Susan R. Sorrell of Greenville, South Carolina creates whimsical designs with
cloth and surface design that are like eye-candy to her audience. Susan has a
background in painting and fine arts and has only begun working with textiles
in the past few years. While working as an elementary school art teacher and
doing watercolors part-time, she took a painting class from an artist who also
does quilting. She soon became intrigued by the idea of making art out of fabric.
Putting aside her doubts about sewing, Sorrell bought a
used machine and signed up for a quilting course. She hated it. "I couldn't
get my points to match up," she says. "After a couple of lessons, I quit".
Fortunately, she had picked up enough of the basics to begin. Today, she owns a
fancy sewing machine that does "squiggles" and other intricate stitches, and most
of her present work is completely by hand, since she likes the look of hand sewn
designs and stitches. Susan has thrown most of the rules of quilting out the
window and creates her pieces by thinking out of the box. ("My sewing machine
is sitting in my closet and hasn't been used in 2 years.") These wonderful works
of art are nearly completely covered with surface design of paint, printing, found
objects, embroidery, beading and even Russian punch needlework.
Susan likes to add color to her beginning cloth with anything
she can find. She is always searching for buttons, trim, unusual beads, old jewelry,
rubber stamps, paint and any other items to make her art quilts unique. She spends
her spare time searching second-hand stores and flea markets for unique, decorative
items. Learning to sew and quilt has presented a fun challenge for her. Being a
painter and fine artist, her art quilts have become a great way to express herself.
Art quilts manage to combine the contemporary with the traditional in a playful way.
The selection process of fabrics, threads and embellishments
is a time consuming endeavor. Care must be given to every element as the color and
design of the fabric can make or break the finished piece. Each quilt is a one to
two-month labor of love, requiring four or five hours a day of painstaking work.
Some embellishment has taken more than 400 hours of labor-intensive effort.
Although her finished works sell for several thousand dollars, it hardly compensates
her for the hours involved.
The subject matter in Susan's art quilts is not the usual
traditional quilt designs and sometimes is satirical. Many have objects dangling
from the bottom or are composed of many small pieces creatively joined together.
"The more outrageous it is, the more people are going to look at it" Sorrell believes.
Having completed nearly 50 works in the last several years, since she has started working
in the medium about 5 years ago, her work has been exhibited across the country and sold
to museums, collectors and galleries worldwide.
Keep your eye out for Susan's work in the professional art
quilt circuit. Until this time, her work has only been exhibited in mixed media
art shows but will soon be shown in the art quilt arena. Workshop and lecture
arrangements can be made using any of the following contact information.
©2003 Bonnie Ouellette
Also By Susan Sorrell:
Susan R. Sorrell
601 Cleveland Street, Apt. 12-F
Greenville, SC 29601