PEACE, LOVE, freedom, happiness. Quilters are putting all the pieces together in "Fiber Expression: The Contemporary Quilt," a lively exhibit at the Textile Museum displaying the quilts of 60 artists who reach back into childhood, the Victorian age or the late '60s for themes for their finely crafted works.
This show has a very high level of om. Quilt making is a meditative art, with its repetitious stitches and patterns. A cosmic quilt by Patrick Dorman called "Revelation" comes straight from the Age of Aquarius. The artist's shadow floats in time and space, surrounded by the elements of earth, air, fire and water; the stars and the phases of the moon. It's mystical and magical. It's zen in the art of quilt-making.
There are quilts that meditate for peace -- such as Katherine Knauer's "Air Force," where a soldier metamorphoses into an angel and a missile becomes a bishop. And quilts that flicker with the colorful illusions of Op Art, and others that are reminiscent of a happening, such as Susan Shie's autobiographical "Neighborhood with Comet Scar." The quiltmaker reflects on the events in her life during Halley's visit -- the fireworks that burnt her T-shirt, the cops at the precinct station next door that kept her awake.
On the other hand, it would have been out of step for Laura Lee Fritz to have produced, "And Crown Her Good with Brotherhood," a celebration of the Statue of Liberty, in the late '60s. Technically it's a fantastic piece, a quilt of nine vignettes seen on the Fourth of July, broken up with whimsical silhouettes of Washington and Jefferson. This quilt is much like the old quilts that tell a family's history, but these moments are universals -- playing ball, catching fish and flying kites. The artist has used a single white thread, excruciatingly tiny stitches, for the two kite lines.
There is a return here to home-sweet-home, traditional in quilting. But it's also a post-"Roots" phenomenon. Marianne McCann used to listen to her grandmother's home-made fairy tales about the adventures of two dogs, that stood for the artist and her brother, and now she has preserved the idea in a striking quilt. Similarly, Liz Alpert Fay uses reverse applique to stitch a message in a secret code her grandfather taught her.
There are plenty of crazy quilts here -- as well as quilts that are crazy. There is one called "Infrared River Valley" (a bird's-eye view), one that immortalizes the backs of 35 women standing at a "Cafe Bar," and another quilt that is actually a ball the size of a weather balloon. FIBER EXPRESSIONS: THE CONTEMPORARY QUILT --
Through September 27 at the Textile Museum.