PACIFIC QUILT 21 x 24ft. (1 inch = 25 miles)
For the past few years, I’ve been making a giant, map-like quilt of the Pacifc Ocean, with varying shades of blue fabric to convey underwater topography, and sewn with quilting lines to describe surface currents.
The quilt is designed to be a domestic object and used as functional bedding, but with such a large size, it will not fit into a typical bedroom. In fact, Pacific Quilt will easily cover a queen-sized bed, flow onto the floor, flood the bedroom, and spill out the door. The intricate applique stitching makes visible typically unseen ocean depths, allowing one to see beneath the surface, and comprehend the whole of this huge entity that covers one third of our planet.
Why a quilt? This is the first quilt I’ve ever made, and I started work on the project soon after moving back to the Midwest, after many years of living on various coasts. So there’s certainly an element of longing in this piece: longing to be near the sea, and longing to bring this mysterious, vast, object into my daily, indoor life. Much of my work involves large-scale sculpture which interacts with and derives meaning from its surroundings. I see Pacific Quilt in the tradition of land art, with historical roots in the work of Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, yet also informed by the deeply personal and relational work of artists such as Sophie Calle and Tracy Emin. This piece is an autonomous, transportable sculpture, with an aspect of site specificity: it’s an intermediary object linking my bedroom to the Pacific Ocean, and vice versa.
Both water and fabric flow. Both cover. Both can conceal, reveal, and shift. Pacific Quilt proposes a link between our daily cycle of sleeping and waking, with the rise and fall of ocean tides. Like many of my other projects, there’s a connection between one’s indoor, domestic terrain and the exterior landscape.
This work is closely related to TIDE BED (a prior piece from 2005) and encourages similar metaphoric associations, now with the ocean solidified as a functional object. (And now, in addition to water levels shifting with daily tides, there’s also the slow sea rise of climate change in the back of my mind.)