Michigan Quilt Project
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North American Indian and Native Hawaiian Quilt Collection

Life Between Sunsets
Bernyce K. Courtney
Wasco/Tlingit, Warm Springs, Oregon
44" x 63 3/4”
MSUM 1997:73.1
Photo by Doug Elbinger, all rights reseved by the Michigan State University Museum

Artist's statement:
  I created this quilt based on beadwork designs. My favorite bead color combination are the "sunset" colors of the yellow, orage to red range, especially when they are bordered by a rich royal blue. I wanted to make a big pattern of "beads" based on what you would normally see very small because beads are so small. I mixed satiny fabrics with cotton to recreate richness and sparkly quality of cutbeads. Black borders bring out the brilliance of the intense colors and more contrast was added with white cotton.

Beadworkers always spill beads and I tried to mimic this randomness by "throwing" out squares of intense color onto the white and to break up the rigidness of the pattern of "beads". It gave it such a contemporary feeling. I quilted "in-the-ditch" randomly and to honor the lovely glass bead and to futher add contrast, I beaded some of the white areas with different kinds of white and crystal beads. I used a subtle white-on-white concept because I wanted to enhance the fabrics and not detract from the sensuousness of the variety of fabrics.

I was holding up the piece one day to admire it and it surprised me by casting shadows around the 9-square blocks that gave it a new and deeper sculptural dimension.
I was stuck for a name for it and was asking people what they thought, sometimes their feelings or thoughts about a piece help me name it. I wasn't having any revelations. I finally asked my son, he looked at it and suitable said, "Life Between Sunsets"!

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