As an artist, I consider myself to be following in the footsteps of Josef Albers (1888-1976). Albers was famous for his experiments with color, which informed both his teaching and his most famous work. His particular interest was the ways in which contrasting colors influence and change each other as we perceive them.
My obsession is color unity, originating in the unbounded joy I feel when looking at a combination of closely related colors. To me they are a visual representation of infinity, and of the intrinsic richness of our sensory world. They show us that every color is beautiful and any two colors can give rise to an unknown number of shades in between. They help us concentrate on the pure enjoyment of a small range of colors, rather than bouncing distractedly from one extreme to another. In one way or another, every quilt I make is a study in color and color unity. This is most apparent in my series of “Color Wheel Quilts,” including seven quilts each exploring a single range of hues.
I always begin a quilt with a color idea, and then create a piecing pattern that displays or extends the color idea. I love designing new, quirky, and difficult piecing patterns, usually based on geometry or abstractions of nature. I’m also happy when a color idea and a pattern are quite different but coincide in a beautiful way. For example, “Roll” is a study of neutrals as they move from gray to brown; these colors are perfect for depicting the grand geologic and atmospheric forces that shape the surface of the earth.
I am also a follower of John Ruskin (1819-1900), the English art critic, artist, social thinker, and philanthropist. He wrote, “Whatever the material you choose to work with, your art is base if it does not bring out the distinctive qualities of that material . . . . If you don’t want the qualities of the substance you use, you ought to use some other substance.” I love the qualities of the quilt medium exactly as they are:
• the impact of large works of art
• sharp, graphic lines formed by piecing
• the intense colors we get from textile dyes
• the even-wider range of perceived colors we get from textured
• quilted low relief to accentuate the pieced design
• craftsmanship and fine finishing
All of these qualities are important to my art, and I have no desire to make any other kind. I hope they are not becoming disdained in the name of innovation for its own sake or imitation of some other medium.
Pamela Zave began making doll clothes as soon as she was old enough to hold a needle. Taught by her mother and grandmother, both expert seamstresses, by the time she was a teenager she was making all her own clothes.
Pamela stopped sewing for many years to concentrate on her career as a computer scientist. She is an internationally known researcher with many publications, patents, and awards to her credit.
Pamela began quilting in 2003. Once she was exposed to its possibilities as an artistic medium, it became an indispensable part of her life. Now that she is cutting back on her hours as a scientist, she is looking forward to increasing her involvement as an artist.
Pamela is married to the Cuban-American artist, illustrator, and fabric designer Yolanda V. Fundora. Not coincidentally, Pamela finds Yolanda’s fabrics to be especially useful in her work. They live in a historic house in Summit, New Jersey.