As the executive director of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), Martha Sielman puts together an annual portfolio of work by SAQA’s Juried Artist Members. Almost half of the submissions consist of abstract and geometric art quilts. When piecing together the book, Sielman knew that she would have a wealth of quilts to choose along with other submissions from another call of entries. She received more 1300 entries from 461 artists. Art Quilts International: Abstract & Geometric features 97 art quilts from 29 artists worldwide. Her decision to highlight these artists and their work included a number of factors: exploration of color and form, abstracted realistic imagery to symbols that stand for concepts and emotions. But there’s also this: work that makes a profound impression that's unforgettable.
Abstract & Geometric
The inspiration behind art quilts
I can’t help but wonder what’s the source of inspiration in any type of art and how just one passing thought becomes a full-fledged piece of art that resonates for both maker and viewer. Perhaps this was the same question author Martha Sielman asked herself when she decided to write Abstract & Geometric.
In compiling the book, Seilman interviewed each of the featured artists about their work method, inspiration and the challenges they faced. Each individual has a different story whether it was discovering discarded text books to molecular biology and the world of cells to exploring alternate worlds that are a combination organic and mechanistic forms.
The recurring theme in Diedre Adams' work is experimentation. Photography, she notes, allows her to look at the world “through the camera’s viewfinder, zooming in closely and eliminating recognizable details. This allows an abstraction of structure and surface into new, singular compositions.” Recognized for her pioneering work using paint for to emphasize her stitching and creating exciting textures, Adams began to add both calligraphy as well as paper—specifically vintage textbooks—that she incorporates onto her quilts as seen in Tracings VII (2014) made from commercial fabric, acrylic paint and paper from various sources that’s layered, peeled and torn.
Credited with being an inspiration for the modern quilt movement, Denyse Schmidt is recognized for her minimalist format as seen in Snake Charmer (2014). Schmidt, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design in graphic arts, Schmidt has a predilection for antique quilts that are spare and restrained. She believes when it comes to color that we all have our “own color tiller, and we have to first learn to recognize and then trust those inclinations. It’s when we second-guess or try to follow what we think is ‘right’ or trendy that things get muddled.”
Dutch artist Elly van Steenbeek get much of her inspiration outdoors thanks to the needs of her two dogs and their park attendance, a major source of where she gets ideas where she interprets the colors of the seasons into abstract designs in her art. Her work is recognized as an autobiography of her life, health and emotions. She is another quilter with a fondness for incorporating paper into her quilts. After experimenting with many materials, van Steenbeek discovered paper was her favorite and began to collect several types from tissue paper from clothing stores to carton from boxes. “I dye the papers with fiber reactive dyes and alter them with rust. It’s a new challenge to discover the all the possibilities available from different types of paper.” The Redline (2015) combines different types of techniques including paper lamination, machine stitching and hand embroidery.
Each of the stories in International Quilts: Abstract & Geometric provides readers with a behind-the-scenes into the process and inspiration. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves abstract art and quilts, and a great addition to your library of textile arts books.
International Quilts: Abstract & Geometric can be purchased at Amazon.com.