Respect quilt no. 1 has rolled out of production as you see below!
If there is one lesson this work is teaching me, it is to focus on the center. Start at the center. Get the center right and the rest falls into place gracefully. It holds for stitching up a quilt as well as standing on one leg in a crane pose during T’ai chi.
As legendary martial artist Peter Ralston reminds us, “Centering is perhaps the best way to calm our thoughts and emotions. Putting attention and feeling in the center region of the body allows for a shift to a state of being that is calm, nonthinking but aware, balanced, in-the-body, grounded, present, and alive. It coordinates and harmonizes all movement in the body. Every action and movement is done with more power and control when directed from the center.” (The Principles of Effortless Power, p. 10).
In design, the center draws in the eye and creates a feeling for the whole. Yayoi Kusama understands that so well! Her Infinity Rooms are none other than spherical objects–with an invitingly open door. When people go inside, they are thus engulfed in the aesthetic, caressed by its special air and light, the weirdly round architecture giving us an unforgettable memory of coziness and wonder.
In fabric, things work a little differently, though I certainly hope people will one day wrap themselves in my Respect quilts!
The message is straightforward, if told through abstract shapes: in no. 1 (on the left below), the central red and black squares resemble the African continent (top) and a couple of ships bobbing at sea (bottom). They remind us of the slave trade, life’s vicissitudes, and the urgency of action. In Respect quilt no. 2, the central red and black squares resemble a curvy female form (top) and people talking or embracing under a blazing sun (bottom). They memorialize women’s vitality and community-building powers. None of this was premeditated; the images just came to shape when I unrolled that tantalizing package of African fabrics from Cultured Expressions: it’s magic!