OUR COLLABORATION WITH JOHN SIMS
There is beauty in the unknown.
At Alma Sue's Quilts, we never know what unique quilting request will be made by the next customer. We have no idea what sort of exotic fabric someone might bring us tomorrow. We take a creative journey toward an unknown end every time we accept an idea and some unused pieces of cloth.
And we love it!
Our collaboration with John Sims
is a great example of how these journeys go.
Sims is a nationally known artist. He walked into our shop about six years ago with an idea and some African cloth. A quilt made at Alma Sue's Quilts for Sims is currently on display in the Lehman College Art Gallery
in New York City as part of the "New York Fiber in the 21st Century" exhibit.
Sims once taught math at Ringling College. He eventually began to nurture an interest in melding math, art, and social and political dynamics.
One of Sims' early art projects was called "Square Roots: A Quilted Manifesto." He collected swatches of cloth during a trip to Ghana. In 2005, he brought some of his African fabric with him during a visit to Alma Sue's Quilts.
He wanted to make a quilt. Ella and the staff at Alma Sue's Quilts were fascinated by the fabric. A quiltmaking-for-fabric deal was struck, and it turned out to be the start of a collaboration that has lasted for six years and produced a body of work including 13 quilts, each 8 feet square. The work is based on Sims' portrayal of math concepts and includes self portraits along with fabric expressions of John's roots. Sims' work is multi-faceted. More information is available at his Web site.
Some of his efforts have focused on quilted expressions of the mathematical constant pi.
orward math terms, pi is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter. Regardless of a circle's size, the ratio always comes out to a number that cannot be precisely calculated -- specifically, a number that starts with "3.14159265" and stretches on with an infinite number of decimal places.
Alma Sue's shop made "pi quilts" for Sims that used colors to represent decimal places. For instance, the quilt named "Seeing Pi
" has 1,296 fabric pieces, each two inches square. Each digit has its own color. "1" became black, "2" became green, "3" became light blue, and so on.
Using a diagram plotted by Sims, the quilters started with a square in the very middle and, digit by digit and square by square, stitched until they had 1,296 squares put together.
"The idea," said Ella, "is to show the beauty of the randomized math sequence. Sims' diagram starts in the middle and in concentric circles works out to the edges."
Alma Sue's Quilts has miniature versions of pi quilts for sale in a limited edition.
The quilt in the photo is a digitized version of Sims' portrait, converted into a quilt by constructing 2 inch squares of black and white fabric.