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‘Quilts with a Kick’ arrive at CAC: Summer exhibit features intricate, art quilts

 

By KATE SNYDER

Community Arts Center

A new exhibit opens at the Community Arts Center on Friday. “Quilts with a Kick” features more than a dozen art quilts by the Quilt Artists of Kentucky.

The quilts in the exhibit are products of two different “challenges” organized by the Quilt Artists of Kentucky, which was formed in 2003 as an auxiliary of the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society with the goal of supporting and exhibiting innovative quilters in the region.

“Mandala Yoga Flow,” by Paige Hoogerheide (Image submitted)

When creating work for a quilt challenge, the participating quilters all agree to follow an established set of guidelines for their work.

In the case of the “Mandalas Exploded” challenge, featured in the exhibit, all quilts had to be 32” square and to feature designs that explored the theme.  A mandala is a complex abstract design that is usually circular in form with one identifiable center point from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms.

Mandalas can contain both geometric and organic forms: circles, squares, triangles, rhomboids, pentagons, leaves, flowers, birds, etc. For their submissions, quilters created complex abstract designs in a circular form and “exploded” them into secondary circular designs. The result is a dazzling array of colors and patterns.

Linda Todd Phelps, a native of South Central Kentucky now living in North Carolina, used her love of butterflies as her inspiration for her quilt “Exploding Butterflies.” She says, “I love butterflies and have created butterfly fabrics for years! So, in this quilt there are lots of butterflies spinning, soaring, and exploding.”

Karen Riggins, of Versailles, is a founding member of the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society and found her inspiration in the colors and patterns of African fabrics. Her piece “Out of Africa” incorporates a variety of fabrics from Ghana, including a hand-stamped drummer and cut-out birds. Riggins also used a variety of beads in her piece, including metal, recycled glass, pearl, lapis lazuli, Czech glass and African stoneware.

Riggins says that quilt challenges are a great creative stimulus.

“It gets you out of your regular thinking and makes you look at things in a different way,” she says. “And as an organization, it keeps us growing and moving forward. That is also why we like to have a show. We can get out there and expose people to what’s going on in different parts of the quilt world.”

Arts Center Exhibit Director Brandon Long also sees the value in art challenges.

He says, “People often think that creativity happens with boundless options, but artists often create their best work when their creative choices are limited.  Sometimes all it takes to really push an artist into a new direction is saying ‘you can only use these colors, you must include this fabric, or make a work with this theme.’ Only by creating within a box can an artist think ‘outside the box.’”

“Exploding Butterflies,” by Linda Phelps (Image submitted)

Quilter Paige Hoogerheide, of Lexington, says she also enjoys seeing how other artists respond to a challenge. “I am always so inspired by the other entries in the exhibit and their interpretations of the same challenge. This jumpstarts and fuels my creativity for the next year!”

Hoogerheide’s submission to the Mandalas Exploded challenge was inspired by her daily yoga practice with her husband. She says, “We often do a Mandala Yoga Flow, which is a series of poses and movements in a circular pattern. The inner circle is a ’Yoga Girl’ sitting in a Lotus position, radiating energy to the other girls practicing a Mandala Flow around her.”

The incredible detail in Hoogerheide’s work is created by painting on parchment paper and then transferring the design to nylon organza, which is then appliquéd to the background fabric.

The quilts in the exhibit are all considered “art quilts.” Riggins explains that, unlike traditional quilts, most art quilts are intended to be displayed on a wall, rather than being used on a bed. Art quilts are usually smaller than bed quilts, and often feature a larger variety of techniques. Riggins says, “We also do a larger variety of techniques with art quilts. The quilts all include the traditional three layers of top, backing, and batting, but you find different ways of holding those three layers together. Quilters may use decorative stitches and hand-stitches, or use decorative threads rather than cotton. Maybe they will use more metallic embellishments, or include beading, fibers, or painting. Art quilts allow you to use more mediums within the framework of a quilt.”

IF YOU GO

An opening reception for “Quilts with a Kick” will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday at the Community Arts Center, and the exhibit is up through July 26.