Be my neighbor : a studio practice review

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katherine Taylor Allison (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Barbara Thomas

Abstract: My work over the past 2 years of grad school is a collection and reimagining of place, specifically communal and residential areas of Greensboro, North Carolina. After sitting with my sketchbook, bag of fabric scraps, watercolors, and pens, in different patches of grass throughout parks, gardens, and porches, I realized I was amassing a catalog of the city. I used these intuitive, timed, and observational but abstracted images to explore various ways of interpreting the shapes, colors, and patterns that I see daily. I walked out of my front door and into a new phenomenological world where my experience literally shaped my perspective. I thought about the best way to translate all these collages I had collected into textile/mixed media pieces and decided to try them all. I converted compositions into recreated quilts, combined observed elements into fictional invented landscapes, turned trees into giant "body pillows”, and wrote about the reasons I chose to collage my favorite spots. All of this was done in an effort to explore community. After living through the isolation of the pandemic, and longing to reconnect, I learned a whole new craft: quilting. Since I knew quilting had an already established history and community, plus I was already obsessed with textiles, I thought the quilting community would be a good place to start. I found inspiring artists such as Coulter Fussel, Sanford Biggers, and non-quilters such as Ann Hamilton, Stuart Davis, Shara Hughes, and Sheila Hicks. My research of the Gee’s Bend quilts also helped me understand the power that quilts can have. Certain media helped me understand that the way I view landscapes or worlds I build are a type of parallel magical universe/dreamworld, out of a DnD session or Star Trek season, where everyone has what they need and can competently collaborate and come together to both have fun and problem solve. The ways I intuitively and quickly respond to the landscape in a way parallels the world-building or combat rolls of Dungeons and Dragons session as well. Readings that helped me understand the aesthetic and technical qualities of invented skill, learning on the fly, and earnest exaggeration include Susan Sontag's Notes on Camp and Faux Pas by Amy Sillman. I feel like these qualities make the work feel accessible, charming, and endearing. I made new friends at the Gate City Quilt Guild trading and being given materials, and met my neighbors, their dogs, and children, as I collaged their houses from the curb. Most importantly, I laughed, rested, and radically did nothing in an effort to not only have a sustainable art practice but a sustainable life. Thanks to the author Jenny Odell of How to do Nothing and also Andrew Simonet’s Making Your Life as an Artist for guiding this endeavor. I did all this in my communal living space with my wonderful friends. I endeavored and still endeavor to ask how can we make every day anew, see the world as brighter, capable of being full of possibilities and playfulness, and reemerge in an effort to radically resist capitalist exploitation with art? I feel to answer this Be My Neighbor has become my newly constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed way of appreciating home.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Landscape, Phenomenology, Quilting, Sustainability, Textile
Landscapes in art
Soft sculpture

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