Lesbian Art Herstory: V Kingsley An Art Quilter

An amazing T shirt collection containing 30 years of lesbian and feminist herstory is made into a very non traditional quilt by V Kingsley
The slideshow ‘”I Am Mermaid” Art Quilt Documentary’ about the process of making the art quilt was published at youtube on 27/08/2007

Lesbian Art Herstory: "I Am Mermaid", An Art Quilt Project
Blog entries by V Kingsley,
Sunday, July 1, 2007 at www.alotoflife.com

Drop dead fun in Felton
I’m on a forced break in the quilt. I ran out of thread and can’t match the same color until the fabric store opens. Ooooooo – I am love love loving this quilt! I set out to do something I had never seen done and I managed to do it!! It is so beautiful – so raw and with lots of texture and meaning and herstory. Seeing all of these wonderful feminist t shirts in this configuration is magical!

The picture above is only the very very beginning – before I put her hair on – before the sea weed started crawling up from the bottom – before the bubbles. This picture was taken in the very beginning.

I am finished designing her and have the quilt basted and pinned and about one third quilted. The quilting is rough because of all the raw edges and multiple layers – to say nothing of trying to quilt jersey T shirt fabrics! Very tough. But I am loving the challenge. Wait unitl you see the finished product, backed in hand dyed batiks of blues and greens and purples.

V Kingsley and 'I am a Mermaid' art quiltJuly 2007
Archive Leaving and I am Mermaid

“I Am Mermaid” is finished! I will create a slide show when we get back from Festival (because the herstory and the t-shirt collection is so incredibly impressive.) I am showing the entire quilt here and just a couple of close-ups.

A few special notes of personal interest:
These are a little over half the t-shirts in the 110 shirt collection.

It is a queen sized quilt that is 7’4″ x 7′ 10″ and it is so snuggly soft that I am kicking myself for throwing away all my old t-shirts!

The worn t-shirt tags used as the mermaid’s scales are my favorite part. They are hand sewn with tiny gold beads.

Cutting up the “Lezzie Love Lives” T shirt (in her bouquet) was painful. I so wanted to steal it and hope that she wouldn’t notice.

Her face is a hand silk screened logo (from the 70s?) that says “Wimmin’s Land – Wimmin’s Space”.

The hair that is immediately around her face is a pale yellow – super-faded crackled iron-on transfer of a mermaid and waves and a sea gull.

Her tail fin is an Egyptian goddess.

I had to quilt a flower into the gun of the very militant “Killer Dyke” logo. Quilter’s prerogative.

The Michfest t-shirts used are from the 8th festival in the early 80s and from the Staff T-shirt in 1993, the year that I was on the Belly Bowl Crew a week after my mother was killed. (On a related note – I especially appreciated the “Never Another Battered Woman” logo that is used as a bubble in the sea.)

The parrot was quilted especially in memory of the long time companion of Ruth (from the Main Kitchen of Michfest) who died in a motorcycle accident. Ruth cares for 17 parrots at home.

I hope Suji from Chicago likes the quilt. Something tells me that when she mailed off two huge boxes of t-shirts, she didn’t expect to receive in return a mermaid swimming in seaweed.

I set out to do something I had never seen done before and I did it. I could not be happier.

About V Kingsley
V Kingsley (born 1965) is a multi-talented artist and American lesbian. V and her partner were among the couples to be legally married on the first day that it was legal for same-sex couples to be married in California some years ago.
An avid journal writer since 1974, V has has always expressed herself in writing. She has been making art quilts since 1989. V Kingsley has earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College, USA.
V has been surviving a non-operable cancer for a decade. Now she says: I have entered the final stage of my terminal illness and am 2 months into my journey with hospice. I am a natural story teller and have so many stories – even at age 45, I’ve lived the life of a woman twice my age!I invite you to read my blog if you can (like I said – it’s been on and off) and I make no promises about giving you the written story of “I am Mermaid”.

Related Links
V Kingsley’s website and blog