‘For love alone’

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Show pulls from themes of family, Native American heritage


Rather than the walls, two of textile artist Maggie Thompson’s creations display in a different place: on a bed, and as a body bag.

Email newsletter signup

She uses her work to explore themes of grieving, loss and her Native American Ojibwe heritage.

“To me, (Native art) is anything I create,” Thompson said in an email.

She said she first began creating work about her heritage in her last year of college for her final project.

“I use textiles as a way to contain memory, to reflect and to tell a difficult story,” Thompson said in a press release. “This medium helps me to rebuild my textured past and learn the history of my people through making and creating artistic patterns that connect me to them.”

The show features mixed-media and large-scale pieces, including “For Love Alone,” the piece referenced in the show’s title.

It’s a star quilt sewed out of vinyl and into the shape of a body bag, according to information accompanying the piece on display. The shiny, rectangular black vinyl explodes into color as it reaches the center. A zipper runs through a geometric star crafted from small green, blue, red, orange, yellow and white triangles and wraps around to the back of the bag “as a way of wrapping and holding a body in that love.”

Thompson said the piece was inspired by her experience watching the coroners carry her father away in a “simple, solid-colored bag” the night he died.

“After this, I was compelled to create my own body bag as an act of saying goodbye and as a way to honor my dad,” Thompson said in the statement.

The colors were inspired by a quilt her mother made her father when they were first married.

“The work in this show (displays) a variety of concepts but the main larger works do mostly explore grief and anxiety,” Thompson said. “Others are experimentation pieces exploring different techniques and inspired by landscapes, nature and beadwork.”

Her father is also listed as inspiration for a woven mohair, cotton and rayon piece called “Do You Know?” as well as the geometric quilt, made of foam core and fabric, titled “Fragments.”

Her pieces are intended to push a traditional understanding of textiles. “Fragments,” Thompson said, is an example — it incorporates the rigidity of foam core to create a blanket.

The triangles on the quilt are distinct from each other thanks to the white fabric that peeks through as the quilt ripples and folds. Put together, the triangles show a sunset Thompson took a picture of the summer after her father died. The fragments represent the fear of having her memories separate and fade, she said in information accompanying the piece.

“The triangles are glued on to a sheer piece of fabric creating a blanket or sort of ‘comforter,’” Thompson said in the information. “These memories come back to me the strongest when I am trying to fall asleep. This piece symbolizes my way of sleeping under all of my memories.”

“For Love Alone” is open through Oct. 26 at the Freeborn County Arts Initiative. The artist reception is 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday.


If you go

Who: Maggie Thompson

What: “For Love Alone”

When: opening artist reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday; show is open through Oct. 26

Where: Freeborn County Arts Initiative, 224 S. Broadway Ave.

How much: free to the public


About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

email author More by Sarah