One of the most amazing things about working for a quilting magazine is getting to interact with quilting artists from all over the world. Gül Laporte interviewed Elisabeth Nacenta de la Croix, and we learned so much about her creative process. Read on for insights into an artist inspired by majestic nature!
Elisabeth Nacenta de la Croix lives in Geneva, Switzerland, speaks four languages fluently, and is one of the leading art quilters in Europe. I met her some years ago at a show in France and was immediately captivated by her sense of color, her interpretation of nature, and the way she expresses and articulates her feelings through her geometric designs. Not surprisingly, her sense of humor, energy, and the way she connects with people make her quite popular and appreciated by her fellow artists around the world. She loves to experiment with new techniques and express herself in different ways.
Gül Laporte: How did your interest in textiles and art quilts begin?
Elisabeth Nacenta de la Croix: After a short time learning the basics, I developed a real preference for geometric patterns with straight lines and hand quilting. When I started teaching at the most important patchwork shop in Geneva, Patch Paradis, changes began to happen in my compositions, as I had to become inventive to offer interesting and innovative workshops. I soon abandoned templates to develop a freer way to cut shapes, and my technique evolved to a completely intuitive method for the whole creative phase. It was a good move as it pushed me outside of my comfort zone, which at that time consisted in reproducing patterns found in books or magazines.
This does not mean that I work without any method! I have a well-established process for fabric selection, the range of colors I want to use, and for positioning each piece in the whole. In the beginning, I used only commercial fabrics—mostly batiks—then mixed those with hand-dyed fabrics. Now I prefer to use my own painted fabrics, adding, as needed, monoprints or shibori-type prints. I love this process and it works fine for me.
GL: Where do you get your inspiration?
ENC: Nature and water are my favorite themes. Developing my own technique encourages me to look around and see what is there. I take a long, daily walk with my dog, no matter the weather conditions. I may see Lake Geneva totally still, or choppy with dark lines; mountains or buildings may have a ghostly shadow caused by water birds or by small fishing boats. A very mysterious world! What a treat to live in such a beautiful area which offers so many different landscapes. My memory unconsciously registers images and shapes, colors and details. Sometimes I take pictures to keep track of a shape. But my sketchbook is only there to keep a record of ideas or to save some images from magazines—just for all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘why nots.’
Lake Geneva, with its reflections and movements, is every day the same but also every day different; it is fascinating. The change in continuity is a continuous source of wonder for me. Looking at it can be a moment of meditation. It figures in many of my pieces; however I believe I still have more to say about it. In Geneva, two rivers—the Arve and the Rhône—join. The first one comes directly from the mountains and is very muddy; the second is clear blue as it deposits all its sediments while crossing the whole lake. In the spring you can see the different colors of the waters as they run side by side before mixing further away.
Most of the time I look up, but, when looking down I discover a world of inspiration on the ground: cracks, lines, seeds, designs, and prints left by the rain or by the wind. These motifs can be found later in my work as quilting lines. I use various colors in my pieces but my favorites are all the different shades of blue, green, and turquoise.
Nowadays my interests go in different directions and I would like to experiment with them further: I want to build a piece selecting fewer fabrics or even working on a whole cloth quilt—as sometimes ‘less is more.’ I also want to explore working in series and experiment with curved lines. When I exhibited in Germany recently I was very pleased to see that the visitors reacted positively to my new pieces, which is very encouraging. My surroundings are part of me, wherever I am. I know I can live almost anywhere in the world, so depending on the landscape, my work will change in tone, color, and shape!
To learn more about Elisabeth, visit her website.
Gül Laporte’s interest in patchwork and quilting began when she moved to Houston, Texas in 1982. She has taught patchwork and quilting in Europe and speaks fluent French, English, Spanish, Greek, and some Portuguese. Gül, a member of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) board, is also currently the international exhibition coordinator. She enjoys her ‘half retired’ life in Portugal.
These details make me want to hop on a plane to Geneva right this minute! Since I can’t do that, I will immerse myself in other quilting artists and their stories. Quilting Arts Magazine features many international artists, plus a whole slew native to the United States. Read the full interview and much more by grabbing this 2018 magazine bundle to catch up on these quilting personalities!