Penny S. Gold
Presentation in the "Friday at Four" series of faculty work in progress
Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois
April 30, 2010


For many years, this desk was the focal point of my study, the place where I wrote books, where I did my scholarship.  My laptop sat on the pull-out typing return.  Detailed chapter outlines were tacked to the bulletin board.  The room was filled with books and files connected to my job, to my professional life.  It was a good place to work.  Thirty-plus years produced, among other things, these four books:


In the summer of 2005, I abandoned work on a fifth book, and I dismantled the study.  I took out all the books and files.  I emptied the desk.  I moved in my sewing machine, fabric, thread, and tools.  I changed my study to a studio.  The words come from the same Latin root, meaning "to pursue eagerly."  Yes, I pursued scholarship eagerly for over thirty years. Now that same eagerness is going into the making of art.  This is the story of how scholarship came to have a central place in my life, why I stopped doing research, and how I came to do something else.   It's not easy for me to tell this story publicly, but in this setting of the community that has given me so much support along the way, I find myself wanting to explain what happened to me.  
I was an indifferent student through most of college.  But in the fall of my senior year, I happened into a medieval history class, along with another on the history of culture and a third on cultural anthropology.  I was hooked.  I quickly applied to graduate school, but I had no idea what I was in for.  I had never done a significant research paper and knew nothing about professional scholarship.  I was interested in what medieval people wrote, not in what modern scholars wrote about them.  My first graduate courses were a rude awakening to professional training.  But happily, I discovered the key to making scholarship a meaningful endeavor for me—which was to choose a research question that connected up with concerns in my personal life.  This way, the research really mattered to me—I was highly motivated to find answers to the questions I posed.  And so was launched the research that occupied me for a dozen years, through the dissertation and the book that followed, The Lady and the Virgin: Image, Attitude, and Experience in Twelfth Century France, the topic of women in twelfth-century France reflecting my deep involvement in the women's movement of the 1970s.  This book is still in print after 25 years, and still being cited.  My other major work of scholarship, Making the Bible Modern: Children's Bibles and Jewish Education in Twentieth-Century America, looked at the production and use of children's Bibles in Jewish education in twentieth-century America, a project that helped me figure out issues of Jewish identity in the modern world and about the education of Jewish children, issues in which I was also engaged on a personal level.  In both books, the central question took me far afield to find answers. 
2 books

In both these books, I took a cultural practice and examined multiple contexts that could help make sense of it.  For the Bible project, I not only pored over the dozens of Bible story books for Jewish children, but also read deeply in the history of public education in America, Protestant religious education, the ideology of democracy between the wars, narrative theory, children's literature, the history of biblical interpretation and of Jewish education, and the development of Reform Judaism.  I loved this process of exploring, pushing boundaries, persisting until I could put together enough pieces of the contextual puzzle that I could say, "now I understand it."  

Now I'm going to back up and give you a parallel account of the place in my life of making things.

I have loved making things since I was a child, mostly needlework of one sort or another, beginning with knitting a doll blanket.  I learned knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery--all from my mother.  It was a large part of my relationship to her.  Knitting has been the mainstay.


Why have I knit all these years?  I enjoy the feel of knitting--the repetitive motion, the contact with the yarn, the satisfaction of seeing a garment or afghan grow from the work of my hands.  Most of what I knit is done in a very simple stitch so that I don't have to look at the work, allowing me to knit in situations where my attention needs to be directed elsewhere, as shown in this photo taken at a city council meeting.


The results of the knitting are gratifying too, providing hand-made gifts for many people in my life.  I rarely knit for myself.
For most of my life, I never gave any thought to quilting.  It was not something my mother did, and learning from her was how I learned needlework.  But in the spring of 2001,  Rick Ortner's young daughter Katie, whom I had previously taught to knit and sew, asked if I could teach her to quilt.  (Rick was a long-time member of the art faculty at Knox, leaving here in 2003.)   Spurred by Katie's interest, I checked out a pile of books from the public library and learned enough to begin.  Katie and I together made this quilt, a pattern called Cathedral Window.

 cathedral window
    (Holding the quilt are two Knox quilters, Claire Rasmussen and Claire Leeds, both '03.)

I found I enjoyed quilting and set about learning various techniques, which I did by making a succession of small projects, first potholders, then placemats, and on to small wall-hangings.

flying geese paper pieced string-pieced Amish

placemats-pieced placemats-applique

Hawaiian Amish applique

Much as I was enjoying this new hobby, I was also frustrated by the greater challenges presented by quilting.  The challenge is this:  there are many, many more choices to make in quilting.  In knitting, I'd choose a pattern, select a color from the limited range of yarns available, and follow the directions.  In quilting there are choices to make every step of the way, even when using a pattern.  While my ability to use color, value, and shape improved through the many small projects, I was very aware of how much I did not know about design, especially color and composition.  
In 2004, I had enough confidence to undertake a bed-sized quilt—a quilt for my son to take with him to college.  We chose a log cabin design, in his favorite color, blue.  These are some of the blocks. 
log cabin blocks

Jeremy was to begin college in the fall of 2004, and I wanted the quilt finished by then.  I had almost all the blocks done by the beginning of the summer.
And then Jeremy died.
For a week or so, the dark chasm that loomed on all sides was kept at bay by the round-the-clock presence of family and friends.  But then one has to step back into the routine of life, and I found this very difficult.  Because it was summer and I wasn't teaching, my days were unstructured by work.  The scholarly research I had planned to do was of no interest to me.  Reading, which had always been such a large part of my life, was also of no interest. One day it occurred to me that sewing might help me pass the time—the days were so long.  I went over to the corner where I kept various projects, and found some small appliqué blocks that I had entirely forgotten about, all set to be sewn.  It turned out this was just what I needed to help me through the day.

folk art

The soft colors, simple shapes, and the hand-sewing itself were calming, and they kept my mind occupied in a way that helped keep at bay images of Jeremy's accident and of his dead body.

The blocks were quickly finished, but I needed another project like this. The sewing was a kind of analgesic, almost an anesthetic.  I lined up another project, this time going even further into the hypnotic effect of repetition by sewing again and again just one simple shape, a circle (about 47"x65").


With these projects, the reason I was quilting had changed.  It was not just a pleasurable pastime, resulting in gifts for friends, but something I needed to do for my sanity, that I needed to do to get through each day.  And the resulting quilts were no longer something I could give away.  I needed them by me. 
As I worked on the simple appliqué pieces, I also considered what to do about the log cabin quilt I had been making for Jeremy.  How could I finish it, now that he was no longer here to receive it?  But how could I discard this quilt I had been making for him?  I finally thought of a way that I could finish it, but embed in it my grief over his death.  At the time Jeremy died, I had only three blocks left to complete the forty-eight that would make up the top.  I decided to change the design for the last three blocks, making them off of a five-sided center, rather than off the four sides of a square.  When set into the diamond pattern Jeremy had chosen for the layout of the blocks, the placement of the three final blocks expressed for me the way in which his life had so abruptly gone off course. I thought a lot about where to put the three blocks.  I put them together rather than scattered through the quilt; towards the edge rather than in the center; towards the bottom rather than the top; catching one's vision, but not dominant.

log cabin-finished

At this point, I'm going to shift back to what was happening in my scholarship—going back past July 2004 when Jeremy died, to the winter of 2003, when I was in the final stages of completing my book Making the Bible Modern.  In mid-March 2003, the copy-edited manuscript of this book arrived in the mail, with a deadline of three weeks for final edits.  My mother, in a nursing home here in Galesburg, was in the very final days of her life, dying from lung cancer.  My father had died just three weeks before, after a long decline from Alzheimer's.  The press was understanding and generous in their extension of the deadline, but if the book was to be published, the task could not wait long.  A month after my mother's death, I picked up the manuscript again. Working out the final nuances of prose gave me none of the usual pleasure.  I wanted my parents back and the book dead—this is how I felt.
Would there be another book after this one?  I had been jotting down ideas and gathering references for a next book since mid-way through the book on Bible stories, and I had loved the feeling of a book quietly developing in the background while another was on the front burner.  But with the index for Making the Bible Modern completed in the fall of 2003, some months after the deaths of my parents, I found I had no drive to begin a new project.  Then, as more time passed, and a sabbatical approached, it slowly seemed possible that I might try again.  So there it stood on my to-do list for summer 2004—to go through the box of notes and references I had accumulated, and see where it might take me.
And then Jeremy died.  In the wake of his death, scholarly writing left my life. The kinds of questions that fuel research and that are answered through scholarly writing were no longer part of my mental activity.  I think scholarly work also became bound up in the guilt inevitably felt by a parent whose child had died.  All those occasions I'd gone to conferences or been at my desk, instead of being with Jeremy.
I returned to teaching, but not to scholarship.  As Roger Rosenblatt wrote, after the sudden death of his daughter:  "I found I could not write and didn't want to.  I could teach, however, and it helped me feel useful."   Much of my time at home was spent quilting—projects like the ones I've shown you.  Then my life took another turn, as the result of a workshop I attended in June 2005.  Most quilting workshops focus on technique, with students replicating a quilt designed by the teacher.  In contrast, this was a week-long design workshop for quilters.  The teachers, Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle, taught a design process, not a specific technique or pattern.  My hope was that learning more about design principles would help me with the innumerable choices of quilting.
To prepare for the workshop, we were supposed to come with three possible ideas—memories of events, things we'd like to do in the future.  These prompts didn't work for me, so I turned to something else of interest—the late winter Midwestern landscape.
But then it was June, Design Camp was a week away, and I realized I was bringing with me only one idea, not the three they had asked for.  The weekend before the workshop, David and I went to Starved Rock State Park.  We had lots of time to talk, including sharing how bleak the future seemed to both of us.  


At one point in the weekend, feeling the press of needing to come up with a third idea for the workshop, I asked David for help.  It immediately occurred to both of us that our feeling of the future without Jeremy was something that could be the central idea for a quilt.  As we talked, thinking together of a possible design, I sketched out our ideas—a mosaic of colors on the left, which would represent the brief span of Jeremy's life with us, and a chasm of unbroken black on the right, representing our future without him.

So, I arrived at Design Camp with two ideas, high expectations, a good deal of fear, and uncertainty about what direction I would be taking with a quilt.  What I didn't know was the extent to which this workshop would be a transformative event in my life.  

On the first day of the workshop, we were given an exercise:  to do a maquette (a small model) about a place that has been important to us.  I chose a quiet, peaceful place at the summer camp I went to for years as a child--a pine grove, by the lake, away from the cabins and activities, a place you could go to be by yourself.
I got to work, but all I could come up with was this (about 12"x15"): 

pine grove-1I was disappointed—even disgusted.  I wanted to do something that was totally abstract, that conveyed the peace and quiet of the place without reference to specific objects like the trees, shore, and water.  But I had no idea how to do it.  When Bill came by to see how things were going, I was so upset with the inadequacy of what I had done that I could barely speak, and I sent him away.  Once I composed myself, he came around again, and got me to talk about the place, about what it was I wanted to convey.  He then asked me, "What was the opposite of that place?"  I answered that it was the hustle and bustle of all the group activities of the camp—lots of things going on with lots of people.  "Make a maquette of that," he said.  So I did. 

pine grove-2

This one I was happy with.  I felt that I had captured in color and line some sense of what I was aiming for—the liveliness of the usual camp day.  "OK," said Bill, "Now go back to the pine grove."  And so  I made this: 

pinegrove 3

Yes, here it was, the feeling of the pine grove.  Being able to get to this abstract expression through the process of the exercise, in one afternoon—this was amazing to me.  I felt that something was unlocked, that I could now do something I hadn't been able to do before—or that I had reached into some well inside myself that I hadn't known was there. 
The next day, another exercise:  to create a portrait, using color in an abstract way to represent a particular person.  Here it was, an open door inviting me to work on a portrait of Jeremy, something that could be the base for the multi-colored strip in the sketch David and I had come up with.  

loss portrait maquette

This portrait (about 4x12") came to me spontaneously, without a struggle.  It put something of Jeremy's character, and about how I felt about Jeremy, into a visual form.  The choices of colors and shapes came easily because I had in mind the central idea I wanted to express:  that this was about Jeremy, about his energy and intensity, about his sharp edges, about the problems as well as the joys.  That his life was varied, but also limited.  

With the maquette of the mosaic side of the quilt already done, the rest of the design came readily, putting the color of Jeremy's life next to the blackness of our future.  Here's a small maquette (15x16") of the full design: 

Loss maquetteBut there were still many questions of size, scale and method.  For example, just on the issue of how to sew the small colored pieces onto the strip:  Definitely by hand rather than machine, but should the edges be raw or turned under?  If raw, should I allow the edges to fray?  How big should the pieces be?  How much should they overlap, if at all?  In the past, I would have been frustrated by all these decisions--frustrated that I didn't know the "right" answer, not knowing what would look best, and that I didn't know how to figure it out.   But with this project, I felt entirely different.  I was content to just keep at it until I had a method that felt right.  

Here's the difference:  In all the quilting I'd done previously, I'd begun with a design made by someone else.  For each of the subsequent decisions: fabric, color and value, border, binding, quilting—for each of these I had only the guidance of wanting to make something that would look nice, perhaps even beautiful.  But now I had begun a quilt with an idea of my own, an idea about which I cared deeply.  For every decision I faced, I had this idea to guide me.  It wasn't a question of what "looked best," but of what best conveyed the idea I wanted to express.  This principle of using a central, originating idea as a generative source for a work of art of course applies elsewhere as well; writings by Twyla Tharp, the choreographer, have been helpful to me (The Creative Habit), as well as Roger Sessions on musical composition (Questions about Music).  Here is the completed quilt, called "Loss."


In the process of making this quilt, my reasons for quilting changed again.  I still had pleasure in doing the handwork.  And it still helped me to live with grief.  But designing and making this quilt also brought out into the world the expression of something I felt, something for which words were inadequate (despite months of intensive journal writing).
Making this quilt was a private endeavor.  It's not something that will ever be used on a bed or hung on a wall.   It has served as a kind of therapy for me.  And it has also become art—something with the potential of communicating to others, even if that was not my original intention.  When I was at the design workshop, well along in working on the quilt design, I brought the small maquette over to Bill to ask him a straightforward technical question.  Oddly, he didn't respond.  When I asked again, he said, "Penny, it's not so easy for me to look at this.  I have my own losses too."  It hadn't occurred to me that something so personal, so specific to me and to David, could also strike this kind of chord in another person. 
As I worked on this quilt, I wondered if I would have any ideas for further quilts.  The next one developed somewhat by accident, several months after Design Camp.   I offered to Rick Ortner's son Peter that I would make him a quilt for a college graduation present.  Instead of choosing one of the patterns I sent him, he asked,  "How about something that feels aquatic or subterranean, something dark with little gleams of light?"  This wasn't what I had had in mind, but I decided it would be an interesting challenge to work with this as the central idea for a quilt, and I collected fabric to bring to a second stint at Design Camp in 2006.  As I got closer to working on the quilt, and considered how much work would be involved in creating my own design, I thought it might be a good idea to link up Peter's guiding notion with something personal to me, something that might bring another level of meaning into the quilt, and from which I would reap the personal benefit of working through something that was disturbing me.  As soon as this occurred to me, I realized that I could link Peter's dark, subterranean image with one of the images associated with Jeremy's death that I was struggling with—the image of his body buried underground.  I thought it possible that using this image for the quilt, along with Peter's words, might serve to ease the grip of the underground image for me. . . and it has.

(about 90 x 112")
And a detail that shows the quilting:


Here's the back of the quilt, which looks more complicated, but was actually easier to do in terms of composition than the larger pieces on the front. 


Something more about the design process:  My first maquette for the quilt incorporated slivers of light-colored fabric to represent stones (for me) and glimmers of light (for Peter).  (In Jewish practice, those who visit a grave place a small stone on the gravestone, leaving behind a trace of their love and friendship.  I thought this personal meaning for me could work in line with Peter's glimmers of light in the midst of darkness.) But when I upped the scale for the quilt itself, the cloth slivers no longer worked, and I removed them from the design.  In terms of Peter's idea, the "glimmers of light" were still there, in the light portions of the batik fabric.  The idea of stones was set aside.  
But I kept thinking about the stones.  I tried several things using commercial fabrics, either solids or fabric with stone-like patterns, but none of them hit the mark.  Here's one of those abandoned efforts (21x33"). 


The light gray section is the size of the headstone on Jeremy's grave, and the dark gray band refers a layer of stones.  I was not enough moved by this to continue through to finishing it.  It could be that doing it either larger or smaller, rather than true-to-size, would be better.  

It became clear that commercial fabric was part of the problem, and I decided to learn how to paint and dye my own fabric. I got the confidence to try this by taking a summer workshop in watercolor and pastel, in which I learned the principles of mixing color.  I used watercolor to paint paper, which I then cut up into stone-like shapes.


And I used pastel to create a version of the Midwestern landscape I'd been thinking about since Design camp. 

landscape paste
(45 x 60")

 I would like to make a cloth version of this also, and am in the process of dyeing fabric to get the look I want.  The dyeing process is a significant challenge, but here's why it's worth the trouble:  a comparison of a commercial solid (on the right) and a solid I dyed myself.

red-orange comparison    
I've also painted and done monoprinting to make fabric that I could cut up into stone-type shapes. 

stone fabrics shibori
Some of this fabric has gone into small stone portraits (each 4x4"):

stone portraits

I also took another direction, putting aside the shape of stones and focusing instead on color and texture .

stone rectangles

(each about 11x14")
stone rectangles

In the meantime, I needed some other easier projects to work on.  I had a large assortment of solid-colored rectangles that I had cut up in various sizes for another abandoned project.  I decided to play with these to see if I could use them up.  (This piece is about 28x36").

pine-grove office

When I was doing the quilting, the slanted lines called to my mind rays of light in a forest, and I realized that this quilt was related in color and feeling to the Pine Grove idea I had put away from Design Camp.

pine grove-3

I pulled out the rest of the rectangles and did a more improvisational piece.

pine grove-josh
                                                                                                                                      (about 67x70")

 For the back of the quilt, I wanted to use up more of the uncut leftover fabric, and to give a home to some stone blocks that I had appliquéd and set aside.

pine grove-back

 I sliced up some of those blocks into strips—I really like how this worked out.


In the background of all this, since 2006 I've been planning and then working on another major quilt. The quilt is not yet finished, but here is the top, in progress.  (Each tier of color is completed, but the four tiers are not yet sewn together.)
(about 60x64")

As I worked on the quilt about Loss, I found myself thinking something like:  "Without Jeremy, the future for David and me is unremitting blackness, but I don't want to think of Jeremy's future--his existence, of whatever possible nature it might be--as this same blackness."  If someone asked me "Do you believe in life after death?" and asked for a yes or no answer, the closest answer would be "no."  And yet, when David and I had to find words for the marker on Jeremy's grave, we chose this epitaph, whose words are drawn from the Jewish funeral service:

                May he find refuge forever
                In the shelter of Your wings
                And may his soul be bound up
                In the bond of eternal life.

I couldn't say that I "believe" in these words, but I need their comfort.

The quilt in progress is about the metaphor of  "the shelter of your wings."  When I first thought about this, a Durer watercolor came to mind--the wing of a roller bird:


I thought that Durer's colors might be a starting point also.  The range of blues from royal to aqua struck a chord, and the orange and black also seemed good. In contrast to the straight lines used in "Loss," this image demanded curves.  For months I sketched different combinations of curved lines and made many small maquettes, using the four colors (and sometimes others) in various combinations. 

shelter maquettes

While the color black as used in the "Loss" quilt signals emptiness and bleakness, here it carries a different meaning, that of protection and warmth.  It also calls up another image of divine protection used in the Psalms:  "in the shadow of Your wings."  Here are some details that show the construction process.

detail progress 1 detail2 cobalt with needle

In the years that I worked on the plan for this quilt, I was interested to see echos of my choices in other places.  The curved line as a sheltering image, which I took from the bend of a wing, is also called up in the late medieval image of the Madonna of mercy, something I remembered from my years as a medievalist:

Simone Martine, 1308-10
della Francesca
Piero Della Francesca, 1445

The color combination I used in this quilt is also something I've noticed elsewhere.  When in China in 2007, I was struck by the standard colors used in Ming architecture. 

I've also been entranced by Gina Franco's photographic images using orange and blue, some of which have a similar color scheme of blue/aqua/orangey-red/and black:

When at the Art Institute earlier this month,  I noticed the same colors in some of Matisse's paintings:

Matisse, Dance
Matisse, Woman on a High Stool


And—totally unplanned—my four books, two orange and two blue.

It's been five years now since I dismantled my study, but it has taken me a long while to use the word "studio" for the room in which I work on quilts.  It's been easier to call it my "sewing room."

When I started a blog about my quilting in January of 2009, I called it "Studio Notes," partly as a way to accustom myself to using the term.  But if the room is a studio, then I am claiming to be an artist.  "When can a person legitimately call themselves an artist?"  Here is one artist's answer: "When you find that making art is at the center of your life, then you can legitimately call yourself an artist.  Most artists make their work because they are driven to make art; their level of dedication to their life's work is very high and holds a sacred place in their being."  According to this definition, I qualify.  The central—even sacred--place that scholarship used to have in my life is now occupied by art.   
Two different paths have led to this life of art—one from scholarship and one from craft.  The clearest path would seem to be from craft, as the making of quilts developed out of my making of other things, and I began quilting as an extension of this craft life.  I still love making this kind of quilt, quilts in which I begin with an already established pattern, which I then interpret with my own choices, primarily of color.

 Here are some examples:  First, from a traditional Amish pattern of "Roman Stripes," I used the variation on the right

roman strip in book
from Roberta Horton, An Amish Adventure, 2nd edition (C&T Publishing, 1996), p. 35.
to make this quilt for a young friend, Luke Matthew:

Luke-frong Luke-back

Here's a pattern for "Four-Patch Stacked Posie" and a few of the quilts I've made with the pattern:

pattern by H. D. Designs
4-patch wild lily geometric

And here's a simple zig-zag pattern:

zig zag Amanda Jean
pattern by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts
my first version, fairly close in feel (about 32x40")
and a second version done in solids


After trimming the edges of the last quilt, I had some pieced scraps left over.  Playing with those scraps, I came up with this piece (12x12"), which I would put in the border between art and craft.  It was not done according to someone else's pattern, but it was done without any underlying purpose or idea—just for the fun of arranging shapes and color.

The quilts that function in my life as art, are those formed not from someone else's pattern, and not for the main pleasure of manipulating the materials, but those that come from a personal need—an idea or emotion that is preoccupying me, that is disturbing me.  Although many artists work in response to the natural, physical world, others work from the inside out.   I am not responding to the material world outside of me, but bringing out into material the world inside me.  Even the landscape pastel, done after taking many photos of late winter farmland, was done without reference to the photos, and ended up in the same palette that I chose for the Pine Grove quilts—a palette that matches neither fields or forest, but the feeling of quiet and stillness that I was seeking out as a respite from my grief.

landscape paste pine-grove office

And although it didn't occur to me until writing this talk, the very different palette used for Loss is closely related to the colors I chose for Shelter.

Loss shelter7-5-10

Although different in intent, the quilts are bound together by the originating motive of response to Jeremy's death.
This perhaps helps explain how I see my art as more closely connected to my scholarship than to my years of knitting sweaters and afghans.  My scholarship also came from issues close to my heart, issues that I was struggling with and wanted to resolve.  The issues were complex and difficult, and it took me years of work to reach the understanding that I sought.  The first book helped me live as a woman amongst conflicting desires and demands, the second book helped me live as a Jew.  The quilts have helped me live as a person who has lost a child.  They have helped me live with grief and guilt.
The feeling of inner drive is similar, and the scope and seriousness of a book and one of these big quilt projects are also similar; they are both work, not play.  But the scholarship comes from a question and ends with an answer.  The quilts, on the other hand, come from an emotion and end with expression.  The life of the work once it is complete is also very different.  Much as the scholarship was initiated and sustained from an inner drive, it was also intended for a wide audience, and the writing and revisions were done with readers in mind.  The quilts are done for me.  I have seen that others respond to them too, and I am glad of that, but I am not making them for an audience.  I would never sell one of these quilts.  
The extent to which this work is deeply self-centered is unsettling to me, and a case can certainly be made that art should not be done as a kind of therapy to work out one’s own problems—rather, the purpose of art should extend outwards, to affect others.  But for me, the art has been therapy.  It has enabled me to stumble, to creep, back into life, to see further into the future than just the next hour.  It has provided me a way to live with grief.  If others are also moved by what I have created, that is good.  If the work helps someone understand the rupture and persistence of loss, that's good.  If it helps someone understand that for many people, beneath the surface may be concerns or issues  you cannot see, but that are determining factors in that person's life, that's good too.  Though it was not my intent to communicate with others, the fact is that my experience and feelings are not unique, and art that embodies my experience can build a bridge to others.  In this way, perhaps I fulfill what Roger Sessions sees as the human responsibility of the artist:  "above all [the] awareness of the human condition, a common involvement and a common stake in it" [Questions about Music (1970), 166].

There's more I could say about the processes of making scholarship, making art, and the ways in which the habits/methods I've learned in research and writing have also served me in the making of art.  Just briefly, here are some of the things I learned from doing scholarship that have also helped me in making art:
And yet, despite the similarity of originating impulse/drive and in the production of the work, the thing worked on is so different.  The book, though it took much longer to complete is so much smaller, and is so much more difficult to respond to—you have to spend hours reading it, while the quilt can be taken in with one extended look.

1 book Loss

When scholars run into each other, the standard question is "What are you working on?" For many years I loved answering that question and the exchange that would follow, catching up with friends and colleagues about our scholarship.  Now when I am asked that question by another scholar, my answer can only be, "I've stopped doing scholarship."  This is another kind of loss for me—the loss of the sense of belonging to a large, widespread community of scholars.  It also disrupted my job at Knox, and is part of the reason I went to part-time status, eliminating the part of my work-time that would have been devoted to research.   On the other hand, if an artist asks me the question, "What are you working on?" then it is a question I can answer.  I am grateful to have found this path into art.  I would give it up in an instant if I could have Jeremy back.  But he is gone, and art has helped me live without him.  

When people visit my studio they often ask me about the maquette pinned to the upper right corner of the bulletin board.
self portrait

(about 12x14")

This maquette is for a quilt I was thinking of several years ago, a self-portrait to be called "Beneath the Surface."  Not beneath the ground, as for Peter's quilt, but beneath the surface of my everyday interactions with people.  The lavendar strip represents the calm appearance that I present to the world, while underneath is the blackness of grief, lanced from time to time by the anguish that pierces without warning.  So many around us hold beneath the surface some agony unknown to the rest of us.  As said by Philo of Alexandria, 2,000 years ago:

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle."

In closing, I would like to thank some of the many people who have helped me along this new path.  Thanks to the art faculty at Knox, who have been exceptionally supportive from the time that I began working on the Loss quilt--providing critiques of my work, allowing me to sit in on classes, and just talking with me as though I were an artist.  Thank you Lynette, Tony, Mark, Claire and Rick for this generous response to my work as serious and of consequence.  The support and critique of my quilting friends has also been crucial (with special thanks to Mary Beth, Louise, and all the other Design Campers), as has been the gifted teaching of Bill and Weeks.  Finally, thanks to David, always and ever, my companion in love and in grief.

If you would like to look at a website created in memory of Jeremy, click here.

If you would like read more about my quilts in progress, you can follow my blog, "Studio Notes."