Last weekend I got to visit the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) for the first time since the pandemic. As in previous visits, the minute I stepped in I was flooded with sensory overload. The almost-three-year gap between visits made the experience even more overwhelming. There were just so many quilts! Big quilts and small quilts, bed quilts and wall quilts, traditional quilts, modern quilts, art quilts. Each explored a different idea. Each was amazing in its own way. Seeing all of them together made me think about my own art, why I do what I do, and how I go about it.
During the pandemic, I became more involved with the online art-quilters’ community. So it was no surprise that this time around I recognized many of the artists’ names. Likewise, I’ve seen many of the quilts online before, some in various stages of creation. Seeing them in person felt like meeting old friends.
I walked quickly through the entire exhibit. There was something to admire about each and every quilt. I truly wish I could share them all here, but, in a short blog post I can only show a handful of the ones that caught my eye. The following list is a completely subjective selection, for I probably missed many wonderful artworks. With that in mind, here’s some eye candy for you to enjoy 🙂
More Traditional Quilts
I enjoyed Sally H. Miller’s “Month 1 Mandela Project” for its simplicity, peacefulness, and the combination of beautiful stitching, spirituality and use of an upcycled vintage table topper.
Sue Fox‘s “Red Squares (aka: “Doodle-iscious“) caught my eye for it’s marriage of traditional style with some very modern elements. I also liked her use of silks, which gave the piece a glowing sheen. This quilt took the artist twelve years to complete! It incorporates some mind-boggling quilting.
The parts of the quilt I liked most were the nine colorful blocks with the circular quilting pattern. I think each of those could easily be a wonderful art quilt all on its own!
Modern Abstract Quilts
Carollee WIlliams-Schuegraf’s “Klaus’ Memorial Quilt” drew me in with its vivid colors and clean lines. The artist made it in memory of her husband, a German-American. The quilt combines the onion shapes of German churches with modern motifs.
Lynn Koolish‘s “Crossroads” likewise spoke to me with it’s cheerful , bright colors and balance between light and dark. The artist writes in her statement that she was influenced by Amish quilts (which were also what initially drew me into the world of quilting).
I loved the color combination in Claudia Shearer‘s “LA Stripes,” the movement of the lines, and how this piece popped out against the black background. This is an improv piece based on the artist’s impressions of a trip she took to Los Angeles.
Betty Busby often uses non-woven materials to outline shapes. I’ve seen her work online, but “Fly Away Home” was her first quilt that I saw in person. It’s named after the repeating bird-like shapes.
Here’s a closeup of the outlines, which I’ve been curious to see for a while:
The airiness of Mercè Gonzalez’s “Layers II” stood out compared to other quilts in the show. It resulted from Gonzalez’s use of the Korean bojagi technique. The piece is a metaphor for the layers we put on to protect ourselves, and which we need to discard in order to move on.
Ocean tides, calm yet violent, were the inspiration for Elizabeth Nacenta-de la Croix‘s “Maree du Soir.” She used layers of fabric and tight stitching to create movement. I liked the atmosphere created in this piece, as well as the raw edges.
Cecilia Gonzalez‘s “Chavela” spoke to me from afar, because of its bold colors and tactile fabrics that reminded me of the textiles I tend to use in my own work. This piece is a tribute to Chavela Vargas, a Costa Rican/Mexican singer. The artist used velvet because of his distinctive voice, and red for the passion with which he sang and lived his life.
Cecilia is Mercè Gonzalez’s sister.
Joy Finley Palmer’s “Pelicans” caught my eye because of it’s calm colors and the way the fabric puffed between the stitched lines. This is a whole-cloth quilt made from a photograph printed on fabric.
I loved everything about Jodi L. Davila’s “Dall Sheep.” The color, the composition, the majestic subject matter. The quilting was very impressive, too.
This is a detail of the thread-painted eye. Seeing such detail up close is one of the things I like most about visiting the Pacific International Quilt Festival!
I smiled when I saw how Iris Frank used the whimsical pattern she found on a commercial fabric to make “Party Line.” This cheerful quilt tells the story of her grandma, who lived on a farm with a party line phone, on which she often listened to neighbors’ phone conversations.
Tracy Visher writes in her statement that she kept laughing while creating “Gina and Aloiscois” for a “wild animal” challenge. I did, too, when I saw her quilt. Loved those dudes’ attitude!
Lynda Lasich’s “Patera’s Petroglyphs,” made in honor of humans’ first art, spoke to me because I love primitive and tribal art.
Quilts with Human Figures
Marth Wolfe‘s “Something Blue,” is based on a family photo from the 1960’s. Wolfe made the flying geese in the background from her mother’s wedding dress. They symbolize the way her mother draped the family with love and care.
I’ve seen this quilt online before, and was happy to get to see it in person.
Cindy Stohn’s “La Catrina,” based on a 1920’s artwork by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, is a powerful, impressive piece. At 84″ x 51″ it grabs attention right away. The bold colors and subject matter are memorable, even before you read the small print and learn that it’s entirely appliqued and uses over 66 different thread colors!
I share the love of yoga with Mel Beach, and loved how she used a real yoga mat in her piece “Mind Over MATter.” The clever title made me smile :-). Beach composed the mandalas in this quilt from many small stamps she carved herself.
I’ve seen many of the delightfully whimsical faces created by Freddy Moran and Jean Impey on social media. Each quilt is humorous, colorful, and usually comes with a story of its own. They always make me smile. Seeing an entire exhibition of these in real life was quite a treat!
Thom Atkins‘ “Terraced” is based on a photo the artist found in a magazine and digitally altered. I liked it for its composition, its abstraction and the pleasing-yet-strong color combination.
Finally, I enjoyed seeing my own “Finding Equanimity” hanging at the Pacific International Quilt Festival along with so many impressive works 🙂
Thanks, Zwia! So interesting what appeals to each person. FYI, Chavela Vargas was a woman and sometime lover of Frida. Sue Fox made hundreds of other quilts during those 12 years.
Yes, it’s interesting how different pieces speak to different people. In fact, even when I visited the show a second time, a couple of days later, other pieces caught my attention. I guess it’s hard to process big shows like that all at once, and it’s all too easy to miss things. Thanks for the gender correction! I fixed that 🙂 I didn’t think that Sue Fox worked only on this one quilt for twelve years, but it is interesting that it took that long. Actually, it reminds me that I have a quilt top that’s been waiting for just as long. Maybe I need to get back to it sometime…