The time-honored tradition of quilting gets a modern art makeover in Quilt Art: International Expressions at the James A Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., September 10 to December 31 in the Fred Beans Gallery — but if you’re a museum member, come to the member reception September 9!
Quilt Art is a group of contemporary fiber artists from nine European countries at the forefront of contemporary and innovative textile art. Their techniques range from traditional to modern, reflecting their home countries’ culture, geography and design tradition. Whether composing landscapes, still lifes, geometric constructions or abstract juxtapositions of color and form, these artists may dye their own fabric or use a rusty nail to print on it. They may piece together strips of found material, make use of photo transfers or stencils, and even “draw” with colored thread on white backing. Fabric may come from a maid’s apron or nurse’s scrubs, reflecting on the history of women’s work.
Founded in Britain in 1985, Quilt Art has sought to extend the boundaries of the quilt as an art form and to achieve wider recognition for its member artists. This exhibition of 40 quilts brings together 24 contemporary quilt artists from nine countries, including the U.K., Belgium, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Hungary and the U.S.
The diverse cultural backgrounds of the members help to bring various approaches to the craft, such as direct observation or inspiration that comes from very personal or even social issues. As a result, the artwork is dynamic and challenging. Many of the artists first trained in other fields, yet each found the tactile process of patterning, sewing, layering and joining fabric to be an ideal means of self-expression. These artists explore a range of abstract and thought-provoking ideas with an ever-changing variety of surface techniques, combined with color, texture and stitch.
The members of Quilt Art have exhibited internationally. Their work is represented in major museum collections worldwide, and many in the group are well-known lecturers in the field. Integrity of expression and quality craftsmanship has enabled them to establish a unique reputation at the forefront of contemporary textile art.
Quilt Art: International Expressions was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C., in conjunction with Quilt Art.
IMAGE ABOVE: Bethan Ash, Cutting the Carbs – Shedding the Pounds, 2004, © Bethan Ash