Quilt Artist of the Week: Anna Von Mertens

by Kim on 14/06/2006

in Quilting

Anna Von Mertens
VIA, installation at Southern Exposure, San Francisco, California, 2001

At first glance Anna Von Mertens‘ work looks spare and minimal. She has said that her medium is more the bed than it is quilts. Her installations extend beyond the carefully arranged quilts onto the floor and walls of the space. All these factors add up to high art, which left me a little cold, but the revelation for me was reading the descriptions of her work and making the connection with what our very own Weeks Ringle calls “big ideas.” That is, starting the quilting process with an overarching idea that guides the selection of colors, the piecing, through to the quilting and the finishing. You just might call Von Mertens’ ideas huge, and they’re ideas that aren’t completed after the binding is put on.

Anna Von Mertens
Meet and Separate (detail), 1999

Von Mertens dyes and quilts by hand. Her color choices and piecing are systematic, based on ideas like the heights of her and her brother growing up, friends’ and family members’ descriptions of the afternoon sky, video games, and Martha Stewart paint chips. Her painstakingly detailed hand stitching is the most impressive layer of meaning: bird migration patterns, circuit boards, topographical maps of land and even her own body, cell structures, star rotation patterns, nuclear explosions, and many other kinds of charts and maps. Her groupings of the individual quilts and the extension of the patterns onto the walls and floors of the room provide still another layer, just one that is transient.

Anna Von Mertens
Black and White (Black) (detail), 2004

See Von Mertens at work in this video segment from U.S. public television station KQED’s program called Spark.

Anna Von Mertens
MATRIX 207/Suggested North Points, installation at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California, 2003

(all images from Anna Von Mertens’ website)

Many thanks to Gina for the link!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 vegasandvenice June 15, 2006 at 1:41 am

Oh lovely lovely!


2 Courtney June 15, 2006 at 6:27 am

Wow, those are amazing, and actually I love the way they are displayed.


3 Alicia A. June 15, 2006 at 10:10 am

I absolutely love how the quilts are displayed. They are quite deserving of the elevation to “high art.” Beautiful!


4 A.J. June 16, 2006 at 4:44 am

Wow!! I had never heard of her or seen her work before. It’s terrific. Thank you for the link. Very inspiring.


5 admin June 16, 2006 at 6:46 am

i am totally in awe of that quilt – wow how she makes those plain colours weave in an out of each other and overlay – just stunning


6 larissmix June 21, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Gorgeous, and a mind boggling amount of work.


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