Red wall hanging
The Gallery of Martha K. Grant
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Art cloth, complex cloth, surface design--all terms for the design and decoration of fabric that has no other purpose than to be what it is, a work of art in and of itself. My original teacher and mentor, Jane Dunnewold, author of "Complex Cloth," has been the primary force in this movement. Most of the fabrics in this process have begun their life white or a natural color, and are of a fiber found in nature: silk, cotton, rayon, linen. These take the dyes (fiber-reactive, lightfast, washable) beautifully. Some I over-dye several times for varied interesting effects. On occasion I start with a black fabric and work backwards, stuffing it into a stocking, wrapping it on a pole (shibori technique) or folding it, then pouring a bleach solution on it to discharge some of the color out.

I have created a design library of over 50 silkscreens and add to it regularly as the Spirit suggests a new theme or what I have come to see as a new dialect in the language of this interfaith dialog I am currently exploring. Later the Spirit of the fabric might suggest a particular garment that it wishes to "live" in, but at the beginning of the process the task (and the joy) is to create a piece of art on this particular length of cloth. It is similar to working on a very large canvas, for the entire surface must be integrated, decorated (even if the "decoration" is the blank quiet spaces), connected. The eye flows through the entire piece as it does across a painted canvas.

As I learned in my years as an abstract painter, I must let the design suggest itself as the process develops. I may begin with a rough idea but then I let ego-control take a back seat and let each step deterBlue and gold clothmine the next, often to my great surprise. The same process happens, incidentally, in the writing of poetry. The poem has its own mind, knows what it wants, has to wait for me to get out of the way and let it tell its story. A case in point: "The Muse Is IN "

Yellow and Purple Cloths
Art Cloth Slides
Art Cloth Slides
Green and Yellow  Cloth
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