"Olama: Two Guys and a Pie."Full view and statement.

by Susan Shie Contact me

back to 2007 Gallery page ////// Detail view.

Full view of Olama. ©Susan Shie 2007.
"Olama: Two Guys and a Pie." Full view. 2007. 57 "h x 51.5 "w.

In the private collection of Michele Hardman. Chicago, IL. She had Barack Obama sign this piece, which he chose to do on the back, on the rod casing.

Begun June 8, 2007. Finished July 10, 2007. #340 Detail view.

#16 in the Peace Cozy series. Dedicated to Michele Hardman, my friend who’s a full time Barack Obama volunteer, and to Luanne Moffett, fiery artist and my best friend who died in 1991.

Whole cloth painting on white cotton fabric from Test Fabrics.  Beginning drawing made with airbrush; then colors painted in with airbrush; then small, diary writing made with airpen and black fabric paint.  Machine crazy grid quilted.  Hand stitched writing in Obama’s hair, and one row of hand sewing inside edge of border. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. One Peace Cozy appliqué.  The diary writing is from June 8 through July 9, 2007.

I started this piece on June 8, when the film crew from Ohio TV was here to document how I work.  I had the time to set up the airbrush room and prepare an almost square, middle sized piece of white cotton to work on, but I didn’t have time to think out what I would paint, let alone time to sketch for it.  I just decided that I would work with Michele Hardman’s concept that Barack Obama, who’s running for President, and the Dalai Lama had very similar world views and ethics.  Michele is a full time volunteer working out of Chicago for the Obama campaign, and she got this theory going after listening to the Dalai Lama give a talk in Chicago in April, followed by Barack Obama giving a talk the next day.  As she gets to observe Obama more and more, Michele becomes more convinced of her Obama – Dalai Lama similarity concept. 

As for me, I knew I wanted Barack Obama to be our next President, when I watched him give the Democratic Convention keynote speech in June, 2004.  I had never heard of him, nor had Jimmy, Gretchen, or Mike, who all saw him with me.  We were moved and given hope, that here was a really worthy statesman, young as he was, who could turn our country around.  It was like listening to Bobby Kennedy again.  So I’ve been rooting for him ever since then.  And Anne Warren had taken me to see the DL speak in Pittsburgh about six years ago or so, and I’ve been kinda following him since well before that.  Man, too bad he can’t be our President!

So the film crew came, and I started my piece with my black airbrush line drawing, as their camera rolled.  I had no plans, so I just hit it!  (Now I think I’m done with this fairly recent attitude about how sketching ahead is good to do, since I think this piece worked out better as a first draft, the way I used to work.)   I drew Obama’s face, then the DL’s, both from memory, just as gestures, but in black fabric paint, which is how I work, sketches ahead or none, and I never look at the sketches to copy from anyhow, because I don’t want to get analytical.  Gave them body tops, and then decided to make them sitting lotus, but they ended up as one lotus-sitting Buddha.
I gave them a little begging bowl to hold together, but later changed that to a pie, a Peace Pie, when I got that better idea.  I just drew more lines around the little bowl, and when I later colored the piece, I painted it as the pie, not the bowl.  The pie is what you really see.  I put some Old Bags for Peace, my conceptual protest group, at the bottom, and put Peace Kitty, my idea of a very persuasive Peace lobbyist, standing on Obama’s side.  I put my Peace, Love, and Art symbols in their Buddha lap, and a nice Sun in the top right corner, smiling down on these two peacemakers.

Both men have huge third, brow eyes, for inner thinking, intuition, and both have my own symbol, chin eyes, but the Dalai Lama has four chin eyes, because he brings so much inner truth out to the world.  Both men have my St Quilta the Comforter’s heart and cross of healing doilies, and the DL has a little drawing of Michele Hardman on his right shoulder.

After drawing the whole piece, I switched to putting very pastel fabric paint through my airbrush, and I colored it all in.  Heatset it, with the camera still going, and started the airpen writing, so they could catch a little of that on the video, too.  Then it was time for me to go teach at QSDS – Quilt Surface Design Symposium, so we all took off.  I hung this piece at QSDS in my classroom, but never worked on it for a whole week, as I was subbing for my friend Rosalie Dace, teaching color and design theory classes, so Olama sat there, waiting.

When I came home, I resumed the airpen writing, and here are some of the topics I wrote about:  My teaching at QSDS; a rumor about Colin Powell as Obama’s running mate; our dog Hattie is now afraid of thunderstorms, in her old age; when I went with Anne Warren to Pittsburgh to see the Dalai Lama; Obama’s ideas on how the Right has hijacked religion in our country; going to Kendra’s shower at the Pine Tree Barn; how the Republicans don’t pick on Hillary Clinton, because they think they can beat her; do Obama and the DL both have dimples?; June 28, the iPhone went on sale, and the day before Microsoft showed some weird sci-fi coffee table computer, which I think is a fake; Robin’s gall bladder surgery; bio of the DL; on our 17th anniversary, Eva pooped in the potty for the first time, and Kendra got married; Obama’s life story; my comments on Obama’s Taking Back our Government video; Bush commuted Libby’s sentence on July 2; Stephanie and Kim’s wedding shower; a visit from Jimmy’s Aunt Barbara, Roy, and Laura;  Rhianna White interviewed me about the Green Quilts project; fireworks July 3; I LOVE reading Studs Terkel’s oral histories!; The Buddhist 8 Verses for Training the Mind;  I called Anne Warren, my Buddhist authority; pink Fiestaware for Stephanie and Kim; the waterfall bed; I watched Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet again; the Live Earth concert went on July 7, 07, all throughout the day, in all seven continents, as part of Al Gore’s effort to bring global warming to world attention; Cindy Sheehan said she may run for Nancy Pelosi’s seat in Congress; the tarts weekend with meeting at CoCo’s and Key Lime’s show opening at Pentagon Gallery; Eva’s fireworks fear translates to potty fears; Carol Barton sent me a link to the ShitVideo “OK” – a popup book rendition of them playing a song; a WAGE meeting will be July 13 at Joan Staufer’s, way down in the middle of nowhere below Millersburg, way below!; and a Co-op council meeting will be Sunday, July 15 – always stuff to do.  I put their birthdays on Obama and the D Lama – Obama’s is August 4, 1961, and the DL’s is July 6, 1935.  See Kundun, the movie, for a really cool story of how they found him as the next incarnation of the DL, when he was two years old.

I machine crazy grid quilted this piece, like I’ve been sewing for the past few years.  I did just a little hand sewing on Barack Obama’s hair – an affirmation about him being president in 08 – and ran my hand running stitch around the border’s edges like I always do now.  Sewed on the Green Temple Buddha Boy bead in the bottom corner, decided where the Peace Cozy would go (#16, on the pie in the middle, but I never plan ahead for where it’ll go, til the whole piece is done.)  Made a dedication on the back to Luanne, who woulda been 53 on July 9, after dying at 37, 16 years ago.  And to Michele, whose big idea this whole thing was.

I do tons of heat sets in between stages of making each painting, and I get to look at the back of the painting a lot during that process, since you iron from the back.  That’s what got me to working lighter and lighter:   I loved the softer, more pastel colors of the back sides of my paintings, and one day started painting with a more watered down paint, to get that look on the fronts of my work.  Heatsets are with a dry, very hot iron, slowly working along, and wearing a full respirator, to protect me from the chemical changes of the paint becoming permanent.

I love this piece.  It’s about a young politician who’s just stepping into world politics and a monk who’s hoping to drop back from world politics, now that Tibet has some better representation, kind of.  And about how they both feel you have to embrace your opponent and work toward justice for all, together.  It is about living in the world with Love as your base.

Thank you, Michele, for the many insights you've given me about Obama and the Dalai Lama, and for your gift of working with Barack Obama.

Let’s vote in Peace, Love, and Light for the world, which needs it so badly right now.

- Susan Shie, 7-26-07, in Wooster

Turtle Moon Studios: Outsider Art Quilts and Paintings
Susan Shie and James Acord

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