The quilt “Cover/Undercover” reproduces in miniature appliqués all of the clothes I made for myself when I was in my 20s, each made from remnants of the original fabrics. This was the first time I used my skills as a seamstress to serve an idea. The blending of practical sewn clothing and art came to me slowly. more
I began to sew my own clothes at a young age. However, when I studied drawing, printmaking and art history at the University of Guelph, I never considered introducing textiles into my practice.
It was not until 1979, while researching an exhibition of historic quilts for the Rodman Hall Arts Centre, that I decided to sew a quilt of my own. Working on the self-portrait “Cover/Undercover” was an entirely new experience. I felt a sense of ease in the pleasure of bringing together the dual roles of seamstress and artist.
The underside of the quilt shows my life-size nude silhouette in reverse appliqué.
This work made me more comfortable with my self-identification as an artist. Shortly after beginning the quilt, I was asked what I did for a living. For the first time I answered that I was an artist. I was 28. I quit my day job and moved to Banff, Alberta, to take part in a year-long artist’s residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Once there, I completed my quilt, painted and drew, and photographed people and the landscape. The quilt gave me a whole new subject area and medium to explore. However, I did not make another until four years later.