when they hear the word. Even if they view a portfolio of work that doesn't match the mental image that "quilt" initially conjures, the fact that that initial connection got made makes for a good start in some cases.

It's not a black and white argument, of course. And plenty of artists see both sides. As for Margot, she doesn't have a problem with the word "quilt" or, as her fellow artists in the Contemporary QuiltArt Association sometimes jokingly call it: "The Q Word." For Margot, it's just hard to come up with a term that accurately describes what she does. Does she use fabric? Check. Does she use layers? Check. Does she use stitches? Some, but not that many-- not nearly as many as most. Still, she incorporates all the basic components of quilting.

Her background is painting and her passion is figure painting. She attended both Parsons School of Design in New York and The Museum School in Boston. By her own admission, her attempts at painting figures wasn't what she wanted it to be. She fell into painting with fabric by accident. Working on a huge quilt to honor her deceased father, she created large wings comprised of thousands of "feathers" made of sheer fabric. She spotted "a piece" of fabric across her studio that was a precise color she wanted to work with. Upon closer inspection, she saw that what she was actually looking at was several pieces of sheer fabric layered. Which is when it dawned on her she could create an infinite color palette by layering different colors.

This led her to where she is today. She'll begin by taking about 200 photos of a model and then, through a process I'll detail more in my book, she eventually creates a map on the fabric. She then "shades" with colors she creates with layers of tulle, organza and chiffon. She doesn't use paints or dye, just fabric. This seems impossible to believe, even when closely inspecting the results, which I had the pleasure of doing.

Really, it's just astounding stuff.

So thanks, Margot, for the great art talk, the delicious lunch, and the chance to learn about yet another incredibly innovative way to use textiles to create art. Here's another:

1 comment:

Delta said...

She does do incredible work. Can't wait to see more of it in your book.

p.s. Anne Robertson is the owner @ Quilt Arts fabric shop in Jackson, MS. Maybe you can talk her into carrying your books. We would love to have access to something other than traditional patterns.