The Pie of Life: Page of Wooden Spoons (wands) in the Kitchen Tarot." (Maya Angelou and Eva)

by Susan Shie Contact me

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The Pie of Life.  full view. ©Susan Shie 2014

The Pie of Life: Page of Wooden Spoons (wands) in the Kitchen Tarot." (Maya Angelou and Eva)

©Susan Shie 2014. 60"h x 90"w. inventory #474. Peace Cozy #63.

Began 6-20-14. Finished 9-3-14. Many large detail images follow this long artist's statement.

This piece was accepted into Quilt National ’15, so I couldn't put any images of it online until after the opening at of the exhibition, which was May 22, 2015. So even though this piece was made in the Summer of 2014, I'm putting up its images and statement in late May, 2015.

Materials: White kona cotton, airbrush paint, fabric paint, Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik variegated hand dyed perle cotton embroidery thread, one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting.

Techniques: Whole cloth painting. Black line drawing and color areas painted with Aztek double action airbrush. Small, black writing and drawing lines made with’s Airpen, using black fabric paint. Mostly machine sewn, with one row of hand stitching with perle cotton thread (on the border's outside edge.)

Statement: Maya Angelou died at age 86 on May 28, this year, and right away I knew I wanted to make a piece about her. I started reading her many autobiographies and other books about her, as well as her poems and many tributes to her life. Wikipedia as always is a great resource, but oh, those gripping autobiographies of hers! I had NO idea what a wild and courageous life Maya Angelou had had. That’s what I get for not watching Oprah, since I don’t watch any daytime TV. Oh, this time I regret it!

I had randomly chosen the Page of Wands as my next Kitchen Tarot card to make this art quilt (or soft painting, as I’ve gone back to calling my pieces, a name I invented while in college, back in 1980.) The Page is a young person, and while Maya A WAS a young person, I wasn’t sure how this would fit. I decided to add my granddaughter, mostly because I wanted to show Maya teaching her, as she taught many young people over the years, especially once she got that teaching job in North Caroline at the college there. Wands are Wooden Spoons in my Kitchen Tarot deck, so this piece is the Page of Wooden Spoons, and the title morphed from Maya Angelou to Maya and Eva and then to The Pie of Life, where it stayed.

Wands are about creative energy, and Maya A and Eva both are loaded with that stuff! I decided to show Maya rolling out some pie crust and making a pie, and to have Eva watching her. BUT I also wanted to include the young Maya Angelou, who at age 29 made a record album called “Miss Calipso,” which was actually pretty successful. Maya had been dancing and singing since she was a young teenager, and this album is really cool – it includes a bunch of songs she wrote herself! Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “Everything in the universe has a rhythm. Everything dances!” I put my version of Maya as that calypso dancer into the piece on the left side, and balanced her with an image of me, taking a picture of the rest of these women, with my iPhone.

At the end of all the work of painting the piece and writing all over it, I still hadn’t decided what to draw as the image on the phone screen. Then I got the idea to put Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American youth from Ferguson, Missouri, who was shot dead by a policeman as he walked along with his friend on August 7, 2014. I think Maya would appreciate putting his story in with hers, so I showed him with his hands up, and wrote underneath his portrait “Hands UP! Don’t shoot!”

This was one of many protest chants in Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, and all over the country, in the aftermath of the killing, which came only two years after Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida. As I write this, there is no resolution on what happened that day and what will happen to the lone white policeman who killed Michael Brown. All I can say for sure is that racism is still sadly very alive in this country and that black youths are still being randomly killed in terrible ways here. And sadly, the killings just go on and on and on!!!

Oh, back when I had made a bunch of sketches for this piece and drew it onto the large piece of white cloth with my airbrush, I realized I hadn’t decided yet where to put the wooden spoon that the Page ought to be holding. Maya’s hands were both on the rolling pin handles, so she wasn’t going to be the Page, and I knew she was pretty old now to be a page anyway. There was Eva, whom I’d drawn with her right hand held up, open – just waiting for a Wooden Spoon to be drawn into it. So that’s what I did, and Eva, my granddaughter, almost 10 years old, became the Page of Wooden Spoons, at a perfect age to be a Page!

I like it when I don’t have everything planned out, and good things happen. That and the decision to put Michael Brown into the iPhone screen at the end of my work on this piece were two good spontaneous decisions I enjoyed making.

I started doing my airpen writing on this piece on July 14, the same day I finished the painting and washed it out in a bucket, to lighten the paint a little. I actually love hanging my paintings on the clothesline to dry, if I have to lighten the paint!

Here are some of the things I wrote about on the piece: 7-14: The basic idea of the painting and meaning of the Page of Wands card. 7-15: I listed Maya’s seven autobiographies, the year they were made and her ages covered in each. I had read five of them. 7-16: A basic listing of Maya’s life achievements, written on her right arm.

7-18: Under the dancer’s feet, I wrote about making my “Amazing Peace” drawing, since I can’t post images of this piece, due to the rules of the show I will enter it into. I call that a gag rule and will not enter other shows that use it. Just Quilt National! I believe in artists’ rights to share their work freely. Grrrr. I started writing a transcribed and paraphrased version of Maya’s life, which I found on the Academy of Achievement site, She was inducted there in 1990, and they call her “America’s Renaissance Woman.” This subject is written on Maya’s skirt, then her apron, her left arm, then on my long right arm that holds the phone, and on my dress.

7-19: On the pie I wrote about Maya’s family and how Maya supported Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency in 2008, instead of supporting Obama. She was a feminist! I wrote about Flight 17 being shot down over the Eastern Ukraine on 7-17, and how all 298 people died on it. They were still lying on the ground. On March 8 another Malaysian Air flight #777 disappeared and has never been found.

7-20: I wrote about how I chose Eva to be the Page of Wands in this piece, and told about how I hadn’t airbrushed around her all these years, because she was too small to wear a respirator, but now I couldn’t wait any longer. We put a really thick paper mask on her and a kerchief, and she watched me draw this piece on the large cloth, and then I showed her some basic airbrush stuff and she tried it for the first time, at almost 10 years old. She drew an eye in the bottom left corner of the piece, but wasn’t so interested. I think it was because it was MY painting, not hers. I’m curious to see if she wants to do it, on a piece of her own, soon! On the purple at the top of the piece, I wrote about this tarot card. I wrote about reading a small biography about Maya Angelou by Elaine Slivinski-Lisandrelli, called “Maya Angelou: More than a Poet.”

7-22: It’s Mike’s half birthday, and GEM are vacationing in the Fingerlakes of New York State. My friend Carolyn Robinson is moving to Pullman, Washington, to teach in the Edward R Murrow School of Journalism. I wrote a quote from Maya’s “Wouldn’t Give Nothing for My Journey Now,” about equality of all. 7-24: GEM are home from a four day trip, which included Niagra Falls and the Bully Hill Vineyard. I bought a purple, tie dyed hoodie for Eva and me to share here. It turns out to have to be hand washed each time, because of how the purple runs when washed! Ugh! But it’s really cool! 7-26: It rained hard, and I had to bring my clothes in from the clothesline, again! Our very cool Summer continues, and the tomatoes aren’t doing much at all! Maya’s participation in a Porgy and Bess tour, was sponsored by the USIA, toured parts of Asia and Europe! Vikki’s daughter Kendra had her son Jeb on July 2.

8-17: I had a hiatus from working on this piece, as I had a big trip to England, to have a solo show, teach a three day class, and give a lecture at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, August 3 – 12. I had to use the cane I bought for Jimmy in Long Island City in 1988 when I was doing my 6-months’ Artist’s Residence at PS#1, and he brought Gretchen, Daisy, and Pam out on Spring Break and then sprained his ankle badly at the South Street Ferry. I used it for my left foot’s plantar fasciitis, which I’d gotten by banging my foot into a very deep pothole, while on our morning walk at home. On my trip home from the UK, I met a woman going to Cleveland with me, who told me that now Long Island City has become gentrified, enough that the shoreline is all parks and restaurants now, and a ferry connects you to Midtown! I wrote about the Festival of Quilts, too. Robin Williams died Aug 11, and Lauren Bacall died the next day. Our neighbor Frank Kubika died on Aug 7, and I wasn’t here to go to his funeral.

8-18 to 25: Sewing on this piece to turn the painting into an art quilt, or as I’ve gone back to calling my art, a soft painting. 8-25: Back to writing on the piece with my airpen. Eva was here Aug 18-23. We made a sixth clutch purse (She’s really getting into learning to sew on the machine), watched the movie Frozen, did our Chiquita Banana drawing from memory contest, and Eva won! ☺

8-26: This is Women’s Equality Day. 94 years ago in 1920, women finally won the right to vote in the US, as the 19th Amendment was passed by one vote in Congress! On the right side border of my piece, I quoted some of President Obama’s speech about this topic. Today was our friend Ron Koch’s funeral. He was born on July 4, 1934 and died on Aug 17, 2014, at 80. In spite of his many health problems, he was always such a positive guy. I quit taking ibuprofen for my left foot two days ago, as it may have been causing the dizziness I’ve been having on my walks. You never know. There was an earthquake in Napa Valley, CA early this morning. 6.0. Our cousins John and Judy’s house in Vallejo got some damage, but they’re not hurt.

8-27: 18 year old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, MO, on August 9, while walking with his friend. He had graduated from high school only a week before his death and was going to start college four days after his death. Another unarmed black youth shot to death by a white man, this time a policeman. Lots of witnesses, but only one heard the conversation between the two. Official response to the death was very slow, leaving Brown lying dead in the street for hours. Lots of protests, mostly peaceful, but with some reaction when police used violent riot control with tear gas, water canons, dogs, sound canons. The struggle between police and protesters went on for weeks. The situation then calmed down, but nothing is resolved, the policeman has not been charged with anything, is on leave and in hiding. I wrote about Brown’s death on the pie dough that Maya Angelou is rolling out, in my piece. I know she would be very saddened by and involved in this story, if she were still alive.

8-29: I wrote on Maya and Eva’s arms that come together on my piece: “We pass our wisdom on to the next generation of granddaughters.” My words, not Maya’s. On the rolling pin, I wrote about last night’s town hall meeting in Ferguson, MO, which I heard about on NPR just now. Ferguson’s mayor finally made an appearance regarding this situation, but he didn’t apologize for how Brown or the protesters were treated. But many tried to bring the community together. My friend Robin fell off a stool at work, trying to put something electronic away, and got herself banged up pretty badly, two days ago. Hurrican Katrina hit New Orleans nine years ago today. A new medicine has been found to cure the spreading Ebola Virus in monkeys. It's spreading in West Africa, and so far there's no official cure. The new iPhone 6 will be unveiled on Sep 9 and sell starting on Sep 19. Rumored that it’ll have a much larger screen than my iPhone 5, so I am interested. I wrote all about Hurricane Katrina (2005) all across the top border of this piece. I finally decided what to use for an image in the iPhone in this piece. I used my airpen and freehand drew Michael Brown, with his birth and death dates: May 20, 1986 and Aug 9, 2014, Ferguson, MO, and his hands up, and “Hands UP! Don’t shoot!” Tomorrow my daughter Gretchen flys to Japan for 11 days, for her fourth trip there this year, working on a traveling exhibition on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art.

8-30: G is flying to Japan today and tomorrow. She’ll miss Eva’s first ever volleyball team game and the first days of her two ballet classes. She will also miss coming to the Wayne County Fair with all of us, for the first time ever. On the fluted edge of the big pie’s crust on this piece, I wrote about how Ron Jarvis had written to me, after I posted about Aug 26 being the 94th anniversary of women getting the right to vote and therefore now being Women’s Equality Day. He wrote “Women voting Republican is like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.” I put a Maya Angelou quote on her right arm: “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself: to forgive. Forgive everyone.” The UN met in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, to study US racial problems, and condemned us, especially for the Stand Your Ground laws, voting problems, immigration, justice system, and other problems clearly related to race relations.

8-31: Today is my friend Mandy Parkinson’s birthday. Gretchen has arrived in Fukuoka, after a whole day and night of travel for working on packing up and bringing this art show home. Mike put the song “Sukiyaki” on his FB page for G, his wife. It shows the words in English, which I had never seen, when we were young and the song was famous. All about missing your loved one, so sweet for when she’s gone to Japan. I wrote on the Libby on my piece that she STILL jumps up on people, when she greets them, and she’s four years old now. So mellow most of the time, but that bad habit seems to not be going away with age or our attempts to teach her not to jump!

9-1-14: After doing a final of many heat setting sessions on this piece, I had to do another later, because I added a bunch of squiggles, peace symbols, peace roses on faces, etc, as a final addition of needed marks on this piece. Oh, and I put the Peace Cozy, #63 in my series, on the big wooden spoon that Eva holds in the picture, and wrote “Peace on ALL of Earth” on the spoon, around the Peace Cozy. I don’t let myself decide where that thing goes until I’ve finished the work, and it has to go somewhere where it makes sense to me. I think it shows that Eva will stir Peace into the world, in her lifetime, as the Page of Wands / Wooden Spoons. I like that. Gives her a lot of responsibility, I think. And she is up to it! She can do it! 9-2-14: Made the casings for the top of this piece and started sewing them on by hand. I finished making the label.

9-3-14: Buddha bead is sewn on, down in the bottom left corner of the piece, where I wrote earlier about the UN conference in Geneva about US racism, and also where Eva and my “Ott Cods” fish logo is painted large. I sewed on my Peace Cozy #63, when the whole piece was done.

I started my weeklong art intensive Turtle Art Camps for adults in 1994 and they're going strong at my home studios in Wooster, Ohio. I started my online drawing classes, Lucky Drawing, in January, 2015, and continue to teach this very unique class of 4-week sessions of drawing via a private Facebook group page, with many students continuing to take the sessions, like how you continue with a piano teacher or yoga instructor. My students are beginners to masters, and only need to be 18 or over.

Many thanks, Susan, Lucky Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio, October 7, 2014.


If you are interested in studying with me, please check out my Turtle Art Camps, which I teach here at my home and studios, as well as my online drawing classes and the classes that I teach at other places besides at my home, as all are listed on the main page of my website, Turtle Moon Studios.

Read all about my Turtle Art Camp - how it works for your weeklong artmaking experience here in Wooster, Ohio, and see the changes I've made to the agenda. I have many large photos on the page, to show what's going on at this biosphere-like art experience. The emphasis in this adult students' art camp is on painting, so you can draw and paint all week on paper or canvas, instead of drawing and painting on cloth, if you like, and you don't even have to try my airpen and airbrush, or my sewing techniques, if you don't want to. If you want to study my personal painting and quilting processes, which I've taught consistently here, I have a full lesson plan for the week. So you can go by that plan or do more of your own thing, with my guidance. I want my art camp to help you become more open to letting your art flow out, in whatever medium you want it to be in. I have even had students over the years who are mainly writers, not visual artists. I started my Turtle Art Camps in 1994 and they're going strong. See my 2015 TAC schedule on the main page ot Turtle Moon, along with a link to my current online Lucky Drawaing class for info and enrollment.

Many thanks, Lucky / Susan,

Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio, written on October 7, 2014 and amended on May 25, 2015, after the opening of Quilt National '15

The Pie of Life. detail.  ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail.  ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail.  ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail.  ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of LIfe detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


The Pie of Life. detail. ©Susan Shie 2014


Turtle Moon Studios: Outsider Art Quilts and Paintings
Susan Shie

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