Geoglyphs: Quilts by Roxanne Bartel, Sheryl Gillilan and Sondra Hodson-Rosier
Lower Urban Room, Salt Lake City Library
Exhibit dates: August 21-October 1, 2021
A geoglyph is a large design or motif produced on the ground and typically formed by clastic rocks or similarly durable elements of the landscape, such as stones, stone fragments, live trees, gravel, or earth.
The three of us have been quilting for 25 years, critiquing and energizing each other in frequent gatherings with other long-time quilting friends. After a trip to see petroglyphs near Moab several years ago, we pondered how humans have used the land as a blank canvas for thousands of years, driven by instinct to mark it artistically with hard and enduring materials. Speculating how we could “make our mark” in the modern era, we were inspired to create quilted renditions of geoglyphs using an opposite medium—pliable, impermanent fabric.
Sheryl has always been fascinated with aerial views of fields, and realized they are not usually the scrappy “crazy quilts” depicted in literature, but much more geometric. Each farmer independently plants crops in an allocated space, but when viewed from above, there is a serendipitous combination of full, half, and quarter circles and squares, sometimes stretching as far as the eye can see. (Interestingly, a quarter circle in a square is a time-worn design as well as a very old quilt block called Drunkard’s Path, whose simple blocks can be rearranged to form an endless array of patterns.) Sheryl’s quilts are based on actual fields, as well as those entirely imagined, and use commercial, hand-dyed, kimono, and marbled cotton and silk fabrics.
Roxanne is intrigued with trunk and branch forms, and the negative spaces they create against the sky and land. Channeling a combination of Western and Eastern ethos, she imagines fantastical trees that bend, curve, twist, and stretch artfully upwards. Roxanne also pieces her backgrounds in straight lines and scintillating colors as a foil for her undulating trees. A master of value and texture, she dyes, over-dyes, and stamps much of her fabric, using silk, velvet, kimono, and upholstery pieces.
Sondra’s quilts are inspired by skyscrapers rising from the earth, featuring irregular lines and shapes that suggest a field of doors and windows stretched vertically. Quilting in the modern style, she uses asymmetrical design, improvisational piecing, and colors that are bold, mostly solid, and high contrast. Sondra studied with fiber artist Nancy Crow for many years, and was heavily influenced by her free-form cutting techniques that encourage spontaneity and personal expression. Sondra uses commercial and hand-dyed cotton fabrics.