RACHEL FARMER / Generations of Springs (San Pitch Mountains & River, Wasatch Plateau, Ephraim, Utah)
This quilted map of Ephraim originated as a community-based project, conceived by artist Rachel Farmer, in conversation with Amy Jorgensen at Granary Arts. Rachel’s exhibition, Looking Forward, Looking Back, on view last summer in the C.C.A. Christensen Cabin Gallery, included a series of quilted landscapes. Exploring this idea further, she created a quilt top with her remaining green fabric (dyed to match her memory of Utah spring green) and held a day-long workshop at Granary Arts on September 27, 2018.
Approximately 30 people participated in the making of this quilt; representing a diversity of community members, from people with generational roots to people newly arrived to Sanpete Valley, and to the United States. Volunteers were taught simple stitching and quilting techniques, then contributed directly to this quilt by sewing farm patches and/or adding yarn tufts. In addition, blue-gray knots were sewn to mark a location important to each person. Incorporated into the quilt are remnant fabrics donated by local community members. Most prominently, the blue & white denim border fabric came from the work pants of Robert Kelson, whose original farmland is marked with the same denim on the map.
Overall, this quilt marks Ephraim city center, the contours of the mountains, the San Pitch River, the majority of roads that traverse this terrain, a few fabric patches to represent the multitude of farms/ranches, and green yarn tufts to represent mountain vegetation with a nod to the local tradition of yarn-tying quilts. Underneath it all is the green fabric, a reminder of the land underneath the built environment. For the artist, this map became a meditation on the long, shifting relationship between the human-built and natural landscape in Utah, as well as her personal relationship to the Ephraim community, both through ancestral ties, and newly developing community ties. She wishes to thank the many people who gathered in community to create this quilt.
About the Artist
Rachel Farmer has roots in the mountain west, going back to the mid 1800’s. Currently based in New York City, and originally from Provo, Utah, she works in a variety of media including fiber arts, ceramic sculpture, photography and video. She received a BFA in ceramics from Brigham Young University and an MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (with her sewing skills acquired in her youth, thanks to her mother and local women in her community). Her work has been exhibited nationally, and is included in the Brooklyn Museum’s Feminist Art Base, a digital archive. She was awarded a 2013-14 A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship, and was a resident artist at the Museum of Arts and Design through their Artist Studios Program (2016). In addition, Rachel has worked in the field of art education for over 20 years, and is currently an educator at both the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.