Daybook: 8 September 2006

January, 2012

Daybook: 8 September 2006

Michael James
Daybook: 8 September 2006

Gift of Michael and Judith James, 2011.027.0002

Michael James' 'Daybook' series, nineteen quilts completed between September 2006 and September 2007, was created within the boundaries of two self-imposed restrictions: a template for the format (a "two-over-one-over-three architecture of rectangular forms, more or less proportional," as James describes it) and the requirement that once he began working on the quilt top, he would not leave his studio until it was completed. At times, the pieces came together quickly in a matter of one or two hours, other times it took him an entire studio day of manipulation to achieve a fully resolved quilt top.

Constructed from digitally-printed fabrics designed by James using layered images from his extensive travels around the world, the 'Daybook' series represents a form of journalling. James says, "the individual results can be taken as reflections of my mood or my emotional/intellectual impulses as I composed the surface arrangement. In this sense each of these works is an entry in a ‘Daybook’ --tied to a specific date and serving as a record of my relationship to my sources and my medium on the given day."

The themes James explores in the 'Daybook' series include the tension between the natural and built environments. In 'Daybook: 8 September 2006,' James makes specific reference in the top panels to human constructions and activities, leaving us asking questions like, "Where precisely is 809 Washington Street and what was the artist doing there?" In the lower portions, the "micro-environments" James enjoys investigating are less specific, perhaps drawn from the amorphous forms of organic material like leaves and slender tree trunks or the layers of visual information that accrete on urban surfaces, like paint splatters on a brick wall or mud thrown from car tires onto the sidewalk.