New art quilt exhibit is a cut above the typical museum experience

April 6, 2016

TACOMA… Quilters quilt and painters paint, but there is a world of dimension behind the work of fabric artists. As the newest exhibit at the Washington State History Museum – Cutting Edge: Art Quilts of Washington – shows, quilting is an artistic medium in and of itself.

“Traditionally, quilts were hand-sewn from scraps of fabric to meet a practical need; they kept families warm during the winter months,” said Lynette Miller, Head of Collections for the Washington State Historical Society and curator of the quilt exhibit. “Over time, they have evolved from simply being functional into something decorative and creative, and finally into a means of artistic expression no different from painting or sculpting.”

Cutting Edge: Art Quilts of Washington is collaborative effort between the Washington State Historical Society – which also has a number of historic quilts from its collection on display – and the Contemporary QuiltArt Association, a diverse group of artists, teachers, writers, and collectors living throughout Washington. The juried exhibit features the work of association members, who view quilts as an exciting medium of expression and a viable contemporary art form.

“Today's quilt artists may still use sewing machines, but they are just as likely to use more contemporary technology such as computers and printers or less traditional techniques such as painting, hand dyeing and bleaching,” said Colleen Wise, President of the Contemporary QuiltArt Association. “They may embellish their work with beads, metal or found objects.  They are using quilt-making as a means of expression rather than comfort. Quilt-making has evolved into a true art form with a distinctive American history.”

Cutting Edge: Art Quilts of Washington kicks off Apr. 16 and runs through Aug. 21 at the state history museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Admission for Historical Society membersis free. Paid admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, students and active duty or retired military with ID, and free for children under 5. Patrons with a Washington Quest card can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is free after 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month when the museum stays open until 8 p.m.