Thursday, October 4, 2012

An Insider’s View of Quilt National


I am happy to announce that we are publishing the next catalog for the Quilt National 13 competition and exhibition.  For us, this is more of an event than just publishing another book. We plan to tell you everything about this process on this blog, from the jurying to the Winners’ Party and Awards in May.  It’s going to be very exciting!

The photo above is the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH where the show is held biennially on the odd-numbered years.  I’ve been going to this show for 17 years or more and the work always takes my breath away!  The building has gone from a real cow barn to a beautiful arts center. But the exhibition has never been anything less than amazing with the quality of the art quilts. 

One year I saw this exquisite quilt on the wall and just stared at the details!  It was “The Midden” by Joan Lintault who was a juror that year.

The Midden


I couldn’t figure out whether Joan bought fabric of dishes and then chopped them up or what? It turns out that she silk screens all the patterns of dishes and flatware! Those black spaces in the detail shot above are all negative space-holes!  Each piece of flatware is finished and overlapped to create the spaces. Around the edge of the quilt are cut out letters or words for a poem.  Well, I had never seen anything as unusual and beautiful as this quilt so I wrote down her name to research later. I wanted to know if she had a body of work and I found that she did indeed and I called her to write a book for us.  She had just retired so it was an opportune time!

M Joan Lintault book cover

We are very proud of this book, it turned out to be a masterpiece with her insights into design.

Another personal connection is Noriko Endo.  When she was writing her book for us, we needed a large photo of one of her quilts so we could enlarge it for a cover shot. She suggested to ask Kathleen Dawson, the director of Quilt National, since she owned the Best of Show quilt for 2007.Confetti Naturescapes book cover

Kathleen generously took it to a local photographer and sent me the image. Then I brought her a copy of the book and that is how we met.

During the next year, I will write about working with the team on Quilt National.  I just observed the judging process and have lots to tell so be sure to come back weekly to this blog.

Here is a little bit of the history of Quilt National from their website.

In the late 1970s Athens, Ohio, was home to numerous talented artists. Included among this group were Nancy Crow, Francoise Barnes and Virginia Randles. These and other area artists were using fabric to create works that were pieced, layered, stitched and stuffed. These works were "quilts" by virtue of their structure, although they were intended to be viewed on a vertical plane. The original designs and use of innovative techniques and color combinations made them unacceptable to the organizers of traditional quilt shows who were most interested in beautifully crafted bedcovers with recognizable patterns. The only exhibit opportunities for these artists were in mixed media fiber shows alongside baskets and weavings.

Crow and Barnes recognized the need for an appropriate showcase for what are now known as "art quilts." They were just two of a dedicated corps of volunteers who decided to organize an exhibit devoted entirely to this relatively new breed of contemporary quilt.

Fortunately, this need coincided with the efforts of area artists and art lovers to preserve an abandoned dairy barn. Built in 1914 as part of a farm complex situated on grounds belonging to the state-owned mental health facility, the barn had served as part of the activities therapy program. Artists and others in the Athens community felt that the barn had the potential for a second life.

They didn't see a dilapidated building with trenches in the floor and rows of cattle stanchions. Rather, they saw a lovely example of early 20th century architecture sitting quietly on the crest of a gently sloping hill. The natural amphitheater formed by the hills and trees behind the barn created a backdrop of serenity and beauty.

In 1978 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and The Dairy Barn Southeastern Ohio Cultural Arts Center was born. In 1979 the first Quilt National was established. It is a biennial show offered in the odd numbered years. The opening of the exhibition is late May and runs through first weekend of September.

The show is juried by three judges and they received close to a thousand entries from around the world which has to be culled down to 85. Typically 6,000 to 9,000 visitors come to the Dairy Barn over the summer.

Go to facebook and ‘friend’ Quilt National for more info and photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment