American Village 2

American Village 2 by Candace Hunter, detail
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This piece pushed my skills a lot. Perspective is one of those drawing techniques I understand intellectually, but somehow I find it really tough to incorporate into my quilting. My drawing skills are rudimentary, which I think contributes to the challenges I often find in getting what’s in my mind into my work. I wanted to work with perspective in American Village II, using my initial work with technique (crazy patch, balance, framing) from American Village I.

Adding perspective into this piece turned out to be a lot harder than I’d expected. I pieced the crazy patch background, then found that background really distracting as I tried to add the perspective bits to the school. I auditioned several different versions of the football field and school before I found a set I liked, although even those weren’t entirely satisfying.

As this piece was coming together, it felt like I was losing control of the reigns. The background wasn’t balancing against the mountains and road, the spaces I’d thought were right for the school area and residence area didn’t end up the size and shape I later decided I needed. While I worked with the tree at the heart of this piece, I saw my grip loosening. I loved how the tree was shaping up, but the city clearly wanted to engulf it. I realized that my own vision was shifting. The energy of the city wanted to come alive and direct it’s own shaping here…and I wasn’t quite letting it.

I was afraid to just let go and let the city take over. I feared the city would overtake the mountains, the sky, the tree, and all that’s natural in the world. That, I have discovered, is one of my deep seated fears…or frustrations with life in my American village. Balance is a struggle amidst all the noise and bustle. We Americans are a people of extremes. That throws us off balance. It frightens me to see that happening in myself and my work, but it also speaks to something emerging in my work at the same time. American Village II is a slice of life as seen from a highway bridge. Kinda messy and not quite balanced or working, yet functioning as any American village does…in flux.

  • Size: 11.5 inches x 8.5 inches (29 cm x 22 cm)
  • Materials: Commercial cotton fabric, cotton/polyester thread, acrylic, ink
  • Completed: 2016
  • Series: American Village, #2
  • Current location: Private Collection, NFS

American Village 2 by Candace Hunter

My Thoughts on this Work

In American Village II, I was aiming to capture the view from one of the highways I regularly travel. I wanted to capture the dichotomy of the residential and school yard space that’s surrounded there by billboards, highway, and bustling commercialism. I wanted to capture some perspective on the area.

I loved how the tree at the center of this piece turned out…but again I don’t like how it’s easily lost amidst the colors and disjointed lines of the crazy patch background in that area. I worked with perspective on the schoolhouse and football field on one side of the piece as a progression from the flat, two-dimensional depiction of the residential area in the house on the other side of the piece. I don’t think that worked as well as I’d hoped. I loved the highway and rail in the foreground. I kept those simple, and they invoke the feeling of standing at a roadside overlooking the scene nicely. I like the mountains in the background, but again wish they’d brought more balance to the overall piece. The billboards in this piece didn’t have as much impact as I’d wanted, but they contribute well to the overall din of the center ground. I like the perspective the black and peach triangles in the space near the residential area offer; they’re like a set of roads that go under the highway, offering the idea of the highway being a bridge.

Overall, I’m not sure the crazy patch of this piece balances against the highway in the foreground and mountains in the background as well as I’d like. The idea of imbalance is already starting to emerge as a theme in this series. Despite that discomfort, I like the presence of this piece.

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