Trained as a painter, Michael James turned to the tactile appeal that fabrics and quilts had to offer in the 1970's. His pieced and quilted fabric constructions reflect his formal training, and showcase his studies on American quiltmaking and quiltmaking techniques. Michael's works have been widely exhibited all over the world, and he teaches courses in textile design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also lectures and leads workshops on color and design, and has authored many articles and several books on quilting as art. For more about Michael James, browse this interview from Quiltmaker magazine.
How did you decide to make quiltmaking a career? What led you in that direction?
Quiltmaking sort of adopted me. I never intended to make a career of it--one thing led to another and before I knew it, my interest in quilts had become a career. I left myself open to opportunities, and took advantage of them when they appeared. Always, the thing that drove my career was my passion for quilts and all things related to them, and especially for the work of the studio where that passion could be played out at my fingertips.
What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in quiltmaking?
The list of things that inspire me is so long that it would require too much space to itemize even a fraction. Suffice to say that I stay open to the world and to everything that comes my way--it's all nourishment for the part of the brain that incubates ideas and themes. I should emphasize that I don't separate my work in quilts from any other form of artwork, and I look beyond my medium for inspiration much more than I look within it. I think my work would grow stale if I allowed it to only refer to other quilts or to itself.