Pattern Pieces features quilts made from wood, oil and canvas

Laura Petrovich-Cheney
A quilt made of salvaged wood by Laura Petrovich Cheney

When Kirsten Jensen and Louise Feder, booked Blanket Statements: New Quilts by Kaffe Fassett and Historical Quilts from the Collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery York, UK, for the James A. Michener Art Museum, the curators started seeing patchwork everywhere.

Collages created by the museum’s namesake discovered down in the vault, “quilts” made out of wood salvaged from Superstorm Sandy, a large installation looks like quilted ribbons and hangs from the ceiling. No matter where they turned, they encountered more art that would fit perfectly alongside Blanket Statements, and so Pattern Pieces: Can You Make a Quilt Out of Wood? was born.

The exhibit features contemporary art that is reminiscent of patchwork, and in some cases directly inspired by it. Displaying Pattern Pieces side-by-side with Blanket Statements cements the view that patchwork is art. It is just art made with fiber instead of wood, canvas and paint.

“There has been sort of a trend in exhibition in the last few years that craft has really gotten a new life, said Feder assistant curator at the Michener. “There is a huge amount of craft and skill and technique that goes into creating object that aren’t just sculpture and painting.”

"The Thinking Man's Collages" by James A. Michener
“The Thinking Man’s Collages” by James A. Michener

Patchwork Pieces explores pattern and shape in contemporary art as it relates to quilts and their history as both utilitarian and artistic objects. It features a collection of collages by James A. Michener that were made in the 1970s that bears a striking resemblance to patchwork quilt blocks.

"A Forest of Glass" by Alan Goldstein
“A Forest of Glass” by Alan Goldstein

There are also several contemporary pieces by Alan Goldstein, the most visually impressive of which is A Forest of Glass, which features dozens of oil on wax paper that hangs from the ceiling to the floor. The oil on the wax paper is created in such a way to look like ribbons of quilts hanging from the sky.

A quilt made of salvaged wood by Laura Petrovich Cheney
A quilt made of salvaged wood by Laura Petrovich Cheney

The most quilt-like in appearance while being the furthest from quilting in its texture are the works of Laura Petrovich-Cheney. The “quilts” are made from wood salvaged from Superstorm Sandy. The colors in the work come from the original color of the discarded rubbish from the storm, creating a patchwork of colors, all from wood cut to size, in the same way a quilter would cut a fabric block to fit in a block. Some of Petrovich-Cheney’s work is actually inspired by Fassett, making it a wonderful addition to Patchwork Pieces.

Lastly there is the work of art quilter Virgil Marti, who uses acid dyes on cotton canvas with quilting to create intricate scenes in the fiber creations.

“We’re trying to give a broad spectrum that patchwork is not just craft,” said Jensen, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest Chief Curator. “It is artwork.”

Pattern Pieces runs alongside Blanket Statements, featuring Kaffe Fassett’s latest quilts, through January 31, 2016. There are educational programs planned around the exhibit including Bring Your Own Blanket: Gallery talks in Putman Smith Gallery and an Alan Goldstein Studio Tour. Click here for more information.

Click here to read more about Blanket Statements.

Click here to read an interview with Kaffe Fassett.

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