Love Letters

There is a legend in my family of the Valentine card that my dad made for my mom way back when they were 20somethings. My dad wrote her an irreverent poem and drew her a picture of a heart. A “real” anatomical heart. It wasn’t exactly what she was expecting at the time but it is one of my favorite stories of the two of them.

When I was thinking about a Valentine-themed design challenge, I was thinking about how valentines are always a “you” and a “me” and I wanted to put that idea into the design. So I sent a text to my family and a few friends and said “Draw me a heart. Take a photo. Text it back to me.” And I didn’t explain anything else or give them any other rules about what I wanted. My family is pretty easy to talk in to playing along with things like this, so as the afternoon went on, my phone chirped with images of hearts. To my surprise, my brothers-in-law were talked in to participating. My niece and nephew added their artwork. Some gave me 2 or three ideas. (If you’ve been paying attention while reading this post, you will be able to spot my dad’s contribution to the finished design.)

I didn’t know what they were going to send and in my head, I had a whole other way of putting it together originally. I thought about it for a little bit and then I sat down and drew a whole bunch of blank cards, envelopes, postage stamps and pens. I scanned and put those together into a large repeating pattern.

Then I added the hearts they had texted me, one for each card I had drawn. I edited their art as little as I needed to. I added a little color to some black and white versions because I wanted those hearts to be the main colors on the page and I made everything else a pale shade of pink/grey.

The finished design has 14 different artists who contributed to it. One of the friends who contributed commented when I posted the design “She also dreams up and does stuff that fosters creativity and community. That’s art, folks!” Exactly! I am going to talk about this design in a class I am teaching later today. Art is fun when you can share the art making. But more than that, the finished fabric isn’t just something “pretty” but it’s something with a story and the story makes it something you can connect with.

Love Letters Jacket. Digitally printed cotton denim. 2019


The denim jacket made with Love Letters fabric can be seen in the More than the Sum of Its Parts exhibition at Art Works from April 7 – May 24, 2019.