We’re continuing our trip around the world with this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight! Last week, we visited a quilter in Peru. This week, we’re in Germany–we’ll hear from Petra Voegtle from Munich, Germany.

In her interview, Petra shared a bit behind her inspiration for a quilt she entitled  ‘Vanity’:

Originally I made this piece for a competition. The competition’s theme was requesting a 14-31-675-1-qsos-a0a7d0-a_15370self-portrait. I have used a lot of different motifs and themes for my work but I never did a self-portrait. So this was a challenge that intrigued me very much. I did not want to do something usual. I mean most people think of their real face when they are asked for a self-portrait, be it photographers or painters. I thought about what the face of a human is made of, my face consists of. I thought about the physical part of a face, how it is built up on bones, muscles and nerves, blood vessels and finally skin. I thought about all the layers which are put on top of each other (isn’t this wonderfully quilt related?). And then I thought about how faces carry different layers of meaning, one mask on top of another, mostly never revealing what’s beneath the very last one, the one that shows your real self.

I think most people do not show their real face, they try to show only their superficial
best. And this is how images are often done. Photographers use filters and a lots of
technically sophisticated lenses, painters do not paint the wrinkles and scars that decorate a face – rather they try to show the very best of a person, the beauty or that what could be there and that what reflects a society’s standards. I thought about a person that requires the self-portrait. What do you need a self-portrait for? Don’t you know how you look like? Or is it something you would like to represent but never can? What is it what you see in the mirror? Your true self or something you would like to be? These were the questions I asked myself.

14-31-676-1-qsos-a0a7d1-a_15370I personally hate to be photographed – many people do. The reason might be that someone could catch one of your masks you don’t want to show. On the other hand what is so important that you want to hide? Are self-portraits only another metaphor for self-importance? And when someone feels his/her own self-importance isn’t this exactly what we call vanity?

There it was, that word “vanity.” I immediately thought of the old biblical theme about the deadly sins and I decided to work on a whole series about these. What could be better for this theme than represent each character through a face, distorting it into a grotesque not only to make it overly clear which character is reflected but also to show a certain satiric moment. So “Vanity” in fact was the first piece of this series, big drawings first, which have been executed on fine Chinese paper and backed with silk, then repeated as coloured stitched pieces, quilts… The series about the deadly sins will be continued. I am not through yet with this subject but I also cannot work on this heavy theme continuously. Where would be the fun?

By the way, the piece was rejected at the competition. Apparently it was too controversial and did not meet the expectations for a self-portrait!

You can read more stories about quilts from around the world at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance’s site.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories