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Write Around PAM: Wally Dion

Wally Dion created Green Star Quilt out of computer circuit boards, brass wire, and copper tubing, rather than the fabric squares of a traditional quilt. As Native American Art Curator Kathleen Ash-Milby writes, “Dion has cleverly transformed ordinary materials that most people rely upon every day, but do not notice, into a bold work of art. The star pattern is evocative of the quilting tradition practiced among many Native communities in the United States and Canada… Like a conventional quilt, each piece is stitched together, though Dion used wire instead of thread. The resulting sculptural work plays with our expectations: soft, comforting cloth has been replaced with rigid material and the surface is visually complex with a multitude of mechanical, sharp protrusions.”

Let’s hold this piece in mind for our own writing today, finding inspiration in new and unexpected places. Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day by visiting the Native American galleries at the Museum and experiencing Dion’s work in person.

First, take a walk around your space, your neighborhood, or even a local store and write down words, phrases, or titles you see. Maybe there’s a line from a book spine, something from a magazine or newspaper, a piece of mail, a sign on a wall, anything that catches your eye.

Now, take all of those words and phrases and create a poem with them. Put them in any order you’d like, and see what arrives on the page. We also have two prompts to help you get started. As always, you can use one, both, or write whatever else comes. Just set a timer for 6 minutes and keep your pen or pencil moving.

Green feels like… / Piecing it together…

Green Star Quilt, Wally Dion, 75 5/8 x 70, circuit boards, brass wire, copper tube. A large square work composed of circuit boards in various shades of green pieced together like a quilt and connected with brass wire. At center, the circuit boards have been cut into diamond shapes and pieced to form an eight-pointed star. Further diamond shapes surround this star and radiate outward until they create a large star that almost fills the entire work. A thin gold line encompasses the large star forming a square. A border of more circuit boards completes the work. Many shades of green make up the different boards and they are heavily textured with silver and brass colored workings. Small silver balls in rows or patterns dominate the boards along with other metallic geometric shapes. Etched lines in patterns feature in most of the green boards.

Wally Dion, Green Star Quilt, 2019, circuit boards, brass wire, copper tube, Museum Purchase: Funds provided in memory of Brian Gross, © unknown, research required, 2020.1.1

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the year. Please share your work with us!  @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM @wally_dion