Grasping Reality: Fifteen

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Grasping Reality
Grasping Reality: Fifteen
2006
50″ x 72″

100% cotton fabrics, machine appliquéd, machine quilted with variegated cotton threads, embellished with Swarovski crystals.

The idea for Grasping Reality: Fifteen originated with a drawing by Chelsea, a friend of my daughter Erica. When I saw Chelsea’s drawing, I knew it would make a really wonderful quilt. Chelsea gave me permission to render her drawing in fabric.

Looking at the drawing, I could see a teenage girl, right at that stage where she’s still a little girl sometimes, with the unpainted nails, ladybugs, flowers and butterflies, but definitely growing up and moving on, with black nail polish, the cross, broken hearts and the latest music CD, and probably wondering what it all really means.

Chelsea is about the same age as my daughter Erica, so I see this kind of thing first hand on a daily basis. I’m not sure that Chelsea meant for all that meaning to be in her drawing; she tells me it was “just a doodle.” And what a great doodle!

Grasping Reality: Fifteen original drawing
Grasping Reality: Fifteen original drawing

One of the first things that struck me about the drawing was all the tiny little circles in the background that must have taken forever to draw. It looked like a type of stippling or background quilting, and my mind immediately went into quilting mode. I scanned the drawing into the computer so that I could enlarge the motifs and rearrange the composition slightly.

As I worked with the drawing, I noticed that it seemed like part of a face was visible, with the stem of the large dancing flower creating negative space suggesting a nose. I decided to further the illusion by enlarging the lips and moving them into position under the eye and the nose. I removed some motifs and moved others to give the composition some space. I chose a happy color palette, full of bright clear tones. The end result is somewhat reminiscent of Picasso.

Grasping Reality detail
Grasping Reality: Fifteen detail