I wanted to honor Ursula LeGuin’s literary achievements and I was personally fascinated by the world she imagined in her science fiction masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness. On the icy planet of Winter, a diplomat from Earth must find his way to understand and gain the trust of a race of humans who are asexual except for brief periods of “kemmer” when they become male or female in very private love partnerships.
I interpreted her novel’s eloquent poem “Light is the left hand of darkness and darkness the right hand of light” as the truth of the yin and yang interflow of life, so I depicted Winter in my quilt as a yin-yang planet of cold and darkness in deep blue space. I showed the androgyny by using identically-shaped figures, but I also wanted to show that in the complexity of life there is always individuality, so I used many different fabric patterns that are subtle at a distance but clear if you look close for them. The pink figures scattered across the planet are sexual loving couples, some pregnant, in their fleeting but intense times of kemmer. They stand out but they will fade again and reappear elsewhere in this eternal flow.
Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment
LeGuin transformed science fiction from domination by themes of technocracy and interplanetary warfare to include exploration of radically alternative forms of society, sexuality, and ecology.
This quilt is entirely machine stitched. I machine pieced the background and underlying planet and did some light free-motion quilting across that backdrop. Then I added the raw-edge figures to overlap each other, using free-motion quilting to define the outlines. In the pink figures I also stitched some details of body shapes and clothing.
All fabrics are 100% cotton, commercially purchased patterned fabrics, some batiks. Cotton batting and standard polyester or cotton threads.