‘Landings’ offers hope, beauty in dark times
Last updated 4/13/2021 at Noon
Creativity can sustain people through pain and challenging times. It also provides nourishment in ways never imagined. The pandemic inspired Sisters artist and educator Kit Stafford to create her way through the experience. She used her gifts and love of textiles and found objects to share stories about the “flight patterns” of loss, renewal, and reflection.
A show entitled “Landings” hangs along the western wall at Stitchin’ Post. It was scheduled for last April, but was postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Stafford invites people to come by to view her work until April 22.
Stafford is quick to point out that she is not a conventional quilter. Some quilters who saw the unique exhibit told her that the departure has liberated them to experiment with other ways of approaching the craft. A lifelong art teacher, Stafford is thrilled to think she’s inspiring new approaches to textile artistry.
The pieces speak through the senses, reflecting color, textures, and aromas of fleeting seasons. Her creation “Closer to a Lunar Landing,” hangs like a talisman to human efforts to overcome daunting odds. Pomegranate seed reds, merlot purples and salmon sashimi oranges shudder in rippling fabrics died, sewn, and even smoked, to speak succinctly to moments in time and heart.
Stafford explains, “This show represents what can happen when we give over to an instinctual freedom of thought. The pieces are markers of flight through time and space, a path of ideas accompanied by textiles and color.”
After taking in the show for the second time, local artist Sheryl Rudolph described her reaction in one word: impactful.
“I walked through and looked at each one deeply. Then I went back a couple of days later and looked again. The show is heart-centered,” said Rudolph. “You’re struck that yes, they’re wall hangings, but they’re also three-dimensional and sculptural. They also reminded me of little altars. The birds are beautifully devastating. We’ve all heard that thump on the window, and say to ourselves, ‘please just be stunned,’ but some can’t be saved.”
Stafford’s piece “Secrets She Had Kept Suddenly Landed,” begins with a frame intentionally reversed to reveal the texture and imperfections of what lies behind thoughts and secrets. A bird carved and wood-burned, lies in repose; its wings and delicate body stilled and graceful. A mirror shard hangs, possibly as a portal for viewers to consider their own secrets and stories. Stafford hand-dyed and smoked cotton fabric giving viewers a sensual experience evoking memories of burning leaves in fall, or smoke from summer fires.
“I was thinking of Icarus and Narcissus and the elements of fire and water meeting,” said Stafford.
She included a quote by Michael Ondaatje, “Some birds in the almost-dusk are flying as close to their reflections as possible.”
There’s a section of the show featuring small quilts with wearable, detachable pins. Proceeds from the $50 sale of each, will benefit the nonprofit listed with the quilted creation. There are twelve beneficiaries including Circle of Friends – Sisters, Seed to Table, Sisters Science Club, Deschutes Land Trust, and many more. Stafford says the social justice patches, or “awearnesses,” can be removed from their landings and worn to focus awareness on issues facing Central Oregon and beyond.
Art is a language Kit Stafford speaks. She was an arts educator for 35 years in private and public schools, with a special love for underserved youth. Her creative practices have included dance, theatre, sculpture, jewelry, metalsmithing, art books, poetry, art curation and collaborative community projects. She finds textile art to be an opportunity to give attention to thoughts, and to drift in a tactile world. She explains that cloth is of the hand — a contrast to all other materials she works in.
Stafford is grateful to have landed in a town that includes the magic and magnetic world of Jean Wells and the renowned Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Stafford celebrates the local, national, and international teaching artists who share their diverse visions and artwork.
“Closer to a Lunar Landing” was made with hand-dyed and painted wool, cotton, and grandmother’s table linens. She also used pieces of her first wedding dress, a beaver stick and silk slub threads.
“This landing took many unexpected turns,” she said. “I accepted the intuition coming down through color and shape —a moving from one gravitational pull to another. The root word, luna, means moon in Latin and dweller in Hebrew. The moon represents birth, death, reincarnation and a spiritual connection.”