Concordia Artist Presents Personal Quilt ‘Ebb and Flow’ At the VAV Gallery

Between Montreal and Quebec City, Hannah Blair Has Always Lived “Along the River”

  • The hand stitches creates a 3D topography that one can fully appreciate up close. Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

  • The length of the river is equal to Hannah Blair’s wingspan. Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

On the day Hannah Blair was born, the St. Lawrence River froze—a foreshadowing of the close relationship she went on to develop with the ubiquitous body of water while growing up.

“I’ve always been living along the river,” said Blair. “I’m really interested in the intersection of geography and memory and the way that they get intertwined, especially in maps.”

She exhibited Ebb and Flow, a quilt representing the St. Lawrence River, at the Concordia student-run gallery Visual Arts Visuels. Eight artists were involved in No.01, which ran between Oct. 5 and 26.

Blair liked the idea of the quilt being an artwork that is also utilitarian.

“I like the idea of it having been up in a gallery, but then also down on my bed—and it’s still art both ways,” she said. “I can hold this quilt and be warm with it. ”

She created the quilt from cotton sheets, to which she appliquéd the river, and hand-stitched an imagined topography with thread. The imagined topography plays on the idea that we can never know geography totally. “We’re always kind of making it up, and it’s the same with memory,” explained Blair.

The piece is more physical than you’d expect at first glance.

The length of the quilt is modeled after Blair’s body, matching her wingspan. Plus, the process of stitching is embodied. Combining Blair’s memories associated with the St. Lawrence River and the physicality that was involved in producing the quilt, Ebb and Flow is truly personal.

Blair started working on the piece at the end of the winter semester and continued intermittently throughout the summer. During that time, she was writing a fragmented poem connected to memory, and she stitched lines from it onto the quilt.

“It’s an interesting thing to make people notice details in art,” said Blair, “because then maybe when they go out into the world, they’ll notice more details about everything around them.”

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