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Creativity Shell

Northwood Awakening

Quilt Festival Happenings

Note from

the Editor

Hot Dish!

Northwood Awakening

There will be plenty of “can’t-miss” quilts and exhibits at this year’s Quilt Festival in Chicago, but among them will be one work that visitors quite literally can’t miss! At an extraordinary 25 feet wide, Northwood Awakening by Ann and Steven Loveless, is eye catching in both its remarkable size and its gorgeous subject matter.

The sizable piece—which combines Steve’s photography and Ann’s quiltmaking—was inspired by a “Northern Michigan walk in the woods on a spring day.”

“The scene represents the renewal of flora in Michigan’s northwood forests as it awakens from winter hibernation,” the couple explains. “First, the leeks sprout, and are soon followed by the Dutchman’s breeches, Hepatica, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, morel mushrooms, and Trillium. The freshness in the air and the wash of soft-to-vibrant greens pushing through the ground cover of dead leaves awakens our senses. The trees beginning to bud with a yellow green glow gives us a feeling of renewal in our own lives. As we hike the trails of Benzie County, we are energized and have also been awoken from our hibernation.”

Ann is an award-winning textile artist, teacher, and author whose work seeks to capture the beauty of her beloved Michigan through landscape art quilts. Though she’s loved sewing and fabric her entire life—even receiving a Clothing and Textile degree from Michigan State University—since 2005, she’s found a true calling in art quilts.


Photo Cutlines:

1. Ann and Steven Loveless in front of Northwood Awakening

2. Detail from Northwood Awakening

3. Detail from Northwood Awakening

4. Detail from Northwood Awakening

5. Full image of Northwood Awakening


Steve, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, graduated from Northern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinematography. Having learned basic photography and darkroom techniques from his father, Steve has explored the medium his entire life, and pushed boundaries by using non-traditional photo processes. After working in traditional film and silver print darkroom processes for many years, he embraced digital photography in the late 1990s.

Being married to a textile artist, the concept of morphing photography and textile art was a natural step for Steve. But it was Ann who helped bring that to fruition. And the idea for Northwood Awakening was born out of experiences the pair had upon exhibiting their work together.

“We would hang one of Steve’s photos next to a quilt by Ann that was inspired by that photo,” they explain. “We observed that people were fascinated by the interpretation of the photo into fabric and how they interacted with each other visually. Steve had the idea to attempt to physically morph a photograph into a textile in a way of which the viewer was initially unaware.

“People are taught to think of photography as a ‘real’ representation of the world. At the same time, when we see an artwork made of fabric, we know that this is an interpretation made by the artist. By gradually blending one medium into the other, the viewer will discover that there’s no definitive delineation between realism and interpretation.”

The resulting work, Northwood Awakening, begins as a traditional photographic print on the left, which then blends various fabrics and textiles to transform into an entirely quilted landscape art quilt on the right. The piece blends various textures including photo-printed vinyl, inkjet-printed cotton and artist canvases, inkjet-printed poplin, printed cotton, and dyed batik fabrics.

Although the size and structure of the piece required that it be created as separate panels, the finished composition reads as one continuous image. This is accomplished through the use of strategically placed batik pieces and photographic elements that integrate the panels together. Once the panels were complete, they were stretched over wooden and aluminum stretcher bars, and the seams of the panels were hidden by fused trees.

Naturally, at 25 feet wide and five feet high, Northwood Awakening presented some challenges in terms of creating the work and transporting, assembling, and disassembling it. The photograph alone is a composite of 42 individual images, and many hours were spent fine-tuning the photo to allow for such a large output.

For Ann, working flat on a cutting table and placing pieces on such large panels proved a challenging and labor-intensive process that required a lot of placing fabrics, critiquing on a design wall, stitching, rearranging, and adding details until she was happy with the results.

Despite the challenges, and the enormous undertaking of creating such an enormous work of art, ultimately, Ann and Steve achieved exactly what they’d set out to accomplish.

“We created this monumental piece specifically to be entered in the international ArtPrize competition, based in Grand Rapids,” they add. “Thousands of people attend this three-week-long competition to cast their votes for their favorite artwork. We wanted to be visible and ‘over the top’ to showcase our Photofiber™ creation.”

Their “over-the-top” plan worked, and Northwood Awakening was awarded the $200,000 grand prize at the 2015 ArtPrize competition. And this year, visitors to Quilt Festival in Chicago will have the chance to see what makes the piece so remarkable, and to feel—Ann and Steve hope—as though they’ve “taken a walk in the woods of Northern Michigan and felt the beauty, peace, and freshness that spring brings.”





© 2017. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.