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04 Apr 2020

Interview with an Artist: Luke Haynes

Luke Haynes is a contemporary quilter. His [Self Portrait #7] Over There is in the museum’s collection and curator Stacy C. Hollander calls it a “intriguing visual push-pull, in this case the dichotomy between the shirt pattern subsumed by the portrait into the background.” We recently interviewed Haynes over email. Below are excerpts from our conversation.

AFAM: Are you at home? How are you filling your time?  

LH: I live in Kansas City at the moment and am at home and have been for about 3 weeks. I have a studio in the garage. I have been plowing through all the partially done projects that have been haunting me for years. Now that all my travels and shows have been suspended I have all the time in the world to finish old and new ideas. I have also been playing long games of H-O-R-S-E with my wife [long since we are both terrible at it]. That, and working my way through my cookbooks. Seems as good a time as any to perfect my bread and pasta. 

AFAM: You grew up in the South and went to school in New York City. When you lived in New York, what about the city’s cultural life was most exciting for you?

LH: Oh boy! It was quite the culture shock. I remember it took me years to stop saying hello to people on the sidewalk and in the subway. I had never had access to so much; so many museums, so many shows, so much music, so many different types of people… not to mention all the architecture and ways of living. I learned SO MUCH about how to choose to make a life rather than just what is offered or expected. 

AFAM: What drew you to quilting?

LH: I was trying my hand at quilting as a pastime and hobby and had a eureka moment when I realized that it was actually an amazing overlap of everything I loved. I use 90″x 90″ as my preferred size since that is what fits on my bed and that makes it a real “quilt” for me. I quilt it with a front, batting, and a back so its 3 layers adhere to the dictionary definition of quilt and I use fabric. After that, I try as many ways and ideas as I can to make quilts and new ideas. 

AFAM: What does it mean to you to have your work in the American Folk Art Museum’s collection? 

LH: It’s a HUGE honor! I love the museum and to be in the collection and a part of the show (American Perspectives) is a real dream come true. It helps other institutions take me more seriously and makes me feel like I am on a good track with my work in my career.