In 2006, scientists dredged up a small clam from the North Atlantic off the coast of Iceland. As is common practice, the clam was stored in the freezer and died. Using radiometric dating and counting the growth lines in the shell, they determined that the clam was 507 years old. The London Sunday Times nicknamed the clam “Ming” because it was “born” in 1499, during the Chinese Ming dynasty. Remarkably, Ming came to life 65 years before Galileo and Shakespeare during the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
I wondered what Ming missed during those 507 years so Ming became my artistic muse. Initially, my intent was to address playful topics and translate my ideas in bright colors in my naïve art style. Many of the quilts are colorful, whimsical and idiomatic. However, much of the artwork is serious, topical and wrapped in social commentary.
I created the cartoon-like images in this series by modifying an obscure form of needle turn appliqué called tiling. Historically, tile quilts were constructed of small pieces of cotton appliquéd to a white fabric leaving a narrow “grout” between the tiles. In contrast, my tile quilts embrace the color, pattern, and imagery of contemporary printed and hand-dyed fabrics. The quilts are hand- and machine- stitched, mounted on stretcher bars and framed.
Selected quilts are shown.
All photos by Aaron Paden, Lawrence, Kansas
Postcards of the entire series of 28 quilts are available for purchase here.
All text and images © 2022 Kathy Suprenant.