At roughly the beginning of the new year, Nina Paley took up a new medium: quilting. She has now completed Air/Nude, the fourth in a series of quilts honoring the 4 Elements. The other three, of course, are: Earth, Water, and Fire. This post is just a short note about Air/Nude.
It’s 77 inches tall by 23 inches wide and depicts a life-size female nude. The fabric is white cotton muslin and the stitching is in white polyester thread: white on white. The figure is rendered without adornment while the background is densely stitched in a variety of free-motion quilting patterns, some standards, some by Leah Day, and some of Nina’s own. Consider this detail (photo by Nina):
Here’s what Nina says about it:
I had bountiful opportunities to try new stitches and patterns. As long as the negative spaces were densely quilted, it didn’t matter what was in them. I tried various hexagonal-based “snowlflake” patterns, like the one above. In the midst of my experiments, Leah posted this Icicle Lights pattern, which is much easier than hex-based ones. Below it is an homage to DNA molecules, and a “scaly micropebbling” experiment.
DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, stitched into the background of a quilt that has a nude woman in the foreground. No artistic subject is more venerated and honored than the female nude. And for good reason, after all, women are the source of human life. And DNA is the source of all life on earth.
Source to source.
But also: Thread to Thread. DNA is the thread of life, and threads are the fundamental substance of quilting.