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jourUNfixe 2

Rosie Lee Tompkins und Half Square Triangles


A workshop talk with Britta Kadolsky and Carolin Kropff.


The workshop talk is dedicated to the wonderful quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins, her role in art from our point of view, quiltmaking and how Half Square Trinangles are made.

We cordially invite you to our second jourUNfixe on

19. 12. 2021 / 1-3pm.

There are fascinating combinations of ways to make a quilt, and there is an inherent connection of quilts to people, ways of making, time, and stories. My investigation into material-based ways of creating colourful surfaces by sewing and cutting textiles came across the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins.

The workshop referenced the exhibition: Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective of BAMPFA the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).

Her wonderful quilts are well displayed on the website and are not uploaded here for copyright reasons.

There are fascinating combinations of ways to create a quilt, and there is an inherent connection of quilts to people, ways of making, time, and stories.
My investigation into a more material-based way to create colored surfaces by painting (or dyeing, printing, sewing) and cutting textiles (such as canvases or those already worn by someone) came across the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins.

The workshop talk takes the exhibition: Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective by BAMPFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) as reference.

We'll talk about her wonderful quilts and invent a colourful block ourselves using a variety of fabrics - used and new - and following traditional block patterns like the Half Square Triangle, the quirky Yoyos, and embroidery. 

Rosie Lee Tompkins was synonymous with Effie Mae Howard (1936-2006. In the 80s of the 20th century, quilt collector and psychologist Eli Leon (1935-2018) discovered her quilts at a flea market in North Oakland and supported her from then on.
Rosie Lee Tompkins is widely regarded today as one of the most masterful and inventive quiltmakers of her time. Meanwhile, her work is no longer viewed only in the context of quilting but is established as art.
She constructed her patchwork pieces, which she did not quilt herself, from new and used fabrics ranging from velvet, felt, denim, and faux fur to glitter and polyester fabrics. In addition to the variety of different fabric qualities, the patterns also consist of a variety of seemingly improvised blocks, such as the Half Square Triangle, the Medallions and Log Cabin, in addition to appliqué, yoyos and embroidery, all freely and seemingly effortlessly connected. The colour contrast is vivid. Embroidered are numbers and biblical texts. She also picks up on contemporary events that were often connected to the lives of the African American population of the United States.
Effie Mea Howard was not interested in publicity, which explains her choice of a pen name. She was very religious and believed strongly that God guided her hand in her work.

jourUNfixe 2 allowed conversations about quilting as an artistic and social practice. Rosie Lee Tompkins' quilts served as examples for reflection. The combination of discussion and workshop with the material act of making, the physical, tactile recreation, opened up a shared exchange about material and immaterial conditions.
Together we discussed her history and her work. In the process of making, we gained a deeper understanding of the material qualities of the used fabrics, the patchwork construction such as the Half Square Triangle and the Medallion, and the improvisations and rule-breaking coupled with the social and spiritual references that are typical of Tompkin's work.
I would like to relate Tomkins's quilting to the concept of "silent activism": quiet and effective activism embedded in everyday life. According to an article I found on the Stitching Together Research website, the term refers to creative making that is largely dismissed and overlooked as domestic and amateurish. Often co-produced and reflective, the "making interventions" of amateur craft, which denotes a form of creativity, operates on the cultural margins but is at the centre of everyday life experience. In my eyes, this is a perfect description of her quilts and many others by many other makers.
JourUNfixe 2 was not the last workshop talk to explore participatory art-based methods of collaborative making. It takes the relationship between craft and material impact as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and others, to ask questions, find common ground, and reflect on the world we live in. We can make to secure a place in this world and leave our own fingerprint.;jsessionid=27thgo119wkw4.x-ic-live-03

Stitching Together-Research is a research network that brings together researchers, professional textile artisans, project commissioners and textile enthusiasts to promote critical dialogue about participatory textile work - making textiles with others - in research and practice. (Dr. Emma Shercliff (Arts University Bournemouth) and Dr. Amy Twigger Holroyd (Nottingham Trent University).

jourUNfixe was supported by Hessische Kulturstifung

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