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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Storytellers at Art Quilt Elements 2012

Awed, Quivering, and Elevated, I took in the AQE show at its opening this evening.  Art Quilt Elements (formerly Art Quilts at the Sedgwick) is a biennial, juried show taking place at the Wayne Art Center, on Philly’s Main Line through May 13. And let me tell you, it is one of the crown jewels of not only Fiber Philadelphia 2012, but of the international fine art scene. Because after all, quilts of this caliber are just that: fine art.

And as with all great art, the story or narrative embedded in the work is a big part of what makes it so amazing. Almost every piece spoke to me, but there were three artists present who also spoke to me, graciously granting me permission to photograph them with their work and share it on my blog.

The most traditional of these art quilts was a most riotous, joyous riff on the American flag. In Colors Unfurled, aka If Betsy Ross Had My Stash, Maria Shell  celebrates diversity. “Each stripe tells a story, and each star represents a state,” she explains.

Another quilter gave a nod to tradition: whole cloth quilts, simple black and white contrast, the expected squarish format. But oh, does she ever throw in a curve. In Same But Not, Paula Kovarik is inspired by “yin and yang,  one line pathways, right brain, and left brain.” That one line pathway phrase is key: while Paula marked the semi-circles on white and black Kona cotton, the rest is pure, freehand doodling–with one continuous line of black thread on white, and one continuous line of white thread on black. The winding pathway, defined by the absence of quilting, certainly takes this viewer on a miraculous journey!








Many years ago, I was privileged to show Susan Else’s Captured on Film, a masterful composition full of set-in seams and minute pieced sashing in the Rodale’s Successful Quilting Library volume, Innovative Piecing. I only wish I had been able to show it full page. Susan looks back on that as the time when, ho hum, she was still making flat quilts. Baby, get a look at her work now:

This piece (which shared the top juror’s award with Red Stones #2, the sheer Dianne Firth piece  you can glimpse in the background on the right) shows Susan’s continued mastery of technique–but taken now to exquisite heights, or rather, dimensions. Forever Yours illustrates such contradictory ideas as “love and death, tenderness and creepiness”…and also flat quilts vs. machine quilted fabric collage sewn over modified armature!

Huzzahs to Art Quilt Elements, for not imposing any sort of definition of what an art quilt is or requirements for the art quilt entries.

Kudos to the jurors, who whittled 800 or so entries down to 50 or so powerhouses of technique and composition, each with a compelling narrative.

And congrats to YOU, if you get the chance to see these extraordinary storytelling art quilts in the cloth. If not, consider ordering the catalog–a beautifully done chronicle of this, the 10th anniversary show, from www.wayneart.org. There, you’ll also get to see the work of the talented and accomplished committee members behind AQE, and also exemplary pieces of the fiber artists who have been jurors for this and the past AQE shows.




5 Responses to “Storytellers at Art Quilt Elements 2012”

  1. Cheryl Lynch says:

    Thanks for a little preview. I can’t wait to see it in a couple of weeks.

  2. Gloria says:

    Eleanor, it sounds like an excellent show. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  3. Barbara Rucket says:

    In her book But God Remembered, Sandy Sasso writes a midrash about Lilith, who supposedly was Adam’s first wife, and talks about how Lilith and Adam loved to play catch with the pomegranates. She writes “ When they were tired of playing, Lilith would take the pomegranates and split them open. Adam would scoop out the juicy seeds. Then Adam and Lilith would sit by the river that flowed through the garden and suck on the pomegranate seeds together”.

  4. Barbara Rucket says:

    My last post was supposed to be with the Pomegranante comments. Sorry.
    That being said, I was in Philly last week visiting with my 13 and 11 year old grandsons and we took them to the Art Quilt Elements show. They were fascinated. The quilts and the boys’ interpretations of them were quite interesting. Opened up a great conversation. The catalog is excellent.
    Unfortunately we only had time for a few of the many venues for Fiber Philadelphia.

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