Martha Cole is a full-time artist whose machine-stitched and quilted artworks have been exhibited widely throughout Canada and the US for the last thirty years. As well as being included in a number of public collections, her work has represented Canada at the Yokohama Quilt Week in Japan, the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, the Assoc. of Pacific NW Quilters Biennial Showcase in Seattle, and most recently at the prestigious Quilt National 2015 in Athens, Ohio. She has been published in several books and has had numerous journal articles and video/media interviews.
She exhibits nationally and internationally in public galleries, commercial galleries, and in a wide range of juried exhibitions.
Martha Cole currently resides in a rural community in Saskatchewan and usually does fabric works that relate to the natural world – either in the form of large-scale landscape works of the prairies or in smaller, more intimate explorations of the vast array of plants and flowers of our eco-region. Martha is also a book artist working in one-of-a-kind books for exhibition or in limited editions.
I often define myself as a landscape-based artist whose roots are deeply buried in Saskatchewan soil. I have returned to this theme many times, always exploring and deepening my connection to the land I call home. Sometimes I have focused on the vast expansiveness of the prairie panorama, the patterning of the agricultural fields; other times on the complexity and subtlety of the grasses and flora. Whatever the focus, this land has continued to challenge and inspire me.
As an “art maker”, I believe that art and visual images carry in them the power to generate change if they are created with honouring and respectful intention. Therefore, I try to create images that are beautiful, reflective of my values, and accessible both visually and intellectually. I hope to show aspects of the prairies that are both new and familiar to my viewers. I want them to experience the broad, expansive “power of place” that is so characteristic of the prairies as well as the small, fragile and vulnerable within the wide sweep of this landscape.
As a “culture maker”, I am committed to effecting change in our society. I have chosen to place my work here – where I live. I want these images to resonate, to affirm and deepen a personal connection in each of us to this land. I believe that if we can learn to love this land we cannot help but work to save it, thereby saving ourselves in the process.
Since 2006 most of my work has been based on digital images, which have been altered in Photoshop and then printed large-scale onto fabric using commercial printers. After printing, I alter these images using transparent acrylic based fabric paints and extensive machine stitching with various collage or appliqué additions as needed. They are then quilted and finished.
By using a digital camera for my initial images, I discover areas of complexity that I cannot or do not see with the naked eye when I draw the same image directly. I want to be an active witness to the complexity and interconnectedness of the natural world. By using this kind of subject matter, I hope to make myself and others more comfortable in this very complex and ever changing world while understanding and accepting our embeddedness within it.