A flash sale on Southwest Airlines suddenly snapped my long held daydream of visiting a Quilt National exhibit in Athens, OH. Owning several of the exhibit catalogs is never the same as seeing art in person. How I thoroughly treasured my afternoon dose of reality at the Dairy Barn, hanging out with the 84 expressions of art quilting today.
Choosing quilts must have been challenging for the jurors. Quilt National seeks to create a statement of today’s quilting trends; quilts that balance historic roots and yet incorporate new techniques and experimentation. As such, one could easily define this as a quilt exhibit and not a surface design or mixed media exhibit. Rich in message and layers of media, I saw these quilting trends:
- Upscaling and recycling: True to a patchwork tradition, many artists used clothing and scraps in their work.
- Adobe Photoshop: This software has become the quilter’s favorite. Whether creating images or modifying photographs, digital image manipulation is part of many quilters’ visual vocabulary.
- Beyond textiles: From Deidre Adams‘ layers of paper to Wen Redmond‘s metal, to stones and other ephemera become integral to art quilting.
- Machine quilting: The norm and not the exception, by longarm or free motion, machine quilting has become the norm. Storytelling through stitching was evident in many works. Hand quilting, what will happen to you?
- Machine Embroidery: Creating embroidered texture and images made dramatic statements on many works.
The show was hung well, using a variety of different mechanisms to let the work hang. Lighting was also generous and focused, without being detrimental to the longevity of the work. I walked around the exhibit once, soaking up the different artistic flavors… and the flavors were striking. There was often an enormous shift from one quilt to the next. Certainly the curators spent a lot of time trying to find the right flow.
Next to each quilt, the label stated basic quilt information and a QR code that would take you to the artist’s web site. I appreciated the artists who gave you a landing page with their QN15 image and perhaps a statement about the piece before exploring other aspects of their web site.
The Dairy Barn Quilt National 2015 You Tube Channel gives you a fantastic background for many of the works on display. Throughout the summer, I had viewed videos as they were released. This formed the basis of my second tour of the exhibit, back to visit the quilts I remembered from videos. I toured the exhibit one last time, listening to the artist’s video as I looked at the quilts. Got two minutes? Watch one of their videos… they are well done.
Quilt National closes today, but fortunately you can enjoy their YouTube channel to hear many of the artists speak about their work. If Quilt National 2017 is on your summer travel list, swing over to my travels in Athens, OH blog post for more scoops about enjoying the area as well as the art quilts.