"The Turned Land"
Martha Cole, "The Turned Land," 2007, digital image on polyester, unbleached cotton, Setacolor fabric paints, batting, assorted threads.
MARTHA COLE, The Turned Land
McIntyre Gallery, Regina
April 27 - May 26, 2007
By Jack Anderson
Working from a position that “beauty is not an option” but operates as a necessary antidote to negative current social and cultural problems, well-known Saskatchewan fabric artist Martha Cole continues to bring her sophisticated and, yes, beautiful adaptations of sewing and quilting processes to her on-going questioning of our role and place in the ecosystem. Transforming fabric into image, we see realistic scenes of the tilled and turned agriculturalized prairie landscape — from close-up images of soil and plants to panoramas that capture visual patterns left in stubble fields. In a major departure, Cole approaches this new body of work in an untraditional way. Adopting current digital technologies, she transfers computer-printed images onto fabric and then paints, stitches and quilts back onto them. While it is tempting to see these lush large-scale works either as memorializing records of an almost-past prairie way of life — which they are — she asks us to look beyond the specifics of place and time represented here. Cole’s soft subversions in fact record technologized 21st century multinational farming practices. Through them she more broadly interrogates our use of the earth. “If this is what the earth has given us,” she asks, “what are we giving back in return?”
Represented by: McIntyre Gallery, Regina.