When I make wall hangings, I have fun with the process of getting to know the clients who commission them. I begin with asking a series of questions, and each answer leads to more questions. Some of the questions I ask are about childhood experiences, favorite books, fables, and fairy tales, because I believe as adults, we still have deep visual and sensory connections we tap into from time to time. I am interested in childhood sensibilities and evolving influences, and I like to capture those themes in my fabric art pieces.
It helped to know Sara Bright and understand her love of nature, but visiting her home and garden, I learned so much more about her. Her yard is a wildlife wonderland. The yard is a close mimic to a forest, and not one blade of turf grass grows there. From the pine straw and leaf mulch-covered floor, layers of wildflowers, ferns, native grasses and sedges, shrubs, mid-story trees, and all the way up to the tall tree canopy, it is an enchanted landscape. Her house, set back into the lot, felt like entering a treehouse.
Sara co-authored (she is the photographer) with Paulette Haywood Ogard, Butterflies of Alabama: Glimpses into their Lives, so of course I had to ask what is her favorite butterfly — the eastern tiger swallowtail. I asked her to list her favorites: her favorite tree (magnolia), flowers (climbing arbutus and tricolor violets), shrubs (native azaleas and sweetshrub), and bird (cardinal). So for Sara’s story quilt, I set out to reflect illustrations of the fairy tales and children’s books that came to mind during my visit. She loves Winnie the Pooh, so thankfully, my tree with a door worked. Her favorite book is the Bible, with her favorite story being Noah’s Ark, so I added two of everything.