Tonight from 6-8pm we celebrate the opening of the remarkable work of Julie Floersch. Her modern approach to quilt making is elevated to fine art and we are proud to have her work in our space.
Julie generously took the time to answer a few questions for us:
1. You started out as a fashion student, what inspired you to start making quilts? I grew up all over the Midwest and the West Coast, mainly in small towns. When I moved here I really had no understanding of fashion. School was a struggle from day one, and working in the industry was no different. One day, a friend told me that when she is struggling she asks herself what she would be doing if she only had three years left to live. If she would be doing exactly what she was, it meant that the struggle had a purpose to it. If not, it was time to make a change. I asked myself this question, and the answer was not working in fashion or even having my own line, it was making quilts. I had been thinking about making quilts for about four years at this point, but had brushed it off as something I could do when I retired. But I was tired of trends, image and the disposability of fashion. I wanted to work with my hands, making something that would never be thrown away, as well as push my imagination and abilities to the limits. It was a very natural transition for me and life seems more natural.
2. Describe a bit about your process. My process stems from my love of patternmaking, structure and geometry. I start off with a general image or feeling in my head that I want to put on paper and set very narrow guidelines for myself. Then I start making the block pattern. This usually takes about a month because I draft everything on paper. It means a lot of trips to Staples oversized copy machines - printing out the blocks, taping them together, making revisions, and doing it all over again until it’s perfect. Once the pattern is finished, I dig through piles of used denim clothing for the fabric. I have everyone I know collecting denim for me at the moment.
3. How has your upbringing in the midwest influence your designs? My childhood was spent in constant flux. If we weren’t moving to another state, we were changing houses, schools, jobs etc. Because my life was a constant cycle of leaving things behind, I never surrounded myself with things of value. Everything was disposable to me. I was ready to leave at any moment. Once I realized this pattern I was forming, I wanted to change it. Quilt making plays a big role in this effort. Creating these big, time consuming projects are very comforting to me because no matter what is going on in my life, it’s there waiting for me. These concepts of stability, foundation and longevity are reflected in my work through designs that give the illusion of unending repetition, heavy fabrics that weather to become more beautiful over time, and meticulous attention to construction.
4. What are your thoughts about how the gap between art and craft/design are coming closer? Do you consider your work to be fine art/ craft/folk or somewhere in between? I’m very excited to see the lines blurring between art and craft. It wasn’t that long ago that people were outraged over the quilts from Gees Bend being shown in a museum. There are so many exciting possibilities in the genre of fiber art, that it can’t be ignored anymore. I guess I consider myself a fiber artist, or maybe an extreme crafter? I’m just getting started, though, so I don’t want to label myself just yet.
5. How has living in greenpoint influenced your work? I love living in Greenpoint. Living in this neighborhood has changed my perspective on New York and given me a place to be where I feel at home. Because I don’t have this constant desire to leave in order to have peace of mind I’ve been able to get a lot of work done. It’s been a very productive year, but I think my roommate is ready for me to go on vacation!
6. In today's economic climate, what place does art and the handmade have for you? I feel right at home in this recession because I would almost always rather make something myself than buy something mass produced. I also work better when my resources are limited and I have to be inventive. I’m excited to see that there’s a renewed excitement in the handmade, and people are remembering that they can “do it themselves”. It’s a very empowering feeling.