published Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Quilt showcase: Artists challenged to try new techniques

Quilt by Diane Rhea, from the "With A Little Help From My Friends" quilt exhibit at The Arts Center in Athens, Tenn.
Contributed photo by Robert Burleson
Quilt by Diane Rhea, from the "With A Little Help From My Friends" quilt exhibit at The Arts Center in Athens, Tenn. Contributed photo by Robert Burleson
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    Quilt by Marcia Taschenberger, from the "With A Little Help From My Friends" quilt exhibit at The Arts Center in Athens, Tenn. Contributed photo by Robert Burleson

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    Quilt by Louise Ragle, from the "With A Little Help From My Friends" quilt exhibit at The Arts Center in Athens, Tenn. Contributed photo by Robert Burleson

IF YOU GO

What: "With A Little Help From My Friends" quilt exhibit.

When: Through March 26.

Where: The Arts Center, 320 N. White St., Athens, Tenn.

Who: Quilters are Anna Kelley, Arliss Barber, Carole Spahn, Cynthia Bauer Buol, Claudia Nicholson, Diana Ferguson, Diane Rhea, Kate Meyeres, JJ Shay, Louise Ragle, Marcia Taschenberger, Pam George and Sandy Kambic.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 423-745-8781.

Quilts are very often labors of love. Every stitch, every piece of cloth and every image has a meaning to the artist.

Each quilter might also possess a particular style, viewpoint or way of creating a quilt that is somewhat their own, so the challenge put to a baker's dozen of such artists was a chance to break the pattern, so to speak.

The result of their almost 18-month exercise, "With A Little Help From My Friends," is on display this month at The Arts Center in Athens, Tenn. The 13 participating members of Sisters with Artistic Attitude, a sub-group of the Village Quilters in Loudon, Tenn., were each challenged to come up with a theme. It could have been a color, an animal or whatever.

Each month, the 13 created a block, anywhere in size from 9-inches-by-9-inches to 12-inches-by-15-inches. When that block was completed, it was returned to the originator of the theme and work began on the next one. When all 13 were completed, the artists headed off to create a finished quilt, which 11 of them did.

The idea was to challenge each artist to branch out and try a new technique or style, according to project coordinator and participant Diana Ferguson of Sweetwater, Tenn.

The quilts themselves showcase fabric painting and dyeing, raw-edge appliqué, reverse appliqué, turned appliqué, embellishments, counted cross-stitch, crayon techniques, thread painting, machine piecing, texture magic, inking and beading.

Ferguson says the exercise pushed each artist in several ways, especially when it came time to put them all together in a finished quilt.

"It wasn't just putting all the squares in a row," she says.

The pieces varied not just in size but in color and theme.

"They look great," says Pat Armstrong, program director at the Athens Arts Center. "These quilts are so vibrant, and they have so many interesting details. Every time I walk in there, I see something different."

Some quilters kept each square intact and labored to find a cohesive way to combine them; some took them apart and placed them in a larger pattern on the finished product.

"It was a big undertaking," Ferguson says. "That was the most challenging part was to make them all go together."

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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