Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Art Quilt Elements 2016

Lisa Kijak, Odyssey Liquor, Long Beach, 59" x 39"
While I was in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to attend the opening reception for Art Quilt Elements 2016 (AQE) at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA. The show was juried by Bruce Pepich, the executive director of the Racine Art Museum.  Bruce selected 66 pieces from 500 entries to produce an amazing show. There was an interesting mix of figurative and abstracted works, large and small scale art, and pieces that pushed off of the wall into sculpture. This is a beautiful exhibition. I hope you get the chance to visit before it closes on April 30, 2016.

The Wayne Art Center is a gorgeous space with soaring white walls, wood floors and warm wood accents. It is spacious and beautifully lit. The exhibit was held in two of the galleries in the art center and the space comfortably housed a well attended opening.


The venue can accommodate very large pieces, which is refreshing. Elizabeth Brandt’s Selected Stories and Dinah Sargeant’s Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts were amazingly grand and impressive.

Elizabeth BrandtSelected Stories, 88” x 89”,
flanked by artwork from Niraja C. Lorenz and Lisa Kijak

Dinah Sargeant, Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts, 58” x 128”
The downside of including such large pieces, however, is that they take up so much wall space. I have come to expect more visual space around individual works in a gallery setting, so the show felt tightly packed, particularly in the smaller gallery. There were several instances where artwork was salon hung, one on top of the other, which I didn’t love. I think the show would have benefited from further editing to give it more room to breathe.

An example of salon hanging. Artwork from Marti Plager,
Desiree Habicht, Sara Drower, and Susan Callahan 

As expected, my favorite pieces from the show had interesting surface details that drew me in. There were so many richly textured pieces that caught my eye and I found myself returning to them again and again.
Shin-hee Chin, In-Between: In Search of Identity, 50” x 60”

detail image, Shin-hee Chin, In-Between: In Search of Identity
Shin-hee Chin’s In-Between: In Search of Identity is beautifully constructed. Her work is so consistently captivating and show stopping. It is no surprise that she was granted an award for her piece.

Marianne BurrEleven 3 Eleven, 43” x 32”
detail image, Marianne BurrEleven 3 Eleven
I’m always impressed with the hand stitching in Marianne Burr’s work. The colors in this piece vibrated and I loved the movement she created with her line work. This piece honors the lives of those impacted by the 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan and devastation at Fukushima in 2011.

Naomi S. AdamsKindred, 36” x 42” x 3”

detail image, Naomi S. AdamsKindred
Kindred by Naomi S. Adams crosses into sculpture as it stands 3” off of the wall in interesting folds and forms. I very much enjoyed examining this one up close. The shape of the work and my experience changed vastly depending on the viewing angle.

Brigitte KoppToo Tired To…, 58” x 49”

detail image, Brigitte KoppToo Tired To…
I first discovered Brigitte Kopp’s work at Quilt National 13. This piece, Too Tired To…, has such interesting details. From the red embroidered figures to the intriguing use of latex, there was so much to engage with visually.


The artists received a complimentary catalog, which is a lovely touch.  As a former graphic designer, I look at every detail of the catalog layout. There was a lot that I loved about the catalog. My favorite part was how thoughtfully works were chosen for spreads. Whether based on complimenting colors or formats, time was clearly spent choosing works that looked great together. With 66 pieces in the show, that was a pretty significant task.

The quality of the photographs is excellent. The photographs are all artist submitted images, so it really shows how important quality images are for jurying. There were very few pieces that didn’t match the artwork precisely. The pictures are crisp and clear. I wish there were detail images, but the smaller format doesn’t really leave room for them.

The artist statement for each piece is included in the catalog. Personally, I like being able to read about inspiration behind an artwork. I know that art is supposed to speak for itself, but I like being able to gain insight into how a piece fits into a larger body of work.

One of the things that I didn’t love was the inconsistency with placement of the text. The artist statements, titles, techniques and materials bounce all over the page. Part of this is due to the size and the format of the book and the desire to show the largest images of the art as possible, which I appreciate. But personally, I like it to be uniform and consistent from page to page. Thumbing through the catalog quickly felt a little dizzying.

It is hard to get a sense of the scale of the works from a printed catalog or photographs. You miss the texture and dimension of the fabric and stitch. However, I would still strongly recommend purchasing the catalog. It documents the show very well and I am so very pleased to add it to my bookshelf.

Overall, I am thrilled to be a part of such a strong exhibition. If you are in the area, please make sure to stop in and see it before it closes. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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