JERI RIGGS   Quilts and Beads


Some of my musings: Part of the fun, for me, in designing a quilt, is coming up with the "rules" for generating the piece. Each quilt has its own logic, internal order, and structure, i.e., "rules". These rules dictate the formation of the piece; the placement of colors, the rhythm of the pieces, the position of the lines. These instructions are like a road map, or a set of directions for producing the quilt; yet they arise while the quilt evolves. They are constructed from the quilt itself, yet they dictate its construction, thus, the process is one of discovering the rules that evolve as the rules create themselves.

This does make for some surprises, which in retrospect seem quite obvious and inevitable, and yet as the process of creating the work unfolds, they are happened upon in a delightful fashion. I know a rule fits when I feel excited and paradoxically at peace. Some of the rules can be classic, for example:

use each fabric more than once; echo shapes in several places, (try to move the eye to find the pairs), balance the work by lights and darks, avoid too much repitition in one area, include an entrance and an exit, etc.

Using a commercial pattern, or a classical pattern generally means the rules, or some of the rules, have already been worked out. This can be very comforting, but also naturally constraining, and frankly, boring! Occasionally I will feel in a fight with a quilt in process, as it rebels against the arbitrary rules I have set up, and begs to take its own direction. Or sometimes the rules are too vague, and I don't see where to go next. Until I set up the next path, I am lost, and I know a lot of brooding and thinking will be necessary before I can move forward in the construction again.

Rules will specify predictible and specific relationships within the piece, and will necessarily dictate possibilities and constraints. As I walk the line between chaos and order, I want to be able to use these rules and have the traditional relationships, but also allow for some unexpected, unusual and unique interactions that would not be allowed in the classic situation, but become possible only when the rules are stretched or new rules are invented.

Completely accidental, chaotic forms do not usually appeal to me; since I always search for order and structure amid them and grow bored if there is none to be found. Geometry, color, shape, and pattern are the currency for specifying the work; relationships arise out of the structure and forms. Some please: regular shapes, analagous and complementary colors, regular geometries. Some create tension by stretching the geometry or pitting opposing jarring colors against one another.

I love to play on the edge of the possible, but stay within the lines. Perhaps that is my conservative wish to make beauty and appeal to all; perhaps it is fear of escaping from the box and finding no sure structure or foothold; no rules.

I see my artmaking as illustrations for my personal journey, and I'm lucky to be able to play with color, fabric and texture this way... can't wait to see what evolves next!

I'll let you know!

Jeri Riggs August 2001
Copyright © 2001, Jeri Riggs