“Seasons of the Grass”
April 9 – June 5 (Opening Reception on April 16, 2pm-5pm)
A fifth generation Kansan and a graduate of the University of Kansas, Chris Edmonds lives at the eastern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. The native prairie provides not only the subject for her art, but also its pulse—the rhythm and pattern that inform even her most abstract works. Chris comes to the natural world as a close observer—a naturalist seeking to understand form, structure, motion and habitat. But she is not a disinterested observer: her eye looks with affection and care. Chris names what others regard (or disregard) as anonymous. The commonplace is rarefied. The ground under our feet is illuminated.
In her chosen medium, Chris gives further evidence of her quest to “become native to this place.” With her quilts, she takes up a traditional craft of many early immigrants to Kansas and other prairie states. In Chris’s hands the quilt becomes a canvas to explore contemporary forms and ideas. Yet, one does not feel that the traditional form has been subverted but given new life: renewed rather than preserved. “My own goal,” says Chris, “is to extend the art form, not merely repeat it … respect the tradition by advancing it.
In her studio, Chris attends to every detail of the creative process. She prints (and sometimes paints) her own designs and photographs onto cotton fabrics which she then quilts.
Chris’s quilts have been displayed all over the U.S. and in other countries including Tokyo, Germany and France. Chris has received numerous awards including six “best of show” distinctions. Her work has appeared in over 300 publications and on the covers of 12 magazines. In 1999, her quilt “Cherokee Trail of Tears” was named one of the best 100 quilts of the 20th century, a project in collaboration with the International Quilt Festival that further engendered a PBS documentary film. In 2003, she received the Kansans of Distinction Award for Visual Arts and she was also honored by the Lawrence Arts Commission with the Phoenix Award for Exceptional Artistic Achievement. Chris’s quilts are included in museum, corporate, public and private collections.
In Chris’s prints on aluminum, she continues to pursue her vision of perceiving and honoring the minutiae of her natural surroundings. The scale and luminosity of the image almost force the viewer to take note, to give account for that which is normally unaccounted for: the curve the dry grasses or the momentarily anchored seeds of a milkweed, engineered to take flight.
In the present show, Chris pays particular attention to the seasonal transformations of her subject. In her words: “The majestic sweep of sky and grasslands provides a kaleidoscopic palette of hue, value and chroma swaying to the cadence of the seasons. My work reflects the color and forms of nature that I observe around me. I focus on my place in it. The images of nature are transitory, often evanescent. I strive to perceive its patterns, and as an artist to record them in paint and print and text … for it is the nature of artists to manipulate the art of nature.”
Chris’s manipulation of nature is of the most benign type; for through her interpretations and imaginations we, the viewers, are given a keener and more nuanced vision of our own place.