Friday, September 25, 2009


The Compositional Conversation piece continues to develop and travel from artist to artist and each version continues to be a surprise and in some way, a reflection of the artist of that stage. One of the aspects I have found most interesting is the variety of approaches I hear described. This is not surprising to me but it is especially interesting as "the studio experience" is the main driving force in my own work and I know that over time we all develop ways of working that are very specific to our own personalities and techniques.

This week's artist is Fulvia Luciano whose work focuses on surface design. Fulvia is the creator of our video and has shared with us a few of the compositions she auditioned.

Fulvia Luciano's Comments

I have enjoyed the challenge of being part of a group process that has been completely new and foreign to me. Funny how what I thought would be difficult or of concern, never was. By that I mean that I had imagined all along that "touching" someone else's parts (stay tuned for more on that choice of words) would be unthinkable and probably not something I could execute. Fear not - I touched, I cut, I moved!

As it turns out, I unpacked and pinned up on my design wall the project as Leslie sent it to me. I let it hang there for a few hours and kept observing it to try and understand it in the flesh, as opposed to what I had been seeing on the blog, like all of you. This confirmed my very first reaction: that I liked the vertical orientation of the piece, its colour, shape and size, and that my favorite shape was the one with which Terry launched this, but also that there was just too much going on, not all of which I could understand or follow visually. On any day, I subscribe to the 'less is more' style so I had to edit, edit, edit the work. In looking at the piece as it had come to me, I kept thinking of Ray Bradbury's writings or some other fantastic plot whereby the component parts were on a joyous trip at the shore...I liked very much the olive-puce colour of that long shape next to the red piece but my brain kept calling it 'a stomach' or a 'world wrestling federation belt' and that thought continued to get in my way and I could work with it successfully as it was presented. There was only one thing to do: photograph the piece and then remove everything and start over, and that's what I did.

I knew I wanted to keep the background colour, the red shape, the black and blue fabrics, but after that, it was all up for grabs for me. Something else I did not expect was that I did not have the urge to add an element of my own creation: in fact, I kept editing and working with what had already been offered to see if I could meet the challenge. The video shows you some of the many iterations, incarnations I considered. I realized that what kept me trying more and more things was not just that perhaps they were all bad - which is entirely possible --but, rather, the fact that since I was not to finalize the piece, well, then this was an open-ended/endless stage. I absolutely could have continued to go on and on get the drift. In the end, that was the second surprise: that I could only go on and on trying different arrangements for so long before the excitement/interest left me and it became a seemingly endless exercise. I guess that is not that odd considering I am one of many along the way.

Now Marcia gets to try her hand at this and I am just o.k. with the shape it is in at this point. I realize, as I write this, that it is reminiscent of Munari's fantastical machines. "Le Macchine di Munari" was a book that I read as a child but I had not thought about it until just now. From the publisher:

Artist, writer, product designer, architect, graphic designer, illustrator, educator, and philosopher Bruno Munari created an enormously successful and utterly charming book in 1942 called Le Macchine di Munari. It contains instructions for building the most fantastical of mechanical structures, including a machine for taming alarm clocks, a lizard-driven engine for tired tortoises, a mechanism for sniffing artificial flowers, a humiliator for mosquitoes, a machine for playing the pipe even when you are not home, a machine for seeing the dawn before anyone else, and a tail wager for dogs.

Look it up on any of the large online book sellers.

Thank you for letting me play!

Personal bit:

Some years ago I started playing with fabric and paint. At the time, I did not know how to sew at all so I started teaching myself and practicing, practicing, practicing. My work has evolved over the years and it always incorporates a few, favorite elements: paint, dye, drawing, photographs, text, and stitch. I live in my head and in my heart, where I carry my homeland, Venezuela, and I show that love by letting it flow through my fingers as they do the work. I like simple, direct, succinct conversations - textile and otherwise - so I am going to have to leave you now ...Thank you for this opportunity.

Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Detail - Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Detail - Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Check your June/July 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine for an article on Fulvia or click HERE for a PDF version of the article.

Please continue to scroll down to view an updated version of our Group Video and Grid showing all current version of this project. Thank you Fulvia for your unique contribution to this conversation. The work of New York state artists Marcia DeCamp will be featured next.


  1. Hi all. Seeing the movie version of your process, an 'art film short' if you will, was really interesting. Indeed, what you did is what I would have been tempted to do, that is, remove everything and start over, adding back, adding back, rearranging, etc. I think we all reach this point in our compositions, and at least one other. First of all, we discover a point where we need to commit to a direction, and stop playing with the elements and, secondly, we sense when something is or is not working, isn't quite right, but aren't yet sure what to do about it.
    I admire your stamina, and your ability to let go and send it off. I think it will be difficult to NOT resolve the composition, and I'm not sure I can do it!

  2. PS: Where is the grid? Can't find it again...

  3. As I watched the video I started making comments in my mind like "thats good" and "oh not there" and then I thought "that's really interesting" and it was the last one! I am amazed at your ability to rearrange these into a nice design and can feel the tension building for the next artist!

  4. You engaged in the process--that's wonderful, Karen. Thanks for telling us. As I said on that first starting point in the slide show, "tabula rasa," or "blank slate." I found that I could work *with* other people's ideas but not *on top* of them.

  5. Fulvia and all, I'm not picking on any one artist specifically,so please don't take these comments personally. It's more of an umbrella view of the process of artists passing this piece rapidly from one to another. First, the positive part of this experiment to me is reading about and getting to participate in the process each artist goes through in responding to the existing work and attempting to move it a step forward. That is wonderful and enriching to me as an observer. However, it's also starting to seem to me that the artists may feel strongly influenced by the fact that they are only a small part of a large group and because there will be others working on a piece after them that they do not need to resolve the composition. I have been hoping, week after week, to see elements added to the original ones from Terry and Rebecca that would build on the dialogue begun from those two. Varying values and toned hues of the gray, red and lime on the piece rather than additions of a rainbow of new ones, or compositional elements that played off the curving lines and intriguing negative space created between them. Smaller shapes laid within those larger shapes or smaller scale versions of the larger two,etc. The ground behind the elements subtly altered (perhaps with very close values of the neutral gray in the original) to create a secondary layer of compositional interest, but one that wouldn't compete with the strong, bold elements on top of it. To me the piece has evolved, but not necessarily improved. Quite the opposite, the elements seems to compete more and more with each artist's additions. While Fulvia has removed elements to create some unity, it does look, as she suggested,like a fantastical machine. That's a unique and delicious avenue to explore, but also far, far away from the original piece. In the beginning, (which I am now officially in mourning for with the death of the large lime green shape), the intriguing shapes and curves and powerful vertical interaction of the original two pieces gradually got replaced by the more expected squares/rectangles/grids of quilting. It seems that the surface gets busier and busier but still remains flat and two dimensional. Now that most of the remaining participants have observed enough to be much more familiar with the pitfalls and perils of being a part of a process like this -- and we might actually blame the process itself for the problems -- I urge them to consider working for depth and dimensionality and the original premise that the red shape offers, a dance of curving shapes and the interplay of strong and soft contrasts in scale and value to create depth and movement.

  6. I must confess that I never envisioned how much of a challenge it would be for participants of this project to refraim from completing the work. That is one of the most interesting things I have learned so far. Maybe it is because that is what we have to do in our private studios. However, it is the non-completion, which allows the next artist 'room' to contribute. Regardless of which route the next participants take, contributing elements, completing the work at the current stage or starting all over, I hope you will continue to 'take ownership' and know that your contribution is the most important one in your phase of the project and then, like almost everything else in the world, the work will move along and likely change. I admire all of you for participating and all the readers who have risk something by commenting.

  7. Fulvia, I share both your fascination with the arrangement and rearrangement of elements, as well as your eventual boredom with that activity after numerous attempts to find a focus for so many voices.

    I have found collage art challenging for the same reasons and as often as not, have abandoned a piece once the elements have said everything to me that they needed to. It can be frustrating and capricious, yet I am still drawn to the fascination of the play amongst textures, colors, line, relationships and shapes.

    I find your interpretation of the work fascinating... a complex and evolving island in a sea of blue.

    Well done.