I don’t like to apply to exhibitions that have themes, unless I already have artwork that fits that theme. I know some artists that make pieces specifically for these exhibitions and they enjoy doing that. I have found that I struggle when someone else is deciding the parameters for me. I would much rather create what I want and set my own parameters.

As an artist, it sometimes frustrates me that the majority of exhibitions in museums, galleries, etc. call for certain themes. I completely understand that many venues want this. It makes their job easier to have a cohesive show and they can decide which themes they think will appeal to their audience. But I’m not sure it always makes for the best exhibition or shows an artist’s best work.

As a general rule, I don’t make an artwork for a specific theme. But, as you know, rules are made to be broken and, recently, I decided to give it a shot. Studio Art Quilt Associates has an upcoming deadline for a juried exhibition with the theme of Metamorphosis. That can be interpreted a lot of different ways.

I had an idea in my sketch book that I wanted to do (before I saw the theme of this exhibition) and I thought that I could make it to fit with the theme.

Here is what I made, with the idea of changing seasons.

The fail.

I don’t usually ask people for opinions on pieces I am working on. Occasionally, I will when I’ve got it all together. I realize I do this when something is bothering me or the piece is not working for me. I asked a couple of people I trust what they thought and got polite, unenthusiastic feedback, which only confirmed what my instincts were already trying to tell me. This was a fail.

This was the only piece I had planned to enter for the exhibition. I don’t really feel like any of my other artworks fit. Giving up on the piece meant giving up on the idea of the exhibition, which is one of the few SAQA themes I have been interested in. But I decided to let it go. It was disappointing to put the time and effort into it and not have it work.

However, I still liked my sketch and decided to salvage what I could. I took apart the two “seasons” and worked to make them individual pieces on their own. I liked the right side just fine without the left side and went ahead and stitched it as it was. Of course, if I was just starting the piece with that section I would tweak some things, but I wasn’t going to take this one apart.

Here is the finished version. This is still part of my Field Study series because my original sketch was inspired by the open field near my house.

Field Study (B2Rr2)
33-1/2″ x 32-1/2″
©2018 Lisa Flowers Ross

The left section needed some more work. So, I cut through the upper light section and inserted a new section. Also, I cut the bottom into sections and rearranged them. I couldn’t really add more to the sides, therefore, it ended up long and skinny.

Field Study (B3Rr3)
29-1/2″ x 13″
©2018 Lisa Flowers Ross

I am happier with them both now. I think the colors in both portray the “feeling” of the seasons (winter and spring). I want to revisit my sketch and re-interpret it as a whole, again, but not trying to make it conform to any theme. However, it is not a high priority right now because I want to go back to my Playa experience. I have two more ideas ready to get started on from that.


6 comments to Metamorphosis

  • Glenn Thurston

    The revised two piece design is definitely better than the original. The big brown curved sections in the two new designs doesn’t do much for the overall abstract pattern . I would just forget about seasons. Its probably to late to make any big changes but I would break up the big curved sections. Just a suggestion.

    • Lisa Flowers Ross

      This was an exercise in making what was already there work better. I see what you mean. Maybe the brown curves were too literal, representing a landform, but I didn’t feel like un-sewing sections.

  • Barb McKeon

    Love your Field studies piece! Nice editing on this changing seasons one…you have a really good eye for pulling into the piece and focusing on just that right section..I enjoy seeing your work…you have been busy!!

  • Cheryl

    Love the way you morph your work and yourself together! Both good pieces! If viewed in the exhibit, either one would challenge the viewer to consider the metamorphosis that took place. In my view , either one still fits the theme! I think you internalized the theme, then did your work. But are you sure they don’t fit the theme?