At Auburn’s Schweinfurth Art Center, Quilts=Art=Quilts long ago emerged as a signature exhibit. The show, staged annually over the past 32 years, continues to feature pieces created by artists from across the United States and from other nations such as Canada and Australia. And the 2012 exhibition’s portfolio reflects various artistic sensibilities: figurative work, quilts communicating a sense of place, abstract pieces, artworks offering social commentary.
In viewing an exhibit of 77 quilts, one expects to see some eye-catching pieces, and the Schweinfurth show doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Ann Feitelson’s “Leaves Fall,” for example, has vivid, crisp colors, as she plays with hues in a disciplined way. In “Color Bars #12,” Caroline Szeremet works primarily with golds and reds, creating a vibrant artwork.
Other artists communicate their sense of a specific site or scene from nature. In “Bramble,” Bonnie Buckham builds on her memory of a forest. Gay Young’s “Portland Reflection” references a Japanese garden located within the Portland, Ore., zoo. It’s clear she very much enjoys the garden on a visual and communal basis. A third artist, Karen Schultz, evokes Stonehenge in her quilt, “Stonehenge-ish.” There she uses thin and chunky stripes to represent the ancient monuments.
Elsewhere, the show presents figurative artworks such as Susan Waten’s “Fence,” which depicts that very object. Holly Dominie created “Mr. Grim,” her take on a circus performer. She worked within a quilt format to portray his hair, face, shirt and other personal characteristics.
There are other artworks not easily categorized. In “Torpor Space,” Dinah Sargeant takes an almost painterly approach, creating the illusion of a surface and four figures, all of whom are obscured. Judy Langilles’ long, long quilt, “Spinal Forms 4,” takes a view of a spinal column and extends it from top to bottom of the piece. The artist isn’t producing an illustration for an anatomy text; she’s simply interpreting a spine.
In addition, Karen Reese Tunnell’s “Cross Currents” deals with turbulence on either a physical or spiritual level. The folds in her quilt strongly suggest waves. “Journey,” by Caroline Coohey, is a subtle piece with contrasting vertical patterns of green, red and other colors. This artwork communicates reminiscing or reconsideration of the past.
A Deborah Snider piece, “Atrocities/Women and War, Girls, Caught in the Crossfire,” deals with a gruesome phenomenon of modern life: the ongoing deaths of civilians killed in civil wars or military actions or battles between drug lords. In this piece, Snider has appropriated images from other media and integrated them into her quilt. She works with a circle of skulls, another circle of images portraying women and children from around the world, and several depictions of a hand making the “V sign” for victory. That symbol is meant to be grimly ironic.
Finally, several quilts pivot on geometric patterns. They include “Sarah Pavlik’s “Focal Points” with its many variations on black-and-white squares, and Russ Little’s “Reconstructed Circles #8,” which combines and reworks circles. Serena Brooks created “Scribble Circles.” It merges circles she’s written over and a pattern similar to a tic-tac-toe framework.
Quilts=Art=Quilts is a large exhibition encompassing works by 61 artists. At the same time, it makes room for a variety of artistic styles and presents strong individual pieces that easily stand out. The show is a worthy successor to the quilt exhibits that came before it.
The 2012 edition of this perennially popular exhibit will be on display through Jan. 6 at the Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 255-1553.