Archive | March, 2014

Fiber Frenzy in Philadelphia

Naomi Adams 252x395

Naomi Adams, Complement

Spring is here, and with it comes lots of opportunities to see Quilt National artists work on exhibit. Cindy Friedman, Director of ArtQuilt Elements wrote to let us know about ArtQuilt Elements 2014 at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA. ArtQuilts Elements 2014 is the 11the exhibition of this internationally acclaimed show and includes 43 quilts selected from over 600 entries.

“One of the distinctions of our show is our professional presentation of art quilts. The exhibition has been widely praised by reviewers and artists not only for exhibiting the quilts in a gallery setting but also for promoting the art quilt as an art form.”


Judy Kirpich, Anxiety No. 8, David

Several Quilt National artists were juried into this show, including Marianne Burr, Dianne Firth, Valerie Goodwin, Michael James, and more.  Quilt National artists, Jill Ault and Judy Kirpich,  are also among the prize winners. The jurors for ArtQuilt Elements 2014 are Susie Brandt, Full-time Faculty, Maryland Institute College of Art, Gerhardt Knodel, Internationally Recognized Fiber Artist and Educator and Jan Myers-Newbury, Quilt Artist and Educator.

ArtQuilt Elements 2014 is open at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne PA  from March 21- May 3, 2014.

For more information, including a full list of artists and prize winners, please visit

Three more reasons to plan a trip to Philadelphia right now.


Snyderman’s International Fiber Biennial

3rd and Cherry Sts. Philadelphia, PA

until April 26th, 2014.


What A Stitch at the Gravers Lane Gallery

8405 Germantown Ave, Phila PA until April 20th, 2014

Lisa Call at the Bluestone Gallery  

301 North 3rd St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106.

 2/25/14 – 3/29/14

Gallery Hours: Tue – Sat, 11am – 6pm 267-773-8114.

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A journey through landscape – Alison Schwabe

Ora Banda by Alison Schwabe

Ora Banda by Alison Schwabe

I’ve had four works in Quilt National and this article will show how they fit into my development as an artist as I gradually morphed from a young girl into ‘a senior’. I am currently working on a slide lecture covering the development of my textile art from the late 70’s to the present, for presentation to a group of Western Australian art quilters and fibre artists. As I include images of finished works, samples and snippets from sketch books, I am able to look back on things that have provided the consistent themes appearing throughout my work.

Obiri by Alison Schwabe

Obiri by Alison Schwabe

When young, in the ‘60’s, it never occurred to me that the practical, feminine,  domestic arts of dressmaking, household sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet and others, could be ‘art’.

I am an early Baby Boomer, and we girls in those days learned those skills at school, from our mothers, aunts and grandmothers. Looking back, while acquiring many skills that have become second nature, some of the things I made showed early signs of creative flair even as I followed patterns. I have always loved putting fabrics and threads together in various ways to produce practical and creatively decorated things.

My university degree included geography and a little geomorphology which I loved. Around age 30 found myself making both kids clothes and creative embroideries (mixed media) of paint plus stitch celebrating my fairly myopic view of small patterns, colours and textures of landscape.  Leaving the leafy green environment in which I grew up, I moved about  Australia’s Outback, mostly mining centres in harsh rugged landscape. The individual characteristics of the landscapes included highly evocative shapes and colours that stayed in my memory even without a photo.

I have a keen sense of place in the modern world and at the same time feel very strong connections to people back in the mists of time. This sense of history only came to me through experiences in Australia’s ancient landscapes. Signs of how ancient people had interacted with their environment left some patterning or symbolic evidence of their time there.

Timetracks 1 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2007

Timetracks 1 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2007

From 1988 I came under the influence of traditional quilt making in the USA, and after one flying geese quilt, produced a series of original quilts that combined landscape elements of line, shape and color, quilted with motifs based on markings of the ancients in pottery, carvings, cave walls and stones.  I learned more about the early native American Indian people.  As this Ancient Expressions series developed, fabric strips as lines became an important design element, influenced by cloisonné enamel work and native American inlaid turquoise jewelry, and the traditional quilting influences still in my work include repeat units arranged in grids.

With many background influences, then, my first quilt in Quilt National 1993, was of a color memory of the faded Western Australian gold mining town, Ora Banda, which gave its romantic name to the work.  Then came Obiri in Quilt National 1995, named for a sacred rock site we’d visited where Aboriginal people painted figures and patterns on the rock walls over the many centuries they have used the site.

Timetracks 7 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2009

Timetracks 7 by Alison Schwabe shown in Quilt National 2009

More than a decade passed before another work was accepted for Quilt National, by which time I was focusing on the marks left by eroding wind and water over time, and had begun to think of  changed shapes and textures as ‘timetracks’.   Timetracks 1 went to Quilt National 2007 featuring the larger view of landscape changing shape. By Quilt National 2009, Timetracks 7 was concerned with remnants of marks and abrasions on surface texture signifying decay.

My journey through landscape has coincided with change in shape and texture of my own physical body. I am an age where I have perspectives that I could never have seen earlier in life, including that, so far my whole life has truly been a journey through landscape.

Alison Schwabe

Alison Schwabe

Moving because of my husband’s profession I’ve met many textile artists, developed a passion for stitch, and eventually found quilt making.  I have been exhibiting art quilts since 1989 and currently live in Montevideo, Uruguay.
To see more of my work go to:, or
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The Art Quilt phenomenon – thoughts from Gerald Roy

“Art quilts” and the issues they raise have been around a lot longer than most people think.

Milliner - Hattie P. Dyer  1895  - Crazy Quilt - 7 North Temple Place, Boston, Mass. 70 “ x 70”

Milliner – Hattie P. Dyer 1895 – Crazy Quilt – 7 North Temple Place, Boston, Mass. 70 “ x 70”

During the last half of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution not only enabled a privileged few to acquire enormous fortunes, but also brought about a broader distribution of wealth to the American middle-class than ever before. With this new-found prosperity, many people built and furnished their homes in the latest of fashions. The Crazy quilt became a popular symbol of “having arrived.” No home was considered fashionable without one. Instead of being made as bedcovers, they adorned tables and upholstered furniture. The surface was highly decorated with embellishments through complex embroidery techniques, and even hand painted vignettes. That’s because the Crazy quilt was not made with the functional purpose as bedcovers, it’s no wonder it later became regarded as the first “art quilt.”


JRH 1886 – 52” x 60” silk, satin, brocades and cotton lace.


It’s important to note that they technically aren’t quilts because most aren’t quilted. In addition, they did not evolve from traditional quilts. In fact, very few skilled traditional quilt makers ever made them. Having perfected their needlework skills and ability to accurately piece and appliqué, they did not find the style, materials, techniques, and embellishments of Crazy quilts appealing. Instead, most Crazy quilts were made by women who possessed minimal quilt making skills but had the time and the money to focus on beautifying and decorating their homes in the latest fashion. (Quite often this was evidenced through excess and often vulgar displays of wealth and poor taste.) Whereas bedcovers tend to get worn out, Crazy quilts more often survived the test of time. This factor coupled with their serving only an aesthetic purpose increased their likelihood of being regarded as objects of art.

The surface of Crazy Quilts are highly decorated with embellishments through complex embroidery techniques.

The surface of Crazy Quilts are highly decorated with embellishments through complex embroidery techniques. Detail of the Milliner – Hattie P. Dyer 1895 – Crazy Quilt

The controversy between art and utility has been ongoing. Because paintings serve no practical purpose and often are associated with art museums, there is a misconception that all paintings achieve art status. This in turn has led to another misconception – an object made for a practical and useful purpose is not art. Of course this premise is absurd because objects, regardless of purpose, are displayed in major art museums worldwide. Yet, even most quilts represented in museums were relegated to craft because of their association with their utilitarian purpose as bedcovers. Therefore, they generally were selected for their workmanship or historical significance and not because they were valued as works of art.

Unfortunately, this mindset has caused too many quilts to be evaluated exclusively by “The Two-Inch to Two-Foot Method,” which describes the distance from which they are scrutinized. Workmanship appears to have been the primary concern after which only its historical value was given consideration. I have often seen viewers with their noses practically touching a quilt saying, “Now this is art”

Whenever I see this occur I suggest, “Step away from the quilt and see that there’s far more to the quilt than only its technique.” This rarely occurs in art world, where most works of art undergo “The Twenty Paces Test.” Only after evaluating a work from this distance should the viewer go closer to examine technique. That’s why even utility quilts with less than masterpiece techniques can rise to “art” status.

G.R.  1886  - 56” x 58” silk, satin, velvets, brocades.

G.R. 1886 – 56” x 58” silk, satin, velvets, brocades.

Like all other arts and crafts forms, the aesthetic value of an individual work is determined by the viewer. Aesthetic response is personal and depends upon the ability of the maker to connect with the viewer on some level. Often the connection is made by sharing or stimulating a common experience, exposing the viewer to a new point of view, or reaching aesthetic sensibilities. As viewers we have the luxury of determining whether or not a work is art. The aspirations of the maker are irrelevant and no amount of their wishing can make it so. It is how others respond to a work that makes it “art.”

Gerald E. Roy at Pilgrim/Roy

Gerald Roy

Gerald Roy

Gerald Roy is an educator, painter, quilt maker and author. He is a quilt appraiser certified by the National Quilters Society and an administrator of the AQS Quilt Appraisal Certification Program. His This Old Quilt column is featured in the Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. He currently serves on the following boards: New England Quilt Museum Lowell, Mass. – Acquisitions Board and the National Quilt Museum Paducah, Kentucky – Executive Board of Directors, National Advisory Board and Chair / Acquisitions Committee. He is the curator for Quilts & Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection opening at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston on April 6. To learn more, visit his website, Pilgrim/Roy Antiques and Interiors

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