Review: 500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work – Ray Hemachandra and Karey Patterson Bresenhan (2010)

I happened to be struck with the flu the other week, and in this sick state, felt as though I couldn’t cope with reading actual words. To compensate (and still wanting to do something other than lie in bed being feak and weeble), I had luckily had a recent visit to the library and picked this title.

I’m not a quilter or sewer of any description – I could do buttons, I think – but I do appreciate and enjoy looking at contemporary art quilts and their designs because most of them can be AMAZING. (I can only imagine how much time and works goes into completing one.)

So, in my flu-ridden state, I could look at pretty pictures and this solid book ticked all those boxes for me. Generally, half the page layout was a big photograph of the quilt in question, and then on the other page was brief curatorial info about that particular project.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with art quilts, but they are related to the typical quilts (with the repeating squares in a pattern, for example).

However, art quilts happen to be fiber art that is used to express a thought in a way that is anything but traditional. As Booklist writes, “contemporary art quilts – with the emphasis on art – break the ancient code” of “block like, follow-the-rules fabric sandwiches.” (This description just cracked me up for some reason.)

Anyhoo, this volume has, just as it says on the tin, a wide selection of contemporary quilts that are only tangentially related to the one that someone’s grandma may have made in years past.

Juried by Karey Bresenhan, director of the International Quilt Festival, is an eagle’s eye view of 500 different quilt pieces, with styles ranging from hyper-realistic to abstract with a wide array of stitching and material incorporated into the design. (Some of the examples include so much more than just fabric!)

It’s a gorgeous and well-bound volume that takes you on a journey through some amazing art work using fiber, and I thought that this was a perfect read for a day when you’re feeling under the weather. The designs are astonishing and the colors so bright and cheerful, that you couldn’t help but enjoy this lovely amble through the selection.

I’m no closer to ever being an expert stitcher, but I did like this detour into the world of fiber art.  

“On this winter day.” Artist: Nancy Prince/Linda French. Winner, Houston International Quilts Festival, 2014.

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