Conceptual works often originate as a problem or frustration. Much like an evidence board in a crime drama, my work is an obsessive reflection focused on the diaristic, personal pain, and the everyday. Through the repetitive process of handwork, and the inherent layers of scaffolding within a quilt, I simultaneously reframe my stories and attempt to create a healthier future. I look to the microcosm of quilting using techniques that parallel my mental state and actions- focused on the verbs involved in joining, cutting, tying, mending, etc. Casting a spell is at the heart of the work.
My home studio is a place where the beginning and ending of artmaking blur, and my health, habits, and longings become monumental within the domestic realm. This comingling of personal and public is evident in my materials. The intimate contemplations of my Magical Thinking series wrestle with physical disorder and supposedly hopeless causes that leave me powerless. Having reached the limits of medical intervention, my work becomes the repetitive, obsessive, pitiful act of searching for consolation in the artistic attempt.
The thread and fabric scraps that accumulate as residual proof of my repeated efforts reveal the passing of time. I piece these materials with minimal interference so the viewer might sift through the shapes like a detective- or even an archaeologist. My actions are often guided by whims and physical practicalities: the quilts yield to fit my life as they are made, revealing my circumstances, and often function as a diary.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Before Heidi Parkes was born in Chicago, IL in 1982, her grandmother organized a collaborative family quilt to commemorate her birth. This set the tone for a life centered on the handmade- raised in a home where sewing, mending, cooking, canning, woodworking, photography, ceramics, painting, and plasterwork were the norm.
Now based in Milwaukee, her quilting and mending celebrate the hand, and her works tug at memories and shared experience. Often using specific textiles, like an heirloom tablecloth, bed sheet, or cloth tea bag, Heidi adds subtle meaning and material memory from the start. Ever curious, she works with a variety of quilting techniques including visible hand piecing and knots, improvisation, patchwork, and applique. Heidi pursues her passion for teaching by lecturing and leading workshops, and shares her creative process with thousands on Instagram.
Heidi has exhibited in art and textile museums across the country and was an Artist in Residence at Milwaukee’s Lake Park through the ARTservancy with Gallery 224 in fall 2020-21. Additionally, Heidi lives a handmade lifestyle, sewing her own clothes, fermenting, eating from pottery she made a decade ago, and practicing hand yoga, which she shares with other creatives on her YouTube channel.
© Heidi Parkes