January 31, 2006

Phase Why: The Making of Crazy Quilt' II

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Crazy Quilt Of The Parrot Goddess II (in progress), digital net art by Catherine King. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form. Larger image here.

by Catherine King

I discussed it with Jerome, and we both think it's okay to share some of my work in progress, in fact the greatest piece of art I've made thus far-- CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II.

The reason why I want to put it out there now, unfinished as it is, lies deep inside a well of apocalypse. CRAZY QUILT' II is a haunted piece, just like ROOMFULL OF PHANTOMS, and it's taking a hell of a toll on me. ROOMFULL OF PHANTOMS was a cakewalk compared to CRAZY QUILT'. As with ROOMFULL, I'm going to finish CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II come hell or high water, but just in case some even worse disaster happens, this is what I was working on as of January 31, 2006. . .

This piece of digital net art began about six or seven weeks ago. Sometime early in December. I was doing art on the computer again, and it felt so empowering-- downloading, getting stuff web-ready, cropping, scaling. I was making Green Bird Banner, and the lovely Green Beings stirred me to recall a time when I did a lot more computer art. Making computer art was soothing, and fullfilled a need that nothing else could. I could feel that place inside me being touched again.

It was visceral. "This is just what the doctor would order." Was I sitting before the computer or floating on air? as I bubbled over to Jerome, gushing with satisfaction. I was relearning old stuff and learning new things, too. You can see the progress I made between GREEN BIRD BANNER and CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II. In between were dozens of hours of work. Making computer art was empowering, I remembered alright. But it also gets exhausting-- the feeling of having to reconstruct everything, every day.

CRAZY QUILT' does for sure have intense emotional energy swirling around it. There's a world of despair behind the Parrot Goddess' beautifull form. If you haven't read ROOMFULL OF PHANTOMS yet, go and read it now. I recognize that same dark helplessness as I struggle with the 'QUILT'. This is why I believe the piece is haunted.

Beautifull things can hold tremendous pain and sorrow beneath their surfaces. Right now I'm thinking about the original CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS. Oh, you should have seen it! This crazy quilt gets really gorgeous, people, when I put all the glistening long hair, red, yellow and purple roses and lacy ghost faces on either side of the Parrot Goddess. And then when I put the waves of different colored lace emanating from her Green Knights in their quarters!

It was gorgeous, I tell you. I can still see it now and it drives me on. She leads me through paths of persistence and incredible pain, the Parrot Goddess. I can't say that she means no harm, but I'd drop her like a hot potato if I believed she was Evil. I wouldn't come back, over and over again, and keep pathetically plugging away.

You can see the Parrot Goddess exactly as she first appeared to me in The Bellringers. When I witnessed how the Ray of Power made her body glisten like a shell of green gold, I knew the bird was divine. Then when it came time to make my digital homage to the Green Bird Diety, I determined that She was a Goddess.

Being both observant and practical, I wanted my digital homage to be dual-purpose. It wouldn't detract from the worth of my offering if it could also be used as a new banner for The Tears of Things. That it was bona fide could be seen in the format She required-- like that of US currency.

Being also frugal, I decided that I already had enough material on hand with which to make my offering. Clicking and dragging on fields of lush flowers, heartbreaking lace or luminous orbs was like cutting out squares for the most luxurious quilt. The fabric-lover in me was already enchanted. I would make Her a quilted offering, lovingly stitched by hand on my computer.

It was going to be such long, hard work with only me at my quilting bee. To make sure it was also lots of fun, the Parrot Goddess' quilt would be a Crazy Quilt-- I could scale, copy, flip any-which-way, rotate, group, ungroup and overlap freehand, completely intuitively! That's what I love so much about the Crazy Configuration-- you need no pattern.

I saw a lot of Victorian Crazy Quilts in San Francisco in the early Seventies. I can still remember how they looked and felt as if I were holding them in my arms and caressing them right now. They were, without doubt, the real thing, although still a dime a dozen. I slept many nights under mine, never realizing it was haunted. But then, everything is. Victorian Crazy Quilts are made from the darkest, richest materials, and then, to top it off, you have the virtuostic use of embroidery to forever link the disparate pieces of many tear-drenched lives. . .

Look at Phase W of CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II. It's all made out of squares, the most basic shape on the computer. Every one of the hundred thousand pieces except the American Flag and the portraits of the Parrot Goddess and her loyal Knights. Their definitive footprints cannot be reduced. So they Standup and stand out as larger rectangles.

The Parrot Goddess presented a profile portrait to me and it just seemed that such a classic display required a laurel-like wreath to embrace it. Which must, of course, be constructed out of the crocheted and sequined ruffles of my All-American Betsey Johnson Chartruese Skirt. So I cropped the classic wreath squares from the first COSMIC WESTERN in PORTRAITS OF CATHERINE.

But I could take it from Classic to Baroque by layering the Goddess' cameo with strands of pearls, I figured, picturing many Holbeins. Next, it wouldn't be too much, I somehow intuited, to wrap the chartruese ruffled, sequinned and pearl-embellished wreath with lengths of American flag ribbon. The pearls and the flags all came from FOUR FLAGS WITH PEARLS from The House of Not For Sale.

My Goddess shows her divinity by wearing the archaic symbol of a crown-- I can't help it if She's primitive, and The Crown isn't my invention. Besides, She does whatever She wants, being an archetype. She lifted her stunning jeweled topper from my Escada bolero, which you will recognize from LUCKY WOMAN WITH APPLES. (Oh yes, and there's me again with my Escada bolero and The Psychedlic Leprechaun in EL LEPRECHAUN PSYCEDELICO.) Her excellent taste confirms her godly lineage, don't you agree? (The Parrot Goddess' lineage, not mine).

I bordered the 'QUILT' with extended American flags interspersed with delicate, evocative Christmas flower lights from 2004's MERRY REVELERS. How many Christmases Past does that seem?

Phase X of CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II shows how I grabbed an apple from LUCKY WOMAN WITH APPLES to rotate and multiply around the inner edge of the Chartreuse Crochet Wreath. The apple ring would perfectly set off the orb-studded portrait oval around the Parrot Goddess.

For She required that She be surrounded by a minutely-pavéed field of spiritual admirers. Every one of the hundreds of circles and specks that you see surrounding the Parrot Goddess represents a spirit person. Those are pretty small squares to piece together, let me tell you. I used both hands, spotting my left hand for my right when it was getting too stressed. The Parrot Goddess' beauty has been paid for, with interest.

I felt like a jeweler as I collected then set in all those many orbs in Phase X. You may recognize The Beautifull Stranger and the spooky red orb from THE SHORTEST NIGHT. So you see that quite literally every square tenth of an inch is filled with human life and death. There is no part of CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II that is not layered and packed with meaning.

Nothing I selected to put in the 'QUILT' is random. I'm hard-pressed to think of another piece of art so densely purposefull. She insisted that it be so. I could do no less. I knew I was doing something almost crazy-- clipping and shrinking and oh so carefully layering all those orb photos. No, not once, but twice.

Don't think I didn't go through hell between the original and CRAZY QUILT' II. Hell and back and everything in between. It was like a nightmare, only real. To the degree that I had valued the piece, that's how hard it was to accept its loss.

The original, now lost, was already the masterpiece of my life. To pick up the pieces and go on didn't feel spunky, let me tell ya. Not when you've gone through so much just to lose that which was going to vindicate it all. Who would understand? Who tries that hard to do anything? Not many of the many people I've ever known.

I got back in the saddle, got bucked off a couple of times, in humiliating defeat. I felt like the biggest chump in the world for trying to do this CRAZY' thing. Why oh why? To show my anger at the world for mocking all my efforts, I tried to do nothing. But that was by far the worst of all. Because the world doesn't care how mad it makes me, and the QUILT' still has to be finished. By nobody but me. So again I started CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS, version II this time.

But why? So I can witness how amazingly spectacular She looks sitting there in the middle of her spirit-studded, star-spangled, ruffled and sequinned chartreuse crocheted wreath! Vignetted portraits of four of her most loyal attendants guard the corners of the QUILT'. Oval fields of golden seeds surround the Green Knights, encircled by the watchfull eyes of many parrots, then wrapped with leis of red roses. Lacy waves of green, orange and purple protective energy surge forth from the Knights to their Goddess.

She's going to need every bit of protection because chilling winds of silver ecotplasmic hair are beginning to blow through the QUILT' from upper right to the lower left. The winds bring flurries of ghostly lace faces in the Northeast and a storm of dark orbs in the Southwest. And then there's the disturbing Red Orb and also the Red Sky Serpent ( from banner 23). . .

Devotedly following her directives, I constructed a banner waving across the top of her cameo frame. It's made from the antique lace I sewed by hand on the Sugar-Frosted Half-Jacket as you see it in LOVE AND FASHION PHOENIX-STYLE. "In Goddess We Trust" the banner declares, and I do. She's trying me sorely, but I'm following her lead with this CRAZY' thing.

So you see that every square in my CRAZY QUILT', whether it be a snippet of flowers, or birds, or lace, or pearl beads, has been collected and combined with much care by myself or Jerome. Almost as if I have been sewing a real quilt made of fabric, I dip into my digital scrap basket to select the finest and most beautiful memories and piece them together with stitches of power.

Barring the worst Act of God/Goddess, you can come back to The Tears of Things sometime in the near future to see the finished CRAZY QUILT OF THE PARROT GODDESS II and read Phase Z.

Posted by Jerome at January 31, 2006 10:45 AM | TrackBack