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Quilter's 'obsession' on display in St. Vincent College gallery

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
The Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at St. Vincent College is currently exhibiting colorful and unique quilts created by Theresa Kristof Prah, who attended Seton Hill and now lives in Bethlehem. Prah started quilting around 1980.
Theresa Kristof Prah's 'Stargazers'
The quilts of Theresa Kristof Prah will be on display at the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College through Nov. 1.
The quilts of Theresa Kristof Prah will be on display at the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College through Nov. 1. The quilt on the left is titled 'Dear Hannah and Friends'.
Theresa Kristof Prah's 'Terror in Oklahoma'

The Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery's exhibit branches out from its usual collection of antique woven coverlets with an exhibit of colorful and unique quilts made by Theresa Kristof Prah.

“Her work is absolutely incredible,” gallery curator Lauren Churilla said of Prah, who attended Seton Hill and lives in Bethlehem. “We thought it would be nice to bring in something different. We still wanted to stay textile-related and pay homage to the same genre, but it brought in a different crowd.”

While the woven coverlets in the permanent collection are the product of meticulously planned patterns, Prah's work is more open to freelancing.

“The Jacquard woven coverlets, the looms themselves use punch cards, so it's basically a gigantic mathematical algorithm,” Churilla explained. “Really, once you have that set, you really can't go in and change the pattern. Whereas with the quilting, it's more freehand.”

Prah started quilting about 1980 and hasn't stopped.

“I just started to make the quilts because I had fabric,” she said. “My sister used to be a decorator.She would bring home leftover fabrics from projects and stuff. They were extremely expensive fabrics, and you had to do something with this fabric, so I would put blocks together and that's how it started... I work on the quilts every day of the week. It's like an obsession with me; I do it all the time.”

Most of Prah's quilts start with a defined pattern, though she doesn't hesitate to deviate from the plan to incorporate her own fabric shapes and colors.

“It's such a wonderful feeling to be able to make something of use out of scraps, things that other people would just discard,” she said. “For me, it's just so satisfying to do something like that.”

Churilla said the McCarls collected both woven coverlets and quilts, but the permanent collection at the gallery features primarily antique coverlets from the 19th century.

“We have their collection of almost 400 coverlets here,” Churilla said. “Muriel herself had a collection, which we don't have, of almost 200 antique quilts. She passed away last August, so (featuring an exhibit of Prah's quilts) was kind of our way of doing something in memory of Muriel to pay homage to her love of quilts as well as her and her husband's love of coverlets.”

The exhibit, located on the lower floor of the Fred Rogers Center on St. Vincent's campus, runs through Nov. 1.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or