On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about quilting as an art practice with my guest Heidi Parkes.
Heidi Parkes was born into this world the proud recipient of a collaborative family quilt, organized by her grandmother. Now, Heidi lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and works within the quilt world, the art world, and the maker’s movement. Hand piecing and hand quilting imbue her work with the personal, and contribute to her themes of diary, self-help, materiality, and abstraction. Heidi recently completed a yearlong ARTservancy artist’s residency, is a two-time Mary Nohl Fellowship finalist, and has received multiple awards from the Modern Quilt Guild.
Heidi lectures and teaches with a passion for the beginner, and her unique improvisational style promotes the qualities of allowing, savoring, hinting, manifesting, and documenting. Whether on-site or via a self-hosted workshop on her website, Heidi incorporates hand yoga and body care as an essential component of learning to sew.
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We begin this conversation by talking about Heidi’s childhood growing up with a mother who really encouraged her creativity and with her father who was a woodworker. Heidi talks about art teacher at school who was really a role model for her. Heidi also interned for a ceramic artist who helped her to understand what the life of an artist entailed. In college at the Art Institute of Chicago, Heidi got a degree in teaching art and went on to work in as a high school art teacher for nearly a decade.
“We’ve Never Met, but I’ve Been an Admirer” by Heidi Parkes
We talk about all of the things Heidi learned about art and about teaching while working in schools, as well as about the things that in the end led her to leave the school system and begin supporting herself as an artist. Heidi discusses the first quilts she made. She also talks about her enjoyment of collaboration in various forms.
“Vignettes Quilt” by Heidi Parkes
Recently, Heidi updated her website to transform it from being an art portfolio site into an ecommerce site where the prices of her work were listed alongside a cart button. She explains why she’s made this change and the impact it’s had.
Heidi with “Muse, Pandemic, Invisible Sweetheart”
In this conversation we refer to:
- The Highly Sensitive Person
- Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts
- Expo Craft Fair at Navy Pier
- Maura Grace Ambrose
- Victoria Findlay Wolfe
- Sanford Biggers
- Soft Bulk conversations with Luke Haynes and Zak Foster
- Goodbye Things
- Hold Still
And, of course, I ask Heidi to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Heidi recommends:
- Reading memoir
- Homemade cold brew