Susan Lapham

I am an artist whose influences include cartography, statistics, erector sets, and Dr. Suess. My quiltmaking is a seesaw of complex science and minimalist aesthetics and communicates my sense of joy and wonder to the world.   I use just a few tools to build my work – commercial and hand-dyed cotton, a rotary cutter and mat, straight stitch sewing machine, thread and the design wall. I begin with black strings to contain a space on the design wall, then cut the fabric to fill that space. I work improvisationally, bouncing from right brain to left brain as I create, then engineer the quilt. I often prepare by getting out a set of kids blocks and seeing how tall I can build a wonky tower! I find great delight in working larger than life using thousands of small bits of fabric. I’m often up on the ladder or crouching on the floor to create pieces that are 7 or 8 feet square. The pieced top then goes downstairs to the longarm shop where my husband spends long hours quilting straight lines. The quilts’ last stop is back to my studio for hand finishing.  

    My Playland series is a combination of eclectic architecture, complex machinery, and outlandish arrangements that push the limits of balance, proportion, and symmetry. Named for Playland in Rye NY, the park includes amusement rides, ice rink, boardwalk, sandy beach and wildlife sanctuary. The series displays a variety of color palettes ranging from nearly monochromatic to a slightly obtuse use of primary colors. Thin lines provide pathways that connect the figures in a maze-like game. The overall exuberant mood has a childlike quality that evokes the energy of an amusement park, the sense of excitement of the crowd and the tranquility of the beach. Pieces from my Playland series are the stars of the exhibit, supported by pieces from my Whirligig and Sideshow series.