Art from Earth from Above

Earth from Above is the title of multiple books by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand which are collections of photographs he has taken from, well, above. I’m not sure if they’re taken from a plane or a helicopter, possibly both, but he was definitely flying when he took the pictures! The pictures are amazingly beautiful, but this post is about a show of fiber pieces inspired by the photos in Earth from Above. And in looking for another post I want to link to in the next paragraph I discovered I have already described the challenge quite a bit here.

September of 2011 at a quilt show in town is when I first heard about the challenge, and I think it’s when most of the first people involved heard about it as well. It was originated by a couple of my mother’s friends, and my friends too I guess, one of whom had found the books and was absolutely inspired by the pictures but decided she needed some help to make quilts out of all the pictures. So we all got started picking out pictures and ripping them out of the books to take home with us so they could inspire us (meanwhile the librarian and book lover in me cringed at ripping up books!). This is the challenge I created my Chocolate Hills piece for.

For about the last year this show has been displayed in several different venues (including, of course, Aunt Annie’s, the shop owned by one of the originators of the challenge) but for the first time it has come to my area and I got to see the whole thing together! Of course, I think that pretty much all the other pieces are way cooler and much better done than mine, but mine was the only piece with 3D needle felted parts! I gotta count the accomplishments where I can find them.

Anyway, the point of this post is not just to brag about my piece being in a gallery show, but to show you more of the pieces in the show. I went to an artist talk at the gallery today (it’s not quite midnight yet as I write this, so it’s still today!) and got to hear more about the processes of making the pieces from many of the artists, many of whom I know, and get some good pictures of the pieces. It was also interesting to hear the questions and get a perspective from people who are not fiber artists, mostly the gallery director. Of course that came with a little bit of the “fiber art isn’t really fine arts” vibe, but she was really very interested and sometimes we can’t help our prejudices. So here are some pictures and stories about the show!

Mary Ann had quite an interesting story about her piece, and a revelation about it too. She said when she walked in she saw the picture on the wall and thought it was her piece. Then one of the organizers asked if she wanted a picture with her piece and pointed at it, and she got confused because that wasn’t her piece! She had seen it and thought someone else had done a piece based on the same picture and, as she put it, “did a better job too”! So she realized that her piece is quite well done, and she really likes it. And we all got a good laugh. The piece itself is quite an interesting technique. It’s a bunch of little bits and pieces of fabric, which she put a fine mesh over to hold down. The original picture is of the destruction after the tsunami in Japan several years ago.


This is Claire with her piece (second down on the right) which is based off of a picture of an olive grove. I’m not sure what it is but this piece just intrigues me. I’m sorry there’s no close-up, I went back and took those afterwards and thought I got all the pieces that I had pictures of the artists talking about but I seem to have missed this one. The part of the piece that I think really just tickles me is that she used yarn to make little tufts to represent the individual trees. It’s just such a neat idea, and makes a lovely texture and dimension on the piece.

Debbie had several pieces in the show, but these are a couple of my favorites of hers. The one with all the circles is based off a picture of a crop circle and the fabric in the piece is all the same fabric, just used in different directions to give the illusion of different colors. I can’t think of the terms but it’s the type of fabric that if you look at it, or run your hand across it, in different ways the light hits it differently, because of the surface texture, so it looks like a darker or lighter color. I just love how that is the only differentiation in the piece, it’s like a real cornfield. And the shiny one is just neat and, of course, shiny. The picture is dead trees in water, I believe it’s a river, which is something we see a lot in this area, because of changing water levels, and I think is incredibly beautiful and eerie. And the piece just captures that perfectly.

In the challenge they tried to have people doing as many different pictures as possible, but of course there was some cross-over because it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what, and if a picture inspires you it inspires you, doesn’t matter if it also inspired someone else or not. So there were a few pairs of pieces both based on the same picture, which created an interesting insight into the creative process and gave different perspectives on the same picture. The first three pictures are a good example. The first picture is the photo that inspired both pieces, which is a picture of a graveyard surrounded by a ginseng field. They both have a pretty literal representation of the original photograph but one seems to have added in a symbolic element with the hand, and even the literal interpretations are quite different because of the materials and the textures those materials bring to the piece.

The last two pictures are actually the opposite, which just intrigued me. First is the inspirational photographs, which you may notice really only have flamingos in common. And second is the two pieces, which look incredibly similar. (the order of the pieces and the inspirational photographs is actually opposite, so the top inspirational photo goes with the bottom piece) One artist did a more literal representation of the photograph and the other artist chose to focus on the flamingos and create a piece that was more inspired by the photo than a literal representation. Coincidences like that just intrigue me, and the psychologist part of my brain starts to wonder about similar brain patterns and things like that.

And these are just two pieces I really liked and couldn’t resist posting pictures of, and then my piece, mainly because it looks very different hanging on a wall, so much so that I didn’t recognize it at first. The first piece I liked both because it was the only woven piece, and I just have to endorse weaving any chance I get, and because I look at the inspiration picture and I just see tapestry weaving, it’s just perfect for it. The second piece I just love because of the buttons. There’s some interesting symbolism in it and it’s a neat way to represent the stuff in the inspirational photograph, but I’m just gonna go with: BUTTONS!


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