Helen Altman, an artist from Forth Worth, created Trailhead, a mixed media installation that was on view at Women & Their Work. The pieces in Altman’s installation included seven mixed media quilted blankets, leafless birch tree logs, and a foam turkey titled Target wandering among the trees. The large three-foot turkey was a ready-made archery target, proudly puffing up his feathers and fanning his tail in full display.
Altman uses familiar materials as metaphors for larger ideas, making the commonplace seem strange with a Surrealist flair. In this exhibit, she juxtaposed quilted blankets, fireplace logs, a turkey, and a cuckoo clock to evoke images of domesticity and the outdoors, two themes that constantly recur in Altman’s work. Some of the camouflage-patterned fabrics suggested hunting scenes in the temperate, southeastern woodlands where Altman grew up, others with roaming zebras suggest exotic Africa.
Ocean Blanket and Marsh Blanket were two large quilted blankets that provided distant views of natural environments. In the quilt Patch of Blue, a distant birdhouse stood silhouetted against a sky of tan desert camouflage. These inkjet printed collage quilts re-created elements of a natural environment on a realistic scale that invited a closer examination of the relationship between art and nature.