Featured Artist: Rita Summers

Artist’s statement:

“art is like breathing to me

life and thoughts impressed on paper, cloth, the air

fleeting sounds and images

captured before they escape forever”

Age: 58

Hometown: Holland Marsh, Ontario, Canada

Current town: St Marys, Tasmania, Australia

Job description: Gallery owner/operator; artist; teacher

Upcoming projects: textile art postcards (see blog); drawings for fabric design (see Spoonflower site)

Select links:

Blog – http://www.gonerustic.wordpress.com

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/gonerustic

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/gonerustic

Fabric Designs – http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/gonerustic


What are you working on?

Since I work across a variety of art forms, I often have several projects on the go at a time. I recently finished my entry in the Sketchbook Project, which was a collection of drawings on the backs of old business cards. Now I’m working on a series of textile art postcards, some of which I’ve sent overseas. Currently I’m making some for my friends here in Tasmania. I’m using hand-dyed fabrics or needle-felting for the backgrounds, with collaged painted fusible web. I then ‘draw’ over the layers with hand stitching.

Describe your work.

I like to push the boundaries in my art to create my own original style. My qualifications and background focus on visual contemporary art/craft/design, and stitching is my chosen medium. I often incorporate upcycled materials and found objects. I like to combine a mix of artistic processes: photography, digital manipulation, printmaking, collage, sculpture, painting, drawing and books or text.

What’s your background / Have u always been an artist?

I’ve always been an artist – either drawing (my dad drew and painted in his spare time) or sewing (my mother helped me make dolls clothes and my first dress). Every year I selected art subjects in high school over and above everything else. I chose to do an Art major when I did my Bachelor of Education, and then in recent times added a Diploma in Visual Contemporary Art Craft Design. I have a deep need to do something creative every day – I get restless, even depressed, if I don’t! I have really worked hard to get my art ‘out there’, entering exhibitions, getting my work published, teaching and so on. I also have operated a gallery and attached working studio since 2003, and promote my work and arts business online as much as possible. I am computer-savvy, which saves me a lot of money, as I set up and maintain my own blog, online shops and so on.

Apron for a Driad
Apron for a Driad

What’s been happening in your life?

I love coming to my gallery each day and meeting visitors, working with students and/or clients, and connecting online with like-minded people. I also have a very supportive husband who did the renovations to the building where my business now operates. My family is also artistic; we feel it is important to encourage creativity wherever we can. I’m happily married, a mother of 2 and ‘oma’ of 1.

What’s next for you?

More art and more art! I also have an artist journal and quilt appearing in a major US magazine this year, and another wall-hanging as well. Two other pieces are currently under consideration in another American magazine.

Describe your current state of mind/ What’s inspiring you?

I am inspired by nature, playing with new and unusual materials and techniques, learning by attending workshops, and making art every day if I can. Sometimes my brain finds it difficult to switch off, but when I’m being creative, the process of creating is very calming and satisfying.


Any exhibits coming up/ Any past exhibits you’d like to mention?

I currently have a textile art work called ‘fractured’ which is touring around Tasmania with members of the Stitching and Beyond textile art group. I will be hosting this exhibition at my gallery for the next few weeks. I have exhibited often, in Tasmania, in other states of Australia, and in the United States.

Is any of your work political?

Yes, although I prefer to say that my work often addresses social issues. Some of my pieces highlight the plight of women (past and present); a recent piece called ‘3 rivers’ deals with environmental issues and genocide.

Has the meaning of your work changed over time?

Yes – I seem to have found my ‘voice’ through my art, and become braver about expressing what my work is about. I’ve also become more abstract, and my work is now more complex.

3 Rivers 2013
3 Rivers 2013

Are you involved with any organizations/ Do you collaborate with other artists?

I belong to several local, state and global organisations, mostly textile art based. I am a member of several online groups also, and actively participate in art swaps, mail art and so on. I also invite other artists to showcase their work in my gallery, as well as hosting touring exhibitions.

What are you reading?

Redeeming the Time by Chuck Pierce, the Bible, and the latest issues of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines, not necessarily in that order.

What websites do you visit regularly?

Other people’s blogs and Facebook pages; Pinterest (this is where I bookmark amazing artists and other things that I find).

Sketchbook 2013
Sketchbook 2013

What are you listening to these days?

I am a musician and singer myself, and love all sort of music, from jazz to classical, folk to country. I also like some of the new world music that’s around. In the last few days I’ve been listening to Chopin, Allison Krauss, Leo Kottke, Secret Garden, Blue Mountain Music and Geoff Bullock.

What are a few of your favorite spots in the area in which you live?

My front verandah is my favourite spot! We also have a pretty park near the river just a few metres from my business. I enjoy visiting our local health food shop and cafe for a chai latte, too.

Favorite artists and why?

Henri Matisse – particularly the cut out paper works he did later in life. They are so colourful and vibrant.

John Coburn – his textile and painted art work. Beautifully expressive and deceptively simple.

Janet LaFazio – her textile art. I love her freestyle methods and the intensity of her hand stitching.

Emily Barletta – her 3D textile art. I love the way she pushes the boundaries with her chosen medium.

There are many more, but that’ll do for now…

What was the first piece of artwork you bought/Do you buy a lot of artwork?

The first artwork we bought was a pencil drawing by an art student of my husband’s, at her first exhibition. We have a lot of our own artworks on our walls, as well as my dad’s and our son’s drawings and paintings. The most expensive was a painting of our daughter by her friend. We also purchased some contemporary pottery at a local exhibition last year. We can’t afford to buy a lot of art, but we do try to support other artists. I also purchase some local artists’ work for my gallery.

No Theme Postcards
No Theme Postcards

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A musician (although I already do that, but not in as concentrated a way as my art).

How do you choose your subject matter?

I don’t choose it – it chooses me!

What are some misconceptions people often have about you?

That because I use stitch, my art isn’t really art, and that I will do mending for them. A bit insulting, really…

What were you like as a kid?

Artistic, musical, shy, tall – just like I am now, except I’m not shy anymore (mostly).

A Window Into Yesterday
A Window Into Yesterday

What’s your idea of happiness?

My life now. I’m not interested in being rich, although it’s good to have enough to pay the bills and buy art materials! I don’t aspire to be famous, but I would like my work to be seen and thought about by as many people as possible.

Your website(s):





7 thoughts on “Featured Artist: Rita Summers

  1. we love Rita’s work, and the chance to see the work of other artists in her gallery. The current exhibitions is very special… some amazing textile art on display… including a piece of Rita’s. It is terrific to see such interesting and varied work getting some broad exposure in articles such as this.. As a female historian her work focusing on womens’ stories is of particular interest to me, having said that there is something for everyone within the body of work she creates and exhibits.

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