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Sunday
Feb282010

Un-Mixed Media, Anyone?

Alice Beasley’s quilts are stunning and insightful.  She is best known for her portraiture in fabric.  Currently, her quilt of Barak Obama is being shown in “Journey of Hope in America: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama” at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio from December 18, 2009 to December 18, 2010.   The exhibit is expected to travel thereafter throughout the United States for four years. 

She also has two works on display in the  residence of the United States Ambassador to Namibia as part of the ART in Embassies Program, and her work is being displayed in a show titled “Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition”, which is touring nationally from February, 2007 through 2010.  This show consists of sixty four quilts presented by the Women of Color Quilters Network displaying the interplay between jazz and art.  Venues include the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, American Folk Art Museum, the New York State Museum and the Rutgers University Art Museum.

These are just a few of the current shows where Alice’s work is able to be seen.  As you can tell, her work is respected and well-established.  That is why I was so taken aback when I learned about her methods. 

Alice only uses commercial fabrics and does not utilize any mixed media elements to try to capture a realistic image.  How amazing that she can capture shadows, depth and textures so well!  Of course, when I originally saw her work, I could imagine Alice in her studio, auditioning this or that paint, transfer method or other technique to attain the desired effect for each piece.  –Not so.  Alice Beasley’s work is decidedly un-mixed media.  Even more, the WAY in which she creates her pieces is also surprising.  She builds each image naturally.  Really.  She builds them by placing fabrics down, cutting them to the shape she wants, and sewing them together.  That’s it.  Paper piecing?  Quilt maps?  Not for Alice Beasley.  This artist has found her thing.  It works organically, without structure, to great success. 

I am also a great fan of her still life pieces, so I am adding some images here.  Alice has inspired my own quilting.  It is a pleasure to step back, let go of structure, and instead embrace simplicity toward successfully conveying the feeling, image or idea that was in my head and heart, and give it a place to live in fabric.  If you have enjoyed what you see here, please stop by Alice Beasley’s website, or even better, find an exhibition venue near you, and visit her work in person!

To learn more, visit Alice Beasley's website.

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