RED punctu-ates


Twenty years or so ago I began to explore seriously my curiosity about what the quilts made after 1950 were like. Would they appeal to my aesthetic? I wanted to explore deeper my love of the quilts that were not perfectly made; that didn’t follow the traditional “rules” of how a quilt should be made and how it was to look; that showed the makers personality, quirkiness, fearlessness to break boundaries; and that showed her innate ability to create and to express her art.

I looked at lots and lots of quilts. Only if one moved me, if it got me excited, if I exclaimed “WOW,” or if it really made me smile, would I then put some money down and acquire it. As time went on and the collection kept growing, I began to see themes emerging in what quilts drew me in. One of those was the color RED. That hue could make a quilt transcend from interesting or nice to extraordinary, unexpected, exceptional.

Having long collected photography ranging from well-known artists to vernacular snapshots, black and white photos, or color Polaroids by the anonymous person, I was accustomed to examining an object, identifying the elements of that I found appealing, and sorting through if it pricked me enough to acquire it. A young artist friend steered me to Roland Barthes and his writings on photography. Barthes used the terms stadium and punctum: “Studium is the element that initially get as your attention. It can be colors, a cool background, a pose, really anything. But the punctum is what Roland describes as the thing that ‘pricks or bruises.’ It’s that rare detail that makes the viewer feel something and pushed the photo even further.” While Barthes was referring to photography, the same things happened for me when looking at quilts.

Hello Stitch offered me the opportunity to hang a group of quilts in their incredible makers’ and teaching space. “Whatever you want” was the invitation. My immediate thought was REDS; and I picked a lot of red: a singular, carnelian stripe, a surface almost completely covered in red string ties on a tied quilt, or a swath of sanguine with floral patterns. RED includes the quilts here as well as other quilts from the collection where red was the deciding factor for me.

1708 University Avenue, Berkeley
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Reception: 25 November 2018, 2-5 PM
Please join me for a reception. Bring your friends and family who are in town for Thanksgiving. I will talk about how the color RED played a role in forming the collection.

that accident which pricks, bruises me
— Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida