Imagination Celebration Fort Worth is honored to sponsor the Fay Jean Hooker Quilts Beyond Borders exhibit in conjunction with the Ancient Patterns: Threads of Time program for Fort Worth Independent School District third graders.
From my West Texas youth came many influences that inform my current body of work, “American Pattern Paintings: Wooden Quilts.” I grew up surrounded by family quilts, primitive barn furniture, as well as the simple structures seen in old barns, country churches, and roadside farmhouses.
I begin by choosing a favorite quilt pattern, and develop the mathematical configuration for a wood grid prototype. The hundreds and sometimes thousands of individual pieces are cut from birch plywood, sanded, painted, glued onto a wood backing, fitting like a puzzle. Working with vibrant color variations increases the pattern’s expressive qualities by creating complex visual rhythms that in turn reveal the quilt’s architectural purity.
The work is labor intensive, and time consuming. Each piece has to be done in stages and has it’s own timetable. I enjoy working between fixed and flexible states–developing the formal structure of the painting in concert with spontaneous brush strokes and challenging color experiments. The seeming imperfections often found in old quilts add to their “handmade” aesthetic that I strive to honor in my work.
I am inspired by old traditions, yet by improvising with new materials, iconic quilt patterns move from their original fabrics into wood constructions. For the viewer, the work can both transport them back in time when quilts first emerged as part of American folk culture, while at the same time they are immersed in the enjoyment of color, movement, and vibrancy both seen and felt in these contemporary pattern paintings. -- Fay Jean Hooker
Fay Jean Hooker, who was born in Abilene, Texas, had an attraction to painting that began in childhood. Encouraged by her mother, who had studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, she was exposed to art at a very early age. Hooker grew up with the family quilt collection especially valuing the ones sewn by both her maternal and fraternal grandmothers. The influence of folk art and quilts would prove crucial to her art, yet emerged only after years of study and creative work in New York, Washington, D.C. and Maryland.