Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The inner map

No one knows exactly how migrating birds find their routes and return to the same destinations year after year. Theories include the use of celestial navigation, magnetic influences and other visual cues. Other theories suppose that a kind of inner map is programmed into their genetic code or that baby birds follow their parents and that first migration imprints a map in a particular part of their brains that they carry for the rest of their lives. Perhaps there is a time in the early development of all living things where one incorporates the map of their surroundings. I sometimes dream about the house I lived in as a small child and all the little details of our street and neighborhood. I remember the sidewalk we roller skated on as children and I knew exactly, without looking, where to lift my skate to avoid a hole in the pavement or a uneven seam. I think I could do it today without missing a beat. I see it all in my mind's eye, as if from above, like a map. I love the idea of inner maps.

For this piece I printed a map of Oregon (where I live) on fabric and as I began to trace my bird onto the fabric I was surprised to see that the Oregon coastline defined the edge of the wing, which in turn became part of the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River, which is Oregon's northern border, defined the change in the feathers at the bird's neckline.

I knew early what I would do for this challenge and thought my piece was finished more than a month ago. A couple weeks ago I looked at it and saw that it needed a third layer— something between the bird and the vast sky. I think the addition of the branches added the sense of space that was missing. Here is how it looked before.


16 comments:

Carol said...

I love this Terry! Great interpretation.

Kristin L said...

I love your unexpected use of the Oregon map. I think you've done a beautiful job of marrying the theme to your personal style and subject matter. The branches are a great addition.

Del said...

Awesome isn't a big enough word. Your work continues to thrill me.

Karen said...

Your birds are always so well executed, and this one doesn't disappoint. You have so much interesting texture going on here I love looking at this.

Gerrie said...

I love the addition of the branches! I have seen this and the quilting is wonderful and the bird map fabric is perfect.

Terri Stegmiller said...

I really like this piece and the way you interpreted the theme. I think the addition of the branches was perfect!

Brenda Gael Smith said...

When I was in New Zealand last week, I visited the Royal Albatross colony on the Otago Peninsula and marvelled at how these birds can travel thousands of kilometres without landfall over extended periods and yet return to the same place to rear their chicks.

Your piece captures this mystery and is enhanced by the addition of the branches.

Nikki said...

The map fabric is just perfect for the bird and provides beautiful coloring.

I'm very impressed that you could still roller skate the old sidewalk. I'm too afraid to even put on skates, but I never was that coordinated.

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Perfect!

imquilternity said...

Quite lovely and unexpected. I really like it!

Renate said...

I found your use of the map intriguing. The way the map was incorporated into the bird was a stroke of genius. It must have been your "inner map" that helped. Like others that have commented, I too like the addition of the branches. I think it adds a depth of field to the piece.

kirsty said...

Another Terry quilt that made me gasp! The map, the branches and that Vincent sky. This little bird is ready to fly if I get just a little bit too close.

Deborah Boschert said...

Beautiful, Terry. I'm enjoying all the details -- your excellent choices for the commercial prints, that luminescent moon, the very subtle map details on the bird and even his quizzical body language. I love the spindly branches too!

Françoise said...

I also think the branches behind the bird are a great idea. They make the bird look so lively. I really love the sky too. Did you add the red and yellow spots (planets?) or are they part of the fabric?

Diane Perin Hock said...

I love how this has such a contemplative feel to it. The subtlty of using the map as the bird's body is wonderful and I love how the lines of the map work so perfectly to create his feathery texture. The moon and tree set him off beautifully. This feels to me like a talisman with strong power.

Helen Conway said...

You were absolutely right to add the branches which give the quilt so much more depth and for me a sense of mystery somehow. The use of the map reminds me of Mathew Cusicks work yet this remans very much your style.