32W x 27H
Many of you expressed an interest in seeing what became of the rusty train photos I shot a few months ago. Well, they morphed into my first SAQA Show entry. I had already taken these photos when SAQA posted a call for entries for No Place to Call Home, a show with the theme of homelessness. I may have shared that in real life I am a clinical social worker, and as such, I deal with this issue and many others in an all too real way. So, about the last thing I had any intention of doing was entering this show. I do make an attempt to keep my professional and personal life as separate as possible and this felt like it was pushing the boundary. Then I got the bright idea to base my quilt on all the homeless men, women and over 250,000 children that "rode the rails" during the Great Depression. I had heard much about this period from my parents, who both lived through it as children. They had it tough, but were never homeless. I remembered hearing a piece on NPR (my favorite) about the boxcar kids and an author who was researching their plight all these years later. It was a very touching piece, and all of a sudden I was on a roll with this quilt. I tossed all my other work aside in order to get it done in plenty of time to enter.
I was already in possession of some old quilt blocks I bought at a yard sale 20 years ago that looked like they contained depression era shirting material. So, I used some of them whole and others I cut up and mixed with new batiks. I went down to the Goodwill and bought some old jeans, cords and wool tweed pants and threw them in the mix (my friend Jessica would not let me use the zipper, she said it was too distracting, if you know what I mean). Then I printed out the rust photos on cotton fabric. I bought Photoshop Elements 8 last Christmas, battling for weeks with Walmart and my computer to get the darn thing to work. All in all, it was a great move, but I've gotta tell ya, I had to quilt just to calm myself down from the frustration of being so technologically challenged. Thank the lord I've got a calling plan that allows me to call my two boys every five minutes asking for help, and two sons who know that their Mom is dunce in this area, and don't care. Anyway, I'm starting to get the gist of it and it is amazingly fun to play with. So, I altered some of my train photos and printed them out too. While I was doing research for the quilt, I learned that hoboes actually had a whole set of symbols they used to communicate with each other to warn of barking dogs, police and Railroad Bulls or to give each other the low down on a handout. These symbols were hidden in the quilting. I decided on a deconstructed look that would mimic a torn blanket, perhaps carried in a bedroll for warmth on the boxcars. I topped the whole thing off with an old spoon I found smashed in the road this winter. It reminded me that many people found their meals in hobo jungles. Well, technology was used to digitally enter the show today and will keep my fingers crossed, but frankly I'm just too darn busy to worry about it. I'll keep you posted.