Inspired by events and observations from their personal lives, the wife and husband team of Susan Shie and James Acord craft lively quilts that combine text, fabric, thread, paint, and found objects. This show celebrates a recent gift to RAM’s collection of both small- and large-scale works that demonstrate their collaborative working process.
While both artists contribute to their shared pieces in various ways, each does have specific interests and skills that inform their process. Shie—a sewer and painter—thinks about the quilts as diary “pages.” She applies text with a marker or airbrush, and then, hand stitches the printed elements while Acord machine stitches cursive text. Shie also adds paint, hand embroidery, and beadwork as well as sewn and shaped figures. Acord—a maker of custom leather goods—focuses on further hand embellishment and the addition of other crafted narrative elements, such as tooled leather cockroaches and animals. Found objects pulled from every day circumstances—such as an old silk bedspread, eating utensils, and seashells—are attached to the surfaces.
Full of dynamic imagery, color, and pattern, Shie and Acord’s quilts offer opportunities for study and engagement with layers of details. While their works explore personal narratives, the subject matter also reflects their shared compassion for humanity and the environment. In fact, in 1989, Shie founded a project called Green Quilts, which asked “artists to dedicate their quilts to spiritual healing of the environment.” Shie and Acord have made several quilts that address these concerns, three of which are now part of RAM’s collection.