Bay College announces the reception for the exhibition in the Hartwig Gallery, of artwork by Rachel May. Please join us on Thursday September 15th, 2 p.m. for the reception and Artist Talk.
Rachel May is a writer and self-taught fiber artist. Her image-text pieces have been published in the collection The Experiments: A Legend in Pictures and Words
(Dusie Press, 2015), and in journals including Michigan Quarterly Review
(cover feature), New Delta Review, Sleepingfish, Zone 3
(forthcoming), and Word for/Word.
She’s also the author of The Benedictines,
a novel (Braddock Avenue Books, 2016), Quilting with a Modern Slant
(Storey/Workman), a 2014 Library Journal
and Amazon Best Book of 2014, and Stitches in Time: Family and Slavery in Mercantile America
(forthcoming, Pegasus, 2017). She’s been awarded residencies at The Millay Colony and The Vermont Studio Center and is an Assistant Professor at NMU.
About ten years ago, inspired by a barren winter landscape and too much time indoors, I began making functional quilts and later helped to found the Boston Modern Quilt Guild, a group of younger women passionate about new forms of quilt-making.
Around the same time, at a writing residency in Vermont, I composed these strange written stories inspired by the resident artists' work. The fiber pieces naturally followed, helping to tell this legend, a journey story that features a sea monster, island-stranded people, and long, golden paths through snow-capped mountains. The further into the story I went, the more abstract the work became, and I began to see each piece as an experiment in form, texture, and color. I used a small Janome (quilting machine) to raw-edge appliqué cotton cloth, with cotton and silk thread.
I’ve since continued to experiment with the possibilities of fabric and words, and completed the Fabric Journal a year ago, playing with the idea of text and textile and interrogating the source and production modes of my cloth and thread. How does my personal story, written and sewn into these pages, intersect with the (predominantly) women who made this cloth and thread? Whose hands are stained pink to dye this cotton? Whose water is tainted? Whose life threatened in a sub-standard factory? How can I more responsibly make my work so that I’m not indirectly oppressing someone else?
The exhibition of her work can be viewed from September 8-October 30 in the Hartwig Gallery with reception, Thursday September 15th, 2 pm.