"Charlotte: Knight of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot."
by Susan Shie Contact me
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"Charlotte: Knight of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot."
©Susan Shie 2019. 58"h x 59"w. inventory #509. Peace Cozy #76.
Began 11-14-18. Finished 3-1-19. Many large detail images follow the artist's statement below.
Materials: White kona-like cotton from Test Fabrics, airbrush paint, fabric paint, fabric markers, Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik variegated hand dyed perle cotton embroidery thread, one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting. Mostly commercial batiks on backing and border.
Techniques: Whole cloth painting. Black line freehand drawing and color areas painted with Aztek double action airbrush and airbrush paint. Smaller writing done with fabric markers, because my arm was broken, and I didn't have the strenght to use my airpen. Mostly machine sewn, with one row of hand stitching of perle cotton thread (on the border's outside edge.)
Statement: I made this piece for a show that I was invited to participate in, about the Suffragists, the women who fought from 1848 to 1920, to achieve the right to vote for women in the United States. “Deeds Not Words: Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage" will open its 3 year tour at The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, April 3 – June 9, 2020. The exhibition is curated by Sandra Sider and Pam Meeker. There are 28 artists who were invited to make art quilts specifically for this exhibition, each of us choosing a suffragist to honor in our work. My suffragist, whom I prefer to call a suffragette, is Charlotte Woodward Pierce.
The Tarot card for this art quilt: I pulled the Tarot card, the Knight of Coins, on Nov 14, 2018, and was planning to start work on this piece soon after, but I broke my left arm on Nov 23, and was unable to work on the painting for the quilt until early February, 2019! I had to decide to make this piece smaller than the 60"h x 90"w work I had planned, so that I'd have less stress on my healing arm.
The Tarot card for this piece, the Knight of Coins, is about a valiant fighter for good. She or he is very hard working, dedicated to her goal, and will toil tirelessly, even when the work is very dull and routine. This person keeps working away, until the goal is reached. I feel like this describes the many dedicated, hard working women of the Women's Suffrage movement, all those years, from Seneca Falls to the fiery protesting of the 1910s, that finally led to the 19th Amendment!
When I was invited to make a piece for this show, I remembered hearing a story on NPR about an 18 year old girl, who was the youngest woman to go to the Seneca Falls Convention on Women, where they created "The Declaration of Rights and Sentiments," on July 19 and 20, 1848. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men, who totaled 100 of the 300 people who attended the convention, held at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Seneca Falls. And Charlotte was the only one of the attendees of Seneca Falls, to still be alive in 1920, when women got the right to vote and voted for the first time!!! Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified by the required 36 states by August 18, 1920, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was incorporated inot the Constitution and granted all American women the right to vote. More statees continued to ratify this Amendment, bringing the total to 48 by 1984, when Mississippi ratified it!
I had never heard the name Charlotte Woodward Pierce before hearing that NPR story about her, but I loved that Charlotte was so obscure historically, she wasn't even on the list of suggested Suffragists given to us artists by the curators for this show, Deeds not Words. I later found out that Charlotte was too sick, even bedfast, when the first voting day happened for women, but that she knew they were voting and it made her happy. She was 91 then, and I honestly never found out how old she was, when she died. But I loved her story and knew she'd be my suffragette!
The detail images below this statement are where you can read what I wrote on this art quilt. All of the small writing and printing is not done with my airpen, with black fabric paint put through a surgical needle this time. That's because I broke my left arm badly on Nov 23, 2018, and by the time I was ready to do the small writing on this piece, my arm still wasn't strong enough yet, to handle cleaning my airpen, which has to be done very frequently.
So I wrote with various fabric markers instead this one time. (I plan to be using my airpen by the next art quilt making!) Writing the stories here, which are always my first and only drafts, takes a lot of time, certainly longer than it takes me to quilt the painting! I love to do the research and write about current events, histories, and my own diary entries (without copying them from another diary. THIS is the diary.
I have to admit, I love the bright colors of the small word stories in this quilt. But I really prefer to have the writing be black fabric paint, coming through my airpen. With the writing all black, crispy-sharp lines, I feel that the color forms show up better. I can't wait to get back to my next piece, and use that sweet, but hard to handle, little airpen!
I had to be careful, while writng on this piece, so that I wouldn't say something too political. The curators requested that we keep the stories historical and keep our personal political opinions out of this piece. That's hard for me, but I feel I achieved that historical storytelling goal with "Charlotte."
The actual making of this image: I started out putting up the big, blank piece of white cloth, and then fired up my Aztek airbrush, with black paint in it, for drawing the piece with heavy black lines. First I drew Charlotte, as an 18-year-old girl, sewing a men's glove, as she was living in a small New York state town, trading only room and board for long days of hard work, hand sewing men's gloves all day, probably six days a week. I based her face on one of the few images I could find of her. I wrote about how excited she was, in finding a flyer about the Seneca Falls Convention on Women's Rights, and ran to her neighbors, persuading some girlfriends to travel with her to this first-ever meeting on making life better for women.
Next I drew Stacey Abrams, giving her rebuttal speech on Feb 5, 2019, after President Trump gave his State of the Union Speech. Later, after all the rest of the images were on the cloth with my airpen, and after I'd heat set those black line drawings, I went back to the work with my airbrush again, and used it to color athe whole piece in, using colors of airbrush paint. This process, like the earlier freehand line drawing with black paint put through the airbrush, was all done on the wall. When that coloring in with airbrush was all done, and after a second heat setting, I put the big painted cloth on my studio table and began to write on the painting. This takes the longest time! Since I couldn't get political on the quilt, I'm giving you a link to Stacey Abrams' full rebuttal to the State of the Union speech's transcript here. I wrote some of the speech on her and her dress, but left out Abrams' political statements.
So with Charlotte and Stacey drawn on the cloth, I thought some more and decided to add the Statue of Liberty, another suffragette, if I ever saw one. Later I wrote Emma Lazarus' poem that's in the hallway of the Statue's pedestal. And I also wrote on the SOL about Patricia Okoumou being found guilty of 3 misdemeanors, for climbing the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 2018, in her protest of the separation of migrant parents from their children, as ICE imprisoned thousands of asylum seekers at the Mexico border. The charges against Okoumou were: trespassing, disorderly conduct, and interfering with government agency. Her sentencing would be on March 5, and could include a lot of jail time. (On March 5, 2019, she was sentenced to 2 years' probation, but that happened after the making of this piece3311.)
I drew two big potholders, since this card is in the suit of Potholders - Coins - in my Kitchen Tarot deck. I put a big beet on each of the potholders, my symbol for the Resistance, but I didn't write that on the piece. Staying apolitical, remember???
Next I added Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in congress, representing parts of New York City, and the first woman of any color to run in a major party's Presidential primary race - as a Democrat in 1972. I wrote a lot about Chisholm, whom I'd recently read a book about. So I squeezed in a lot of her life story into a tiny, Cliff's notes amount of space!
I drew Eleanor Roosevelt looking down into my painting, from the top right corner. She would be so very excited about all the women I'm drawing into my piece and what fantastic reformers they are!
I drew a knight from a chess set on Charlotte's dress, and put a very large face of Hillary Clinton peeking out, between Charlotte and Stacey Abrams. Hillary didn't invent the term "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights," but she made it world famous, when in 1995, at the 4th UN World Conference on Women, she gave a speech in Beijing, really pushing that theme. She spoke a LOT about both women's rights and human rights, and even referred obliquely to the 1989 massacre of protesters for democracy at Tianenman Square. Hillary had been our First Lady for three years and was giving the world a glimpse into her powerful intellect and her equally strong convictions of Human Rights. Later I wrote a lot on her large face here, about her speech of September 5, 1995.
While still drawing the images for this piece, with my airbrush and black paint, I saw the most stunning thing popping up on the internet! Many women of the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives were climbing up a gracefully curving stairway in the Capitol Building, going up to the main chamber, to hear Trump's State of the Union Speech, and they were all dressed in white, in honor of the Suffragettes! I took pix of them going up the stairs, and I knew I was going to draw them on the right side of my Charlotte piece. When I got around to freehand drawing them with my airbrush, I couldn't look at the pix. I had my hands full. So I just adlibbed and made them up. Gave them all white outfits, and showed them being rather celebratory. I made one of them into me, because I'd have given anything to be there that night, enjoying all that great women energy in Congress!!! Later, when I was writing on the paitning, I wrote on each of the women I had drawn, telling her name and things I thought we should know about her.
This was just a month since so many new women were sworn into office for espeically the House, but also there were more new women in the Senate, too. After the 2018 Midterm Elections, here's the breakdown in the new Congress:
Senate: always has 100 members. This time there are 53 R, 45 D, and 2 Independents. There are 75 men senators, and 25 women, including 17 D and 8 R women. Women are 33% of the members of the Senate.
In the House of Representatives, it goes like this. Of 435 representatives, there are 235 D and 199 R. There are 333 men and 102 women, including 89 D and 13 R women. Women are 23% of the members of the House.
Regardless of how many more men there still are, compared to women in Congress, we have a long way to go, before we reach a 50-50 balance of men and women there. But those 2018 Midterms brought a lot more women in Congress than ever before, as well as a lot better representation of the various races in our country, as well as more types of personal private lifestyle choices.
When you look below this artist's statement, at all the close-up images of my Charlotte piece, you'll notice that inside the curve of the big stairway full of women in white, I wrote the names, parties, and states of all the 102 women now in the House of Representatives. Writing all of that took me a while, but I loved doing it! I had to go over all the marker writing twice, at least, but that just helped reinforce my learning of who is who. I don't remember many of them now, but was so impressed by the sheer volume, from newbies to women who've been in the House a LONG time, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi! Women representatives now come from 34 of the 50 states of America!
Once I had all the images into my work, and after I colored them, also using my airbrush, I did the tiny writing all over the piece, which took a lot longer than airbrushing the painting in! I was able to include some personal stories of my own, mingled in with the suffragette stories. For instance, I wrote about going with my friends Kat, Mady, and Tim, to the Cleveland Museum of Art, where my daughter Gretchen works, to see the Georgia O'Keeffe show on Feb 15 this year, instead of working on this piece. I LOVE going to this marvelous museum, and of course I love getting to see my daughter! I wish we lived in Lakewood, near her and her family, especially since I can't drive. But anyhow, that show was really inspiring, and I was happy to get back to work on Charlotte, after experiencing wonderful works by Georgia!!!
2-18-19: Here are the women I included on the curving stairway, on the right half of my Charlotte piece, starting at the bottom of the stairs: Marcia Fudge, OH-11th district, since 2008; Donna Shalala, FL-27th; Ilhan Omar, MN-5th; Nancy Pelosi, CA-12th; Marcy Kaptur, OH-9th; Lucy McBath, GA, 6th; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY-14; Ayanna Pressley, MA-7th; Lois Frankel, FL-21; me, OH voter!; another AOC!, and I guess that's all of us.
2-20-19: I wrote on the two big potholders, which are there to remind us that this is a Tarot card quilt, and its suit is Potholders, which are my Kitchen Tarot version of the standard Tarot's Coins or Pentacles. I wrote about the Tarot card, the Knight of Coins, and I wrote abotu women now working for human rights. On the base of the Knight of Potholders, the chess horse, I wrote words from Laura Nyro's famous 1968 song "Save the Country" and why I love that song so much. It was inspired by Senator Robert Kennedy's assassination on June 5, 1968. This song includes references to Martin Luther King, Jr, with a line being "We shall overcome." I wrote that the big deal for me, about women getting the right to vote, is that the purpose was so that WE, the women, would vote in people and polices that made the world a much kinder, more nurturant place. Only we didn't count on many women voting like their husbands do. How to change that??? The new 116th Congress, with its big leap in the number of women included, is our next big hope for making the world a better place for human rights!
I wrote on the big Charlotte Woodward Pierce banner, along the top of my piece, that getting the right to vote isn't enough to improve society, but with the huge influx of women and people of diversity into the 116th Congress, we have a chance to make all lives more safe and happy - to make a better world.
On Eleanor Roosevelt and around her in the top right corner of my painting, I wrote about her work with the UDHR - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the countries of the world accepted as a code to live and govern by, in December, 1948. Do you even know about this amazing document, which was written and agreed on, as a code of every citizen of the world's human rights??? I also wrote there about how Hillary's loss to Trump in the 2016 Presidential race really energized a LOT of women to run for offece
2-21-19: I did a final heatset of my painting and spent from then until 3-1-19, making my whole-cloth painting into a quilt, sewing for the first time since I broke my left arm in late November. After the quilting, I had a border to write on, too, so some more and current stories went there. This writing was a daily diary that included: Trump coming home from a visit to Kim Jung Un in North Korea, where a deal fell through; Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen being questioned in Congress for 3 days, as part of a plea-bargain, to gain him a lesser prison sentence for crimes he committed while working for the President; me having my Post-op checkup #3 for my left arm, after its first surgery, and my second left arm surgery was scheduled for April 23, to take out 2 of 3 plates put in, during my first surgery; that I won't be able to move my left wrist up and down for a total of 5 months, plus recovery time from that surgery. (Yes, I was drawing, painting, writing, typing, sewing, etc, etc, without being able to move that wrist up and down at all.);
3-1-19: This day was my deadline to get my quilt not only finished, but to get my photos to the curators, for the book publisher. I finished hand sewing the quilt edge with my usual running stitch. The quilting in the body of the piece was all done in my "crazy grid," unmarked machine sewing style, but I love to hand sew a little bit yet. My fingertips had become numb in 2006, from all the hand sewing and beading I used to do. That's when I switched completely over to machine sewing, and my quilts got a lot bigger and faster to make. But I continued to put that running-stitch edge around the border edge of each of my works. And I still sew one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead into the lower right (usually) corner of each piece. I did a final really thorough heat setting, which I forgot to say above, is a very slow ironing with a dry, very hot iron, with either the painting side down or with a cloth over the painting, when it's already quilted. The iron should never be against the painted surface. and I wear a respirator while heat setting, and use a big exhaust fan, which I also do both things for, while airbrushing.
I did my big photo shoot and sent my images to Sandra Sider. My Charlotte quilt was finished in time. Whew!!!!
Thanks for reading this story about Charlotte, my suffragette!
If you want to take a Lucky Drawing online class with me, you can find the information on my website or my Susan Shie Turtle Moon Studios Facebook page. I teach 4-week sessions with 12 day breaks in between them. Most of my students consider my class to be like taking a yoga class: You just keep going with the group. You can find info about my next online freehand drawing classes on my Turtle Moon Studios front page.
In all the classes I teach, I am only teaching freehand, intuitive drawing and painting on paper now, using a format very much like my online Lucky Drawing classes. I continue to make my art quilts, but no longer teach those processes. You can learn quilting from others. I teach how to open up and express yourself as an adult who draws. I work to convince you that there are no art rules, no right and wrong. When you knew that instinctively as a small child, you happily drew and painted wonderful things on paper. That innocence is healing, is un-stressing, and is about impossible to find in our adult world. We can get it back, while we draw together, with curiosity, eagerness, and joy.
Drawing is one of our natural skills, and we each deserve to reclaim it. Like singing and dancing, like making up poetry without rules or jazz that just improvises, freehand drawing is easy, and it feels good. So, that's what I teach now. And I will convince you to let go of your adult-self's ideas of right and wrong. I've found that there's no place for that stuff in real creativity.
Read all about my Turtle Art Camp - how it works for your weeklong artmaking experience here in Wooster, Ohio, and see the changes I've made to the camp agenda. I have many large photos on the Turtle Art Camp page, to show what goes on at this biosphere-like art experience. The emphasis in this adult students' art camp is on freehand, intuitive drawing and painting in large, hardbound sketchbooks now, because I’ve figured out that with these processes, everyone can relax and focus on expressing herself. I want my art camp to help you become more open to letting your art flow out later, in whatever medium you want it to be in.
I started my Turtle Art Camps in 1994 and they continue. See my 2019 TAC schedule on the main page ot Turtle Moon Studios, along with a link to my current online Lucky Drawing class description and enrollment info.
Many thanks, Lucky / Susan Shie, in Wooster, Ohio. August 3, 2019.
Please keep scrolling down this page now, to see and be able to read my stories in the many detail images I've posted here, of my piece "Charlotte: Knight of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot." Thanks!
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