Leah Evans Textiles
Throughout history, all craft mediums have been used to create maps or relate ideas about land and our relationship to it. Working in cloth allows the use of certain metaphors. Seams created by cutting and piecing suggest boundaries. Seemingly arbitrary borders reflect ownership and the parceling of land. The subtractive technique of reverse appliqué, where layers are cut away to depict shorelines and riverbanks, mimics erosion. Additive techniques, like embroidery, needle felting, and appliqué, can be symbolic of development. These approaches to textile work are also tools that help me explore the influences we have on the landscape.
My current thematic focus is the ways in which people impact their environment and, in turn, how the environment affects people. The pieces are influenced by aerial photography, maps, and satellite imagery, but are not always based on specific places. Mining, agriculture, water use and treatment, nuclear power, and oil extraction are frequent subjects of my work, and are meant as visual reminders of the changes we create in the land. Similarly, components of my work demonstrate the influence of nature on our
constructs, such as a river changing its course, thereby causing a shift in property divisions, and shifting coastlines due to climate change.
My quilted wall hangings consist of layers of the following techniques:
appliqué, reverse appliqué, piecing, natural and synthetic dyeing, needle felting, and a variety of embroidery stitches. I do not use a computer or any imaging software in my work. Often, I choose hand tools and hand processes over electric. Overall, there is a balance between hand and machine work. Tools I use most often include chalk, needles, rulers, compass, scissors, staple gun, seam ripper, and a home model Kenmore sewing machine. Nearly half of the materials I use are salvaged. With fabrics gleaned from thrift stores, garage sales, upholstery remnants, and cast offs of family and friends, my work is in keeping with the quilting tradition of recycling.