Daren Redman: Contemporary machine quilts
Based in Brown County, Indiana, Daren Redman finds inspiration in her surroundings, stating that she had ‘never experienced the four seasons more colorfully before’. The colors of the trees and flowers are the values and shades she chooses when hand dyeing her own fabrics. She photographs her travels and uses the enlarged photos as part of her process when making wall art.
Daren has been awarded two Indiana Arts Commission grants and has been chosen as artist in resident at the Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim for 2015. For three weeks she will dye fabrics to match the geology after hiking to the floor and back and create a large textile installation while there. She will then go on to recreate the installation at the Bloomington, Indiana City Hall.
In our interview with Daren she gives us a detailed description of her process and lets us have a peak at her red barn studio.
Family and Teachers
TestileArtist.org: What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Daren Redman: A trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, started my interest in textiles as art. We saw Navajo rugs and met the weavers and visited the Thirteen Moons Gallery and saw quilts as wall art.
What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
My grandfather made tarps and tents for the US Army during WWII, my mother made all of my clothes, my grandmothers worked with embroidery, knitting and crewel hand work to make household functional and decorative items. I made a baby quilt for my step granddaughter and then started attending 5 day long workshops at Nancy Crow‘s.
What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
I studied with Nancy Crow in composition design classes for intuitive cutting and piecing fabric techniques and hand-dyeing workshops by Jan Myers Newberry. I also attended Jozef Bajus‘ 3D shibori workshop.
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
My medium is quilts made from my hand-dyed fabrics. I rotary cut them in small to large shapes and sew them back together again on the sewing machine. Then I machine quilt and install hanging hardware on the back so that they hang on the wall. My machine quilting is basically semi-straight lines or follows the dye patterns, keeping the quilting simple. The simple quilt lines calm the boisterous piecing, and do not distract from the colors in the cotton. My art quilts are made to hang on the wall and include a sleeve on the back, with the hanging hardware ready to enjoy for years.
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
My work is all abstract. I have been using primary colors like the 1960’s op artist Stuart Davis. I like making large scale quilts to decorate commercial buildings. My works look best in homes that are contemporary because of their scale and abstract shapes. I take photos when my husband and I travel to Europe and within the United States. I have made abstract wall art from ceilings in Tuscany, buildings in Spain, waterfalls inside a mountain in Switzerland within the past 6 years. I take photos when I see shapes that I know I can cut and machine piece into contemporary art.
Process, Silence and Solitude
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I hand-dye white prepared for dyeing cottons, silks and linens with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. Starting with bolts from Robert Kaufman, I cut 1 to 2 yard lengths to dye in 6 quart buckets in a low water emersion technique. I work in silence and solitude out in my “barn” studio. About 1/10 of my stash of dyed yardage is Shibori. I use the itajime (clamp and resist) and arashi (pole wrap) ways to create patterns on my fabric. I carry water from our house and wash the fabrics in a washing machine. My stash is usually 400 shades for me to choose from. If I need additional colors and yardage, I dye for specific projects.
I then find an inspiration from my travel photos and cut up the fabric with a rotary cutter. Then I place the fabrics on my design wall to make strong compositions in abstract. My sewing machine is a Bernina 550QE.
My ironing, cutting and sewing furniture is all 6 feet by 4 feet. My studio is about 100 yards behind our house in Brown County, Indiana USA. We had an architect design it to look like a typical Indiana red barn. My side of the barn is 14 feet by 22 feet. My husband has his lawn and garden equipment and a work bench on his side.
Do you use a sketchbook?
I rarely sketch my work out first. And I do not make representational landscapes. I take my photos and enlarge them on the copier to up to 20 inches. I then translate this size into a large quilt up to 70 inches by just looking at the shapes and cutting the figures and grounds and then composing them on my design wall. I wish I could start making 12 foot tall works, but I the buildings I am in for public art are 8 feet spaces from the floor.
What currently inspires you?
I am inspired by the contemporary artists from the United States from the 1950-1970’s. There use of bright colors and figure ground motifs are inspiring to me as a quilt artist. I see shapes receding to the front and back like they did.
Autumn in Brown County
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
I was juried into the Studio Art Quilt Associates show Seasonal Palette to travel with the International Quilt Festival. I chose autumn because of the glorious leaf colors in the fall in our yard. I dyed cottons to match the leaves and cut them up to create a 76 x 34 inch quilt. The top part is yellow because you can not see the sky for all of the tulip poplar leaves. It is traveling and I can not wait till it comes back so that I can hang it in our home. Our art collection includes only 4 of my works that we hang.
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I see my work evolving in the future into more 3D textile installations. I will create a large scale installation of about 150 yards of fabric at the Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim. I am the artist in residence next fall for 3 weeks there.
What other resources do you use? Blogs, websites, magazines etc.
I have a website and blog which TextileArtist.org built for me. I tend not to blog as much as I should because I am in my studio or working in our yard. I cook lunch and dinner everyday. If I am traveling alone to attend a workshop or teach, I make dinner’s ahead of time for my husband. He is my photographer and I have been published with the latest 3 SAQA shows I have made quilts for.
Very few tools and very little water
What piece of equipment or tool could you not live without?
My rotary cutter, a 3 inch Nancy Crow acrylic ruler and my Bernina 550QE are the tools I use for every quilt. After a water outage during a flood in our county, I decided to stop wasting water by rinsing out the dyed fabrics before I wash them. During the water outage, I could not dye fabric for a project. This now affects other areas of my work. I do not buy fabric, thread, etc until I am out and recycle my scraps and studio items to teachers and other artists and to our recycle center in our county. I have paid to mail hand-dyed fabric scraps to Tokyo and Illinois.
Do you give talks or run workshops or classes? If so where can readers find information about these?
I give lectures and dyeing workshops when asked. I have some information on my website. But most times I tailor the dye workshop to the group. I teach people how to dye from ages 9-90.
How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
I seek out public art projects and SAQA juried shows which tour with IQF and other galleries in the USA. I have had gallery shows at local art centers in central Indiana. These are juried shows. I loan out my art to commercial buildings in Indiana. My next dream quilt is to create a large scale wall hanging for the University of Tennessee the Natalie Haslam Music Center. I now just need to ask them if I can make an art quilt for them. I graduated with a B.S. in Public Relations from U.T. and played in the orchestra with a violin scholarship.
Where can readers see your work this year?
My 17 art quilts are at the Columbus (Indiana) Learning Center until September. I have public art at the Mill Race Center, Columbus, Indiana and The Glick Eye Institute in Indianapolis.
For more information on Daren please visit her website: darenredman.com
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