Original art from repurposed materials
Growing up bi-culturally in America encouraged me to discern differences yet see the connections in the world around me. Negotiating the two worlds – the Latvian community within the larger American culture – helped me to see the layers of things, to use a critical eye and not just accept the seemingly obvious. The Latvian culture of my parents is rich in tradition and crafts as well as music and folk tales. Thrifty immigrants, my imaginatively-saving parents taught me by example to value and to be creative in reusing. My life-partner encourages me to continue that exploration.
Being attracted to visual contrasts and the unexpected, I enriched my world by seeing the everyday familiar in new ways. This led me some years ago to move from working in traditional techniques with fiber to integrating nontraditional material, such as wire and plastic tubing, with the fiber.
Other discards I have challenged myself to use are business reply cards, plastic blister packs, plastic bread and produce tabs, plastic wrap, cash register receipts, and packaging material. Painting, cutting, stitching, weaving, rearranging, and manipulating these elements to express an idea, but having them still retain a relationship to their former usage has been the challenge. Transparency overlays using text and echoing elements of the existing design are often used to further express the meaning and the idea of the piece and to enrich the design.
Having a day job in the real world where mail passed over my desk and time was spent on the phone, led my wandering eye at first to catch the color, line, and design possibilities in the American flag stamp. Further working with that stamp, cutting and rearranging it, led me on to explore the designs and colors of the security envelopes on which the stamps were affixed. This use of materials which others might just toss aside was a good fit for my natural thriftiness.
The traditional quilt format is the current context within which I use these materials. As women in the past sewed their quilts from leftover fabric and worn-out clothes, I have assembled and sewn my quilts from discards and leftovers. I am interested in how elements can echo each other, how they can be ordered into strong designs. The patterns and colors of security envelopes as well as stamp arrangements mimic fabric and I use them as such.
I enjoy the surprise of the viewer as they inspect and then discover the raw material of the quilts. I see it as a serious look at not so serious material in our very serious world.