“(…) this is about the interplay of light and shadow, it is an expression of beauty or power, it can have meanings”….“you have to have faith to take the next step”
Connie Bloom, born 1947, died August 2016
fabric artist at Summit Art Space, Akron, Ohio
Connie Bloom has invited us to the Summit Art Space in Akron Ohio, where she has access to a very nice studio space.
“I hand paint, hand dye and hand print my cloth… it is all original you can not buy it in a store”. A lot of the cloth is cut apart to make certain elements: color melting into color. She does screen prints, paint on fabric: gold paint on black cloth, she calls it low tech and adds that this will get her maximum 5 prints, some better than others – that is the only automation she does. All materials used are high quality; the crystals she uses are actually real.
She is cutting hand painted cloth into little pieces, squares or toothpick style, she learned this method from the Japanese artist Noriko Endo (Confetti Landscapes). “Most of my job is about educating people using cloth… People don’t understand quilt art they think it should be in a frame or behind glass or it should be useful, so it is my job to explain to them that this is about the interplay of light and shadow, it is an expression of beauty or power, it can have meanings: they are not just about making something pretty”. She showed us a piece of quilt called 69 wishes, made with her high tech sewing machine “Bella”. Connie Bloom does not use computerized stitching, “or else it would look like coming out of China”. You can try to find all the 69 words in the quilt, some of them are hard to find the black threat does not interfere with the fabric, so this becomes Where’s Waldo game.
From the sheep wool she gets from the farmer, she creates her own dyed piece of cloth and uses hand stitching or free hand machine stitching on it, “I like it, that is what I do when I go home”.
In her “memorial work” she creates memorial pieces from clothes and effects of people who died. “It usually takes relatives and friends three years to find me and be ready for my services”. There is no books on how to make a memorial piece. For Linda’s husband she created four pieces and need four years to complete them “this whole study corner was the husbands clothes (…) It is nice to get those gone.”
Connie Bloom did not start to work in fabric art until she was 50. There is a story about her being a little girl amending a new dress with Aunt Anna’s sewing kit, this made her mom furious but it must have been a first step into fabric art. She was sewing useful stuff until she got in touch with fabric art. “now things I sew are not useful anymore”, she laughs. When Connie Bloom turned 50 she got herself a dog and started her artwork. The transition from a journalist of 36 years to an artist was hard at first, “my job was the center of gravity”. Her neighbor, Rosie, a busy and spiritual 80 year old helped her transition. “(…) when I myself will be 80 I will do the same thing: creating art. (…) In my mind I might be 40, 39, I do not even feel near my age”. If someone should ever make a Memorial piece in Connie Bloom’s honor it would have to say that this is one grateful woman. She gives gratitude for all she has got, her job, her studio, her creativity, her happiness. “This came to me, it fell out of the sky”.
Conny passed in August 2016, we will always remember her dearly, go to her website!