Io the Alien

Io the Alien

About The Artist

Sarah Spencer • Chicago, IL
Fiber and Textiles - Homegoods • CUSTOM COMMISSIONS

I'm an artist, broadcaster, and art-educator based in Chicago. I create intuitively-designed art quilts characterized by an abstract, illustrative style and bold use of color. My primary interest is translating abstract concepts (personalities, memories, songs) into visual compositions. As a radio DJ, many of my pieces are inspired by contemporary music. My work has been described as "fabric graffiti", which suits me just fine.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

It all begins with my color palette. I choose colors intuitively, based on what feels good to me in the moment, and then I just start cutting! I make almost all of my work without a plan, by creating interesting fabric components, and then responding and adding to the work until I'm satisfied with the design. After the quilt top has been completed, I layer it with batting, and use a technique called free-motion quilting to create stitched motifs. It's sort of like sketching on the fabric with stitches, which allows the hand of the maker to shine in my designs. Finally, my quilts are bound and finished by hand, and prepared for hanging via a sleeve in the back.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Aside from the pure tactile joys of working with cloth, what makes me passionate about my medium is how complex it is! Quilting is a full-brain activity. Of course, my creative self is stimulated by the colors, the design process, and my intuitive process; my logical side also gets to flex its muscle when I need to figure out how to put it all together! No matter what project I'm working on, there's always a point where I pause and consider how I will put the work together. I consider my quilts to be the most intricate and fun puzzles.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Something unique about me as an artist is that I'm a radio DJ in Chicago. I've been hosting a weekly music radio show on CHIRP Radio, a local, independent station, for almost 5 years. While I play many different genres of music, my show focuses on emerging, underrepresented, and underplayed artists (that are unbelievably talented). Steeped in music as I am, it is only natural that it makes its way into my art. Almost all of my work is inspired by music, and many of my pieces are abstract, illustrative interpretations of individual songs. When I work in this way, I select a song, and the music inspires my palette and the sense of movement within the design.