The Westmoreland Museum of American Art's new quilt exhibit hits 'bull's eye'
Just as winter begins its cold and dark grip on the region, a touring exhibition of quilts will bring vibrant blankets of coziness and warmth to The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
“Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts,” features some of the best machine-piecing and quilting being done today, according to museum officials.
The display will debut Dec. 14 with the Greensburg museum’s Art on Tap event, a monthly happy hour, allowing those guests early admission to the show, says Barbara Jones, The Westmoreland’s chief curator.
“Quilting is an age-old tradition. … There is a quilt following, locally but also nationally. We’ve just found that when we do a quilt show, people love it,” says Jones, who plans a quilt show every few years.
“We have a nice quilt collection here, not contemporary, mostly mid-to-late-19th century,” she says.
The museum’s own collection will be showcased in a members-only vault tour in February. The tour will demonstrate proper quilt storage and is among the increased programming the museum is offering members after recently beginning free museum admission, Jones says.
Explosion of color, styles
Organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art and curated by Nancy Crow, a renowned fine art quilt-maker, “Circular Abstractions” includes 41 quilts created by 32 artists.
Crow’s challenge to artists includes creation of quilts interpreting the bull’s-eye pattern, Jones says, traditionally a four-quadrant design with a bull’s-eye at the center of each quarter.
While many of the artists maintain the quadrants, other designs feature circles breaking those boundaries.
“The artists in their (accompanying) statements say it was really challenging. … They did really expand on what they would normally do in the their designs. Not one is like another,” Jones says.
“It’s an explosion of color. That’s really what drew me to it. … (The exhibit) has been on our schedule for two years. It’s abstract, but still a traditional medium that people relate to,” she says.
The artists communicate a “host of impressions and narratives,” Jones says, by utilizing the fundamental tools of art making — pattern, color, design, composition, rhythm, value and movement.
Some of the quilts are black and white, brought to life after an original pattern on paper struck the artist, Jones says.
Some have very personal messages, including Nancy Cordry’s “Outrageous Cells,” patterns of cells and genes that Cordry created after several family members were diagnosed with cancer, she adds.
Jones says the quilt show is likely to appeal to textile artists in general.
“We are hoping it will attract a broad audience,” she says.
The Westmoreland is offering several options to see the exhibit while enjoying additional activities, all centered on quilting:
• 11:30 a.m. Dec. 16, Holiday Brunch and Exhibition Tour, $35, meal by Elegant Catering and a guided tour with Jones.
• 2-3:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Artists Talk: Quilting in the Modern Era, free. Quilters Stefani Danes and Shawn Quinlin will lead a discussion about their experiences and perspectives as 21st-century fabric artists.
• 1-4 p.m. Jan. 20, Quilting Workshop with Tina Brewer, $55. Participants can tell their stories through creation of their own quilts in this workshop led by internationally recognized fabric artist Tina Williams Brewer.
• 1-3 p.m. Jan. 27 and Feb. 24 , sewing, quilting and fiber arts drop-in-events, free. Quilting and sewing enthusiasts, or those curious about fabric arts, are invited to bring their projects or curiosity and enjoy the company of fellow quilters and sewers. All skill levels are welcome and light refreshments will be served.
• 6-8 p.m. Feb. 20, Members Tour: Quilts in the Vault, with Jones leading a walk-through of the exhibit and a sneak peak of the museum’s quilt collection in the vault.
• 2-3:30 p.m. March 3 , Celebrating Quilts, Music and Movement, free. Join faculty and students from the dance, musical theater and music programs at Seton Hill University as they present a special performance inspired by Circular Abstractions.
Ticket information and details: the westmoreland.org/circular
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, email@example.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.