Expertly Crafted

August 29, 2009 by Katy Barnitz NMSU Round Up

Jean McLaughlin Cowie's quilt "Wisteria" shows the different textures and 3-D effects quilts can take on. (Photo by Krista Avila)

Jean McLaughlin Cowie's quilt "Wisteria" shows the different textures and 3-D effects quilts can take on. (Photo by Krista Avila)

Cultural Center Welcomes Unconventional Art Exhibit

Jean McLaughlin Cowie’s quilt “Wisteria” shows the different textures and 3-D effects quilts can take on.

The walls in the Branigan Cultural Center gallery are decorated with vibrant, gorgeous seascapes, landscapes, flowers and houses. The works welcome viewers into new places and new worlds.

But this month, the center is showcasing works that are not typical fine art pieces visitors may expect to see in the gallery. “Light Fantastic” is an art exhibit featuring quilts made by fiber artists.

Unlike quilts found on the back of a grandmother’s couch and the old standby quilt thrown down onto the grass for summer concerts, these are works of art.

“It’s really interesting because people think of quilts as blankets,” artist Patricia Gould, a member of New Mexico Art Quilters, said. “Our group seeks to show that our work is actually fine art.”

The quilts displayed in the gallery depict the same subjects visitors might expect to see in a gallery of paintings. Gould’s “Iguzu: the Great Water,” shows a river, in which yarns in dark purple, forest green and tans create jumping waterfalls, and white fibers splash out of the river. The sky is a painted silk, which Gould quilted over to add texture.

Gould was a fine artist before discovering quilting and sewing, and later moving to art quilting.

“My work has evolved over the years; it’s become more mixed media. I do use a lot of paint, not just fabric and thread,” Gould said.

“Light Fantastic” features 31 pieces by 14 artists from across New Mexico and was organized by the New Mexico Art Quilters, a group of about 50 people who meet every other month. The group’s exhibition committee organizes

shows like “Light Fantastic,” and hopes to put on about four shows in the next year, Gould said. Some of the shows are limited to New Mexico artists, while others are presented under Studio Art Quilt Associates, a national art quilting group.

“Quilts are always popular exhibits, I think they appeal to everybody because everyone knows what they are,” said Mary Kay Shannon, education curator at the Branigan Cultural Center. “This exhibit shows artists taking quilts from a traditional role as bedding, to an art form.”

“Light Fantastic” opened on Aug. 7 and will close on Saturday.

For more information about “Light Fantastic”, and upcoming exhibits, visit the Branigan Cultural Center’s Web site at http://museums.las-cruces.org.

Katy Barnitz is an arts reporter and can be reached at truarts@nmsu.edu.


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