Cécile Tretini Interview

It’s the Journey.

By Jean Cunningham


Cécile Trentini is a textile artist. After frequently visiting Evanston from Switzerland for 10 years, she located here last year during the pandemic. It was a very big journey for her. Another kind of “journey” is a key component of her Daily Walking series she has been working on for the past 7 years 


Many of us feel a need to exercise and struggle to find time for it because of competing activities. Cécile’s struggle is a passion to create art while finding time to exercise. So, she resolved the issue by joining the two together. Originally, she committed to walk a minimum of 30 minutes daily while taking one photo for 100 days. Those photos made up a set that she committed to a work of textile art. Then she decided for the succeeding 100 days, she would set a timer during her walk for 15 minutes. When the timer went off, she took a photo of the ground wherever she was. The series was then committed to fabric. She then took a photo of the sky for 100 days and created an art work. Next Cécile started collecting random objects she found during her walks until she had 100 of them which she then used to create another work of art. She also gathered 100 black objects while walking. Each of the 100 objects was sewn to a different block of fabric and then attached to a larger fabric with magnets. Using this design, all the objects can be moved around on the background fabric by a viewer to create everchanging art works.


Throughout the studio are examples of some of Cécile’s other journeys including photo collages of her travels and a journey of monthly doodles from freeform brightly colored threads on a plain background. These works might also be transformed into images on textiles for functional items like sheets or curtains. 


To enhance her studio, Cécile altered the basement level of her home to flood it with natural light. She also added more lights to create a compelling space filled with several projects, equipment and working surfaces. Reflecting a textile artist, there are sewing machines, irons, large layout areas, and walls to hang items on. There’s a shelf of her personal design books she’s developed to help her conceive project ideas. She sketches and draws images ongoing that might find their way into a future project design. One other impressive item in her studio is her book of daily doodle drawings. A new one is added every day. 


Currently Cécile is recycling a black and white jigsaw puzzle that she says,  “…turned out to be impossible to assemble.” She will ultimately have sewn 1000 pieces that will then be backed with Velcro and attached to a matrix of squares on a larger fabric backing. Each piece takes 2.5 minutes to create. Work is slow and repetitive, but can be done while watching TV, talking, or conceiving new ideas to add to her design books. The best ideas may live to be created one day.


Cécile also is very honest and revealing about the journey in each of her works. If she skips a day of walking, that day will be a blank on the completed piece. 


Cécile appreciates that commitment to art in Evanston from the Art Center to the murals to the sculpture park to the Alley Gallery. She recently added to Evanston’s art by developing and building a sand sculpture on Earth Day at Lee Beach. Check out photos of the sculpture here:


To see Cécile’s art or to contact her, find her at Evanston Made, her website, www.ceciletrentini.com, or her Instagram site. 




Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University. 

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