Friday, August 8, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Contemporary Art Quilts

In our eyes, the most fascinating modern quilts are art quilts. Much as traditional artists use paint and canvas, contemporary quilt artists choose to express themselves with original works in cloth and thread.  These pieces are meant to be displayed on walls.  As described in The Art Quilt by Robert Shaw, the art quilt movement began in the 1960s, and it has continued to evolve, expand and flourish in the present.  Here are some brilliant works of art from recent shows.

The Power of Yellow, 24 x 60", by Yvonne Porcella (Modesto, California)

Yvonne Porcella is a pioneer of the art quilt movement.  Her works are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the M.H. de Young Museum of Art, and other leading institutions. The Power of Yellow is a reflection on Vincent van Gogh and France. We loved the saturated colors, freehand forms, and the jaunty stance of the figure in this piece.  Yvonne explains: "I’ve been to France numerous times and am always thrilled when I see an older man with a hat, walking, remembering... In Arles we saw the yellow house [and] stood on sidewalk tiles witnessing what Vincent had painted. Suddenly the park was filled with townspeople in full costume, women dressed in yellow, men positioning their horses... What an exquisite moment!"

close up, The Power of Yellow by Yvonne Porcella


Yvonne Porcella founded the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) in 1989.  You can see Yvonne talk about the history of the art quilt movement at the 25th anniversary SAQA conference at YouTube.  To celebrate the silver anniversary, she will have a solo exhibit called Yvonne Porcella, Once and Again, at the 2014 Houston International Quilt Festival.  Last but not least, her newest book, a memoir, will be published in Fall, 2014.

The Forest, 85 x 81", by Misik Kim (Seoul, Korea)

The Forest by Misik Kim is a stunning hand-stitched piece that was published in Martha Sielman’s book Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2: Major Works by Leading Artists. The piece consists of overlapping reverse-appliqued circles within squares, done in autumn colors that complement the blues and grays.  The appliqued elements fade to white against the beautiful hand-dyed background. Misik explains, "Mt. Keryong is famous in Korea for the beautiful scenery and the colors of its forest. Misik has lived near this mountain for several years and this work reflects a mountaintop in autumn from a bird’s eye view."

close up, The Forest by Misik Kim

We saw The Forest in person at the SAQA exhibit within the 2014 AQS Quilt Week.  Misik Kim has been working as a professional fiber artist since the mid-1980's. She has exhibited internationally in invitational and juried exhibitions.  For more information on her work, see Viewpoints 9 : An International Collective of Fiber Artists. The Forest is currently available for purchase at the SAQA store.

Cheers by Pat Kroth (Verona, Wisconsin)

The title of this quilt, Cheers, perfectly describes the feeling conveyed by the many squiggles and confetti-like squares that cover the hand-dyed fabric. Pat Kroth explains her inspiration: "Growing up in a family of four children, we had our share of “spilled milk” at the dinner table...  Now when the drinks overturn, it’s become a family tradition to laugh, stand up and toast “Cheers!"

Cheers by Pat Kroth

As an artist, Pat Kroth has worked in a variety of media: painting, printmaking and photography.  Her innovative fiber art pieces have been included in many group and solo exhibitions.  For more information see Pat Kroth Fiber Art and SAQA.

Indian Summer, 34 x 40", by Karlee Porter (Clinton, Utah)

Indian Summer was inspired by the traditional Indian henna tattoos that often adorn an Indian bride on her wedding day.   We loved the elaborate quilting designs on this contemporary whole cloth quilt, which was made with Karlee Porter's own hand-dyed fabric.  The machine quilting was done using black thread, which stands out against the pastel hues of the background.

Indian Summer by Karlee Porter

Additional quilting was done in yellow and orange threads, such as in the lotus blossom shapes in the lower left of the close up photo.   Karlee specializes in creative, original computerized quilting designs and modern digitally-designed fabrics.  Indian Summer was exhibited at the 2014 AQS Quilt Week.  For more information visit Karlee's website at Karlee

Autumn Canopy, 39 x 48", by Tim Harding (Stillwater, Minnesota)

Autumn Canopy is a piece from Tim Harding’s "Crushed Grid" series, done in his signature reverse applique technique, which creates a three-dimensional surface.  We were fascinated by the texture and painterly quality of this piece.  He uses saturated, iridiscent silk colors to create a rich, lit-from-within quality. As in Autumn Canopy, Tim's abstract art compositions subtly reference the landscape, reminding us of an impressionist painting.

close up, Autumn Canopy by Tim Harding

The brilliant blues of the silks peek through several layers of folded/crushed squares in autumn hues of gold, russet and green.  Autumn Canopy was published in Martha Sielman’s book Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2: Major Works by Leading Artists; it is being exhibited in the SAQA Masters II exhibit within AQS 2014. As of this post, this piece is available for purchase at the SAQA store.

ArtFabrik, 51 x 51", by Laura Wasilowski (Elgin, Illinois)

ArtFabrik is not only the name of this outstanding, colorful piece but also of Laura Wasilowski's website. We loved the composition, which depicts a huge paintbrush creating a swath of color.  The description of ArtFabrik reads: "Laura is a dyer. Color is both her work and her pleasure. Her work is to change plain, white fabric into something colorful. Her pleasure is to make the cloth colorful art."

close up, ArtFabrik by Laura Wasilowski

Laura's beautiful fabrics and quilting can be seen in this close-up photo. ArtFabrik was published in Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2, and shown in the SAQA Masters II exhibit at the 2014 AQS shows.   Laura Wasilowski has inspired many other quilters with her hand-dyed fabrics and threads, art quilt patterns and workshops; for more information see ArtFabrik. ArtFabrik (the quilt) is presently available for purchase at Laura's website.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration. The Power of Yellow by Yvonne Porcella was shown in the 2013 Dinner At Eight Artist's exhibit in Houston.  Cheers by Pat Kroth also was photographed at the 2013 Houston IQF.  For more art quilt inspiration, see our Contemporary Quilts board at Pinterest.


  1. Thanks especially for the great close-ups!

  2. Wow, el primero me ha encantado y es mi favorito y el acolchado de los quilts es espectacular.Feliz fin de semana!


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