image of quilt titled "OTTO (Bill)" by Margot Lovinger © 2005

Artist Statement: In all my portraits, I am seeking to get to the subject's true essence. The final piece needs not just to look like them, but also to feel like them. This quilt achieves that well. It closely resembles Bill (whom I knew as "Otto", when we first met), but I feel it also conveys his openness, fear, and trust. The royal purple background and velvet and gold "frame" suggest a regal bearing, but the off-center composition, earring, and bare chest imply a less formal, more intimate portrayal.

Materials & Techniques: This piece, like all my portrait quilts, is composed entirely of fabrics, thread and embroidery floss, and, in some cases, beads. No paints, inks, or dyes are used. All sewing is done by hand.

I rough out the composition and establish the major shapes and colors of the work with cottons and silks, then the subtle modulation of color and tone are achieved by the layering of sheer fabrics, such as tulle, netting, organza and chiffon. Each successive layer changes the hue of the layers beneath it, much the way a transparent color wash changes the layers underneath it in watercolor painting. Stitching in cotton, silk, or rayon thread or embroidery floss is added to create texture and define shapes. Finally, each piece is stretched over a wooden frame.

Dimensions: 33"W x 33"H

Artist Bio: Born and raised in Boston, I attended the Museum School, where I earned my BFA in 1993. The experimental environment of the school encouraged me to follow my interest in creating art from fabrics. My work started with "story quilts" that were interactive, and required the viewer's participation to reveal the full narrative. Other types of quilts followed, often experimenting with new materials and textures. Eventually, my interest in the textures and techniques of sewing merged with my fondness for the rich colors and imagery of figure painting, and I began creating these portrait quilts. I moved to Seattle in 2005.

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