Monday, March 18, 2013

seeing red--the power of leaning in

Sometimes it takes me a long time to meditate on a quilt that I know I want to make. What will inspire me? How will I resolve it? Often it is nature. The promise of sunrise. The longing of a far horizon. Red clouds against the blue sky. The darkness of night. Meanwhile the quilt lingers in the reaches of my mind. Getting rolled around until something just clicks.

Now I knew I wanted another red quilt. One to replace my quilt--colors of my garden. This quilt was based on the brilliant reds of my daylily garden a few summers ago. Such a feeling of joy in this quilt. Such exuberance and power. But how to do it? I didn't just want to remake this quilt--been there. Done that. And so the quilt just lay in the far corners of my thoughts. Always something I was going to do but not a quilt that I just had to make.

colors of my garden--quilt by Ann Brauer

That is until a few days ago. Now you probably are aware of the recently released book--Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg. The gist is that women still have to work hard to be taken seriously in the business world. Discouraging that it is still true. But not something I really wanted to deal with--again. After all many of my friends are successful business woman in charge of themselves and their worlds. Well respected by those who knew them. Been there. Done that. I just want to make quilts.

Then...just the slightest event occurred. Not worth going into the details. Let's just say that some man decided to insert himself as an authority figure during a professional presentation I was in charge of where I did not need or request the help and I knew the area far better than he did. Maybe he had just attended one too many marketing workshops and figured this was how he could get more business for himself.  Was I being too sensitive? Yet I kept asking myself if he would have done it if the presenter had been a male? Would he have at least asked for permission? Of course if he had any actual knowledge of the topic and was contributing to the topic it would have been different. I am after all always eager to learn something new. This time though he really did not have any experience and seemed to be assuming that I needed help I did not ask for and had even previously rejected. Oh I was seeing red. Get it?

Sure I questioned him at the time. I couldn't let it pass. Showed him at least a bit of the expertise I had in the field although I am not convinced it registered. Then I realized that I just could use this anger I was feeling to make a quilt. After all, that is what I do, isn't it?  Why not? I wanted to make it anyhow. And for me quilts are an expression of myself.

Headlong I started piecing. Make what I know. Take advantage of this situation. Sew Ann. Sew.

Add a few more blocks. Help define the quilt.

But what next? This time I knew the feeling but not how to resolve this quilt. After all I do want a lovely quilt. One that conveys an emotion to others--not just a private quilt.  I was not piecing just for the sake of sewing. I did not need an angry quilt. That was not my intend. I just wanted a quilt that conveyed a statement of being and power that quilts can convey. The next morning I woke up. What would happen if...

Yes, I love the contrast. This is going someplace. I sew as quickly as I can. The quilt just pulls me forward.

I keep pinning and trying. Sewing and thinking. Always with this need to make a statement--a quilt of power and light. Takes over its space. A quilt that "Leans In".

Yes, this will work. Not sure if I can finish it before the Paradise City Arts Festival this week-end but I sure do love it, don't you?

Does this ever happen to you? And have you read Lean In--what do you think? I downloaded it on my iPad and have just started it. All I can say right now is that I do feel more incentive to make quilts that make strong statements of being.


  1. I do love it. A lot. My little art quilt group is doing your technique tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to it. Your work is inspiring and truly engaging.

  2. Thank you for this story Ann. What a great meditation on a constructive use of anger. And yes, I love this quilt!

  3. ohhh this is pretty and I'm not really a red girl but the gradation is so compelling. I recently took a job where I'm vastly underemployed. So many of my friends (even my new boss) says - what are you doing this for? Aren't you bored? No - I love it since it frees up all my brain cells to make art/quilts. I'm to an age now where I realize that I don't need a fancy title, business cards, pretty clothes to show I'm successful. Success is shown on my design wall.