The Artist

I am an art quilter exploring stories starting with a photograph.

Vintage images, family albums and camera phone snapshots documenting my life are my primary subject matter.  Every art quilt I make has a rich subtext - a hidden story.

Creating allows me, as an artist; to think deeply about my life and celebrate the joy I find everyday

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My process starts with a digital image. I use photo manipulation software to enhance or create a new composition. The digital file is sent to a commercial fabric printer. When the fabric arrives in my studio, I use a variety of  materials including dyes, pigment sticks and paints directly on the cloth.  As I quilt through the cloth, batting and backing; I am  drawing with thread to create a rich and visually exciting  work of art.

Margaret Abramshe was born in Honolulu Hawaii in 1959 to family of academics. She studied for her BFA at the University of Colorado at Boulder, received a degree in Art Education from Florida International University and a Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Northern Colorado. She spent her career as public school educator, a mentor teacher, wrote numerous grants and was part of district wide curriculum writing teams in Jefferson County Colorado.

Since retiring, Margaret has devoted her time to being studio artist working as an art quilter.  In the past three years Margaret’s art quilts have been included in numerous local, national and international shows.

Recent Posts

Invest in your Art: Empty Spools Retreat

I spent last week at “Empty Spools”, a quilt retreat located in Asilomar. Asilomar is a California State Park located just north of Pebble Beach. It is stunningly beautiful. The retreat lasts for five weeks and offers workshops in traditional and art quilting.

Participants often return year after year with friends who make this more than learning experience; it becomes a tradition. I went with a seasoned participant who knew the routine and helped me find my way around the various buildings on the property . We have already decided to take the leap again next year.

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Taking the time and investing the money to go to a retreat like Empty Spools has helped me to sustain my creative process. The class I selected was Map Play. As you may know, I focus on creating portraits and have dipped my toe into landscape. You might wonder why I took a class that focused on something outside my area of interest. There are two reasons I chose this class: the instructor and to learn a process I can apply to my own work.

The instructor was Valerie Goodwin. Valerie is a Professor of architecture teaching in Florida. According to the description of the class, the focus would be on understanding and using design concepts. She presents the class with a visual problem to solve. This kind of instruction allows students to experience a process of visual decision making that can be applied in their own studio.

Valerie described how a map is abstraction of a place that provides the reader with information. She showed examples of maps that show undeveloped plots of land in a urban setting, a map of a power grid, a map of burial ground discovered when a building was being excavated and many more. Each map tells it’s own story.

In my simple map quilt, I created a highly abstract map of drive through the Pebble Beach Community. The composition had three zones which stretched the length of the surface. I focused on my memory of the drive and isolated what I saw; homes, the road, fences and  the coast.

The visual problem was to make a map that included two opposing concepts: expansive/enclosed, order/chaos …….

The road would divide my opposing concepts. On one side of the road was the ocean. The other side were buildings in stages of construction. The view was from above. What struck me during the process of making the composition was how easily it flowed.

  • Using systematic thinking helped. First Decision: What place was I going to map? Next Decision: What information did I want to provide? Big Idea: What were the opposing concepts found within this map?

During the work period I thought about how we could only see the coastal waves when there was hole in a construction fence because the established properties where enclosed by walls and barriers. This struck me as being important. It was a metaphor about the wealthy being able to control their lives in a way that is impossible for most people.

I took a risk and cut some holes in the surface. Valerie was very interested in this idea and suggested I add a few more holes to balance the composition. I was pleased with the result and was happy to have a skilled teacher guide me in making design choices.


In the my June blog I will share with you the techniques I learned in this workshop and how applied them to my own work.

Until next time….
Margaret

 

A Professional Tribe

At a recent quilt guild show, a fellow quilt artist mentioned they did not join SAQA because there were “no meetings.” Her expectations centered around a perception of SAQA as organization just like her local quilt guild would be if it was only made up of art quilters. This conversation made me think more deeply […]

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Not All Art Quilts Are Flat!

As I write this post, I looked  down at the calendar I almost missed the fact that this is the first day of March! Another year sailing by too quickly. My life since retirement has increasingly been focused on creating work for entry into art quilt exhibitions. The first three months of this year contain […]

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After the “Road to California”

 Last year I wrote a post about my experience entering my first art quilt in a traditional quilt show in Ontario California. “ By the end of two days at the show I learned that I needed to improve my technical skills and rethink what might be a better fit using my current technique. I […]

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It’s a Plan

  Planning for a New Year A favorite author, Donna Leon; said in an interview “I write one page a day and by of the year I have written another book.” Taking each day to accomplish something toward a larger goal is a strategy I employ. I no longer put all my energy on getting […]

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