|at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, MI.|
June 19 - August 31, 2009
|This exhibition juried from quilts by members of Studio Art Quilt Associates focuses on the theme of “musings,” which connotes contemplation, meditation, and reflection. The idea of the artist’s muse also comes to mind—the provocative force or source of inspiration driving us to create art.
|Several of the artists whose work was selected for Musings conceptualized serene natural settings conducive to a meditative state, notably White Birch Forest by Ann Loveless, while others designed a peaceful indoor space, such as Shelley Brucar’s Room with a View. Tracy McCabe Stewart referenced a specific type of location in her splendid Torii Gate, a structure functioning in Japanese culture as a portal to sacred space. Asian sources influenced other artists, including Casey Puetz, whose Balance is itself a meditation on yin and yang. Although constructed as a simple, one-patch quilt, Units 14:“Shibumi” by Benedicte Caneill, with its sophisticated patterns of color and texture, epitomizes the effortless perfection defined by “shibumi.”
Specific images captured the imagination of a few artists, who mused on an idea then expressed it in fabric. Unexpected by B.J. Adams centers a group of onions within an elegant floral grid, and Dottie Moore’s eerie Metamorphosis transforms tree leaves into a flight of butterflies. Gera Witte’s Dress Up seems to float shoes and purses in a stream of consciousness, accompanied by dress patterns embedded in memory.
Two quilts by Judith Plotner document her private musings on sunsets and the Adirondacks, with half-formed words and vague, intriguing associations. Denise Linet’s colorful Folio IIIriffs on color studies of the same name by Josef Albers. In Reflections V: Bog, Peg Keeney not only contemplates the idea of a bog, with its neutral colors and layering, but also visualizes that process of reflection. The graphic abstraction of these works situates them within the category of abstracted thought shared by the majority of quilts presented in the exhibition.
Flight, darkness, insomnia, pain, anxiety, secrets, and passages were food for thought. Clairan Ferrono’s Darkness Surrounds, with its flickers of light, seems to be settling in for a good night’s sleep, while Insomnia by Gwyned Trefethen screams out the frustration of a white night. In Eileen Lauterborn’s Writing on the Wall, her fatalistic message is transmitted in jagged white lines, and Frauke Palmer creates an anxious surface with the color contrasts of Troubled Waters. Other abstractions show the artist contemplating an aesthetic concept or problem, such as the numerous truncations in Marcia DeCamp’s Broken Squares and the swelling of color in Big Red II by Pat Pauly. Mary Andrews’s Sand Dollar #10 positions her imagery in narrow sections, locating her subject in its littoral environment.
Each work in this exhibition was conceived to express a specific idea, or the artist contemplated the work as it progressed, building on associations and reflections until an idea was born. The power of contemporary quilt art stems from the juncture of content and materiality—objects that encourage both enjoyment and thought.
---Sandra Sider, Musings juror