Back In Business

The Artist as Quiltmaker show, held every two years at Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA) in Oberlin, Ohio, was one of many casualties of the pandemic. It was supposed to take place in 2020, but was postponed until this year. I drove over to see it with a friend just before the show closed and was glad I didn’t miss seeing it in person. You can view the entries online, but as with any visual show, you can’t get a sense of scale unless you stand in front of the pieces. And size does make a difference as some of the pieces are large.

Many of this year’s entries don’t fit the “three layers held together with stitching” requirement typical of quilt shows. And some don’t have 90 degree corners. In fact, a few approach sculpture. I was glad to see a broadening of the concept of a quilt, but hope such pieces don’t languish in the quilt ghetto of the art world. They might have better luck being called something else.

Some of the pieces that intrigued me follow.

“Blue Ice” Joanna Alberda 35″ x 75″

While not groundbreaking in form (it even has a binding) “Blue Ice” captures the majestic quiet of ice bound parts of our world. The artist has kept the quilting simple, but uses a few changes in thread color from black to blue effectively.

“Rosy Retrospective” Emily Bellinger 48″ x 42″

Modern quilting influence is evident in the piecing and lighthearted fabric choices, but the curved edges and trio of hanging drops are more arty. And, look ma, no four inch hanging sleeve.

“Mended Wedding Ring Quilt” Jeanne Bieri 82″ x 52″ x 8″

Materials used include “reclaimed vintage quilt and army blankets, army suture cotton dated 1953, cotton, linen, wool, silk, satin, felt, buttons.” The curved red lines are hand chain stitched embroidery. I found it an intriguing meld of old with new to reimagine the original materials.

“Plunge” Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry 68″ x 53″

The online photo so doesn’t do this work justice. It’s by a quilter renowned for working with large scale templates and pieced curves. Recently she has switched to digitally edited photos printed on cloth. From what I could see, only the outer mitered border is pieced. I’ll quote the artist here: “In 2019 my husband photographed a 135’ dive by one of the cliff divers of Acapulco at four frames per second. He combined the twelve shots of the three-second dive into one time-lapse composite. Using my digital drawing program, I added traditional Storm at Sea blocks to the corners of the digital image and designed borders that extend the colors and patterns of the photo that fade to black. The center panel, borders, and binding fabric were digitally printed and pieced. I quilted the center very heavily with matching threads to enhance the textures of the rocks.” The quilting is exquisite.

“Porcelain Vine I” Lotta Helleberg 75″ x 55″

Only one layer of cotton canvas dyed with plants and a few organza appliqued pieces are used. The subtleties of the images left by the plants are best seen in person. There is hand quilting on the appliqued parts, but a traditional quilt judge would throw this piece out of the judging.

“Joy and Pain” Toni Kersey 51″ x 41″

Pieced and quilted, but the shape and uneven edges elevate it from a typical abstractly pieced quilt. It’s almost like dress pattern pieces were used to create it.

“Alone At The Beach” Sherry Kleinman 47″ x 26″

The artist applied a digital editing filter to a photo, had it printed on a cotton/linen blend, and then hand embroidered it. I don’t know if it has more than one layer. I was intrigued with the combination of digital manipulation and hand embroidery.

“Tenuous Ties” Viviana Lombrozo 51″ x 31.5″ x 2″

Here the blue/purple ribbons come free of the quilt’s surface and curl around themselves. The red glyphs give a pop of color. While the quilting isn’t up to the standards of other entries, I enjoy the 3D effect. I guess I have some quilt police DNA after all.

I hope I’ve given you a taste of the show’s diversity. Please take a few minutes to browse all the entries. The detail photos are great for closeups.

I’ll be linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

14 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Exhibits

14 responses to “Back In Business

  1. Rebecca

    A former president(?) of Visions told me, once, that “Hardening of the categories leads to disease of the Art,” (her husband is a cardiologist), but they would not have accepted one or two of those!
    At first glance, I thought “Joy and Pain” was three-dimensional.
    Thanks for sharing (I hadn’t heard of this). Very interesting!

  2. frances temchin

    Beautiful and inspiring choices. Thank you!

  3. Barbara

    I went to the linked site. What a fascinating show, certainly a push to explore new techniques and question our limited ideas of what is a quilt. It was great to read the artists statements! Thank you for posting this!!!

  4. Wow, I popped over to look at all the pieces. Thanks for sharing this link. I’m glad you got to see it live! I hope you can get rid of that quilt policing thing 😉

  5. You chose such a great selection to show us! I like Mended Wedding Ring, Joy and Pain, Tenuous Ties, and Porcelain Vine. One of those things is not like the others! 🙂

  6. Sue Mohr

    Thank you so much for sharing all these pieces (and for noting size, too). I especially like “Porcelain Vine.” Your comment about quilt police makes me grin.

I Love to Hear From You

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.