Michele David




Michele David




Michele David


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

A Friend of the Quilt Alliance


Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts


Tina Gordon


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Michele David. Michele is in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and I'm in Naperville, Illinois, so we're conducting this interview over the telephone. Today's date is August 19, 2009; it is now 10:08 in the morning. And Michele, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Please tell me about the quilt that you've selected for this interview.

Michele David (MD): It is also a pleasure for me to tell the story of this particular quilt and also, it's an honor for me to be interviewed for the Save Our Stories [Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories.] project. My quilt is called Erzulie Dantor and it's the number one in the series of two that I've made. And I've actually made this quilt because there was a call from Karen Bresnahan to have an exhibit called "I Remember Mama." One was supposed to make a quilt about your mother. And since my mother is so important to me, I decided to enter the challenge and to send a quilt, which actually was accepted for the exhibit. So, this particular quilt traveled for about two years including from Houston to Chicago to the Hague in the Netherlands. The quilt is called "Erzulie Dantor" because Erzulie Dantor is a goddess in the Voodoo Religion of Haiti, but in Haitian Creole she would call a Loa of the voodoo pantheon. And I'm from Haiti. I am using a symbol from my Haitian culture. In Haiti, voodoo is a religion, and it has many gods and goddesses that are based upon spirit of ancestors, and those god and goddesses are Loa. Erzulie Dantor is a goddess of women. She is the goddess of love and motherhood. Because of that, I use her spirit to represent my other. My mother was widowed when I was six months old. And she had four children, ages 6 months to 4 years old to raise, which she did by herself. And there were three sisters and a brother, and she raised all 3 of her daughters to be these fierce feminists in a country where I grew up in Haiti which was still very patriarchal. So, I really deeply appreciated that about my mother. I think it's because of her I'm so successful. Therefore, that was the reason I chose this particular quilt called "Erzulie Dantor I" to put in that exhibit, "I Remember Mama," in Houston.

KM: How to you use this quilt?

MD: Basically, this quilt, when it came back from Houston, was also in another museum exhibit, as part of a solo show. The exhibit, called "Painting in Fabrics," was at the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Boston, Massachusetts [http://www.ncaaa.org.]. Also, I have exhibited it at colleges when I was invited to show my quilts here in Boston. Right now, it's just at home packed carefully. Eventually, I would give it to my nieces and nephew.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quilt making.

MD: I became interested in quilt making actually in the beginning of the year of 2000. I've always been interested in fabric. Growing up in Haiti I started sewing since I was about 10 years old. I started making my clothes and eventually all of my sisters sewed and I, we made clothes for everybody in the neighborhood. So, I grew up with a strong tradition of sewing and using fabric. In 1999, I became very ill unfortunately, and I had to take a leave of absence from my work as a physician because it was too taxing, and I kept relapsing. So, I took a leave of absence in the year 2000. Within the first three months, I essentially was bored because of I was not used to being inactive and because of my illness I couldn't do much. I couldn't really read much. I couldn't concentrate on the written word, so I couldn't do any of my work really even as a researcher. I couldn't write my scientific articles that were due. So, I wanted to do something that was more spiritually hand on, something that would give me a mind/body connection. I reconnected with my love of fabric when I saw a quilting class listed in the Brookline Adult Ed brochure. It was a beginner's quilting class. So, I took the class, and the class was actually extremely helpful because this particular teacher was very--I wouldn't say finicky, but she was very precise, and she taught in the old way. She taught hand quilting. You had to cut your template. You had to have a precise quarter-inch seam. So, it was a really extraordinarily useful class, and I learned all the basic skill of quilt making, but it drove me bonkers. [both laugh.]

Because I just couldn't, it was just too precise. I'm a scientist. I'm used to precision in my work all day and I didn't want precision in my creative work. I wanted my mind to just move more freely and create something from my own imagination. I did not want to follow a pattern that someone else’s has done. So, after I took the class, I didn't think I was ready to continue quilting even though I'd enjoyed the handwork. However, I happened to go for the first time to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell in Massachusetts a short time after the quilting class. We were lucky of having that museum in Massachusetts and they had the exhibit called "Oxymoron." And I just fell in love. And I didn't realize you could actually create something that was totally fresh and new and just do it out of your imagination with quilting. One really didn't have to do the traditional quilting, which is fantastic actually. I love traditional quilting, too, but my mind just doesn't work that way. So, when I saw the "Oxymoron" and how you just create everything, I just started making art quilts instead. Just creating, having a vision, and then translating in fabric. I'm losing track of the original question.

KM: You're doing fine.

MD: So, I then continued to quilt, and I've been quilting ever since. Now being a scientist, I'm used to deadlines. Therefore, I decided to start entering challenges and calls for art quilts, as I work better under the pressure of a deadline. And that's how come I was able to actually be able to be so productive in those 2 years when I was on leave from work. I would enter a challenge and now I would have a deadline. Then I know I have to finish something. Then I kept going. For those two years when I was on medical leave, I created a huge body of work, and I was very excited and happy to have been accepted in so many exhibits. As a result, I was to develop a reputation as a quilter.

KM: So, is this quilt typical of your style?

MD: This quilt is typical of my style. It has a lot of color because I love color. This goes back to living in Haiti. Growing up in Haiti, I'm surrounded by art. Haitians are artists. I mean if you walk any street in Haiti, you will see people selling their paintings down the sidewalk almost like a flea market of paintings and pottery and sculptures and woodcarving. So, I grew up surrounded by art and by color and by beauty. The Caribbean sky is very unique. The light is very powerful, so you actually see color well. So, this particular quilt is very bright, I have all these colors in the quilt because I really love color. Even though I don't like traditional quilting, I like piecing. So around the edge of the quilt you see a lot of piecing because I like to sew, and I like to use the machine and I like to piece. So even though I don't do a whole thing of traditional quilting, I like to put certain elements of it within a quilt. I like to do a lot of figures, but lately, I've been doing more abstract quilts. In that period of time, I made a lot of figurative quilts as well as landscape quilting. So that's basically the kind of quilter I am. I use a lot of color. I have just a small sketch when I start a quilt, but I essentially freehand everything, so I don't really measure a lot unless I'm doing a little bit of some small amount of precise stitching, which I can do a little bit of, but the majority of the stuff is sort of freestyle. Even my appliqués are freestyle. I just like to sort of follow the vision. I don't pre-template everything beforehand. I just cut the fabric and use it that way.

KM: Do you work on more than one thing at once or only one thing at a time?

MD: No. I work on more than one thing at once. I like variety so I work on one thing and sometimes I get stuck on a piece and then I just let it hang on the design wall so the idea can continue to percolate, and I try to work on something else. That’s how I work. I cannot sketch a complete design and reproduce it. I just see the fabric and the fabric tells me what it wants to become.

KM: So, what are your favorite techniques and materials?

MD: I don't think I have a favorite material because I love all fabric. Lately, I've been making my fabric by dying/painting fabric. I like starting with the white fabric and painting it or dying it. It is another way to create. I use cotton. I use whatever fabric is available to give me the texture I want in a quilt. I use decorator fabric, silk, and all types of fabric. I also use many different types of technique. I don't have a favorite one, but it's whatever will translate what I'm thinking about. If it requires appliqué, I do that. If it requires painting on the fabric, I do that. What I like to do is using a sewing machine so I'm not a hand quilter. I use the machine to piece. I do machine quilting. I love free motion quilting because I think of the free motion as another way to add element to the design. Therefore, I think a lot about how I'm going to quilt the finished product. I look at the finished quilt top and I use free motion quilting to complete the design. I do not mark my quilt. I just start machine quilting and use whatever lines of quilting I think will continue my vision for the quilt. So again, I don't do simply quilt to hold the quilt top together. I use free motion to do additional designing and whatever comes to me is what ends up being quilted.

KM: How many hours a week do you spend on quilting?

MD: The past two years have unfortunately been unusually fallow for me in terms of quilting. I haven't quilted a lot because I've been going for academy promotion at work, so that required so much energy I couldn’t quilt a lot. So, what I've been making the past two years is a lot of postcards and journal-size-type quilt. So, I've made tons and tons of postcards because I complete them in the smaller amount of time, I had available to quilt. I would do them either in the evening but mostly on the weekend. It's hard to quantify how much time I spend quilting during the week.

KM: Describe your studio.

MD: The studio is a home studio. My studio is the master bedroom in the house, but lately I've been thinking that I needed to have a separate studio from my house because it has taken over my house. I'd like to both have this place that's dedicated, but I can get away from it, too. But right now, my studio is the master bedroom of my condo.

KM: Describe it. What do you have in it?

MD: It's full of stuff. I have a wall that's 12 inch--12 inch or 12 feet. [laughs.] Twelve feet. I have a 12 feet wall on the longest end that has bookcases that are full of fabrics because I need to see the fabric to be able to have a creative thought. In the middle of it is my cutting area. At one end near the window is where my machine is set up and at the other end is where the ironing is set up. Every space is practically occupied. Essentially, I just have a little alleyway within it to walk back and forth. When I start working, it's even messier because I actually need to see everything since I don't work from sketches. I have to see the fabric to be able to continue to have the vision for the quilt, so I don't invite many people to my house right now. That's why I want to have a separate studio from my house because it's so messy. [both laugh.]

KM: Do you belong to any other quilt groups?

MD: Yes. Actually, the first guild I used to belong to African American guild in Massachusetts called Sisters in Stitches Joined by the Cloth. It has a very small amount of art quilters and a lot of traditional quilters. That was fantastic for me because it allowed connecting with other quilters and being in the company of others who also found joy in quilting. Then, I joined and am currently a member of Quilters Connection in Massachusetts, which has a tremendous number of art quilters, and that has been a great source of learning and companionship in art quilting. That has been really fabulous. The thing that I've enjoyed the most is my small art critic group. We call ourselves Sisters in Fiber from Massachusetts, and it’s a group of three of us who are art quilters; Valarie Poittier, Celeste Janey and I work to develop together as artists. So, we meet once a month for the whole day to quilt and we critique each other's work. We teach each other new techniques. One of us was a traditional quilter that developed into an art quilter. The other quilter was a painter, weaver, and quilter, so she is bringing all of those elements into the mix. So, we try to challenge each other to produce more and right now we're trying to produce enough new works to in two years have an exhibit at the Museum at the National Center of Afro American Artists. I've spoken to the curator, Barry Gaither, and he said if we had enough work, we might be able to have a group show. So, we're working toward that. The Sisters in Fiber group is providing me with wonderful companionship as well as enabling me to challenge myself and learn more about art quilting and in art in general because we challenge each other to use nontraditional technique as well as new technique. So, we paint on fabric. We use acrylic on fabric. We use pastel on fabric. Use all kinds of stuff on fabric.

KM: So, what about your involvement in the Women of Color Quilters Network?

MD: My involvement came about I think around 2002 or 2004. I don't recall the exact year, but it was a few years ago. Carolyn Mazloomi had put out this call for quilt with Biblical content. Before that I was aware of her, but I didn't officially join the Network until that call. So, when she put out the call, I answered the call and created two quilts actually for that particular exhibit, that end up also being exhibited in New York at the Museum of Biblical Arts and it toured around the country for two years. [pause] To date that has been sort of like my major involvement with the Network.

KM: What does your family think of your quilt making?

MD: My family. It's hard to know. They enjoy seeing me exploring the creative side of me, it's hard for them to participate more actively because my family members live actually in Haiti and in Canada. So, they get excited about my exhibits, but they don't get to come to many of my shows unfortunately. But my niece has been excited about getting some of my quilts. I promise her one of my quilts that has been traveling. She most recently said, 'When am I getting my quilt.' So, my family is very excited about my artwork, but they also think again Michele is getting herself involved in a lot of stuff. [both laugh.] I have another sister who's extremely artistic who actually I think is even a more talented artist than I. She thinks I'm competing with her on the art field and she's not too happy about that.

KM: Oh, how funny.

MD: [laughs.] But she's a tremendous artist. Oh my gosh. [laughs.] When I think of myself, I'm using my artwork to center myself, as my day job, as I call it, is so intense. I am a physician. My artwork is really what calms me and give me joy and expands my spirit. For herself, art is a career. So that's a little bit of a challenge for her to see me also creating, when she sees me as a scientist, therefore I should be different from her.

KM: Is there any aspects of quilt making that you don't like?

MD: Not really. [laughs.] Sometimes, as I said, the traditional type of quilting I don't enjoy making although I enjoy seeing it. But I enjoy every part of the stuff that I do with quilting.

KM: So, whose works are you drawn to and why?

MD: Hmm I tend to be drawn to people who use a lot of color. For example, Ca--Car Bryer Faller?

KM: Yes. Caryl Bryer Fallert.

MD: I seem to really enjoy her work. It's so colorful. I also enjoy seeing Michael whose last name is escaping me. He's an African American male artist.

KM: Are you talking about Michael Houston?

MD: Umm. He's from New York.

KM: Okay.

MD: Totally blanking his last name.

KM: That's okay. You can fill it in later.

MD: Yeah. Michael Cumming. I enjoy the content of his work. His work is also very colorful. I love the way he translates his vision into quilting. Melody from Chicago.

KM: Johnson.

MD: Johnson.

KM: [agrees.] She's not in Chicago anymore though.

MD: Not in Chicago anymore?

KM: No.

MD: Okay. So, I tend to enjoy her work again because it's breathtaking and so colorful. Laura-- I'm missing--

KM: Laura Wasilowski?

MD: Exactly! And also, one of my friends who is not well known yet in the art quilt world. Her name is Valarie Pratt-Poittier, she's my artist friend from Sisters in Fiber who is a weaver and painter and quilter. She uses all those skills in making her quilts and her work is tremendous. Juanita Yeager is another artist that I really enjoy a lot of. Her work is well known and is breathtaking in its precision as well as her use of color is fantastic. Juanita Yeager is one person who actually taught me the use of color. Before that, I had taken color theory in college. I was taking painting courses. And I had taken color theory in graduate school, but I never quite understood it in the way that I quilt, which is intuitively. So, I needed to understand color on that intuitive level in order to design with it more easily. And Juanita Yeager, (I took a master class from her) taught me color theory in a way that was so clear and so now I can feel color the same way I feel when I'm creating. And that has been a tremendous gift from her. And then there are several other quilters whose works I enjoy. I enjoy Carolyn Mazloomi's work also for their content. It's fantastic and Faith Ringgold was an early influence on me. Living in Boston, I was also very much influence by Harriet Power Bible quilts at the MFA. I enjoy seeing Gwendolyn McGee works. I first saw one of her quilts at the Smithsonian, Renwick Gallery. She has very strong theme in her work, such as slavery, yet her use of color is very powerful also. And that's all the names I can think of. I'm sure there's a lot more quilters whose names I'm blanking on.

KM: That's okay. What do you think makes an artistically powerful quilt?

MD: When you can see the vision and for example, when I'm looking at Faith Ringgold's artwork, you can feel the emotion she is trying to convey. When you're looking at her quilts, in addition to seeing the technique, you also can think. It provokes you to think as well as to feel. That's what I think is a powerful work. I'm not attracted to work that are precise just for the sake of precision. I want to be able to think and to feel, and so that's what I'm attracted to. It's hard for me to explain it a little bit more than that. And also, the content has meaning, and you can see the artist express that meaning through the quilting or to the artwork, whatever medium you're using.

KM: What advice would you offer someone starting out?

MD: I would say to take a course in traditional quilting, but once you've done that and you understand the technique of quilting and you can do it well, then take art classes, take color classes, take all sort of courses, but don't keep taking quilting courses because the way you create is by having a vision, not by having more technique. The more you quilt the more you will learn and the more you get down pat what you need to express with your fabric, but you don't want to keep producing somebody else's vision. But if you learn really from a good teacher, like I did, where you really learn the technique pat, then you can deconstructed it and use it in a nontraditional way but still create a flat surface, as opposed to wonky wavy quilt that people who don't know how to quilt do when they are trying to create an art quilt, but it doesn't look right because they don't understand the technique of sewing.

KM: Now do you think of yourself as an artist or a quiltmaker, or do you even make a distinction?

MD: I don't make a distinction to tell you the truth. I just think of myself as an artist whose medium is quilt and fabric. I choose fabric-fiber as my medium to create art. To me, it’s sort of an oxymoron to say, 'An art quilt.' It's an artwork. You know, when you are a painter, you don't say, 'I'm a painting artist.' A sculptor does not say, 'I'm a sculpting artist.' They're all artists, so I don't see the difference why we have to call it an art quilt. I think it's because it's derived from a traditional feminine work that it's hard to think of this as art and ourselves as plain artists but just because you call yourself an artist doesn't mean you are Picasso. It just means you're creating art. It doesn't have to be art that will survive 10,000 years. It just means you're creating artwork. It can be good, bad, or indifferent. That's what being artist mean. I find that in the U.S. we assign it a lot of meaning that it doesn't need to be. If you say you're an artist, people assume you're trying to make yourself feel important. It's just another term for a working person that creates art.

KM: I agree with you. Why is quilt making important to you?

MD: Because before I made quilt, I try many different medium as an artist. I try painting. I try drawing. I wasn't particularly good at them and since they did not catch my imagination, I never practiced to make myself become better at them. Since I grew up being a seamstress, I've always loved handling fabric. So, I find there is a tactile quality to making quilt that is very important to me. And it also when you see a quilt, you want to come close to it. It gives you a sense of immediate intimacy and I like that about quilting that you had that sense of intimacy even when it's on the wall. This is different from looking a painting for example, when you are looking at a painting you do not necessarily get that sense of intimacy. Everybody who looks at a quilt immediately, usually come close to it; so that means it sort of magically pulls you in. So, in addition to the tactile quality, you have an intimate quality to quilting as a piece of artwork that I really enjoy. In addition, I just love fabric. That's the bottom line [laughs.] in all its forms.

KM: Do you think quilt making will ever catch on in Haiti?

MD: Actually, there are several people who are teaching Haitians to quilt as a way of improving their lives. So, I learn recently that an American lady [Jeanne Staples.] whose name I'm blanking on is working with Haitian women to create "Peace Quilts" to raise money for them in Haiti. She’s taught them to quilt and they're quilting. You know there’s actually a strong textile tradition in Haiti. There is very strong tradition of embroidery in Haiti. I grew up knowing how to embroider. So, this lady is using those skills that we had in Haiti to have the Haitian women create quilts. I saw them recently, and they were extraordinary. So, the women are using our Haitian embroidery techniques to create quilts with a Haitian vision. I think if those women will eventually teach others, quilting might caught on in Haiti. The reason quilt is not a tradition to Haiti it's so warm. You don't need a quilt [KM agrees.] To evolve as a tradition, but we have a lot of textile tradition in Haiti.

KM: What do you think makes a great quilter?

MD: Somebody who is willing to learn, continue to grow and learn. Someone who sees fabric as just a medium to create something. Somebody who's not obsessed with the quarter inch sewing line, who is not obsessed with the border being precise, who just want to create a piece of artwork that gels from a color point of view and from a visual impact point of view, and who just love fabric. I think quilters who are great quilters and they've been making the same thing, the same type of work with different colors like for 10/15 years, I don't understand that mindset. That's not who I am. That's why I don't do great in series because after I do one thing, I'm done. I move on to the next subject. So, I think you have to be able to continue to explore, to learn new things, and develop new technique that might help you put your vision better on fabric. So that's my idea of a great quilter. Somebody who doesn’t keep repeating the same thing over and over again.

KM: But you made two of the "Erzulie Dantor."

MD: Right. Exactly. And that's unusual for me, but that's because it really has sort of captured my imagination.

KM: So how is the second one different from the first one?

MD: The second one actually started as a round robin, so I had created the middle of it as a round robin with a group of five people on the Internet whom I didn't know. So, I just sort of done the face and because I was still intrigued by the idea of Erzulie and using direct voodoo symbol in a quilt and I was still thinking about my mother. When it came back to me, I didn't like what they had done, so I just ripped out, got the center back, and recreated it in the way -- so in a way some place has less piecing, but it has a little bit more impact than the first one because the face, I think, is stronger.

KM: Have you done other round robins since?

MD: I'm doing one right now and it again it's starting to feel like I should not have done it. I'm not kind of a round robin kind of person. [both laughs.] It turns out to be fairly hard when people's visions are not my visions per se. So that may be my last one.

KM: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

MD: I don't see a lot of younger people quilting. I remember even three years ago when I would go to the bookstore to look at the quilt section, there used to be a huge amount of quilting books and huge amount of quilt magazines and now those spaces are shrinking more and more. So I think our challenge is to teach the next generation how exciting quilting is, so that it doesn't die out again like it did before. Therefore, you would not need another revival like in the '70s for it to come back. And to teach people that quilting you know it can be traditional, but you can also create something with it. It's just another medium of producing art. It's not a boring kind of activity, which I think is still hard to communicate. People have a sense in quilting that something grandmothers do and that's not what it is at all. So, I think that's part of our challenge is to educate the next generation about the excitement of quilting.

KM: What are your plans for your quilts?

MD: My quilts actually will end up at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists. I plan to donate a lot of them there. I don't usually sell my quilt unless people ask me. Part of the reason because I don't have time to actually do that, and part of it is I don't like selling them, as I'm privileged not to really need the income from them. So I plan to give them to my family and essentially donate the rest to the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Boston. The museum's director has already agreed to take them and conserve them.

KM: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history?

MD: It's meaningful to women's history because I think even though there are some men who quilt; quilting was such a typical feminine activity. That's what women did. As a result, it was totally undervalued. Now there are studies about women’s lives that are found in the history of quilting. So, I think that's the importance of quilting and especially when you look at antique quilts. It captured women’s work and women’s memories. I mean these women created quilts with powerful visual impact and yet you know everybody kept thinking they were utilitarian stuff and yet they were making a visual statement with their quilting, Quilting was done beautifully, artfully, and yet totally undervalued because it was created by women. So that's the one thing I really like about quilting now is that we have--over the past 30 years quilt has been shown to be an important part of the history of women in America and I guess in other part of the world where they quilt, and it was an important history that needed to be discovered. And because I'm a feminist, I find that particularly that strikes a chord with me.

KM: Writing artist statements how is that process for you?

MD: That's a very hard process. Do you mean an artist statement about me or about the quilt?

KM: About the quilt. Let's start with the quilt and then we can talk about you.

MD: Okay. To write an artist statement about the quilt is very hard for me, as the statement does not really express what I create. I just create the quilt and its meaning is visual, so the written words for me do not capture my vision. Therefore, I feel that I am making up something afterward when I write the statement. [laughs.] Really, I'm a totally visual person. So, whenever people ask me to create an artist statement, I feel like I'm making up something. I don't know if I've fully captured what I've created because when I think of something I think of it in pictures not in word.

KM: And how about writing about yourself?

MD: The writing about me is a little bit different because I can have data to put in and I sort of know what inspires me so I can describe that. So that's slightly easier. I am also used to writing bio because I write bio to describe my work as a physician and articles from my research, so I'm used to sort of writing from a more factual point of view. But the quilt artist statement, from my point of view, is really difficult. Other people can write a statement and create a quilt out of that. That's not me. It always feels to me like I'm making up something about my quilts in the artist statement.

KM: How do you want to be remembered?

MD: Somebody who lives life fully, who tried even if some of things I tried didn't work out. And part of that came out of my illness. Because I was a very much career driving person who didn't have time to smell the roses until I became so sick that I might have died. And the cliché becomes true, it woke me up and said, 'You'd better do something; you're not promised tomorrow.' So now I try to really make sure that I fully do what I do and that I enjoy what I'm doing, and I live a good life that has some balance in it, between work, family life, spiritual life, as well as creative life.

KM: Is there anything that you would like to share that we haven't touched upon before we conclude?

MD: I just want to say that as a Haitian woman who grew up in a culture and a country that has such a rich tradition of artists, I feel that's had given me a unique point of view that I'm trying to express through my artwork. And I hope that I've given that to the world. Once your work is out there, it's hard to know how people look at it, because as someone once told me; your work is a gift to the world, and they see in it what they want. You have no control over that, but I hope they see my point of view, my culture in my work. Haitian culture has very strong African and Creole traditions. I hope that I have been able to express them in my work. And that's basically who I am as a quilter and as an artist. I hope that I am honest about it, that I don't pretend to be more than I am, but that I've been to tell a unique story in my quilt to the world.

KM: Where do you see your work going?

MD: I have been trying to grow as an artist. I've been drawn by more abstract stuff lately. I was doing very figurative work and some landscape work. Before this year, it was very hard for me to do abstract work and yet lately my work has been going into that direction, so I'm trying to explore that and see what that means for me. And I just hope that I can continue to create and that I actually do carve out the time to do that. As a result, I'm now working 4 days a week, so I can give myself more time to create. Because as a physician when I work that's all I can do is work. It's so intense that when I leave work, I just want to sort of relax. So, this year, I determined that I really need to give myself the space to create again, because I was so productive when I was on leave, and I've not been as productive since. So, I'm just determined to not lose the creative side of me. So that's why I have to decide to work part-time, so I can create and not be stuck.

KM: So, if you get an outside studio space, what kind of space do you envision having?

MD: Something that has a lot of light, a lot of large windows because it's very important to me to be in light. When I'm in darkness, I can't think. So, I see something with tall ceiling, and it has huge windows. Even though, the light is not good on fabric, but I need it to think creatively. And I like to perhaps be in the studio place where there's other artists just not fiber artists so that you get that multidisciplinary approach to work so to speak; so that you have different sources of inspiration. Because each medium has their own thing that can challenge you and I might find the solution to a problem from another medium not just the quilt medium. So, I like to be in a studio place that has different type of artists.

KM: Is that kind of space available in your area?

MD: Yes, I knew it exists in Lowell, Massachusetts, but I’m looking for one close to Boston near where I live. The one that would be perfect for me is in Lowell. But Lowell is a little bit too far for me. It is called The Western Avenue Studio. It's a huge form of factory that has over 200 artists in it. And a lot of my art quilters’ friends have studios there. That would be the ideal place, but it's a little bit too far for me to go. So, I'm looking for a space closer to Boston. I've just started to look into it.

KM: I hope you find it.

MD: Yeah.

KM: Well, I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to share with me and talk to me. You were wonderful.

MD: I hope I gave you enough talk. As I say, it's hard for me to be verbose.

KM: Oh, I think you did very well. I think you did a great job. We're going to conclude our interview at 10:53.


“Michele David,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1923.