Nancy Beckerman – Pound Ridge, New York, USA
My quilts reflect the emotions and relationships of life. The contrasts represent life’s contrasts, contained by the undulating borders. Intertwining, interdependent, dancing, swirling…color shows life’s turmoil and excitement. My shapes are biological; composition adds structure and stability; borders may give it all boundaries, in space as well as time.
The hand appliqué process allows for slow, quiet meditation as I work. I use the hand quilting stitches as a layer of drawing, a design on top of the appliqued work. An additional layer of beading provides a counterpoint to the underlying image. Layer upon layer grows…and, finally, the piece is born.
Although my work is abstract, it is always reminiscent of biology, nature, and life on earth.
SAQA: When did you begin making art with fabric? Do you work in other media as well?BECKERMAN: I was a painter for many years before I started working with fabric, and my paintings and my quilts look a lot alike: similar compositions and colors. I don’t work with paints any more, although I never say “Never!”
I was inspired to turn from painting to fabric after seeing Quilt National in NY at the “old” Museum of Design across the street from MoMA. I found the quilts so exciting that I put away my paints and got out some fabric, and have never looked back.
SAQA: What inspires you?
BECKERMAN: I am inspired by nature, dance, music, and other artists (Picasso, Matisse, VanGogh, Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, and others). I also love the native American cultures and am inspired by their art (and their jewelry and pottery).
SAQA: What techniques and materials do you use?
BECKERMAN: I use cottons and blended fabrics, and often add beads to the surface when I am “finished.” As for my technique, I do all my work by hand (I am not friends with my sewing machine). I like to work with appliqué as I feel it affords me greater flexibility. I create as I go, rather than having a predetermined structure before I start…I like to see where the piece takes me.
SAQA: Where do you create?BECKERMAN: I have a studio where I used to paint and where I keep my stash of fabrics and threads and tools, but for the past several years I have been doing the actual work in my dining room!
I like to be in the middle of things, and I felt shut away when I worked in my studio. Of course, these days I don’t have children running around, so I can have all the peace and quiet I need to let my imagination soar…any place I like. I also enjoy having my work spread out on the dining room table so I can see it every time I walk by…and I also have one or more pieces up on a wall in the studio, facing the door, so whenever I pass the studio (every time I go in or out of the house) I can see them from a distance and contemplate!
SAQA: How do you reconcile the art-making and business sides of your creative life?
BECKERMAN: I am not sure I do reconcile the art making and the business aspect! I really concentrate on the creating part, and let the rest come as it may (or not). In the past I was much more interested in the business side of things, and was more motivated to show and sell, but lately I find that I am happy enjoying my own creativity and then will look for outlets for it.SAQA: What are you working on now? What’s next?
BECKERMAN: I am working on a piece I started in 2015 but never had a chance to finish. It is part of a series involving food, food fabrics, and nourishment. I usually have several quilts in process, but right now I have recently gotten back to serious work after a short period of time when I had to focus on other aspects of my life.
I like to have at least one quilt “in process” at all times, so if I have to spend time focusing on something else, I can jump right back into my work when I am freed up. Meanwhile, I keep looking at it and although I may not be working every day, it is on my mind and issues are “solved” while I am doing other things, so when I do pick up my needle, I am ready to go.