Flora, Fauna and Flow
Contemporary Quilts – Inspired by Nature
Presented by Sue Reno
Sue Reno is an award winning fiber artist who lives and works in Lancaster County, PA. Her rich and intricate art quilts reflect her local environment and incorporate imagery drawn from her studies of botany, wildlife, and the Susquehanna River.
Sue grew up in central PA, with a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage that valued self-reliance and a strong work ethic. She began sewing at a young age, making clothing and then quilts from the dressmaking scraps. Her early quilts were traditional, giving her an excellent grounding in sound craftsmanship.
But quilts have always followed fashion and reflected the trends and technologies of the times. Sue began incorporating modern design elements into her quilts, and moved them from the bed onto the wall. Today she employs surface design techniques including cyanotype, mono printing, digital image transfer, and needle felting as the basis for works that also incorporate hand painted fabrics, hand and machine stitching, and beadwork.
For Flora, Fauna and Flow, Sue is exhibiting a large group of quilts from her ongoing textile explorations. Flora is represented by quilts depicting plants from the garden and leaves collected in the woods. Jack in the Pulpit was inspired by a specimen that volunteered in a flowerbed. She printed photographs of it, and made cyanotypes and monoprints directly from the leaves, harvesting only one or two a year over a three year period so as not to stress the plant. Plume Poppy is a life sized depiction of this huge, architecturally grand perennial plant. The vivid white and Prussian blue of the cyanotype is softened by stitching and beadwork. Sycamore uses leaf prints, photographs, and extensive beadwork with semi-precious stones to represent the textural richness of these splendid trees.
The Fauna quilts feature skulls of native mammals; she is fascinated by their structure and inherent beauty. She photographs the skulls and uses the images to make cyanotype prints, and combines them with leaf prints and bits of vintage needlework. Skunk and Garlic Mustard has both the skull and the delicate small bones of the skeleton—her daughter found them and gifted them to her for Mother’s Day. Groundhog and Green Bean records the saga of when groundhog was victorious and the vegetable garden was subsequently fenced in.
Sue grew up near the Susquehanna, and loves to hike the river trails in Lancaster and York Counties. The ever-changing conditions of the river are a constant source of inspiration, as evidenced by the Flow quilts. Ice Jam was made one winter when the river froze and thawed repeatedly. Sue used felted wool, hand printed cotton, and lots of sparkly beads to capture that experience. Her tour de force, 52 Ways to Look at the River, was a yearlong project in which she traveled to the river each week, took a picture, then made a fiber panel in response. At the end of the year she combined them all into a huge quilt that marks the passage of time and the seasons.
A reception, where you can meet the artist will be held on Saturday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Olewine Gallery of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art. The event is free but registration is required. Register by calling 717-692-3699. Light refreshments will be available.