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Art Appreciation @ East Side Quilt Gallery - Uta Lenk

One aspect of being member of a rather large group is the fact that decision making processes take time, and are seriously prolonged when everybody wants to put in their 3 cents’ worth of comment, or is even trying to influence the outcome of a discussion. I love being part of this 20 Perspectives group, and usually I am all for participating in discussions and having my say about a topic. But with the discussion for the theme for this particular challenge I just didn’t feel like participating much and mostly kept quiet. I did vote when asked, then just went along with the ebb and flow of the group and waited for the outcome. My guess was that I would be able to work with any kind of prompt or topic, I have enough experience in quilting by now.

Nevertheless, when ‘architecture’ was decided, I was a bit at a loss. Didn’t feel like doing a house, or a skyline. But then the discussion continued for a while, there was some uncertainty whether it was architecture or ‘edges’ that we had decided on, and so I made up my mind I would be doing something about ‘architecture on the edge’. First thoughts about the outline of the Berlin Wall – certainly an infamous piece of architecture, and on the edge (of the then two political blocks East-West).

Overlay that with the line of the Great Chinese Wall?

Perhaps a third layer, the border between North and South Korea? At that point technical and material issues arose – organza? How to go ahead with the outline(s)? Won’t it look completely boring? Who will understand?

For my family the Berlin Wall, as a symbol of the division of Germany into two different states, each belonging to two different political systems, was a constant for 25 years of my life. My mother’s family came from the eastern Germany, when my grandmother and her two younger daughters were allowed to leave the state to be reunited with my grandfather, who had fled before being arrested by Soviet Police, my mother’s oldest sister stayed behind because she was already married. (You can read an account of how I made a quilt on that topic for the bi-national exhibition "Piec'd-Blocked" here.)

When I visited Berlin with my son just before Corona locked us down for seemingly forever, we stayed in a hotel near the East Side Gallery – those sections of the Wall structure that are left and are now the site of graffity art – street art – you name it how you wish. My son had wanted to see the gallery, and of course we went there. He was impressed, and the entire visit taught him some things about how our family had been affected by world history.

Talking to my good friend Barbara Lange (who will feature in this story again, later) I narrowed down from doing three wall outlines overlaid each other to a section of the East Side Gallery. Recreate one of the pieces there from one of the photos I took, or from the internet, such as, for example, the ‘kiss’?

But hey, I make art, and a kind of art that is not represented in the East Side Gallery. I will make quilts, an East Side Quilt Gallery.

From there I proceeded. One of the quilts was to be kind of ‘traditional’, but with a slight aside to 20 Perspectives, and how lucky me that I did find those two Guldusi embroideries with 20s that I had bought long ago.

(This little quilt itself is called "20P@4Patch".)

The second was to be modern/contemporary. I had recently participated in a challenge for the German Guild to render a swearword in textile for the upcoming magazine, and after the photo had been sent in I could reuse the piece, or upcycle it by adding a few more details.

During the discussion with Barbara it also became clear that there had to be something more interesting about the whole thing than merely quilts on a wall. A cyclist passing by? We decided on a dog. A sort of statement about it all… Barbara has a photo of her parents’ dog lifting his leg against a billboard, and she digitalized that and embroidered it onto my quilt.

And then I added a third quilt, which is just filling the empty space, cut off from a small quilt made a while ago, perhaps a journal quilt? I don’t remember.

Here is Art Appreciation @ East Side Quilt Gallery.

Not really like anything I have done before, but it’s always interesting to explore something new. And thank you specifically to Barbara for the special detail.

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