In the last 25 years, since I moved to San Francisco, the annual fire season that starts sometime in the dry summer months and runs until the rain returns in November has only become worse. 2018 brought some of the worst fires in California history. At the same time we keep hearing that climate change is going to make things really bad in the future. So I decided to make this quilt and say that it was already burning, that we did not have to wait for the future to see how bad it was going to get.
When it came time to start working on the quilt, I wanted to see if I could work more like a painter than a quilter. That is, painters can be so freely expressive with their gestural brush strokes, whereas quilters seem always to be bound by the engineering aspects of quiltmaking, the need to make all the pieces fit together. I wanted to see how gestural and free I could be in quiltmaking, to see if I could make this image of a fire at night using my techniques of freehand piecing and spontaneous composition with the bias strips to add even more energy to the composition.
With the quilt top finished, I quilted it on the longarm quilting machine with a freemotion design of thorny vines on the interior and leaves around the outside.
The quilt, signed with Joe’s embroidered signature, comes with a four-inch hanging sleeve, Certificate of Authenticity,and a custom cotton bag. Shipping and insurance are free to a domestic US address.
Joe Cunningham is an internationally known quilt artist, writer, teacher and lecturer. His quilts have been shown worldwide and are represented in the collections of major museums. He lives in San Francisco, working in his north light studio.