Local, regional artists display music-themed art quilts at exhibition

Visual and musical arts are being celebrated during the exhibition, “If music be the Quilt of life…play on,” on display at the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) through May 6.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Ohio Regional Studio Art Quilt Associates and features more than 30 works by about 14 artists, said Rod Nimtz, director of the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center.

“The quilts have a unifying theme in the exhibition with a focus on music. What we have with this exhibition is the is two art forms coming together, the visual arts celebrating the musical arts, through the very unique art form of art quilts,” Nimtz said.

“This is a marvelous opportunity to see quilting in a different light. Most of us think of quilts in the traditional sense of Shaker, Amish or block quilts with more traditional, geometric patterns. Art quilts take quilting in a different direction.”

Participating artists are from as far away as Northern Kentucky, Toledo, Columbus and Pennsylvania. Other artists are from the surrounding communities, including Oxford and Lebanon.

“The different quilters use a variety of techniques. Some are using purely cloth. Others enhance their work with beads, and other forms of fine embroidery. In their own way, each quilt is a stunning piece, but for different reasons,” Nimtz said.

The artists are using the art quilt approach, which is different from traditional quilting and is a different branch of the fabric arts.

“Part of this is appreciating how different people view and interpret music,” Nimtz said. “There are a few quilts on display that focus giving a visual representation of sound. Others are celebrating specific instruments such as the guitar or the piano, or singers such as Billie Holiday. Some are celebrating music and dance, so it’s different ways that these visual artists have found to link their particular art form with the art of music.”

Carole Gary Staples, coordinator of the exhibition, said the focus is broad because everyone interprets music in different ways.

“We wanted to show the diversity in music as well as the diversity in how people relate to music, and the diversity in quilting styles and techniques,” she said.

Gary Staples specializes in what she describes as “improvisational collage” quilting. She currently has five quilts that are part of the exhibition. Previously, she had a solo exhibition of fiber art works “Fibers of the Soul,” on display at the Learning Center in 2012.

“I’m a figurative artist, so generally my pieces involve human figures. One quilt that I have is called ‘Channeling Nina.’ I am referring to the Jazz Singer Nina Simone. There are about 30 or more different fabrics in it, and it is of a women, who is standing there, singing,” Gary Staples said.

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