Gerri Spilka, Night Moves #9: Encounter, USA, 2021
By taking ordinary pieces of cotton and transforming them into forceful collages of luminous color, contemporary textile artist Gerri Spilka brings together disparate elements of quilting, modern abstraction, and human interaction to re-imagine work of traditional sewing into a visual narrative on the collective experience.
Spilka’s works bypass the purely domestic nature of typical quilting most remarkably for their color, scale, and movement. With some pieces as large as 95 inches, her works often have the presence of murals, or a modernist idea of a grand tapestry. While formally a structural component holding the layers together, the quilting stitches also establish subtle dimension and texture that can be transformed with the use of contrasting thread colors or directional shifts. Spilka hand dyes her fabrics in an antique ringer washer giving her complete control of her palette, which is confident and refined, and often restrained.
Similar to the active force of a painter, Spilka uses a rotary cutter to slice huge swaths of her hand-dyed cotton fabrics, the broad physical strokes producing freeform shapes by intuition. Sometimes beginning with a “small visual delight” such as a curve meeting a straight edge, or the visual resonance of two tones colliding, she begins to compose these pieces into “units.” Additionally, while her imagery is essentially non-objective, her abstract compositions have a certain universality. Spilka tends to work in series, each with evocative and slightly suggestive titles, such as “Night Moves” or “Interactions,” that allow the viewer to free associate.
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