March 7, 2018

New Work - Rabbit and Maple

Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno
Rabbit and Maple
 I am very pleased and excited to share my latest work, Rabbit and Maple. It's the ninth art quilt in my ongoing series, Flora and Fauna. It's a large quilt by my standards, 71" high by 86" wide, so I encourage you to click through and enlarge the pictures to get a sense of the scale.
Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno, detail 1
Rabbit and Maple, detail 1
 The series focuses on the animals that share my environment here in Pennsylvania. Each animal is represented by its skeletal remains--usually a skull. (With Skunk and Garlic Mustard I had the luxury of the entire skeleton.) Each also includes a print of a plant I associate with the animal, and some vintage needlework.
Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno, detail 2
Rabbit and Maple, detail 2
One summer I had a nest of baby rabbits under my red maple tree, and this is my response to and remembrance of the experience. The rabbits ran free; my skulls are all found objects or ethically sourced. 
Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno, detail 3
Rabbit and Maple, detail 3
 I took macro photos of the rabbit skull, altered them, printed them on transparencies, and made cyanotype prints from the images. I made a cyanotype print directly from a branch of the maple tree.
Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno, detail 4
Rabbit and Maple, detail 4
 I include vintage needlework as a tribute to and acknowledgment of my female ancestors who used needlework as a primary means of expression in an milieu  where they had limited options. Here, I used some exquisitely well embroidered flower blocks. I talked about their provenance previously in this post.  The patchwork I framed these blocks with encompasses my collection of personal and family dressmaking fabrics dating back to the 1940's, so in a sense they also qualify as vintage.
Rabbit and Maple, by Sue Reno, detail 5
Rabbit and Maple, detail 5
This quilt spent an unusually long time as a work-in-progress. I made the rabbit skull prints in 2010; I assembled the quilt top in 2013. I tentatively started and stopped work on the quilting several times before pushing myself to get it done this February. In part I was distracted by other ideas and deadlines, and in part I was intimidated by the size of the piece and the complexity of the quilting I wanted to do. (I don't have a longarm machine, this was all done on my domestic Janome.) But now that I have the luxury of hindsight, I think I have also been working through what this series means to me. I started it all in a lather of excitement, and have enjoyed each project, but have struggled a bit to verbally express what is driving me. The long hours spent laboring over this one gave me some time for reflection, and I am increasingly content to let the visuals of the work speak for themselves. Take from it what you will, and enjoy.

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