The Source for Contemporary Art Quilts, Exhibitions & Appraisals

Susan Shie
Wooster, Ohio

Materials: Whole cloth painting on white Kona cotton, fabric paint. Cotton machine thread, Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting. Perle cotton embroidery thread.
Techniques: Freehand drawing with paint markers. Colored with brush and fabric paint. Small journal writing made with AirPen and fabric paint. Machine quilting with Mettler cotton thread. Hand stitching (just on the border) with DMC perle cotton. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead.
47 x 35 inches

Susan Shie comments: "This is the piece I made to be the back image on all the cards in my printed Kitchen Tarot deck of the twenty-two Major Arcana cards, published in 2009 by Hay House. .I needed to create a card back image that would look the same right side up or upside down. So instead of Photoshopping something, I drew from each end of the cloth freehand, creating the same composition twice, with slight variations in each form.

"I wanted this piece to include images from many of the cards, into kind of a survey piece. So it has St. Quilta the Comforter in her Buddha Girl pose, with a cat, a colander, a dish soap bottle, a kitchen sink, a pie, and a moon, all drawn twice. Each object was used in the deck, to symbolize one of the major cards in the traditional tarot deck. I explained that and snuck in personal diary stories and political commentary with my tiny AirPen writing on the piece, knowing that the image would be too small in reproduction on the 5”h x 3.5”w tarot cards, for anyone to be able to read the text.

"I didn't keep a running record of what I was writing about, but I know it included Jimmy’s 55th birthday and impressions from reading the books A Thousand Splendid Suns and Life of Pi. It included some of the presidential debates and the Nov. 4 election, and I had some comments to make about Obama actually not having to fight to prove that he won it! My diary listed some of the states Obama won, to many people’s surprise, as most of these had been Republican strongholds for a long time. Obama won twice as many states as McCain did, and it was a real landslide! I wrote that we were all moved on election night, as McCain went back to his old, kind and reasonable self and gave his concession speech. And then we cried and cried as Obama gave his acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.

"I really enjoyed the challenge of making this piece, with the added need to make the two “tops” look almost alike, so that people couldn't really tell which end of the card is up, when they look at it from the back. This is because in Tarot, many people have a different take on a card’s meaning, if it’s right side up or upside down. I don’t, myself, but since many do, I needed to have the two tops look much alike. I like the funkiness of the subtle differences in the two tops’ images, which became a game for me, of working as close as I could, while still just letting my drawing flow onto the fabric with permanent marks. That’s good for any artist, to just DO IT!

"And then there was the joy of knowing this was the last piece to make for the Major Cards Kitchen Tarot Deck. So, come to think of it, there are really 23 cards in the deck, if you count this back image one!"


The KT Card Back

The KT Card Back, detail

The KT Card Back, detail

KT Card Back, detail 2

The KT Card Back, detail

KT Card Back, detail 3

The KT Card Back, detail

Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade