Quilting Politics

For the month of October, Shakespeare’s Sister, my gift store and gallery at 270 Court St. in Brooklyn (take the F to Bergen St.), is exhibiting the quilts of Ruth Marchese. We invite anyone who happens to be in New York during this time to come and take a look. There are even easy chairs in the gallery, where you can sit and contemplate what led Marchese to these remarkable creations. And there’s no charge for looking… or for sitting.

What’s remarkable about these quilts is that they were inspired by global political events of the last six years, starting with the one called, simply, “Sept. 11.” With disaster only apparent if you look closely, it evokes Andrew Wyeth’s “End of Olson’s,” another seemingly static work with explosion at the edge and a sense of deep, deep loss. Other titles include “Walking in Darkness,” “Glimmer of Hope,” “Despair,” “In the Eye of the Storm-New Orleans,” Lebanon 2006,” Waiting…,” and “Running for Shelter.” They tell the dark story of these last years yet are stunning, also, for their beauty.

Marchese has been a resident of Brooklyn for thirty years, but was born and raised in Basel, Switzerland. She quilts, she says, because she finds her “bit of peace behind the sewing machine.” She writes:

My pictorial quilts are hand appliquéd and machined quilted; the pieced quilts are pieced by machine and, depending on the effect I want, hand or machine quilted…. My most recent quilts are more abstract and in them I try to capture my moods, memories and impressions. The present political scene and the chaos in the world are of great concern to me and they have become the topic of my latest works. Some of them are very dark and this is often the way I feel…. Through these quilts I am attempting to make people realize into what danger we are throwing our world.

The gallery is deliberately a quiet space, accessed through the store, where no demands are put on anyone. People are welcome to sit for hours, talking, reading, mediating. There is no obligation to buy or to do anything but contemplate the art.

What Marchese has created is a remarkable series of images. Please, if you are in New York, come and take a look.

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