New York, New York
Stenciled and commercially available fabrics. Fused and machine appliquéd, machine pieced; hand quilted
59 x 52 inches
Robin Schwalb explains that this piece is another in a continuing series of quilts "examining the urban landscape, language, and mannequins. The heartbreakingly beautiful cathedral in the extreme background establishes that we're in Florence, Italy. The sneering clothing mannequin—-originally seen in a street market near the cathedral—parodies la bella figura (good deportment). While the street appears to recede in a plausible way behind her, it's all subtly distorted, combining details sublime or ridiculous of the city's historic center.
"This quilt took three years and three months to make; several factors made it so time-consuming. My unarticulated decision to include a lot of photographic detail, especially of the cathedral, without actually having good photographs of those details made for an awful lot of research. Even after I found photographs--in some cases, years after I'd begun the quilt--at the beginning my Photoshop skills were so poor that I was unable to take advantage of time-saving manipulations. And even after I finished one part or another, either the scale of the part was wrong, or I discovered that the look I really wanted was the cutout filter in Photoshop, so I had to re-do the entire cathedral. And on and on and on. The technique is frankly laborious—but it was really all these other dead-ends that made the whole thing qualify as semper tedium."
Note: This quilt is committed to be part of the exhibition "Semper Tedium: The Slow Art of Quiltmaking" at the Texas Quilt Museum January–March 2014. Please contact us for information about availability.
Contact Robert Shaw for more information or to purchase
More quilts by Robin Schwalb
Photos by Karen Bell