Roberta BakerOakland , CA
I am a contemporary quilt artist. My work is mainly pictorial, often figurative, always evolving. The phrase “quilted paintings” aptly describes what I do. Some recurring elements in my quilts are skies, water, mountains, temples and altars. I often depict women of different cultures.
I work mainly with appliqué and digital imagery on fabric, using my own photos of nature, masonry and people. I also incorporate photos of completed quilts, which I crop and color-edit and then re-interpret as part of a new piece.
Color is very important in my life and in my work ! Each piece of fabric, even the smallest shred, is carefully chosen so the finished quilt will be rich, warm and harmonious. When I look at the environments we create for ourselves – our clothing, homes, the work-spaces where we spend our days – I see many drab shades of white and grey, many harsh colors that lack warmth and subtlety. Experts from many fields agree that color affects our moods. Color therapists find that light vibrations can improve our health. I have seen that people respond very positively to the color harmonies in my quilts. This is one of the key elements in my work and one of the reasons why I quilt.
Next is my love of traditional beauty. I am somewhat out of step with the contemporary art scene, where socio-political meaning is expected and intensive innovations often re-define aesthetics. My asethetic values are based on lightness, grace, balance, and elements of classical beauty. I try to embody these qualities in my quilts.
The third foundation of my work is spiritual in nature. I would like to reach a state of mind where quilting becomes a form of meditation for me: so that, whether I am planning, cutting, pinning, sewing, even ripping out stitches, my mind will be tranquil and focused and open to spiritual guidance and inspiration, rather than operating purely on an intellectual and sense-based level. Also on the spiritual level, my quilts often have a meditative, calming and up-lifting effect on other people. Many people have commented on this. Seeing my work as meditative and perhaps even as a form of healing art has been very enriching and transformative for me and this is a path I will continue to travel.
I have been working in the medium of art quilting for close to 20 years. I do not have a formal art background, and most of my body of knowledge and techniques are self-taught, self- invented or learned from fellow quilters. A field of special interest to me is “healing art” which can be displayed in medical or alternative healing settings. I have sold quilts to Oakland’s Kaiser Hospital, Summit Medical and Highland Hospital as well as private chiropractic offices. In 2003 I participated in the annual exhibit for El Dia de La Muerte at the Oakland Museum with two of my altar quilts. I have sold a number of quilts to the private collection of Adonal Foyle and to the collection of the Alameda County Arts Commission. Recently, my work has been shown at the Cinema Place Gallery of Hayward, The Gallery of Mount Shasta, Vignettes Gallery in Healdsburg, and the Thelma Harris Gallery in Oakland. I currently have a piece that is traveling with Creative Force 2010, a two year exhibit touring several venues, presented by Studio Art Quilts Associates.