Art quilts are a relatively new form of art. Woven into the very roots
of our nation's history is quilting. Although art quilts are light
years away from where our ancestors started, in reality they are just
Historically, quilts were functional; as in the words of architect
Mies van der Rohe, "Form follows function," the design was
often secondary to the function and purpose of the quilt. Quilts, like
our music and fashion trends, are often a reflection of society. The
great tradition of quilting is still embraced in the art quilt world
but now has taken on a new sense of meaning and purpose. Quilts were
often expressions of the world around us--they provided symbols for
safe houses for the Underground Railroad; they provided a vehicle for
grief when pioneer neighbors gathered the deceased person's clothes
to create a 'mourning' quilt for the loved one lost--art quilts are
contemporary expressions of these quests.
I make art quilts because they are a means of self-expression combining
the beauty of art and the comforting tradition of quilting. I have
made art quilts to celebrate great happiness, to depict shadowed confusion
and to maintain the balance of my inner self. My designs often have
a message or a purpose; many of the pieces are story quilts. Sometimes
that message is whimsical and sometimes it is a message that poses
serious questions about issues that have touched my soul or rocked
my world in some way.
One of my greatest compliments came from my daughter, Emma, when she
was five years old. She had a friend over and I was working on an art
quilt in my studio. Her friend, Iasmin, was very curious about what
I was doing. Emma replied, "That's my mom working. She is an artist."
During the school year I teach Learning Disabilities and Behavior
Disorders at Urbana High School in Urbana, Illinois. I have done this
job for over twenty years. Although challenging, it is a position that
I continue to respect and am respected for. My job of passion is being
a quilt artist. Perhaps one has enabled the other; I would not be complete
without either of them.
When my children are older I will be a quilt artist full-time. I hope
to teach art and devote the rest of my life to my passion. Until then,
I will continue to dance through this busy chapter of my life and keep
reminding myself that balancing it all is a feat in itself. I do art
because I believe art makes a difference in our world; it is a gift
we give ourselves and it is a celebration of our very souls.