Art can be representational, abstract, or on a continuum of abstraction. These artists were inspired by memories, images, and photographs, creating pieces reflecting their emotional response. These quilts are in the Collection of The National Quilt Museum. 

Cityscape (1984) by Lucretia RomeyThe National Quilt Museum

"This 'Cityscape' was inspired by sketches I did of the Toronto skyline from the seventh floor of the Westbury Hotel. I have always liked the geometry of groups of buildings. All of my wall quilts are a result of drawings done in my yard or while traveling and my studio is set up half for painting and half for quilting. Some of my quilts have small painted areas, and some of my paintings feature quilts. My husband teaches oceanography and we travel a great deal. This quilt is one of a series of cityscapes that are now all in various corporate and private collections."

-Lucretia Romey

Serenity II: Life in My Pond (1985) by Donna Duchesne GarofaloThe National Quilt Museum

"At the present, my work is basically representational in style, although some ideas lean more towards the abstract. I enjoy adding fine details that are not immediately noticeable, therefore allowing viewers to make little 'discoveries.'"

-Donna Duchesne Garofalo

Terraced Landscape (1995) by Hollis ChatelainThe National Quilt Museum

"I had a friend who lived in Yemen who had a beautiful book about the country. I was intrigued with the photographs of the steps and terraces, and made a series of drawings from the photographs. I then turned those drawings into quilt with colors from my imagination."

-Hollis Chatelain

When Grandmother's Lily Garden Blooms (1990) by Eileen Bahring SullivanThe National Quilt Museum

"The inspiration for this quilt came from viewing a small bed of day lilies in the backyard--these wonderful flowers had been a favorite of mine for many years. It was with a 'piecer's eye' that I began to dissect the flower, with many variations in size, angle, etc. Finding a technique to bring this quilt to life opened a whole new chapter for me in quilting. I refused to give up the idea of piecing what I wanted to represent, and found myself drawing upon many possible techniques and combining them, to make it a reality. This reaching and stretching has opened up the possibility of creating images with fabric that previously were only fleeting visions."

-Eileen Bahring Sullivan

Passage (1998) by Ricky TimsThe National Quilt Museum

Passage was created for the front cover of a CD with music that RIcky produced and conducted featuring a St. Louis community chorus and members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The album, featuring a requiem, included songs of hope and healing. This quilt expresses the gentleness of passing from this life to another.

"He has not left us our dearest
love, nor has he traveled far,
Just stepped inside home's loveliest
room and left the door ajar."

-Ricky Tims

Na Pali (1999) by Ruth B. McDowellThe National Quilt Museum

"The inspiration for most of my art quilts is a love of nature. Each nature quilt becomes an intense exploration of the natural subject matter. I greatly enjoy employing a variety of fabrics from different sources, different eras, and different cultures. The richness they add to the quilt reflects the variety of human experience with fibers and the connections to quiltmakers of the past. This quilt was the result of my first visit to the Na Pali coast of Kauai, Hawaii. It is one of a series of landscape quilts I have produced over my career."

-Ruth B. McDowell

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1993) by Laura HeineThe National Quilt Museum

"I have been teaching and quilting professionally for more than 15 years and have developed a deep love and fascination with color and texture.In quilting, it is the creative process that fascinates me, from concept through execution. I love the texture of the medium and the ability to express my artistic ideas through every step of the quilting process.I am inspired by each aspect, from designing the fabrics, threads, and patterns on through the free-motion surface embellishment, quilting, and over-quilting elements.It is my hope that my artistric expression through quilting will serve as inspiration for new quilters to discover their own talent hidden inside and to develop their own sensational style!"

-Laura Heine

Night Bloom (1985) by Jane BlairThe National Quilt Museum

"Except to aim for good design and color, there are no goals to my quiltmaking other than to satisfy my need for a creative outlet. I've done the teaching, lectures, award shows, but nothing achieves satisfaction like the joy of actually creating something tangible from that idea in your head."

-Jane Blair

Night Beacons III (1991) by Vicki L. JohnsonThe National Quilt Museum

"My intent is to create something of beauty. Using the California coastal area and other sites I experience as inspiration, my quilts reflect a love of nature. In combining painting with fabric techniques, I am working toward a rich surface. The texture of the commercial fabrics enhances the colors and painterly textures of the painting. Adding quilting gives the work a relief structure with line work, like drawing over the color. The play of the quilting lines against both the piecing and painting adds an exciting visual element and suggests other layers of meaning. It also adds depth, like a relief sculpture. If the viewer looks deeper than the surface richness, the elements used can be interpreted with symbology from several cultures that revere nature."

-Vicki L. Johnson

Rising Moons (1988) by Elaine StonebrakerThe National Quilt Museum

"Rising Moons, like all my quilts, started with a basic idea. There is constant change with the 'idea' as the quilt progresses. I use the felt wall method to build my quilts, sewing only small sections together at a time. This makes it easier to make a change. I piece by hand because so many of the pieces are cut on the bias and it is easier to make a correction. It is not unusual for me to make five or six changes before being satisfied with the result. Quilting is a wonderful way of expressing yourself and allowing your creative spirit to come forward. I firmly believe all of us have the ability to create. Work to please yourself and just be true to your own ideas."

-Elaine Stonebraker

Cellular Structure VI (Stack of Six) (2007) by Sue BennerThe National Quilt Museum

"A cell can be described as the functional unit of a larger whole. I think about cells as an organizing device in many contexts, but the biological cell is a particular source of fascination for me. These shapes live in my mind and are the building blocks of my world and my art."

-Sue Benner

While pursuing a degree in molecular biology and master's in biomedical illustration, Sue created her vision of the microscopic universe in painted and quilted textile constructions.

Tree of Life: Spring (1994) by Jane SassamanThe National Quilt Museum

"For years I wanted to make a purple and yellow quilt because I love the energy created by those particular contrasting colors. They are the colors of Spring. I have started many pieces with those colors in mind but they would get lost along the way. But this quilt stayed true to my original intent. My "Tree of Life" series pays homage to needle workers throughout history. Their work was treasured for its beauty and its ceremonial value. But this quilt was so labor intensive that I was almost ready to swear off quilting forever! It took 5-6 months of full-time attention. Of course, I create my own headaches because of the fastidious way that I work. When it was finally finished, I devoted a year to making smaller and more manageable quilts. But I believe that's what makes our work so valuable... that willingness to spend so much meditative time with our materials."

-Jane Sassaman

Birds of a Different Color (1999) by Caryl Bryer Fallert-GentryThe National Quilt Museum

"The focus of my work is on the qualities of color, line, and texture, which engage the spirit and emotions of the viewer, evoking a sense of mystery, excitement, or joy inspired by visual impressions, collected in my travels, in my everyday life, and in my imagination. Illusions of movement, depth, and luminosity are common to most of my work.

My quilts are about seeing, experiencing, and imagining, rather than pictorial representation of any specific object or species. When recognizable objects appear, they represent the emotions and flights of fantasy evoked by those objects. I intend for my quilts to be seen and enjoyed by others. It is my hope that they will lift the spirits and delight the eyes of those who see them."

-Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry

Desert Dusk (1988) by Marguerite Ann MalwitzThe National Quilt Museum

"For many years I was a weaver whose primary concern was the execution of large pictorial tapestry commissions. This without a doubt has influenced my work as I made a gradual change over to quiltmaking. Presently my quilts are inspired by the American landscape. My direction is to translate scenic vistas into simple designs and to concentrate on a creative selection and use of fabrics. I am also fascinated by texture, surface design, and embellishment. All are an important part of my work. Desert Dusk was inspired by the simple lines and complex color changes in the Arizona desert and also by a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix."

-Marguerite Ann Malwitz

Beach Roses (1986) by Joyce MurrinThe National Quilt Museum

"This quilt was inspired by the rambling low growing roses that grow along the seashore. They are white and pink and appear to both grow on the same bush due to their ever entwining vines. My desire to design pieced quilts with many non-traditional angles ended up being my most rewarding challenge. I met that technical challenge by working until I perfected setting in any angle, on any fabric, easily. That knowledge allows me freedom to be creative, to think and design artistically and make quilts from my own designs that are complex yet visually uncomplicated."

-Joyce Murrin

Aletsch (1990) by Michael JamesThe National Quilt Museum

Aletsch is part of a series of quilts that represent my efforts to synthesize sensory responses to a particular space: the vast mountainous basin in the Swiss Alps that encloses the Aletsch Glacier, the largest in Europe. In the summer of 1988 I spent several days hiking along its perimeter, which extends many kilometers down from the Jungfrau firn. What impressed me most was the very audible sound of millions of gallons of water rushing unseen beneath the perfectly still expanse of glacier. It seemed incongruous: the unrelenting movement of so much water and the stone rigidity of so much ice. Combined with the brilliance of the light and the clarity of the air, that incongruity made for a very memorable scenario.”

-Michael James

Celebration of Autumn (1985) by Karmen StrengThe National Quilt Museum

"This quilt was inspired by a huge floral centerpiece of chrysanthemums with the many leaves and plumes of dyed pampas grass."

-Karmen Streng

The Mountain and the Magic Night Lights (1995) by Judi Warren BlaydonThe National Quilt Museum

"My quilts have always been about things that I dream about, wish for, or remember - like nonpictorial visual diaries that have interior meanings that only I may recognize, but that will hopefully intrigue, or at least attract, the viewer's attention and appreciation. The Mountain and the Magic: Night Lights was more directly inspired by a photograph taken in darkness recording the reflections of lantern lights on the water. Structures on the shore of Tokyo Bay, and the distant lights of the city were part of the photograph and are also present in the quilt.What I hope to achieve is the empathy and involvement of viewers by evoking a response that allows them to discover their own meaning, that evokes a memory of their own, that inspires a kind of 'conversation without words' - a collaboration between the quiltmaker and the observer."

-Judi Warren Blaydon

Credits: Story

The National Quilt Museum is pleased to offer this exhibit, as well as other quality quilt exhibits, as a loan.

Traveling exhibits for loans can be customized to the desired subject matter and size, depending on availability. Museums and galleries interested in these exhibits should call the The National Quilt Museum at 270-442-8856.

Visions was digitally curated by Nancy Eisenmenger, Curatorial Intern, Spring 2020.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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