The Meek is based on a “postage stamp” quilt. This type of quilt gets its name from the size of each square, about the size of a postage stamp. In The Meek each square is 1” x 1” with 44 squares on a side for 1,936 squares. The squares were cut from plastic, aluminum and tin.
In my work I find it interesting to combine art and craft genres. For instance, The Meek is a collage based on a traditional needlecraft form, the quilt (more particularly, a postage stamp quilt). But with the grid of 1” squares set up, I was reminded of the graph paper one uses to set out a needlepoint design. I’m particularly fond of needlepoint alphabets and other commemorative needlepoint pieces that spell out names, dates, plACE.
So I decided to spell out something on the quilt -- “the meek shall inherit” -- taken from another traditional folk source, the Bible. The whole phrase is “the meek shall inherit the earth,” something I think is wishful thinking, but hopeful. If the meek will inherit anything it will be little pieces of the earth, 1” squares.
I also remembered the broadsheet, important to the American heritage as broadsheets were often published to espouse some political cause or another. Early broadsheets, of course, were created with handset type. The grid of The Meek had the look of an old-fashioned type-font drawer, a compartment for each letter of the alphabet.
Inspired by the idea of a broadsheet (and a ransom note), I cut individual letters from pop cans, beer cans, coffee tins, butter, margarine and cottage cheese containers, olive oil tins, cookie tins, shampoo bottles, motor oil and antifreeze containers, etc. From these I created the words to insert a subtext in The Meek. The subtext isn’t readily seen until one gets more intimate with the quilt, maybe spying a letter or a word. To help that recognition happen, I plACEd a bright orange square before each word.
The first part of the subtext is taken from Philip Garrison’s translation of “Lumber Days,” a short story by Heriberto Guzman, published in the Northwest Review. The second part of the subtext is my editorializing. Taken together with the title, the quilt-cum-broadsheet reads:
Yet, tiny pieces can be beautiful. A sprig of cherries (from a Cherry Coke can), a steaming cup of coffee (from a Folger’s coffee tin), the radiant sun (from a Taco Time cup), a star-shaped yellow and white flower (from a Darigold lowfat vanilla yogurt carton), a winsome young girl and boy (from a Merlino olive pomACE oil tin), a rich butter cookie (from a Royal Dansk tin), a luscious glob of blueberries (from a Dannon yogurt container). The meek shall inherit these tiny, delectable things...that seems like enough.
The Meek is one half of a diptych, the other half being Render Unto Caesar.
If you’re interested in purchasing The Meek, or would like to learn more about my community involvement projects, please e-mail me at , phone 509 362-5296, or write to me at P.O. Box 161, Marshall, WA 99020.