The 39th annual “Quilts=Art=Quilts” exhibition is currently on display at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn. But someone unfamiliar with fiber arts would be surprised by the quilts’ appearance. These are art quilts, a genre of quilts designed to hang on walls instead of covering beds.
“This is one of the art center’s signature exhibits,” said Schweinfurth Executive Director Donna Lamb. “Our jurors did a fantastic job in selecting quilts that represent the best of contemporary art quilts and shows the diverse styles, subjects, and techniques employed by many of the top quilters in this country and beyond.”
While most of the quilts were made by U.S. artists, six pieces are by international artists who hail from Australia, Canada, England, and South Korea. Jurors for the exhibition were Claire Benn, one of the United Kingdom’s leading mixed media and textile artists, and Petra Fallaux, a Dutch native who creates and teaches textile arts, writes, and curates textile exhibitions.
Both Fallaux and Benn are fiber artists who have curated exhibitions and served as jurors for major quilt exhibitions, including Quilt National, European Art Quilt, and Fine Art Quilt Masters. This is the first time the two have juried Quilts=Art=Quilts.
Both have also curated exhibits, which Benn describes as an interesting experience because she has to set aside her personal preferences when selecting participants and artworks.
“For me, it's important to focus on strong composition and make sure that any exhibition is diverse, whilst still working as a whole,” she said. “Sensitive hanging of the work is also important in terms of an exhibition that has a coherent feel and which flows well. This can include making sure pieces that might ‘fight’ each other are separated or coordinating areas by color, content, style, and size.”
Fallaux has seen an increasing interest in art quilts. “Many contemporary artists in other media have taken note of art quilts and are incorporating influences of cloth in their art practice,” she said. “Acceptance of art quilts as fine art is growing, in no small part thanks to the commitment of places to exhibiting art quilts, like at the Schweinfurth!”
Benn has also noted a trend toward eco printing and the use of recycled materials in art textiles. “I’ve also observed more political content from artists working with quilting as their medium in the United States,” she added.
In fact, several pieces in QAQ 2019 have political messages. Shannon Conley from Moore, OK, submitted a piece, “Listen Louder than You Sing,” that features a dark background with the words, My American experience is not all American experiences. “What do I want to say? That climate change is real and we need to take responsibility for it? That immigrant rights are human rights? That feminism isn't a dirty word? Yes, yes, yes,” Conley said in her artist statement.
Patricia Kennedy-Zafred submitted a quilt, “American Portraits: Loss in the Heartland,” that is a tribute to family farmers and features portraits of farmers taken in the 1930s. “Every week, faced with economic hardship, long hours, and corporate competition, hundreds of farmers leave their land for good,” she said in her artist statement. “The independent family farm is an essential part of our diverse American fabric, representing strength, tenacity, patience, and perseverance.”
Joyce Martelli’s “Rain Forest” is a tribute to the lush rain forests she remembers from the past. “(Rain forests) give our planet oxygen and other nutrients that are needed for a clean planet,” she said in her artist statement. “Let's not let them disappear.”
QAQ 2019 will be on display through Jan. 5, 2020. The art center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10 per person and free for Schweinfurth members, exhibiting artists, and children 12 and under. The center is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
The art center will be open for free on two days in December:
- December First Friday: 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6, featuring the Harriet Tubman Singers and clay holiday ornament making
- Holiday Traditions: 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 8, featuring a performance by students in our marionette-making class and mulled cider
For more information on the Schweinfurth and our classes and events, link to our website at www.myartcenter.org.