What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in your quiltmaking?
My inspiration can come from an early morning in the rain forest canopy of Puerto Rico, astride a camel in Egypt or hunting Bengal Tigers from the back of an elephant in Nepal. I also spend countless hours in zoos. Unlike animals in the wild, zoo animals are easy targets for my camera. Later in the studio, I draw composite animals from my photographs that become applique or quilted silhouettes.
I make my quilts about a time, a place or an issue that I care about. In my eyes the best quilts are born of a personal passion. I don't profess to be an expert, but I do have more than a few opinions. I read voraciously and travel to satisfy my curiosity. My problem is rarely about finding new ideas, but rather which idea to pursue first.
You have said, "You can't live in a place like Wyoming and ignore the environment." How does nature and the environment inform your work?
I start every day with a 50-minute bike ride with my dog Jazz. I find that seeing the endless Wyoming horizon and visiting my great horned owl and red tailed hawk instill in me some sort of center from which I can begin. When I hear the water rushing in the canal and see the waterfowl on the pond I have a feeling like smiling on the inside. When I travel I go to places that have animals that interest me. My students all know how important wildlife is to me so they help me see new animals if they can.
If you could offer one piece of advice for quiltmakers today, what would it be?
Begin quilting with who you are and what you are. In my opinion the best quilts are personal and say something about the person who made them. If you make a commitment to learning and excellence, each new quilt that you make will be better than your last.
Marta Amundson's "Just Call Me Frederick" quilt design appears in the September/October 2001 (#81) issue of Quiltmaker magazine.