My Quilt National Pilgrimage

Every odd year the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, hosts the prestigious juried show Quilt National. Since I live in Ohio I try to get to Athens to see it. Last weekend was my chosen time.

I arrived for the show’s opening, which featured short talks many of the artists gave about their work. It made for a crowd, but I loved hearing about the thoughts behind the works. Some artists talked in abstractions; others cried.

How did I think this show compared with previous ones? It seemed solidly in the middle, with a heavy emphasis on abstract work. Craftsmanship quality was good and there was a mix of previously shown artists with new ones. I don’t recall any wildly offbeat pieces or any that I felt didn’t belong there. On the other hand, while I admired many of the works, there were few I had an emotional response to.

Lots of: piecing, solid colors, parallel line quilting.

A bit of: experiments with quilt shapes (one was like a gathered curtain, another was separate tubes of bound cloth,) social statements (women’s rights and the wall,) use of digital design.

Little of: representational art, photographs, multi-media (i.e., over painting), dense showy quilting, unconventional materials.

Following are photos I took that are clear enough to publish. There were many other works I wanted to capture, but crowds made that difficult.

“Agitation” by Helen Geglio is made of old shirts found in an attic. Geglio said they still smelled of bleach. She noted how laborious laundry used to be and said a woman invented permanent press.
Margaret Black’s “Curb Appeal 17” is large and shows how black and white can anchor a piece.
Anna Brown’s “Ebb and Flow” represents kelp. The bits of lime green sure catch the eye.
Susan Callahan’s “Stove Top” is based on photographs printed on fabric and then painted. It turns out she’s a chef.
Carson Converse’s piece is subtle and represents the antithesis of her day job.
Chris Edmonds’ “Grasslands: Winter Approaches” is the piece most likely to be praised by my husband.
Eleanor McCain had the largest piece, all mounted on a very long rod. She demonstrated how you can easily shift which part shows..
“Backyard” is taken from Barbara Oliver Hartman’s rear yard. She named the tree on the right Ginger.
Detail from Jill Kerttula’s “Gingko Street” that shows how she augments her photos with fabrics and stitches. The shadow at the bottom is my hand. Her take on QN is here.
Margarita Korioth carefully planned her work on her computer, and created fabric from newspapers in 3 languages that represent her background.
Cecile Trentini’s “Shadow Alchemy” is made of cyanotypes of a wildly diverse group of objects.
Isabell Wiessler’s “Horizonte VI” is based on a photo, but made more abstract with paint and stitch.
Here is Anne Wu talking about her “Shi Sha Square on Square.” There’s lots of bling in each square and there are lots of squares.

I was glad I had the chance to see some rock stars of the quilting world – Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Betty Busby, Jean Wells Keenan, Eleanor McCain, Sheila Frampton Cooper, to name a few. I even had lunch with two of the artists. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with the pieces themselves. For one of the show juror’s takes and lots more photos, check out Judy Kirpich’s post. You can see the award winners here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

9 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

9 responses to “My Quilt National Pilgrimage

  1. Thanks for sharing! Very inspiring!

  2. Ann Scott

    Isn’t it amazing what some people do with fabric, thread, other media and technology! Lucky you attending again. Thanks for sharing and the links.

  3. Judith Campbell

    Thanks for sharing! Easy to see some of the influences at work here. Well worth going, as always.

  4. Such wonderful variety of styles! And so different from what we’d see at a garden-variety quilt show. I think your husband and I must have similar taste–I like the grasslands one, too, and the stove top and the shadow/cyanotype.

    • To me the joy of art quilt shows is that each piece is original – no Judy Niemeyer patterns. That doesn’t mean all the work appeals to me, but I can appreciate the design work that went into it.

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