Interstate Dance: a Backside Story

Artist friends of ours stopped by the other day to deliver some art and, while they were here, of course had to see what I was up to. The textile piece of the wacked out I-5 Interstate was lying on a table, wrong wide up.

And, once again, I found myself being told how beautiful the backside of the work is. For painters (as these friends are) the unvarnished (I mean, un-snipped) backs of quilts seem magical. Or so they have told me, again and again.

This could make a serious artist crazy. It was the front that I was intentional about. The back hadn’t even been cleaned up yet. Which was, they said, part of its charm. It is, I said, what would make the quilt police go stark raving mad:

But you know, given the delight in sloppy craft these days, perhaps they are onto something. I am growing fonder and fonder of this backside.

It’s a low-water dyed blue-black cotton (the front is silk). And the bobbin thread was varigated black/blue/pinkish-white or blue or white, depending upon what was happening in the front. There are bits of the top thread (mostly orange) coming through where I didn’t have hold of it properly or where the tension was a bit off. But the back does have that charm of a black and white drawing, with mysterious hanging niblets. Perhaps I should just enter into the upcoming exhibit with a photo of the back, as is. And skip snipping off all those hanging threads and nubbins of orange that appear there. I’ll think on it –June

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5 Responses to Interstate Dance: a Backside Story

  1. Reva says:

    I love that view. So mysterious and evocative, at least in the photo. What a dilemma, huh?

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  2. JUne says:

    Lia, I don’t remember that bit from Cather, although in Kansas I taught My Antonia a few time.
    Sheila, my brain can’t handle front and back deliberately, like Fallert’s seems to have been able to. I think I would float these on canvas and let the front (backed to the canvas) be a surprise.
    Del — I don’t remember the back of Crowsline. Do send me a photo — it would make me smile a lot. And perhaps even encourage more nonsense along these lines:-)

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  3. Del says:

    Viewers always enjoy the back of “Crowsline”, as do I. I have hung it front side to the wall, just to enjoy the wacky back with the crows done all in black thread. Do you even remember? I’ll take a picture of the back and send it to you. Love, Del

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  4. Sheila says:

    That is unbelievably cool – the interstate at night! This just means that you have to do one of those hanging sleeves that allows you to display it either way – or better yet, enter it as something that has to be hung such that both sides can be viewed. There was a lot of that sort of thing being done at one time. Think Carol Breyer Fallert and the Migration quilt that won top awards at Paducah. I went that year and so was able to view it in the round. People were as fascinated with the back as they were the front.

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  5. Lia says:

    Wow! what a lovely night-time scene. You must have read and taught Willa Cather’s works in your former life as an English prof– she referred to My Antonia as “the wrong side of the tapestry” (or something like that).

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