It was 2011 when I made my first trip to Houston for the big show. I had only been quilting less than two years and had three quilts on display. Miraculously, I was informed that two had won awards. Needless to say, that experience was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It also presented me with many new opportunities. That was the beginning of my love affair with Houston.
It is the largest show in the US and in my opinion, the best. In Houston, you will see the most magnificent quilts from all over the world. The inspiration is everywhere and the shopping opportunities are boundless. Since moving to France, I have missed a few shows, but this year, since I was going to be in the US, I made sure to go. I was only there for one full day, but I wanted to share a little of my experience with you all.
First, I would like to share the Best of Show “Eternal Beauty” by Sherry Reynolds.
“Dedicated to my mom, whose beauty in life shines eternally in my heart” I chose the colors she loved and paired them with a beautiful Robert Kaufman print. Four years and 15,000 pieces later, I created a vision of love and beauty in the night sky. The mosaic tile border that frames the quilt is original and pieced. Roughly 5,000 hours of work went into this quilt”.
I’ve known Sherry for a few years; she is open, kind, extremely funny, and her work is incredible.
And a very good friend, Patty Kennedy-Zafred, won the Master Award for Innovative Art, for her piece “Silent Canary.” I’ve long admired Patty’s work and her subject matter.
“Based on images taken during the 1940’s, this quilt is a tribute to America’s coal miners, who work hard, long hours in dangerous conditions to provide for their families and ensure a better future for their children.”
Techniques: Machine quilting and piecing, fused appliqué, hand-dying, photo transfer for text and artist hand-pulled silk screened images.
Many people think Patty’s work is printed, but the silk-screening process is actually quite complicated.
And this leads to me to a subject I’d like to expand on…
Many of the quilts in the show were either painted or printed from digital images. In Houston, there is a category for digitally printed and painted works.
One example of this would be the work Hollis Chatelain displayed in her special exhibit, “Stories of West Africa”.
Hollis is known for her beautiful dye-painted art quilts, however these works were digitally printed from her original artwork.
“This exhibition is Hollis’ personal interpretation of everyday life in West Africa. Having lived in this part of the world for twelve years, her approach is one of observation and respect. Hollis’ choice of medium relates to her background and the culture she encountered. Her use of textiles conveys the warmth of this society. The quilting becomes the heart and soul of the people and is the key to her interpretation. Fifteen art quilts portray the rich African culture and the strong sense of community and family unity. The background of each quilt is inspired by the beautiful and decorative fabrics which are omnipresent in West Africa. Hollis started with photographs she took while living in Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali and Benin. From these photos, she drew the original illustrations for her coloring book “Stories of West Africa”. This exhibition was created with the intention to share Hollis’ love for this little known but captivating region of Africa. Individual signage tells a short story about each textile piece, inviting the viewer to learn more about the people, traditions, and textiles of West Africa.”
“Mother and Child” Hollis Chatelain
Another example of digitally created quilts is work of Betty Hahn. Betty creates her original artwork on canvas or with her iPad. Often, she overpaints the silk to enhance the color and composition. In this case, she created the image on her iPad, printed it onto silk and created the texture with free-motion quilting.
“Insonnia”, Betty Hahn
This was created for the SAQA Exhibit: Dust to Dawn. In her words, “I am a night owl. I work at night, so my juices are still jumping at bedtime. When I close my eyes to sleep, I see wild images behind my eyelids of quilts wanted to be created.”
Vicki Bohnhoff also had work in the show that was created digitally.
Dancing Bird, Vicki Bohnhoff
“When the photograph of this Bird of Paradise bloom was morphed, it seemed to dance with newly found grace and curvy shapes. I imagined a dance of leaves surrounding the flower. The white feather is homage to this unique bird that lives to dance”. The manipulated image was printed on silk charmeuse with archival inks, and free motion quilted.
Another big winner was Linda Anderson who won the Gammill Master Award for Contemporary Artistry. Her quilt is another example of surface design, created by machine appliqué and painting.
“In the quiet village of Santa Rosa in Oaxaca, Mexico, al the women, and some men, embroider blouses and skirts of velvet with hand-stitched flowers. They gather around table, chatting back and forth, as they create a style of dress also used by the artist Frida Kahlo. Flowers continue today to dance across the rich clothing of the women of this land.”
While there were so many amazing works on display, I missed a lot only being there for one day, but I will share with you some of my favorites…
I was particularly moved by Australian artist Jenny Bowker’s quilt “After the Last Sky.”
“This quilt is a tribute to victims of the Rabat Square Massacre in Cairo, August 14, 2013, when between 638 to 1,150 people where killed and over 3,500 injured. It acknowledges the photojournalists risking their lives to show us the truth.”
The techniques used were piecing, appliqué and hand dyeing. The photograph was by Mosa’ab Elshamy, and used with permission.
I was really attracted this beautiful work by Eva Arellano Martin from Spain.
“The original photo gave me an instantaneous feeling of joy and well-being. My challenge was to transfer this feeling, given by a single moment, to another form of art. Is there any need for words to describe happiness, i.e., the real meaning of life? Probably not.
I had the great pleasure of staying in the beautiful home of Maren Johnson and her husband a few years ago. I taught a workshop in Santa Barbara and she was one of my students. I was very impressed with her impeccable work in class, and happy to see her work in Houston.
“Organically grown vegetables from our garden were the inspiration for this quilt. I love the tangle of vine and leaf as these hearty plants take over a plot. Sometimes, the mystery squash emerging from the compost pile can produce the tastiest fruit. Freely cut and then pieced, this original design was started in a Nancy Crow class.
I adore the legendary quilt artist Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry. When I was just starting out, she was so enthusiastic and encouraging. I consider her a mentor, a great friend and an amazing artist.
“Lepidopteran #5”, Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry
“This design was inspired by a small photo of a green moth, which I had saved for many years in my inspiration file. I studies the colors and patterns of the moth, then used some of those patterns and colors to create a completely abstract design.”
This quilt by Mimi Murakami from Japan held my attention for a long time.
“Overlapping Log Cabin”, Miki Murakami
“I designed a strange space overlapping in three dimensions by combining and expanding various Log Cabin blocks. I created an exotic feel with my fabric choices.
I loved this beautiful mandala quilt by Masako Sanada from Japan.
“When Everyone’s Heart Blooms”, Sanada
“This colorful flower mandala quilt was made with my wish that flowers of peace will bloom in everyone’s heart. The coloring and design were done with rhythm and flow in mind. Kimono and futon fabrics were used along with modestly sparkling beads.”
This was a lovey quilt that immediately gave me the feeling of “being there.” This was actually created by a group called “The Textile Explorers.”
“A Slice of Norway: Along the Fjord”
Margot McDonnell, Karen Adams, Patricia Bliss, Evelyn Link, and Anne King
“We constructed and quilted the slices from a photo taken in Norway by Margot McDonnell, and then met to join them.”
And lastly, I will share the quilt I had in the show, Crystal Mer.
“My inspiration was the view from my studio, which is the largest bay in the Mediterranean. I often spend time on my terrace, gazing out at the calm sea and imagining what is happening below the surface. I feel this is a metaphor for all of us. On the surface you see one thing, but below there is so much more going on.”
I wish all of you health, happiness and creative bliss for the New Year!