In this new showcase I’m featuring four Modern Quilters that you will love!
I am Émilie Trahan, a 32 years old Quebecer / French Canadian from Joliette, Qc. I started quilting in 2013, during my medical residency years. I guess I needed to balance my work / studies with some manual and creative projects! I had a sewing machine, a bunch of old clothes and fabrics, and my interest was sparked after finding a quilt and a note addressed to me by my grandma, when emptying her house after her sudden death.
So many things about quilting convey love; the warmth, softness, time, patience, and the unique nature of each piece of work. All the elements were there to push me to attempt a quilt of my own. To say I was hooked from the beginning would be a lie. I was finding each project so long and the process sometimes tedious. So, for the first years, I was working on some quilts here and there, sometimes putting off a project for weeks or months. But in 2017 I discovered modern and improv quilting. My hobby then became a passion (or obsession!).
I am self-taught and I see every quilt as an experiment, so improvisation comes very natural to me. I don’t like having a clear plan, I prefer to play with fabrics and see where it takes me. I get inspired by so many things! From visual arts to nature, everything can become a quilt. I mostly do curved piecing and I love seeking to create, with movement and colors, something that feels organic or vegetal. In a way I try to ‘paint’ with fabrics. Mainly, I just try to have fun!”
I’m Emily Bellinger and I am a fine art quilter based in Rochester, NY. I made my first quilt in 2008, during my sophomore year at Alfred University. Starting out, my intentions were actually to reupholster an old chair I found by the side of the road, using scraps of fabric I had collected. Once I had pieced together a fairly large rectangular panel for the chair, it felt too sacrilegious to cut up what I had worked so hard on composing. In the end, this patchworked fabric became my first quilt. It was by no means perfect, or even pretty, but I was proud of myself and hooked on the process of improv quilting. I continued this practice in school, where I worked hard to break down the barrier between craft and fine art with my quilting.
One of the reasons I fell in love with improv piecing was the freedom it offered. I was never one to follow the rules, especially in quilting, and the limitless possibilities within improv piecing give me the liberty to create without restrictions.
Playing with shape, composition, and three-dimensional elements, I use a contemporary color palette and iconic imagery to mix humor with emotions. My work often revolves around concepts of memory and nostalgia. In one of my recent quilts Rosy Retrospection, bright neon colors are juxtaposed with illustrative tears to create a playful and satirical depiction of teen angst.
My improvised quilt work lies at the crux of fine art and traditional craft. My practice continues to challenge the confines of quilting through my unique shapes and piecing techniques while maintaining the same high level of craftsmanship utilized in the traditional and functional medium.
I have exhibited nationally in both art and quilt related shows. Most notably I received the Sylvia L. Rosen Acquisition Award during “Art in Craft Media” at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo New York in 2017 and won the Award of Excellence during “Form, not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie” at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, IN in 2019. I currently teach a beginners quilting course at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “
My name is Andrea Myers and I live in Columbus, Ohio. Growing up, I was surrounded by a mom who was always sewing or making something-clothing, quilts, counted-cross stitches, crocheted blankets and I would go along with her to the fabric store all the time. I saw the fabric store as a colorful spot of tactile inspiration-rows of buttons, zippers, thread, fabric-patterns and textures that I did not know how to use for their utility but was drawn to their technicolor objecthood. As a child, I played outside a lot and loved to draw and make things inside and outside and I think my early explorations of materials positioned me to become a maker who works within a lot of different realms, dimensionalities and sites.
From high school in to college, I was writing and drawing quite a bit and initially I thought I might pursue being a creative writer-I still use writing and language as a way to inspire ideas in my visual works. Eventually I transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to finish my BFA and took classes in printmaking and Fiber and Material Studies. I loved the remaining time of my undergraduate work and went back to receive my MFA in the Fiber and Material Studies department in 2006.
During my graduate studies, I began creating fabric collages that I would glue together, which led me into using a sewing machine to compile my patchwork forms. As my practice has evolved, I see my work as a form of “gesture quilt making”-akin to gesture drawing- quick, improvisational cut rectangular strips of color that I sew with repeated linework directly onto a backing fabric and incrementally grow to create undulating wall forms.
Through the process of sewing the units of fabric together, I manipulate the fabric pieces to join together in dimensional surfaces. Other times, I create applique patchwork forms that I sew to a base piece of larger fabric, which then gets stretched like a painted canvas. I love all colors (with the exception of purple- a color I don’t really use in my work) and have a sweet spot for neon orange. A good amount of my fabric is given to me, found at garage sales and thrift stores and picked up from remnant bins-I try to upcycle, repurpose, and be sustainable in what I create.
More recently, I am exploring specific semiotics of materials such as denim and found fabrics and also experimenting with trapunto techniques.
Mandy is a recently qualified architect and fibre artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandy began her studies in architecture in her forties, after raising a family and having a successful business. This is where she first started working with textiles and learnt the art of quilting. She used fabric for her final architectural master’s portfolio. Her work at the Graduate School of Architecture, paved the way for young women architecture students to explore issues of identity, gender, power and feminism in previously unheard-of-ways.
Mandy is currently creating several textile series and wall art that relates to her life and her passion in architecture, lines and textiles. Mandy’s work is very experimental as she breaks the boundaries of textile wall art, she uses many mediums including but not limited to hand dyeing, screen printing and paint dyeing. Mandy works mainly in a large scale and uses a monochromatic black and white palette.