There and Then, Here and Now

Two shapes twist around each other forming a tornado-like image created from fabric strips in various shades of yellow, green, blue, and brown.
©Christine Hager-Braun, “There and Then, Here and Now”, Fiber, 18 x 18 in

I created this art quilt as a response to the call for entry from the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) regional group of Virginia and North Carolina. The theme was “Reflections” in the context of the members’ region.

Of course, my initial thoughts went to the dogwood blossoms in beautiful white or soft pink. The trees grow in my backyard and delight me every spring. I even used the image of dogwood blossoms in an art piece many years ago. If you look closely at There and Then, Here and Now, you will discover tiny strips of pale pink which pay homage to the blossoms and are a reference to my life in NC.

Another element that brings me immense joy are the trips to the NC beaches. The warm sand under my bare feet and the vastness of the blue ocean ground me. Swimming in the waves symbolizes a form of freedom for me (although I’m very much aware that I’m like a tiny toy that could be tossed around by the powerful ocean). I feel whole and at peace.

There were many other ideas which I decided to omit: the Cardinal Bird, NC’s state bird, coming together with friends from all over the world who live and work in the Research Triangle area to celebrate Thanksgiving, typical North Carolina’s cuisine like sweet potato fries, pumpkin casseroles with marshmallows, or pulled pork. So many native flowers, hiking trails, local architecture. Inspiration galore, not only from the beauty around me, but also the views and experiences that I consider with a critical mind as they have ample room for improvement.

In the end, I focused on creating a piece that is aligned with my overall body of work, in techniques and style as well as thematically. The topics of my work revolve around resilience and mental health, and There and Then, Here and Now picks up on these subject matters.

So here is the statement which I submitted for the exhibition catalog and which provide insight in There and Then, Here and Now:

Reflecting on NC compels me to look back at my origins in Germany:

I grew up in a rural area, poor soil, vast forests, long icy winters. Spring and summer were short. People worked hard but opportunities to thrive were limited.
I always wanted to move away. Away from the gray fog, the constraints of my environment, my own feeling of inadequacy as I silently struggled with depression.

In 1999, my husband and I moved to NC. Here I embraced a new job, new friends, new possibilities. A child, a dog, a house. And so much more sunshine!
Yet there were phases of darkness due to my depression. Eventually, I reached out for help, learned to heal, and developed resilience. While past and present will always be intertwined, old stories fade away yielding space for courage, confidence, and contentment.

In North Carolina I flourished in a way I never thought possible.

May my story encourage others to move forward, go on a journey, and find a path to turn There and Then into Here and Now!

(The piece was machine-pieced and machine-quilting using batik and solid cotton fabrics, cotton batting, cotton and polyester threads.)