Dinah Sargeant at College of the Canyons

I have some favorite artists out there. One of them is Dinah Sargeant, whose work I’d seen on and off in books (Quilt National, Quilt Visions, etc.) over the years. I think the first piece of hers that I saw in person was in SAQA’s traveling exhibit Creative Force, which included one of my pieces as well. I stared at hers for a long time…her work seems to ask for that level of attention. I had the pleasure of finally meeting her at the Visions opening last October.

I saw a notice of a solo show of hers up in the Los Angeles area, opening last weekend, and I thought about going up there. It was the first day of my Spring Break; plus we have friends up there that we rarely see. It’s a trek to LaLa Land, but it seemed like something that was worth doing, so we headed out Saturday morning.

The exhibit is at College of the Canyons Art Gallery in Santa Clarita, California, and runs through April 25. The exhibit may be viewed Mon-Thurs 11:00-3:00 or by appointment. I know the hours are limited, but it’s worth making a call to see it.

The exhibit was well worth it. I’ve never seen so many Sargeant pieces in one place, and I had never seen one of her dolls in person, only in pictures. Both fare much better in real life, and the gallery was well-lit and a big, open space that was well-suited to standing back and giving her work some space.

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Her dolls invite careful examination…there are so many details and the hands are fascinating…

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Her website has closeups of many of the dolls (I was not great at taking photos, again!). I did get a closeup of this one’s face and heart area…

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The arrows shooting off the head and heart area, combined with the hand-stitching on the face (and the beautiful quilts behind!) made this doll one of my favorites (of course, I forgot to get its name).

This is 2-Be…a much darker doll, with a plastic belly ball full of liquid and fetus…

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Behind her is Seer and Fledgling…here is a better picture of Fledgling…

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But even that doesn’t do the piece justice. The color vibrated in the light-filled gallery. The face is enigmatic; the figures are vague shapes, but even then, it is clear that the figure holds a bird and a nest is behind. Someone is being helped out of the nest.

Echo was another favorite of mine, with the dogs in the bottom left and the ribbons spiraling throughout, seeming to encircle imaginary figures.

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It’s interesting that I never saw the face in the bottom right until I was looking at the photo here. There is so much depth of color and imagery in her work that it takes a long stare to believe you’ve seen all of the piece. Like I said, these are so much more alive and intriguing in person…I am so glad I went up to see this exhibit.

This piece, Link, was installed under beautiful natural light, which highlighted the colors and depth of dye throughout.

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There is a sense of escape in the birdlike creatures who fly up, while the other figures sit in their glass domes, connected only by the orange line.

This gives you a better idea of the space given to each piece…it’s amazing how clean white walls enhance the work.

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Orbit is the doll on the left, and the quilt is Tentacle Woman.

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The movement in Sargeant’s quilts is part of what draws me to them, along with the use of color and abstraction. You know there is a great deal of emotion in these quilts, as they try to communicate with you. They just keep pulling me back to try to make sense of the message.

I recommend the exhibit…it’s worth a trip if you are in the Los Angeles area. I will be enjoying another one of her pieces at Quilt National in May.

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