I inherited a passion for needlework from my mother. Like her, I was always sewing or knitting. Our projects weren’t just about the feel of fabric, the ritual of stitching, the promise of a new undertaking, or the satisfaction of doing it yourself. They were really about the thrill of color.
Thinking I was doing something different than the crafts I did at home, I majored in painting at Middlebury College. After graduation, I went to the New York Studio School for three years, 1972-75. At the Studio School, we aimed to be heroes, wrestling just as Cezanne and Giacometti had, with the challenge of shifting perceptions. Failure to live up to the revelatory moment of perception was a given.
I got an MFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art, studying in Rome for one year. I taught painting at Syracuse University and Hollins College; had residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, Millay, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Cummington Community of the Arts.
But I stopped painting in 1983, having somehow set standards for myself that were too high, or closed off avenues with a misdirected stubbornness. I wasn’t patient enough with myself. Turning to interests that had been on the back burner, I got an MA in Art History from UMass, and wrote on the arts for local papers. I knitted passionately; my book The Art of Fair Isle Knitting (1995) was in print for 17 years. I had, or so I thought, reframed my capital-A Art ambitions into small-a, less freighted, more folk-oriented art.
I had seen the seminal exhibit, Abstract Design in American Quilts at the Whitney Museum in 1971, and had made a few simple quilts in the 1970s. Quiltmaking, which I started in earnest in 1999, allowed me to realize that I could finally fulfill my art school ambitions to make complex, dynamic structures with vibrant color; to make, at last, Big Art. Now I am extraordinarily patient, working on one quilt for up to a year. I still thrill to color. The flux of perception carries me on.