I begin my work with white fabric because I see its possibilities. Fabric can be used in many different ways. It is an obedient, forgiving material. I want every process and technique that I use to contribute to the content of my work so I dye, print, and paint my own images. The nature of fabric is that it accepts color and so it is more responsive to me. I like to yield to what happens with the process while working.
Fabric is sensual and can be manipulated. It can be made to have weight, mass, and texture. It creates atmosphere by reflecting and changing its appearance in light. For me, the result is a material with the potential for an infinite expansion of expression and form.
I place myself solidly in a textile tradition and because of that I feel free to use any textile technique that would contribute to my work. I look back in history to see where I came from, but the new comes through my experience of working.
As it was with my predecessors, the embroiderers, quilters, and lace makers who worked with fabric and thread, time is not a factor when I work. I do not choose to reject a technique simply because it is laborious. I base my work on geological rather than TV time. I am obsessed with every colored spot of dye and how it looks next to another colored spot. The use of my fabrics has led me to create a body of work that begins from the dyeing and printing of the fabric to its construction on the sewing machine. Using the technique of free-motion embroidery on the sewing machine has allowed me to introduce texture and lace in my work and to build the quilts in a unique way. Rather than constructing and sewing them in the traditional way, I sew the work by piecing the individual elements together using appliqué, quilting, sewing machine lace, and embroidery. The lace work that joins the pieces takes advantage of the resulting negative space. This enables me to eliminate the background that is usually used to hold the image together. I want the technique to enhance my subject. With the basic theme of paradise and the use of my imagery I am able to use the various forms of plant life, flowers, vines, stems, and insects.
My objective is to produce a series of quilts that are motivated by metaphors of paradise and the evocative use of nature to inspire spiritual and uplifting feelings. I would like to place myself with those artists who have established an unbroken history of works of art dealing with the theme of paradise. The subjects that I wish to address are largely traditional, such as trees, garden, flowers, animals, fruit, and vegetables. These visual images offer me associations with many levels of meaning.
Japanese screens and 1st-century Roman garden rooms are historical examples that use nature symbolism. The wall paintings in Imperial Roman garden rooms of the late1st century BC and early 1st century AD were rich with symbolism. In these rooms people could refresh their minds while contemplating nature. The same contemplation was used as the basis for Japanese screens. The images on the screens were meant to inspire a feeling for the beauty of nature and the Japanese idea of mono-no-aware, the "pathos of things".
I choose trees, leaves, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and insects for similar reasons. I want to construct the character of nature and paradise from its smaller parts. I also want to bring perpetual summer indoors, the cool of the forest, the heat in the meadow, and the whine of insects in the grass.
M. JOAN LINTAULT