On Wednesday of last week, I went to the Dairy Barn (more properly known as Quilt National) in Athens, Ohio with three of my Miami Valley Art Quilt Guild compatriots. I was bone tired as my flight from CT got in at 12:30 am on Tuesday morning and I didn't get home until 2:00....and didn't sleep well Tues. night. It didn't prevent me from enjoying the show, and I didn't have to drive! (thanks so much Deb).
This is the "back side" of the Dairy Barn, and it's actually the side you enter from (the small door you see to the far right). I liked the angles and the pattern of the slate roof. This was a wealthy person's barn, thank goodness they were able to save it. Just before I went out, there was a huge downpour, so the sky is grey and stormy.
I first went to Quilt National in 2007. I must say, this show was fantastic. I liked it even better than the 2007 show and I really liked that one as well. We loved studying the quilts and trying to figure out "How did they do THAT?????"
One of the things which we got sort of a giggle about is that the show is juried and the slides are submitted "anonymously." Well, heck. I dare you to look at a piece by Shawn Quinlan, Pam Rubert, or Inge Mardal and Steen Hougs for example and NOT recognize their work.
The pieces were moving...some for their imagery and some for their message. Kathy (aka Kathleen) Loomis' Memorial Day was particularly moving. She made 4,083 individual flags for each of the U.S. Military dead from the beginning of the war untul Memorial Day, (May 26), 2008, then sewed them "chain piecing style" .
It is hard for me to pick favorites, but I think that Ellen Zak Danforth's Parallel Bars, made out of recycled, felted wool sweaters was one of them. I loved the colors and how she encorporated the button section of a cardigan right down the middle... Bonnie Wells' "Metaphysic", Nelda Warkentin's "Meadow Pine," Anna Hergert's "Summer Day at the Lake: Dawn to Dusk" and Inge Hueber's "High Tide/Low Tide Broadstairs, Kent 1" were also among my "favs".
The quilt which won "Best of Show" created the most buzz. Most everyone was wondering "WHY?" In fact, the woman at the desk pointed us, and a number of other visitors to the book where the judges had written a statement as to why. Certainly, they would have had a hard time to my mind to chose a "best of show", but the judges said that Anne Smith's "Calon Lan" was a shoe in because they kept on returning to it. They marked it's simplicity and directness....
The show was filled with quilts which were breathtaking in their simplicity. Daphne Taylor's "Quilt Drawing #9" and Clare Plug's "Antarctica Series" Out on the Barrier" were two which were very simple, and yet complex...compelling pieces.
It was fun to listen to the people in the gallery...many of whom were traditional quilters. I must admit....I'm still puzzled by Shawn Quinlan's "God Bless America." It is typical Quinlan style...Jesus, cut from a tapestry-like commercial wall hanging (I think I have seen them as throws), on a red/white/blue flaked background. Jesus is wearing a blindfold, blue t-shirt and blue polyester blazer (really!) and is pointing to an American flag lapel pin. His other hand is held in benediction. Shawn's statement is as follows: "I wanted to form my frustration with our political development.
'I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I am commander-in-chief....' Barack Obama"
Hmm. Jesus is blind, yet still points to the pin? Obama as savior??? The superficiality of the electorate and the media???? There's so many ways to interpret this...or is it that? That we can chose to interpret what is said however we wish...and there isn't anyone to guide us???
They don't allow photos of the works....and once again, the catalog is available for sale. The catalog suffers from the same problem as usual. The colors aren't terribly true. Many are greyed out, but I have to say that some of the quilts actually look far better in the catalog than in the exhibition. For instance, Aaron McIntosh' "Communicating with the Past" was hung on a bark ground, and since the colors were pretty greyed out, it was hard to see. In the catalog, it is photographed on a white ground, and you can see it much better.
I would recommend that you purchase a copy of the catalog, or get it from your library. I find it really inspiring....even if I was falling asleep in the car on the way home!
The ISBN number is 978-1-60059-423-6. The exhibition runs through Sept. 7. If you can, go!