Saturday, April 16, 2011

International Quilt Festival Cincinnati 5

One of the highlights of the Cincinnati show was the Signtlines exhibit, a touring exhibit put together by Studio Art Quilt Associates and curated by Virginia Spiegel.  I had heard about the exhibit when it debuted last fall in Houston and was eager to see it in person.

The premise of the exhibit was that each participant's work had to include a "sightline" that went through the work from left to right, positioned 60 inches above the floor at the edges of the area, but it could move up and down as it progressed across the center of the space.  In some of the works the line was prominent; in others it was barely there.  With the 14 participants' work hung one next to another, the line would unify the entire enhibit and keep the viewers' gazes moving on.

The rules said that artists had to have two eight-inch square quilts at the left of the area, and two more at the right, to provide transition between one artist and the next.  I found these little quilts distracting and arbitrary -- they often seemed to be afterthoughts, and didn't seem to enhance the large centerpiece works.  One artist I've talked to said that the minute the quilts come home from their tour, the four little pieces will go their separate ways from the big ones.

By the way, although the four works shown here all have one large squarish quilt in the center, not all followed that format.  Some had two or three central panels, and I think some artists hung their central panels at different heights, although that didn't occur at the Cincinnati show, constrained by the pipe-and-drape hanging apparatus.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the exhibit.

Annie Helmericks-Louder, No Place at the Table

I wrote last week about looking for pictorial quilts that didn't come off as merely cute and sentimental.  Although the animals crowding around the woman at her dinner table are certainly beautifully rendered, the overall impression is one of unease and tension rather than cheerfulness.  You're curious about what's going on, not just happy to see the adorable animals.  See more of her work here.

Shelley Brenner Baird, Seeing Around Corners

Rendered onto an old painters' dropcloth, this quilt is screenprinted with photos, drawings and ads from old comic books.  See more of her work here.

Yael David-Cohen, Windows

Cohen is primarily a painter and printmaker; if you go to her website you won't even find quilts.  She printed an etching onto both opaque and transparent fabrics to explore the different effects.

Jayne Willoughby Scott, Thoughts

The beautiful curves are all pieced in; the letters are stamped with fabric paint.  You can read words but not phrases or sentences -- the thoughts remain a  mystery.  See more of her work here


  1. The Sightlines exhibition is one I'd love to see. Congratulations to all the artists who were selected to participate.

  2. I saw this exhibit in Cincinnati and must say I didn't appreciate it that much. But seeing the individual images on your blog gives me a better view of them. At the exhibit, the small pieces seemed like an afterthought, especially as displayed, side by side, jammed together, so that there was little space between each artist's work. The pieces ran together, and not in a helpful way.

    Overall, I was happily surprised how many art quilts were shown, though a little more curating would have been helpful to the selection:)