A visit to Quilt National

I made my first visit to Quilt National, the “Academy Awards” for Studio Quilt Artists.
Quilt National was started by Nancy Crow and others because art quilts were not being accepted into traditional quilting shows. It premiered in 1979.
First Art Quilts rocked the world of traditional quilts, then artists continues to innovate and expand the definition of “a quilt.”
Quilt National’s definition is more conservative that SAQA’s (Studio Art Quilt Associates).
Here are both of them:
Quilt National: It must be predominantly fabric or fabric-like material and must be composed of at least two full and distinct layers — a face layer and a backing layer — that are held together by hand- or machine-made functional quilting stitches or other elements that pierce all layers and are distributed throughout the surface of the work.
SAQA defines an art quilt as “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”
While staying within the narrower QN definition, some of the innovation was toward more 3 dimensional work. For example Diane Nύñez cleverly used fabric strips, altered and quilted, strung on aluminum tubing like abacus beads. It isn’t on her website yet, but there is a similar one. http://dianenunez.com/portfolio/?cat=quilts
Ever innovative, Betty Busby formed her quilt into the shape of a Chinese ginger jar for a full sculpture.
Betty’s isn’t on her website yet either,  but here are some other of her vessels http://www.bbusbyarts.com/faces.html.  While you’re there, check out her whole website.  It, and she, are bursting with life, color and energy.
Both piecing and applique continue to be popular. I don’t know if there is MORE hand stitching this year, but what there was really popped out for me. Helen Geglio’s “Femoral Fracture: A Fall” was a piece she stitched by hand as she sat with her mom for hours after a fall and hip fracture.
Here is a detail I took (sorry Helen if this isn’t legal, but I couldn’t help myself . . .)
Helen Geglio detail crop
Another piece that blew me away was Diedre Adams’ “disruption.” Here is her list of materials: Commercial cottons, acrylic paint, paper from various sources: dictionaries, text books, maps, sheet music,novels, and other found materials.  Machine stitched, hand painted, layered papers peeled and torn.
I have been using papers too, and was so happy to meet and speak to Diedre. This piece is somewhat similar, and on her website. http://deidreadams.com/tracings-series/
And this was a detail I took of “disruption,” again with my apologies, Diedre. Diedre Adams detail
As a political statement, I thought Kristin La Flamme’s “‘Murica” was very powerful. She says, “Part of my Security Blanket series, this flag expresses America’s obsession with guns as a (false) sense of safety and comfort.”
And, thank you Kristin — the picture IS on her website.
Judy Kirpich’s “Conflict No. 6/ Mugging” was inspired by a personal tragedy. Darn, I can’t find a website for her. The quilt is big (77 x 60”), and black, white and grey with red bars about two thirds of the way down, referencing how her daughter was cut in a mugging. She pieces everything — which I have never learned to do well!
Finally I want to mention Patricia Kennedy-Zafred’s “Tagged.” It has personal meaning for me as my best childhood friend is Japanese-American, and her family experienced this black mark on American history first hand.
Here is the image, on her website. http://pattykz.com/home.html
A number of pieces are a little smaller this year.  I guess collectors’ wall spaces are filling up with this wonderful art.  I was glad to see a more manageable scale represented, as I find it hard to work really big.
Here is Quilt National’s website: http://dairybarn.org/quilt-national/.  The show is a biennial, so the next one will be in 2017. This time I am going to submit!

3 thoughts on “A visit to Quilt National”

  1. Janet Hosokawa

    Martha, your enthusiasm for these pieces pushed my curiosity and I am also intrigued by Diedre’s, was amazed by the spell of the quilted scultures, and am glad you will submit next year. I am wondering about the story behind the story on Patty’s quilts, where was the man or men, perhaps, behind the camera? Your works tell stories and generate questions for me. Janet

    1. I’m so glad you saw Patty’s piece. She did a lot of the research for it at the LA Museum we visited http://www.janm.org/ She worked through them to get copyright permissions for the photos.
      The photo on the top line, second from the left first caught her attention. She did not know the story of internment before she started her research. I need to get her involved in this discussion!

  2. Janet,
    The photos used for Tagged were part of a collection authorized by the War Authority, and taken by a varied group of news photographers. Most were buried away in boxes for decades after 1942, the year they were taken. Some images are part of the Library of Congress photographic collection, and considered in the public domain, but the majority of the children’s images are held by the Bancroft Collection, University of California, Berkeley, who kindly granted me permission to use the photos. I discovered the photo of the mother and child, and it inspired me to research a story, and a time in history, that I previously knew very little about. I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have regarding this piece.
    Patty Kennedy-Zafred

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