My decision to use discarded quilts, a craft medium most commonly associated with women’s domestic work, recognizes that these artifacts have value as material repositories/artifacts embedded with the decisions of their makers–aesthetic, utilitarian, and creative. I appropriate the remains of quilts and paint into them, interacting with their form, pattern, and surface.
I have used the concept of the quilt, from the early days of the women’s movement in Louisville, to the present. My work has evolved from 1980 as a commentary on the quilt itself as a sign of women’s visibility in the arts, later as a sign of the invisibility and deterioration as well as strength and beauty of ageing. Current work examines the relationship of the quilt to the bed, as a witness to birth, dreams, sex, illness, and death, both personal and political.
Early influences were Robert Rauschenburg’s “The Bed” as well as the large color fields of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler’s painted raw canvas, all of which I saw in New York in 1968… Miriam Shapiro… and Judy Chicago’s book, “Through the Flower,” and quilts I helped prepare for the 1980 exhibit “Kentucky Quilts 1800-1900.” More recent influences are the traveling exhibit “Women Abstract Expressionists” especially Lee Krasner’s geometric work… Agnes Martin, Sean Sculley… and I am right now processing the work of Ebony Patterson.
Denise Mucci Furnish was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She has a BA from the University of Kentucky and a BFA and MA from the University of Louisville. She has backgrounds in quilt restoration, painting, surface design, and graphic design. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has won awards in national exhibitions. She currently works from her Portland studio in Louisville.