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Not Your Grandmother’s Quilt

Quilt by Yvonne Clayton (photo courtesy of Northern Star Quilters’ Guild)

by Scott Meaney 

“There are many people who still see quilting as something their grandmother did,” says Rona Spar, Publicity Chair of the Northern Star Quilters’ Guild (NSQG)’s World of Quilts Show.  As the Guild prepares for its forty-first annual Show on April 30 and May 1, Spar and her team have high hopes of attracting a newer and more diverse crowd. 

“Although we have traditional quilts from fabulous traditional quilters, we want visitors to come away [recognizing] that quilting has come into the 21st century and has become a part of modern art and fiber art.”

Spar also explains that World of Quilts XLI, which will take place at SUNY Purchase, includes all aspects of quilting: “The sizes range from rather small – some artists’ work is very tiny, you’d be amazed – to king size.” Styles include modern, improvisational, historical and more. Some quilts are machine-made and others are handmade. Some quilts are traditional bed quilts while others are modern fiber art that hangs as art on the wall. 

Among the more than 250 quilts on display, two invitational exhibitions will also be part of the show. The 40 x 40 @ 40 invitational celebrates the signature styles of world-renowned Manhattan Quilters Guild members, marking the group’s 40th anniversary. Each exhibited artist has developed a large-scale work measuring 40″ x 40″.  The second invitational will showcase the work of Leni Levenson Wiener, a renowned figurative collage artist whose works focus on the expressive and universal nature of body language.  

This year’s featured lecturer is Jane Sassaman, whose storied career in quilting began in 1980. She has since blossomed into one of today’s most renowned quilt artists and fabric designers. In fact, her Willow quilt was named as one of the “One Hundred Best American Quilts of the Century” at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. Sassaman will lecture three times over the course of the two-day event.

NSQG wants to spread the word about the wonders of quilting beyond its usual fans: “We want young people to look at quilting as something they can do and participate in.” 

     These usual fans of quilting, as well as the newly quilt-curious, can attend demonstrations and lectures, purchase quilt-related items from a large selection of vendors and, of course, shop for quilts. Proceeds from the raffle quilt, sewn by NSQG members, will benefit Friends of Karen, a charity dedicated to helping critically ill children and their families.

A spirit of competition is also alive and well at the show. Each year, NSQG offers a challenge to its members. This year is no different. “The challenge is to make a quilt with a heart included in it somewhere,” says Spar. Where and how this heart will be incorporated? That’s up to each artist’s creativity and moxy.

A version of this article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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