the bee knows

  Artist Cathi  L. Nelson's quilt "The Bee Knows."

When most people hear “quilt,” they may think of Great Aunt Sarah’s patchwork creation. Think again.

Greenly Art Space has collaborated with Quilts on the Wall to present “Fabric of Nature,” a selection of “ fabric paintings” created with traditional quilting techniques. Fabric artists were asked to create works based on three themes: “Spotted in the Garden,” “Wings” and “Naturally Occurring.”

Quilts on the Wall is an association of textile artists formed in 1998 by Rose Hughes. Rose was a Signal Hill textile artist who recognized that members of local quilt guilds were interested in expanding their designs from traditional bed quilts to one-of-a-kind art pieces that could be displayed on walls. Quilts on the Wall artists are encouraged to develop individual styles, experiment with materials and techniques, and join in two annual "challenges" in which a theme is selected to challenge the artist’s creativity.

Quilts have not always been “just another pretty face.” It’s thought that quilts were originally used as a form of armor by medieval knights. Until the mid-1800s, patchwork block quilts were not commonly produced. Cloth was too expensive to cut, so quilts generally were one piece, showing off a length of patterned or printed material. In the 1970s, the Whitney Museum’s “Abstract Design in American Quilts” attracted people with fine arts backgrounds to quilting. Art quilts generally have the traditional three stitched layers, are used as a canvas, with representational or abstract designs.

“We are excited about this collaborative effort to bring an alternative art form to our community,” Greenly’s director and curator Kimberly Hocking said. “At Greenly, we love to support artists that work in alternative media to create fine art. Our belief is that these quilts can only be fully appreciated by seeing the work up close at an exhibit such as this one.”

The show has more than 40 quilts. The use of fabric, color and stitching to convey texture and depth is inspiring. Layers of fabric are often used to create realistic effects and abstract expression. Many of the pieces express exuberance and movement, using simple shapes, contrasting color and free-form stitching. Artists include Jennifer Beatty, Vicki Bohnhoff, Stephania Bommarito, Laurie Bucher, Christine Castano, Janet Farmer, Linda Friedman, Marilyn Gourley, Guila Greer, Sharon Jaeger, Karen Markley, Laurie Mutalipassi, Cathi Nelson, Sharon Oblinger, Joann Sarachman, Beth Shibley, Linda Stone, Janet Lane Tranbarger, Ann Turley and Robin Valles.

Fabrics of Nature runs through Sept. 28 at Greenly Art Space, 2698 Junipero Ave., #113, Signal Hill. This exhibit can be viewed by appointment by calling 562-533-4020, or during regular gallery hours at 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information, go to www.greenlyartspace.org.

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