"Quilt," a noun and verb, is a sandwich of cloth with a padding between, held in place by tiny stitches.
It is also the act of the stitching, requiring patience and focus. A few masterful examples of this venerable art, created by some of the members of the Stay in Stitches Quilt Guild, are now on view at the Averitt Center. The exhibit of quilts, called "Color Squared," is now on display in the Main Gallery of the arts center through July 3.
Among the works there are a few standouts, such as the appliqué quilt "Home and Harvest" by Jan Lane. Appliqué requires tiny pieces of fabric to be hand-stitched to the quilt surface to create a design or image. Lane’s work features a charming home with overflowing baskets of produce and flowers symbolizing bounty, the tiny leaves and stems cut from soft wool fabric.
Sheri Sterling also incorporates appliqué in her work "American Barns" paying homage to that traditional farm structure through patchwork and farm animals, meticulously cut and stitched from a commercial pattern. The painstaking method is known as "broderie perse." Although it is a utilitarian craft dating back into the precolonial period, quilting does have a modern side.
The work of Tricia Kennedy, "Fractured Flowers," is one such example, featuring a large image of a lily shattered into tiny 2x2-inch squares, creating a vibrating, pixelated patchwork.
The show is not without some humor. Sheri Sterling's "Silly Safari." Sterling selects repeating elements in a cartoon safari fabric, then pieces them in triangles to create a joyful, radiating, kaleidoscope effect.
Although many of these works are machine-quilted in swirling complex designs, "Holiday Bouquet" by Beth Hanna is an exception in its display of neat rows of tiny hand-quilting. At first you will marvel at the beauty and complexity of the designs in this show, but then, upon closer inspection, you will marvel at the techniques.
Quilts do not just take time to make, they are about time itself in their honoring of tradition and patience. Come and be inspired to start your own project. They would be happy to see you at the Guild!