Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

I am part of Cloth in Common, a group of international artists who respond to bi-monthly prompts. The current prompt is “Spring.”

Here the crocuses have sprung, only to emerge into a cold and still brown yard.

crocusesAnd, again today, it is snowing. It’s hard for me to think “Spring!” However, I just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe (actually a little bit warmer!) where I was inspired by “rebuilding” and “renewal.” Do they count for “spring?”

Many of the drab so-called “communist condos” have been painted, and they still house a large population. (Some, it was explained, are even better built than today. But not all.)

painted communist condo

Dresden was firebombed by the Allies in Feb 1945, killing as many as 135,000 people in the single most deadly bombing of the war, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was reduced to rubble but has been painstakingly rebuilt.

We visited Zwinger Palace, and have the before and after photos to show the rebuild. It is now a museum housing priceless art.

zwinger Palace bombedZwinger Palace rebuilt

 

I made small art quilts while I was traveling. I was especially intrigued by Berlin. First it was one city, then two cities, now one city again –and still stitching itself back together. These are pieces inspired by the art on the wall, torn down in 1989.

We visited just as the US President wants to build a wall on the US border with Mexico. For future generations to tear down!

How I am going to respond to “Spring” is still the Great Unknown in my studio. Rebirth? Rebuild? Traveling to Eastern Europe in the Spring? Stay tuned.

Besides Spring will surely emerge. Any day now.

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I am excited that my art quilt “Celebrating the Destruction of Apartheid” has been selected for inclusion in a show at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA. The opening is April 21, which I plan to attend.

This lighthearted moment on our trip to South Africa belies the tragedy embedded in this place. The two figures are seated in front of the High Court Annex in Cape Town, where South Africans had to report annually to be classified as members of one of seven “races.” Our guide, seated on the right, relayed how his own family had been split up by this cruel, subjective process. He is joined on the left by one of our tour group members, a young doctor from Atlanta.

In the past, as persons of color, they would have been violating the South African laws of Apartheid, a system of rigid segregation and oppression of the non-white population. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and the Apartheid laws were abolished in mid-1991, pending the historical first multiracial election in 1994, when Mandela was elected President of South Africa. Today the “whites only” bench remains as a historical reminder that Apartheid has been tossed into the ashcan of history.

I was involved in the international fight to free Nelson Mandela and end apartheid in the late 1980’s, and incorporated my collection of political buttons from that time into the quilt.

Today, though Apartheid has been destroyed, South Africa is one of the most economically unequal country in the world. The fight for equality continues as it does elsewhere, including the United States.

The rest of the piece tells the story of our visit to South Africa. The Bushveld, at the top, is where we enjoyed a safari. Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and the quarry where he and other political prisoners toiled, fabrics I bought there, South African money and Jackass Penguins and other animals we saw are among the other items in the design.

celebrating the destruction of apartheid small

Martha Ressler, Celebrating the Destruction of Apartheid, Art Quilt, 60 x 37.5″

I’ve been working on a series that is all surface design. My concentration has been on making my found objects and papers completely integral to the piece.  The art quilts in this series are not representational, yet not completely abstract.  There is an “all-over” composition.

They start with the substrate — vintage feed and seed bags, or for some,  old linen table wear. The feel of these things is important to me. I love linen table cloths because of the subtle design woven into the fabric itself. And my collection of feed and seed bags, a gift from my cousin — they were her mother’s collection — is dear to me.

I also rusted these fabrics for an increased look of aging.

The sepia toned photos I found hanging carelessly in a McDonald’s restaurant somewhere on the Outer Banks. They were not credited. I took some photos of them, and had them printed on silk (Spoonflower.com). The seagull photos were taken by Jay Ressler, and are used with permission. (also printed on fabric.)

I took my husband to Ocracoke, NC for our vacation this year.  It had more meaning for me than an ordinary beach trip. I’d enjoyed summers there as a kid, but hadn’t been back in 51 years.  My memories glowed with the warmth of a setting sun on a pristine beach.

Luckily the charm of Ocracoke (the last in the string of islands off the coast of North Carolina) remains intact.  The village has sprouted new restaurants — delicious food, and no chains! — and there are fewer working fishermen, but it’s still a National Seashore, with Rangers to teach about nature.  And the beaches have the finest sand, and are clean and not commercialized. People meander around on bicycles or golf carts. You can still stay in a quaint cottage, and buy fresh fish daily in the Village.

This piece, called “Banked Memories” is about the mingling of memories and today’s reality.