Denise Burge, Louise’s Tree‘s, 1999
Cincinnati based artist Denise Burge, approaching quilting from a painting background, views the creation of her work as its subject as well as its medium. Using the storytelling tradition learned in her community while growing up in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, Burge uses her works as a commentary on everything from her family to the natural environment.
The Appalachian region has a history of folk artists concentrating on storytelling featuring aspects of religion, poverty, and the natural resources of the land. By using the quilt as her medium, Burge interprets what, to her, is a nostalgic and functional form of expression. Exploiting patchwork and sewing techniques as a vehicle for ecstatic pattern, Burge seeks to suggest her compositions as and analog to natural patterns of existence. Her work is constructed with a variety of materials and methods, both recycled and new, suggesting aspects of physical growth and renewal through the process. Shredding, slicing, layering, and turning forms and patterns inside-out, the artists sees her creations as a way to reenact and connect with the transformations that the earth constantly undergoes. Her nostalgia leads her to a romanticized conversation about attachment to our landscape. In the Appalachian landscape, people often see the brutality that can be exerted upon the earth, but also become viscerally connected to land and place as a natural resource and source of vitality. Burge uses her work to contemplate this contradiction and question the complexities of our relationship to our natural world.