Monday, December 19, 2011


About a month ago I was driven to the basement by the increasing noise on the ridge immediately across from our house, but I managed at least to get some dyeing done as I fumed and inveighed against our fate and the gas drilling companies who were changing our beautiful, quiet county. When the noise lessened enough for me to emerge and work again upstairs, I knew I had to set other projects aside and somehow put what I was feeling into fabric. So I did some sketches, pulled out my hand-dyes, and "Fracked" was born:
And yes, those seams on either side of the black line are not meant to line up. I wanted the presence of the trucks to be one of the issues this quilt dealt with and it just so happened that a motor grader and some dump trucks had been working recently on our road and there were lots of tire tracks in our driveway and in the soft soil on the roadsides so I could easily find a track to copy.  I finally settled on fused tulle for the tracks and it did just what I wanted. 
The quilt is now hanging in the VESTA show at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center and I have heard many comments from a number of people, most of them feeling that I was providing an image for their own feelings of frustration, dismay, even despair over the changes that are taking place here. But it is a complicated issue. We heat our home with natural gas, and I had always felt gas was one of the cleanest forms of energy, although I am finding that this particular form of extraction significantly lowers its cleanliness rating. And I certainly do not begrudge the elation of those residents who can stay in the place they love and make more than a subsistence wage or those farmers who can now afford to take a vacation or replace a leaking roof. 

And then there were the two women from Arkansas and Oklahoma (if I remember correctly) who were spouses of gas workers and who came to the opening reception and wanted to talk to me about my quilt. "But the gas workers are being very careful," they said, "and this area is still beautiful."  I tried to explain the changes I was seeing, things they might not notice if they were used to living in a more industrialized area, and the dangers we feared from a spill or a leak that would suddenly take away our drinking water or poison livestock or wildlife or the air pollution that would increase the likelihood of chronic or fatal diseases. And they spoke of their concerns of being ostracized. I felt we had a good talk because we were both honest about our views; I hope they felt the same way.

Actually, I had an easier time talking with them than with the woman who came up and said she appreciated the humor in my quilt. "Hmm," I said, "I hadn't thought of it that way."  "Well," she said," you could take the quilt either way--those tire tracks could be a good thing or a bad thing."  "Hmmm," I said.

And if you are still with me after this longish journey, thanks for the company!


Unknown said...

May I re-post this on FB for some friends in North Dakota who are also terribly worried about the work that is going on up there? It's a terrific piece.

IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

Oh I know exactly of what you speak. I don't think people would know or even appreciate what the fracking has brought and what has changed. I had dreamed of retiring I'm not sure.


Gypsy Quilter said...

When I lived there, I remember the total quietness and unspoiled vistas. There was always a feeling of peace even amongst the severe winter chill. So I certainly can appreciate your perspective. Thanks for sharing it in your lovely little quilt.