Quilting is a time-honored craft that traditionally made beautiful and efficient use of scrap fabric and scarce materials. The annual juried exhibit at New Albany’s Carnegie Center for Art and History showcasing the artform’s contemporary expression celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
“Form, Not Function” opens May 10 with a reception honoring the 25 art quilts selected by jury from more than 300 entries this year. Participating artists come from as far away as California and as close as Louisville and Southern Indiana.
While traditional quilt shows often abide by strict categories and qualifications, the guidelines of “Form, Not Function” defines a quilt entry as broadly as possible. “Two or more layers held together by stitches,” says curator Karen Gillenwater.
Gillenwater has seen the annual show evolve over the last ten years — first as a spectator, then for the last five years, as curator and coordinator of the jury, the professional artists who ultimately select the pieces.
“We’ve really made an effort with the past five years to reach out more to get into more of the national fiber community and reach out to other artists,” says Gillenwater. “With the jurors, we intentionally try and include someone from a fiber program, to try to reach MFA students who are studying fiber and textiles and get some younger artists involved.”
Gillenwater says over the years, the artists who apply have embraced “a much more resolved approach to the materials,” and that the show now attracts a wide variety of artistic approaches and techniques.
“You get a strong tradition of piecing and color work with some artists. You get these beautiful abstracted patterns, some of which are based on and have grown out of traditional quilting, some of which are wholly new and invented by the artist,” she says. “And you get artists who do more screenprinting and surface design on the fabrics and focus on how they dye them, how they create the fabrics, and how they’re printing on them.”
“We have one piece that is a three-dimensional piece this year,” adds Gillenwater. “We’ve had some sculptural pieces in the past. It’s probably less common, but it’s always interesting to see how artists pull the pieces off the wall.”
The exhibit opens May 10 with a reception (6-8 p.m.) and runs through July 13. A catalog of the new exhibit and past Best in Show winners will be released at the opening.