Joan Zieger: Ladies of a Certain Mileage

Artist Statement

Fascination with women motivated the series of art quilts, Ladies of a Certain Mileage™: life-size portraits in fabric celebrating women we might have known.

The boldness of their size, which is 3 x 6 feet, and the simplicity of using just four fabrics on each one, emphasizes the strength and universality of all women. I want to show their deep connection with one another through the bodies they all share, together with their endless variety of expressions, personalities and cultures.

I am intrigued and amused by the irony of a voluptuous body juxtaposed by a restraining pose; a whimsical yet captivating first glance of the body as a whole, initiating the urge to look closely at the face for clues of emotion or hidden secrets within.

After years of following traditional needlework patterns determined by others, I now relish the freedom, power and exhilaration of creating original art works with fabric. It is a delight to chart my own artistic course and define my own artistic style—working directly on the fabric image, cutting away the face to create hair, taking risks with design elements—by responding only to the voice within. Ladies of a Certain Mileage™ invite, and sometimes dare others to project themselves onto and into what and whom they see. They, like us, are here to see and be seen.

The initial visual impact of each unique Lady as a caricature appeals to me—don't many of us appear to ourselves and others as recognizable distortions? Yet if we look more closely, a deeper self can be revealed. Exploring the representation of women is an expression of my life-long feminism and inexhaustible fascination with how women are seen, feel, view themselves, are approached by others, and how they are represented in art.

Joan Zeiger