In the high desert mountains where I live, the delineation between earth and sky is a clear, distinct line unobscured by trees or atmosphere. At sunset, the mountains turn black while the sky glows in varying depths of blue. Whether it is sand that gives way to ocean, earth to sky, or life to death, this idea of the edge, literal and metaphorical, has always fascinated me.
My large, contemporary art quilts explore this split through color, shape, and line. Deeply influenced by my surroundings, my work is an abstract interpretation of place and time.
The dyeing process – the chaotic exchange of chlorine and hydrogen atoms – is by its nature a spontaneous and sometimes unpredictable event. This somewhat random deposit of dye marks the fabric and creates visual texture and depth.
Using a rolling blade I hand cut the fabric. This free form technique complements the irregularity of the dyeing process and is a natural extension of my movements. I work intuitively with a minimal palette, which results in bold and graphic quilts.
In my current body of work, a 45 piece series called, “My Mother Danced the Jitterbug,” I am working with the opposite. I am replacing my usual undulating lines with straight uniform rows. Using the grid and classic color combinations as the repetitive design element, I also wanted to experiment with negative space. The seaming of the fabric creates its own pattern and shadow line. Together the individual panels create a whole – one that encapsulates bold color within a spare environment.
Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Janet Starr left home at seventeen and began working and traveling around the U.S. In 1995, after spending two years living in Thailand, she eventually settled in the Wood River Valley in the mountains of central Idaho.
Janet grew up around generations of women who sewed and developed a love of fabric at a young age. In 2006, she inadvertently came across a packet of orange Rit dye. This discovery quickly led her to a medium called surface design – the layering of color, texture, and image onto cloth. The idea of creating her own fabric was liberating and allowed her to move away from traditional garment making toward a fine art practice. Janet spent the next several years experimenting and learning about the art of dyeing fabric, cataloging the results of her investigations along the way as she developed a deeper understanding of the relationship between color and fiber. She began to see that package of orange dye as the catalyst that changed her life and led to her career in abstract contemporary quilt making.
Janet was influenced by Nancy Crow as well as the free-form quilts of Gee’s Bend. Working primarily in solids and cutting free hand, her bold abstract quilts have been exhibited in a solo exhibition, juried into the Americans for the Arts conferences, and hang in homes in the U.S., Italy, and Turkey.