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Rachel Bates

Fiber
Birmingham, AL
@dizzyneedle

I first experienced quilting as a social activity through an invitation from a friend to join her sewing circle. I was immediately struck by the breadth of opportunity provided by the use of textiles as an artistic medium and began experimenting with an increasingly diverse array of techniques and materials.

Along the way I have benefited from numerous influences, both technical and formal. By its nature textile art invites an especially broad influx of subtle variations on established techniques coming from both professional artists consciously experimenting with new ideas and creative individuals I meet.

My approach to textile art is grounded in an appreciation of the way that it has evolved from its origins in practical home crafts into a contemporary, expressive medium. Quilting has always been associated with deeply held emotions and human connections-the women of the community coming together to transform outgrown and worn-out clothing into a source of warmth and comfort, and in the process create heirlooms that powerfully demonstrate a woman’s love, skill, and care to great grandchildren who may never meet her.

Beginning with that textile foundation, I then incorporate a variety of mixed media and techniques to evoke meaningful emotional responses in the viewer. Currently, my process focuses on the layering of fabric and pigment to create images that celebrate or highlight a moment in time. I select an image and define its composite areas using color and value. I choose fabrics that will capture qualities of value and texture. I layer fabrics in the composition creating depth and detail which I embellish with paints, inks, and dyes. I incorporate any number of additional media such as embroidery, crochet, and appliques to add nuance and dynamic motion.

My ultimate goal is to craft images that evoke profound emotional responses of wonder, legacy, memory, or joy while refining my approach to this art form by experimenting with media and techniques. Each piece seeks to create new personal connections and expand the scope of what can be accomplished in textile art.