Recently, two of my quilts have been in local juried art shows, and a third has been in a regional show. Of course it’s an ego boost to have my work selected for public display, even in local shows. However, I think I enter shows to get feedback on how others who know nothing about quilting see my work. Otherwise, my work gets shown to a small group of art quilters, and then stored in my house.
My secondary reason to enter non-quilt focused shows is to show that quilts are just as valid an art form as paintings, prints, and photographs. That show judges aren’t poking at my stitching and binding is a plus. After all, I don’t see paintings being critiqued for the regularity of their brush strokes. But then that’s the difference between judging work as craft and as art.
Right now “It’s All About Me” is part of the Me, Myself and I? show at Summit Artspace until August 31.
Earlier this year “Unfolding” was in The View From Within, also at Summit Artspace.
My “Sunset on Main” is in the Mahoning Valley YWCA’s Women Artists: A Celebration show that wraps up tomorrow. It’s one of four quilted entries, though there are also woven and mixed media pieces in the show.
If you make original quilts please consider entering an art show. You may be pleasantly surprised to find your work is accepted, and you’ll be helping fabric to claim its place as an art medium equal to others.
For almost all my quilting life I’ve been in awe of Nancy Crow’s contemporary quilts. I use that term as she dislikes the term art quilter. “I don’t want that term anywhere near me,” the artist [said in a recent article in Ohio Magazine.] “I consider it derogatory.”
So of course I had to see the Mansfield (Ohio) Art Center’s exhibit of 32 of her works. They were made mostly between 2000 and 2010, and encompass her bold striped designs as well as prints on fabric. Most are made with her hand dyed solid fabric and are hand quilted by Amish and Mennonite craftswomen. A few are machine quilted.
Here are ones that I swooned over. My photos don’t capture the vibrancy of the colors nor the glowing effects of color juxtapositions. Nor do they convey the soft texture the gridded hand quilting gives the hard edges.
As I descended the stairs from the exhibit area my eye was caught by the construction materials outside the center. I thought they went well with the quilts.
Recent posts to the contrary, I have been giving my sewing machine a workout between a fantasy, glittery collage piece and assignments for my “Mod Meets Improv” online class.
The fantasy piece evolved from the latest bunch of sparkly scraps from the theatrical costume shop, plus some donated fabric (the birds) that was going begging.
Much of the fabric was leftover from dresses for “Dreamgirls.”
The green fabric was tricky to work with as it shreds easily. I hope to give my jungle a pillowcase finish and then outline quilt some of the birds and flowers.
My online class, taught by Elizabeth Barton, has pushed me to develop several quilt designs on paper. The class title may say improv, but if it’s a class with Elizabeth you know you’ll be designing on paper first. Some of the homework has been a bit basic for me, but the feedback has been helpful, as always.
The top row are practice pieces: floating 4 patches, curved piece grid, and half square triangles in a complementary color scheme. In the bottom row are some of my better colored pencil designs. The one on the left follows the lines of the traditional rail fence. The middle design is based on outside stairs I saw from our Airbnb in Quebec.
I’m now working on an original mod/improv design that has lots of negative space, in white of course. I’d forgotten how you need to press towards the darker fabric when you work with white fabric. Otherwise, the darker color shows and when the darker color is red, it really shows.
The class has been fine, but I’m sorry more students aren’t active in the online forum. It’s a great chance to get feedback and see what other students are up to. You can watch a video of work done in previous classes.
I’ve been aware of Wolfe’s work ever since she won first place at an early QuiltCon for her deconstructed double wedding ring quilt. She began her career as an artist, but branched into quilting. Over the past several years she has designed fabric, opened a quilt store, taught classes, written books, and become an active presence on social media. With her most recent book, a retrospective of her work, I learned she also managed to make the 125 quilts shown, mostly since 2008, in addition to all her other activities. And these are mostly large quilts, easily 80 by 80 inches. My guess is she’s made at least 100 more quilts. She does have many of them quilted by others, but even so…
Most of her work is exuberant and lively, with lots of color and scrappy fabric. She often references traditional patterns, but will put a twist on them. Sometimes she serves tradition straight up. I’m showing a few quilts from the book that were new to me.
Wolfe tried out different styles before settling on what is now her signature. “Cheap Hotels” from 2010 uses a more minimalist approach without a block structure. It stands out in the book because there’s nothing else like it.
“Stripes, Plaids, and Polka Dots” is reminiscent of Gwen Marston’s work, with its bold zigzag border treatment. The stars and sashing are made with Wolfe’s 15 minutes of play technique, while the subdued stripes and plaids of the squares give all that busyness room to breathe. The different sizes of the background yellow/beige squares lend a casual air, while the polka dots capture the eye and direct it around the squares.
“Summer of Stars” works due to the ombre fabric surrounding the center star. I’d love to get my hands on some of it.
The following two quilts are great examples of how fabric choices and placement can change the look of a quilt. It takes an eye for abstraction to discern such possibilities.
While I don’t like every quilt in this book, I appreciate Wolfe’s willingnes to always try out an idea and use lots of different fabrics. She doesn’t let fear of “ruining” something stop her from pushing further. Her philosophy is: “You have to make ugly pieces and then learn from them. You have to make something that is just so fabulous that you look at it and think, Wow! I can’t believe I did that! For myself, the failure and the successes are equally valuable.”