Friday, September 19, 2008

Water Towers, A Lifelong Passion

Write what you know, a lot of advice goes when it comes to writing. Paint what you know. Whatever your medium of creativity, the advice is to depict what you know. Even when you may think the subject matter is too trivial or "silly", if that is where your passion lies, then your heart will come through in the work.

I have loved water towers since I was a little girl riding in the back seat of my mom's '63 Chevy convertible. I would lie in the back seat and look up at the one that was on 12 Mile Road by the GM Tech Center, imagining it to be a giant spaceship or other such otherworldly vehicle. I still can remember the red and white checked tower that stood in Bowling Green Ohio, even though I could tell you nothing else about Bowling Green from that trip (I think there was also a giant cow statue involved somewhere).

I was nearsighted and it wasn't discovered until I was 10 years old, and I think the water towers made such an impression on me because they were something on the landscape that I could readily identify. That and the 3 part taillight of the Ford Mustang (living in the Detroit area, knowing your automobiles was a very important part of life, even for a 3 year old little girl). So it makes sense that I am having such fun depicting them in my current work.

Red & White #4, 2006 25" x 34" Cottons, silks, patchwork, beads and sequins.

This piece is based on a huge oval water tower that sits on the grounds of Andrews Air Force Base. It is right next to the road, and driving under it is indeed like driving under a monster spaceship. I chose to focus on part of the tower for this piece, giving it an abstract appearance.

Gaffney, SC 2007 38" x 29" Cottons, silks, patchwork and applique.

This is from a photo I took of the real peach shaped water tower in Gaffney South Carolina. I just love how realistic this tower is in its depiction of a giant peach. I have worked with this image in paint and colored pencil as well as fabric.

Route 33, Summer Morning, 2007 47"h x 44" w Cottons, silks, netting, patchwork and applique.

These towers sit on my commute into the city of Athens. I have seen them in all lighting and weather conditions and they continue to fascinate me. When I first moved here, the local high schoolers would climb the tower to write graffiti, but that practice was stopped many years ago. Now the towers remain their many variations of white through all the seasons.

Marilyn, 2008 62"h x 76"w Cottons, applique, patchwork, sequins and beads.

I took one of the two tower images and blew it up, recreating it in vivid rainbow hues. This piece was a monster to work on and I loved (almost) every minute of it (there were times when wrestling it under the machine head on my Pfaff got to be a bit much, but I perservered). I loved working on the sequins, being surrounded by color and light. I think quilting is one of the only mediums where you can literally be surrounded by color as you work on a piece.

Night Moves, 2008 32"h x 31" w Patchwork, applique, cottons and twill hand dyed by the artist.

The towers at night, or as I imagine a night could look like. This is the most recent piece, and several others are in the works. I am still having a lot of fun. :)


Sonja said...

Incredible artwork. I saw that one quilt of the water towers you brought to knitting, but seeing the other ones as well is amazing.

Nat Bocking said...

Wonderful stuff. We've put you on

Andi Stern said...

Nat, that is so awesome, I thought I was the only one. So sorry to be late with a reply, I need to set up notifications. I added you on Twitter, I am annaline_39 over there. :D Thank you!

MaryBeth said...


Andi Stern said...

Mary Beth, thank you. I love making these so much, it is always nice to hear other people enjoy them as well :)