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Monthly Archives: February 2010

 Jean-Jacques Efiaimbelo Untitled & L'homme solitaire. (Tokam-Bata)

Jean-Jacques Efiaimbelo created exceptional funerary steles which are called alaolos in his native Madagascar. Efiaimbelo lived from 1925 to 2001 creating his alaols with origins in funerary rites of Mahafaly society going back to the early sixteenth century. Traditionally these alaolos serve as grave markers. They represent particular memories of the deceased for whom the aloalo was erected, as well as reminders of a particular era.

Typical of the traditional aloalos, Efiaimbelo creates carved posts of hardwood (Mendorave), roughly seven feet in height. Depending on the different interpretations of the Mahafalaly myths and legends, varying meanings are given to the conventional motifs which decorate the support as well as to the figures on the tableaux on top.

The lower part of the staff looks like a succession of stacked figure-8s. This is the Mahafalaly symbol for the full moon and the number for abundance. The figures on the tableaux on top are usually a representational scene. Efiaimbelo had deep ties to a Westerner who was inducted into his clan which might explain the one example that does not fit with the traditional motif.

I have included two of Jean-Jacques Efiaimbelo’s aloalos so you could see both traditional and non-traditional examples.

The first example Untitled is what first caught my eye when looking for subject matter for this blog assignment.  I saw the small airplane and just had to know more. Although the information was scarce I concluded that this was a aloalo for someone who was a pilot or had ties to flying. This would be the aloalo I would want for my mother. When she was in the Marines in WWII she was an aircraft mechanic and after the war she became pilot and flight instructor.

The second example I chose, L’homme solitaire. (Tokam-Bata),  is more traditional, depicting two tribesmen, one as an angel and one as a devil. The angel is on the top of a post caught in the act of jumping to the ground. It appears he will land on a launching spring and perhaps end up on the devil figure.  There is no explanation of this myth behind this tableaux but if can see how it might represent the games that the angels and devils play with humans.

Before researching this assignment I had never heard of funerary steles or alaolos but they remind me of the Native American totem poles. Unique to the individual they are created for they are beautiful way to remember the loved one after they have passed on.

Fiber Art is art constructed from fabric but meant to be displayed like a watercolor or oil painting (not lie at the foot of a bed). Fiber artists have many approaches to their art; they dye it, paint it, cut it, tear it, stamp it, fuse it, and embellish it. For most pieces the final step is stitching though the layers of fabric to create a dimensional effect. Quilting is as old as ancient Egypt if not older. Quilts were very common trade goods in wealthy circles in Europe and Asia going back as far as the 15th century

Distinguishing art quilts from the main category of quilts can be difficult. Art quilts can be created using any of the techniques of a quilt – piecing, appliqué, whole cloth, or even machine embroidery. These are techniques, though, and art involves more than mere technique. Meaningfulness, in whatever way the viewer perceives it, is involved in the experience of an art quilt, as opposed to a quilt built as an exercise in craft or technical capabilities, or for practical bedroom purposes. 

Caryl Bryer Fallert is internationally recognized for her award-winning art quilts, which have appeared in hundreds of national and international exhibitions, collections, and publications. Honors include 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century, NQA, Masterpiece Quilt Award, and selection as one of the thirty most influential quiltmakers in the world. Caryl has lectured and taught in eleven countries around the world before opening the Bryerpatch Studio & Workshop Center in Paducah Kentucky in 2006. 

Poochie Smoochie was especially designed for a small art quilt show with the theme “The Kiss” The artist had this comment about the hand dyed, machine pieced, and appliquéd quilt.  “I thought my husband Bob was a very good sport to pose for this quilt. It took forty-five minutes and two dogs to get just the right pose. Believe it or not, a dog will get tired of kissing you on the mouth after half an hour and you have to go get a fresh one.  

Caryl Bryer Fallert Poochie Smoochie 1996 18”W x 24”H 

Caryl Bryer Fallert Migration #2 1995 88”W x 88”H 

Caryl Bryer Fallert Corona II: Solar Eclipse 1989 76”W x 94”H 


Cindy Friedman has had a lifelong obsession with fiber beginning in childhood with sewing and needlearts and continuing into her careers as an industrial designer and fashion designer culminating in quilt art in the 1990’s. Drawing from a fascination with the human form (function and construction) she has created pieces that include architectural and geometric shapes, girds and pattern. 

Her recent pieces are figure drawings done on two layers of silk (organza and china silk). Other fabrics are layered under and over and the quilting is done by hand with silk and various embroidery stitches. She is also known for her wearable arts and has participated in both the Fairfield and Bernina fashion shows. 


Heavely Bodies  is a whole cloth quilt features a mandala style arrangement of rings of bodies in Pilates positions. The figures are drawn on organza, cut out and appliqued, the the quilting is done and then extensive hand beading. 

Cindy Friedman Heavenly Bodies 2007 all silk 25”W x25”H  

I am an accomplished seamstress and have made several quilted pieces. This past Christmas I participated in a church group that constructed 28 quilts from donated denim and flannel. Although these quilts were intended as bedding they were hung on display in the sanctuary prior to being distributed to the recipients.I have the typical fiber artist’s obsession with collecting fabric scraps for some future project. 

I enjoyed this blog assignment which gave me the opportunity to research the art of quilting and showcase a couple extraordinarily talented fiber artists. I love Caryl Bryer Fallert use of vibrant, hand dyed colors and wide variety of subjects.  Cindy Friedman’s subjects are less varied and follow a theme that appeals to me.  Her use of the appliquéd Pilates poses on the subdued colors of the whole cloth and hand beading combine to make an exceptional work of  art. 

2009 Community Covenant Church Christmas Quits (4 of the 28)