Art Quilting Beyond Arts and Crafts

Structure # 46 Lisa Call copyright 2005

Art quilting, fiber art or whatever you choose to call it, has had its share of controversy. That statement might surprise many people.  Let me give some background.  

For many traditional quilters, art quilts and the techniques involved didn’t seem to fit in with traditional quilting. Which was true, there were some elements of traditional quilting   involved, but more & more, as this form developed, the techniques became less like traditional quilting and more like art. On the other hand,   the art world tended to view art quilting as more arts & crafts than art work, & certainly not a genuine art form. Museums didn’t accept  fiber or quilt arts.  Art shows and exhibits generally didn’t accept entries.  Many art quilters and fiber artists felt they didn’t fit in anywhere.

I think Jane Dunneworld  sums up the struggle that any new art movement has with the establishment.

Quotes from Existential Neighborhood

Visioning a Creative Existence

Posted by Jane Dunnewold

“Art Quilts: Emerging Genres This is the text of a lecture given on February 1, 2011, in conjunction with the Form/Not Function art quilt exhibition at the Carnegie Center for Art in New Albany, Indiana.

One aspect of art history I find fascinating is the connections that exist from one art movement to the next. Looking briefly at a few major periods in art history helps us to understand the evolution of art quilt genres – and gives us a sense of place and context – perhaps indicating what we need to do to further the growth and expansion of the art quilt movement. “

After discussing the struggle various art movements went through to gain acceptance from the status quo she made these comparisons.

. “Because in every case, artists introducing a new way of defining and quantifying art met resistance from the galleries and artists who were the established powerhouses of the day. Most of the movements I’ve mentioned were actually labeled as degenerate by the Nazis…. The field is now 40 years old, and genres are emerging. Some are recognizably linked back to traditional quilts. Others are not. What is true is that the same struggle to find a unique voice that characterizes ALL of modern art history is going on now – as art quilts evolve as an art form “.

To read the entire article go to

Denise Havlan Lily’s Blanket

In the 60’s a change in the perception of quilts as art came in the persons of  two art collectors, Jonathan Holstein and Gale van der Hoof. They began collecting quilts for their artistic value instead of their utilitarian value.  Due to their influence the Whitney Museum in New York opened an exhibition composed of quilts.. Change was in the  air.                       

Ann Brauer Rainbows of Summer                                                                                                                                                                                       

Organizations like Quilt National, Quilt San Diego and SAQA began to be formed to raise awareness and promote this art form.  A  quote from  SAQA’S web site concerning their founding & mission gives insight into the determination of art quilters to be heard.

“”The Birth of a Vision”

by Kim La Polla

Believing in the need to establish a place for art quilts in the world of contemporary fine art, in 1989 Yvonne Porcella sent out 50 letters to artists and friends to rally them to her cause. And so Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) was born. “

Their vision was to create an organization to:

  • “Promote art quilts to major art publications, museums, and galleries
  • Educate the public about art quilts
  • Serve as a forum for the professional development of quilt artists
  • Act as a resource for curators, dealers, consultants, teachers, students, and collectors””

Due to the efforts of many pioneers of the movement, things are changing.

  Quilt artist Ann Fahl, suggests that the support and solidarity of art quilters has contributed to raised awareness.

What I see… is considerable support, sharing and networking between quilters. …We have formed large groups like SAQA, smaller regional organizations like PAQA in Chicago area, and personal and critique groups that meet in living rooms and studios across the country. ..We are also fortunate to have organized large exhibitions and competitions world-wide,  that offer lectures, workshops, vendors and exhibits open to everyone.

 This expands the general knowledge base of the public, provides teaching opportunities for experienced artists, an opportunity to sell related products,

and in general provides education about all things fiber.”

From the studio of Ann Fahl , quilt artist-

Ann Fahl Spring Gift

 Hard earned acceptance in the art community has been coming,  many museums are including fiber art these day .  Emerging and respected fiber artists are gaining recognition.

One thing is for certain,  art quilting is here to stay. It is rising in popularity, and this art form is evolving in many new innovative directions as well. Exciting things are happening.

What this means for art collectors and the general public alike is this; now is a good time to buy art quilts & fiber art. You can afford original art for very reasonable prices.

Especially attractive is the fact that their value continues to rise.  From an investment standpoint, fiber art is currently a bargain. This won’t be the case for long. There is a window of opportunity that will close soon. Because the art quilt has arrived, & the only place it is going is up!

Tracy McCabe Stewart Torii Gate,

Thanks to

Lisa Call


Denise Tallon Havlan

Art Quilter, Lecturer, Teacher

Ann Brauer



Ann Fahl Quilt Artist

Tracy McCabe Steward

Jane Dunneworld 


Published by Barbara Harms Fiber Art

About Myself & My Approach Art has always played a role in my life, in one form or another. by my teens I had narrowed my focus to painting. I decided I was going to become a serious painter. I joined the Las Vegas Artist's Guild at 15, the youngest member at that time. I was completely out of place, I tried to go unnoticed, a mute fly on the wall, with a big smile pasted on my face. I've continued to paint most of my life. After a move to Oregon years later, I was introduced to quilting and fell in love. I was introduced to quilting & fell in love. In time I missed the creative freedom painting made possible. Then I discovered mixed media fiber art, I was home. MY APPROACH TO ART It's the creative process that holds the greatest attraction for me. Starting with a tiny seed of an idea; vague and blurred around the edges, I follow where that leads. There are often many changes and adjustments along the way. The result can often be surprizing. My approach is an instinctual one. Generally, I do little pre-planning. I make creative decisions, choices, directions as they present themselves. This approach can lead to quite a few changes in the direction. I love that element of surprize! Sometimes I have one that I especially like, I can't wait to show someone. At that moment l feel like a six year old, running home from school, a drawing in hand, excited to show Mom. At those times. I'm smiling like the Cheshire cat. I’ve had some of my work published in several magazines. which is exciting. But the most gratifying thing is having clients be really happy with their purchased art quilt. Word press Etsy shop-sales Contact: inquiry Personal Links

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Barbara Harms Fiber Art

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