12 June 2017

Laura Petrovich-Cheney wooden quilts

Four Play.

Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm of the 2012 hurricane season, left many shore-line New Jersey and New York houses in ruins; piles of debris were everywhere.  The home of artist and quilt-lover Laura Petrovich-Cheney was damaged and her family's summer home was destroyed.

Ms. Petrovich-Cheney found a way of processing the loss of so many homes.  She repurposed storm debris - bits and pieces whose small size belied the weight of memories embedded within them - into a series of "wooden quilts".  Five of her sculptures are on display in the exhibit What Remains: Wooden Quilt Sculptures of Laura Petrovich-Cheney at the  Fuller Craft Museum from Oct. 22, 2016 - Nov. 12, 2017.

In the Thick of It.

Ms. Petrovich-Cheney's work is also featured in the June/July 2017 issue (#87) of Quilting Arts magazine.  In the article, which has additional images from the series and of work in progress, she writes:
Each piece of wood collected carried with it the promise of reinvention.  The salvaged wood became the major source for the wooden quilt series.  I often had the opportunity to talk to the homeowners who told me about their home's history and also shared their memories and sorrows of losing everything.

Big Deal.

I believe that material has memory.  Sometimes, I just picked through the piles of trash and I wondered about the wood's former  life as a little girl's dresser - or a kitchen cabinet that held cherished china.  The intimate textures of this wood, with its chipped layers of paint, nail holes, and grain, tell a story and suggest a prior life in the faded colors and worn surfaces.  The wood was weathered, exposed, and open to new possibilities.


Five "wooden quilts" on display.

Ms. Petrovich-Cheney has master's degrees in both fashion design and fine arts and grew up in a community of women who stitched and quilted.  She describes her research:
Quilt patterns were an important inspiration for this work.  I found inspiration in the American ideal of pioneer women's can-do, resilient spirit and instinct for survival.  I learned that these women crafted quilts for warmth and comfort with scraps of cloth-scraps into which they breathed new life and new purpose.  I studied quilt patterns from early pioneer days, the Civil War, Gee's Bend, Amish, southern quilts.  In particular, I was drawn to women quilters whose lives were largely ignored by history, even while their handiwork transcended race, religion and culture.  Most importantly, the idea of comfort from a quilt inspired me.

Off of Center.