Before Heidi Parkes was born in Chicago, IL in 1982, her grandmother organized a collaborative family quilt to commemorate her birth. This set the tone for a life centered on the handmade- raised in a home where sewing, mending, cooking, canning, woodworking, photography, ceramics, painting, and plasterwork were the norm.
Now based in Milwaukee, her quilting and mending celebrate the hand, and her works tug at memories and shared experience. Often using specific textiles, like an heirloom tablecloth, bed sheet, or cloth teabag, Heidi adds subtle meaning and material memory from the start. Ever curious, she works with a variety of quilting techniques including visible hand piecing and knots, improvisation, patchwork, and applique.
Heidi pursues her passion for teaching by lecturing and leading workshops, and shares her creative process with thousands on Instagram. Heidi has exhibited in art and textile museums across the country and was an Artist in Residence at Milwaukee’s Lake Park through the ARTservancy with Gallery 224 in fall 2020-21. Additionally, Heidi lives a handmade lifestyle, sewing her own clothes, fermenting, eating from pottery she made a decade ago, and practicing hand yoga, which she shares with other creatives on her YouTube channel.
Mediums: Quilting, mending
Favorite Artist Tool: Pulling thimble
Go-to Local Inspiration: Lake Michigan
Mentee Compliment: Bold decision-making and quick action
Fun Fact: Favorite condiments = umeboshi plums, chocolate whiskey sauce, buffalo sauce.
Serious Fact: I was born at 9:15 p.m. under a new moon in December.
Conceptual works often originate as a problem or frustration. Much like an evidence board in a crime drama, my work is an obsessive reflection focused on the diaristic, the everyday, and balancing self-improvement with self-acceptance. While making, I parallel my mental state with the verbs of my creative actions: joining, cutting, tying, mending …. Casting a spell is at the heart of the work.The intimate contemplations of my Magical Thinking series wrestle with physical malady and supposedly hopeless causes. Having reached the limits of medical intervention, my work becomes the pitiful act of searching for consolation in the artistic attempt. I turn to sympathetic magic (imparting a cure here to affect there) to manifest a solution via materiality, repetition, and making. My home studio is a place where the beginning and ending of artmaking blur, and my health, habits, and longings become monumental within the domestic realm.