Phyllis Stephens 'My Life is a Bed of Roses ' (2021) Quilt with durable fabrics 52 ”x 82”; 58 x ... 88 in (fr) Charles Roussel photo courtesy of the artist, Richard Beavers Gallery, and Almine Rech
A woman lying on her side, one arm supporting her torso while the other arm reached towards her floral headgear. She grabs a ripe red apple, while another is lying, already eaten, next to a bottle of wine. Earthly indulgence mingles with birds, butterflies and flowers in this elaborate, joyful, and vividly colored representation where no fruit is forbidden and the subject seems fully aware of the knowledge required to take care of oneself harshly.I didn't win and appreciate nature.
“I truly believe that happiness is a choice. I also believe it's a choice only you can make for yourself, ”said artist Phyllis Stephens, 65.
My Life is a Bed of Roses (2021) , a 52- inch by 82 inch quilt with durable fabrics wowed crowds at the New York Armory Show, as the art world ecstatically returned to the experience in direct. A joint Richard Beavers Gallery and Almine Rech installation featured colossal quilts by Stephens as well as portraits of abstract expressionist bravery by Genesis Tramaine.
"My experience at the Armory Show was unbelievable. It exceeded all of my expectations. To rub shoulders with the masterful Genesis Tramaine was an honor. His artistic approach is brilliant, ”said Stephens. “Needless to say, I have long been an admirer of his work. I thought both works were vibrant et avant-garde. Our two very different artist voices worked really well together.
Phyllis Stephens 'Sweet and Low ' (2021) (L diptyque) Quilt with durable fabrics 88 "x 50" 93 ... in x 55 in (box) Phyllis Stephens 'Raw Sugar ' (2021) (Diptyque R) Quilt with durable fabrics 88 '' x 50 '' 93 '' x 55 '' (box) Charles Roussel photo courtesy of the artist, Richard Beavers Gallery, and Almine Rech
The eyes spectators dance between the two quilt fabrics, Sweet and Low (2021) and Raw Sugar (2021), displayed to the left and right respectively, at L 'Armurerie, forcing us to scrutinize our gaze forward of the two women suspended in dathletic poses on a fruitful background.
Stephens' work over three decades is in the collections of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky., and The National Museum of Ghana in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
The Quilts played an intrinsic role in African American history, spurring reform in the mid to late 19th century with sales helping fuel the Underground Railroad, anti-slavery newspapers and other vital organizations. African-American women supplied some 250,000 hand-made quilts to Union soldiers during the Civil War. Representing stories of slavery and liberation, struggle and triumph, the quilts have empowered African American women, elevating their manual labor to the realm of art and providing a source of achievement and recognition to the -beyond the domestic sphere.
Developing a rich history of quilts fromstory, Stephens' singular creations are distinguished by innovative tales told with precision and skill.
The Bloomfield, Connecticut native, now living in Fayetteville, Ga., is a fifth generation quilter who has started perfecting her craft at the age of eight, learning from her grandmother Amelia Howard in Athens, Georgia.
Stephens' paternal aunt, Corine Stephens Jenkins, in Atlanta taught her how to use a sewing machine. "She was a lively storyteller," recalls Stephens. “She was a character. We called her "Aunt Sis". She was just a powerhouse. Everyone did what she said. She was awesome. "
W hen her mother, Sarah Stephens, wasn 't a quilter, she was a prolific seamstress, offering unconditional support and encouragement.
"She told me: 'No, you don ' t have to live a life that others understand. 'Without mymother, I couldn't be an artist because she was constantly encouraging me to be what I want, ”Stephens said. "She said " My daughter could do anything "and she really believed in it. " Other knows, "stoking her passion to celebrate tradition with a resolutely contemporary dialogue and respect for the ecology.
"I strive to use environmentally friendly fabrics. Several years ago I watched a documentary on the pollution caused around the world by dyes and chemicals from unsustainable fabrics, ”Stephens said. “From that point on, I felt I had to pay attention to the types of fabrics I was using in my quilts. It is important for me to protect the planet. "
Phyllis Stephens 'Redeemed ' (2021) Quilt with tsustainably sourced 88 '' x 52.5 '' 94 '' x 58.5 '' ... (box) Photo by Charles Roussel courtesy of the artist, Richard Beavers Gallery and Almine Rech