Stitching Together Messages
Quilters portray proverbial sayings in traveling display
Some traveled from across the country, others from across the county, but regardless of the distance they traveled, all 38 quilts in the "Proverbial Challenge" have something to say.
On display at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center through September 15th, the exhibition of 20-inch-by-30-inch wall quilts depicting popular sayings is the result of Simi Valley quilter Sam Hunter's desire to see what happens when quilters match their skills to the mighty pen.
"I love language. I like the concept of plays on words. There are so many ideas based on words," Hunter, 40, said. "I wanted to show people who are not familiar with quilts as art that the medium can be art. Most people experience quilts on beds, not walls."
Hunter, who first came up with the idea in 1995, issued her challenge in 2000 by advertising in national quilt magazines.
"You create a challenge by giving the guidelines, and quilters respond to the requirements," she said. "I was looking for those sayings that came down through families."
The results are as unique and innovative as the quilters who made them. Rita Butkus Marino of Shaker heights, Ohio, depicted "You Are What You Eat," using four different fabric prints, each focusing on a different food category. Produce, fast food, mixed foods and alcoholic drinks were all cut out in the shape of men and were joined using fabric cutouts of silverware.
Another quilt, "Laughter is the Best Medicine," by San Diego quilter Judy Beydler, shows how humor helped her heal during breast cancer treatments.
"I think part of the appeal of this challenge is that you get to go up to each quilt and see what it says, " Hunter said. "Some are more obscure because the sayings are more personal to the maker."
While many of the quilts are pictorial, some are conceptual, requiring some thought to connect the proverb with the depiction. Vicki Tymczyszyn's "What Goes Around Comes Around," is one.
Using hand dyed fabrics, the background is made in graduated grays. An infinity rope of brightly colored fabrics is overlaid on the grays.
Tymczyszyn, of Moorpark, said the challenge gave her the chance to branch out from her usual traditional quilts.
"I just though this was such a great idea," she said. "I read about contests all the time and say I want to do them but don't push myself the extra step."
Not quite a contest, quilters were asked to submit slides of their quilts for acceptance. A small entry fee paid for the quilts to be appraised, at an average of $1400 each, and to be insured for mishaps. The quilters' "prize" is the chance for their work to be seen nationally at quilt shows and the possibility of a book on the quilts.
Hunter, an award-winning quilter herself, said she's found a joyful niche for herself in showing other people's work. She has been approached by organizers of the largest quilt national quilt show to display "Proverbial Challenge" in the spring at the Chicago show.
"Getting this to happen for everyone else is just no much more meaningful than sending out a quilt that was just mine," she said.
Reprinted with permission from the Ventura County Star - www.insidevc.com
By Jake Finch, August 16th 2002