This month, I had the opportunity to visit a one-woman show by Ada Niedenthal at the Carter Art Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (This show will run until July 19,2008.)
I first met Ada Niedenthal in May of 2002. She and I hung a Special Exhibit by the Kansas Art Quilters at the Spring International Quilt Market, which was held in Kansas City that year. We were both members of Kansas Art Quilters, a group that had formed in 2001. I had just taken on the job of Exhibit Chair for the group, and this was my first time hanging an exhibit that was not made up of only traditional quilts. Ada was a tremendous help to me with that chore, and then stayed on with me to help hang the other special exhibits that were part of Quilt Market that year. She was so much more patient than I was as we hung and re-hung the other quilts and garments to suit the show directors in that vast un-air conditioned convention hall. We went our separate directions after the end of the show, and then slowly lost contact with each other as my communications became more email powered. Ada was a holdout against this technology. Eventually, she gave up membership in Kansas Art Quilters when the group stopped sending out printed newsletters and switched to an entirely internet-based existence. At the time, I thought that Ada was not doing herself any favors by cutting herself off from the wealth of information that was available online and from the chat groups. Now I think I might have been very wrong.
Ada’s show contained over thirty textile art quilts that had an average size of about 30 by 40 inches. I have seen the average size of my own work diminish to Artists’ Trading Card size as I have watched my time spent online increase, so I found this aspect of her show impressive by itself. But more importantly, Ada has her own strong voice in all of her work. Her background in landscape design is evident in her work that depicts trees, such as “First Tree” and “Fractured Elm”.
She uses color effectively in work such as “Diminutive Details” where the work pulls the viewer in closer to see how she has used pieces of baby clothing and vintage garments to carefully construct the quilt. Ada’s art is in response to her life and the events around her. Most recently, she has incorporated her thoughts and feelings about the Bush administration into her art, so I do not want to portray her as cut off from the world.
I was inspired by Ada’s exhibit, and I now can see that the life spent with less computer time has a lot to offer. Ada has recently gotten an email address, so I can only hope she will not be as consumed by the Internet as I have become.
I wonder if I would have been better off in my artistic endeavors if I had held out longer against the allure of the World Wide Web? Even as I delete memberships to chat groups, I have been adding subscriptions to blogs….
Is there really any net gain to all of this added “net” information?