The Perils of PaMdora – art quilts by Pam RuBert
Pool Art Center Gallery
940 North Clay Avenue, Springfield, MO
December 1, 2006 – January 30, 2007
Rebecca Miller, Gallery Director
Department of Art and Art History
Reviewed by Emmie Seaman
In spite of having the opening postponed for a week due to an untimely snowstorm, Pam RuBert’s Perils of PaMdora was a pleasant relief to the unseasonable cold. This exhibit is presented in a small but quite adequate gallery in the Pool Art Center of Drury University which is well lit and has room for the 14 large and two small quilts to breathe. Preceding the opening, RuBert gave a one hour lecture/slide presentation describing how, after a lifetime of drawing, she only recently discovered quilt art as a way to showcase her cartoons. This information shared the fact that most of these quilts are autobiographical.
The first quilt seen, as one enters the gallery, is an earlier work by RuBert entitled Alien Invasion. Upon turning to the left, one sees large art quilts of bright colors with what appear to be simple designs but upon close inspection reveal complicated details and metaphors.
RuBert states that The Singing Telegram was inspired during a 4th of July celebration when she reflected upon being asked to jump out of a cake while employed by a singing telegram company. Up close, her monochromatic backgrounds reveal great details such as a clock with a beer theme, pictures on the wall, scenes outside the window, and various characters interacting.
Blue Christmas and Fresh depict the frustration we all feel when in similar situations; her cartoon approach proves that she laughs at herself and makes us laugh at ourselves.
Her technique of fusing cut fabric pieces to black fabric, cutting it out again, and fusing it to the background is reminiscent of the thick black lines in a coloring book. Due to the simplistic, but sophisticated, quality of the designs it is very effective. A grass- like, free motion quilting design on the grass and a quilted nose on PaMdora’s face are just a few examples of RuBert’s skill with free motion, machine quilting. Unfortunately, this is probably not visible to the viewers of these photographs.
There is also a four quilt series called Yoga 101 showing exaggerated yoga poses related to different foods. One might believe that RuBert enjoys her yoga exercises but doesn’t take them too seriously.
Crab Dip Pose
Banana Split Pose
In a corner of the gallery hangs another monochromatic piece, Metropolis, the only non-PamDora quilt in the exhibit . This heavily quilted work proves that RuBert has the ability to show us more than PaMdora. Even though the buildings have a cartoon quality, the works shows depth and technical skill; particularly the reflective quality of the water and the Van Gogh sky.
Towers of Babble, which depicts many landmark buildings in her city of residence, also speaks of her frustration with people and their cell phones, a frustration with which many of us can identify. This quilt typifies the growth of RuBert’s use of an almost monochromatic color scheme, and her design choice of the full background, depicting so much activity that the viewer cannot just glance at it, but is drawn closer to study details, become amused, and go away laughing but appreciative of her humor and talent.
Tower of Babble
To the right of the gallery entrance is an area almost separated from the rest of the space. Here, RuBert chose to create a studio installation. She states that when the gallery director visited her studio and saw her doodles, cartoons, fabric stash, and all the paraphernalia that she either uses or by which she is inspired, she was asked to try to include some of it in her exhibit to show the students of the University what goes into making her art quilts. Displayed is her next quilt, progressing from the pencil doodles, to the computer doodles, to the tiled computer drawing, patterns, and the partially finished quilt on the wall. Surrounding all of this are collectibles from her studio that actually make little art installations in and of themselves. Fortunately this area is somewhat isolated from the rest of the exhibit or it would detract from the whole show. One can spend much time roaming though the area studying what inspires RuBert and what makes RuBert tick.
For this reviewer, this exhibit was a joyous experience of seeing large, colorful, and well executed art quilts. More of Pam RuBert’s work and all of the quilts in her exhibit, including detail shots, can be seen on her website. I encourage you to follow her journey in the quilt world for, in myopinion, she has just begun to speak.