Jul 8, 2007

Rosie Lee Tompkins

As promised, here is the first of my posts on the Rosie Lee Tompkins exhibit. Thompkins died in 2006 and "Rosie Lee Tompkins" is an assumed name as I mentioned in my previous post. She was one of 15 children born in southeast Arkansas and grew up picking cotton and helping her mother piece quilts from available scraps of cloth.
In a New York Times article about her, Rosie was quoted as saying: "I loved them so much that God let me see all these different colors".
As you'll soon see, Rosie was deeply religious and she felt that she was God's instrument and so her work was designed by Him.
My girlfriend and I were struck by what we found to be the choatic nature of Rosie's work. We commented on how genius borders a plane just this side of madness. I came to read that in the late 70's Rosie had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. She heard voices and believed her phone was tapped. She was never at peace and medication didn't help her. She turned to prayer and her needle. Here are just a few examples for now. Later I'll show you more:

Hit and Miss Strip, 1983:

String, 1985:

Ten Pillows (you'll notice the religious theme here in some of the small embroidered pillows), 1986

Santa Claus Hanging (red), 2004 and Embroidered and Appliqued Pot Holder (yellow), 2003

Embroidered and appliqued Jesus Curtain, 2006 (again a strongly religious piece)

More to come- the "Put-togethers".

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