Quilt show continues art’s role as communications

A visitor examines “Grandmom’s Hopes and Dreams,” an art quilt made by Ellen M. Blalock that won First Prize in “Quilts=Arts=Quilts 2022.”

Juried show includes 64 artists from around the world

Fiber artist Irene Roderick, who has two art quilts in Schweinfurth Art Center’s “Quilts=Art=Quilts 2022” exhibition, created a series of “Guardian” quilts to keep her company during the years of COVID-19 forced isolation.

Irene Roderick, “The Nanny,” 2022.

“Even after the world began to open up, I hesitated to interact with others because I wasn’t sure I remembered how to talk to people,” the Austin, TX, resident said. “It took a while before I decided I could enter a grocers or go to the mall. When I finally did, I was reminded of how much I love seeing others and chatting. Having casual and random interactions with other customers or sales associates makes me very happy.”

Roderick’s two quilts, “The Nanny” and “Twitter,” both depict conversations. “I want everyone to remember the joy of intimate, friendly interactions,” she said. “I want the audience to imagine what the conversation between the ‘figures’ in my work is about. Are they old friends who ran into each other on the street? Are they gossiping? Are they making plans for a party?”

Roderick is among 64 artists from around the world whose art quilts were selected to participate in “Quilts=Art=Quilts 2022” at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibit includes 69 quilts created by artists from the United States, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, and Norway. The show was judged by renowned fiber artists Sheila Frampton Cooper, Jacquie Gering, and Ana Lisa Hedstrom, and will be on display through Jan. 8, 2023.

Communication is key to fiber artist and retired scientist Stephanie Shore of Lexington, MA. She often seeks to express a feeling or evoke an emotion in her artworks. In “Summer Storm,” she focused on the movement of trees and leaves as an afternoon storm sweeps through the summer sky.

She thinks her 40 years researching lung disease influences her process. “There is a lot of very detail oriented, analytic work involved in science, and I think I gravitate to that kind of work when I create my textile art pieces,” Shore said. “I think it just suits the way my brain is wired.”

Stephanie Shore, “Summer Storm,” 2022

Her art making is a lengthy process. She starts by cutting large construction paper into curves, then moved them around on her design wall until she finds an arrangement she likes. She’ll then trace the shapes and cut out solid colored fabric to make what she calls the underquilt. Next, she gathered material with fusible interfacing, cut them into strips, and laid them horizontally on the underquilt, creating movement with changes in the colors’ value.

Other pieces in “Quilts=Art=Quilts” directly address the topic of communication. Russ Little of College Park, MD, said his art quilt in the show, “Mindful Scribbling #2,” is based on a series of drawings made when his life got emotionally and physically complicated, shutting down his ability to make art for nearly a year.

“Returning to the studio, I was initially only able to produce scribbles,” Little said in his artist statement. “#2 includes machine embroidery of my own original stitch files. Several of the motifs are graphic encryptions of text, leaving the viewer to guess at the meaning of these designs that appear to be something more than random.”

Artist Viviana Lombrozo of San Diego, CA, has been working on a series of art quilts that focus on the fact that the words “text” and “textile” come from the same Latin root, “texere,” which means to weave.

“It fascinates me that words and cloth have drawn inspiration and meaning from each other for centuries,” Lombrozo said. “By weaving with words and story-telling in textile, I am binding text to cloth to create a new narrative.”

Viviana Lombrozo, “Unspoken Thoughts,” 2019

Her piece in the quilt show, “Unspoken Thoughts,” uses text and calligraphy as a form of mark making. “In this piece in particular, I am exploring the threshold between thought and language – the space in which elements take shape without yet being legible to others, or perhaps to ourselves,” she said.

“Quilts=Art=Quilts 2022” opens 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29, 2022, and runs through Jan. 8, 2023. The exhibit is sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts, the Davis Family Trust, and WRVO Public Media.

Learn more about the exhibit.