Visual Journeys: Art Quilts by the Salon Seven
November 4 through 30, 2006
Reviewed by Carolyn Lee Vehslage
Photographs by Jeri Riggs.
The Salon Seven, a group of New York and Connecticut quilt artists, have put together an exhibition whose purpose is to introduce artistic rather than functional quilts for its audience at the New Rochelle Public Library. Most of the quilts on display are attractive and do not involve questions about the artist’s intention. The quilts are hung on a series of display walls in the outer lobby of the library.
Although the individual artist’s work varies from Beth Carney’s tranquil pieced squares and rectangles to Susan Schrott’s joyful women to Georgia Heller’s still lifes and landscapes, the exhibition works visually in part because of the structure of the venue. Each artist has one full wall plus space for additional pieces. This allows each artist to establish her individual frame of reference.
The Salon Seven provide some coherence in their artwork by taking on the challenge of each creating a piece from the same piece of cloth, a bold rainbow of colors dyed by member Jeri Riggs. The seven artists then made a piece of similar size in their own style
The opposite wall also holds one quilt from each of the members that is not part of the challenge. The art on this wall is hung salon style (as the group’s name implies), within two inches of each other. These pieces are too close to enjoy, and their diversity is jarring. These pieces could have been edited out for a stronger overall exhibition. There is a third wall of three large pieces by three different artists that also does not gel together.
Benedicte Caneill offers a visual discussion on the loss of memory. The word memory appears to be written and erased on a school blackboard and is a moving statement about the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The pieces Georgia Heller chose to hang are all from Northern Star Quilt Guild challenges. Two of her pieces, ‘Falling Leaves’ and ‘Long Island Tree of Life’ are so thoughtfully laid out that she could develop them into kits for the contemporary quilt market. Because she shows such mastery of techniques and color choices, perhaps she should challenge herself to come up with her own direction.
Elizabeth Rosenberg has two successful graphic quilts with ‘Elec Trickle Banana’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Her choice of commercial fabric for the heavily pieced, overly large bananas and strawberries make them mouth watering.
Although Linda Schoenfeld’s pieces show excellent workmanship, they bear strong resemblance to quilt artists’ artwork she may admire or taken workshops from. Her most successful pieces are in the style of Noriko Endo; tiny colored bits of fabric are trapped under tulle to create leaves (‘Springtime’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’).
Jeri Riggs works in her usual eclectic styles. Some of her pieces seem to be early attempts at using various techniques.Her ‘New York Circles’ is the most interesting of the grouping.
Susan Schrott has the most stylized artwork. She depicts women in various aspects of their everyday life. Her ‘Woman with Blue Vase’ is the most successful composition of her series. While the others have the figures floating on a sea of whole cloth, hand dyed fabric, this one has a foreground and middle ground for depth of field. Susan’s artwork has a naivete that works for her sense of self-expression. However, she could improve the facial features, specifically the eyes.
Susan Schrott – Woman with Blue Vase
Beth Carney has the most consistent look from piece to piece. Her compositions, such as ‘Structured Chaos #12: Hot Flash’ are well proportioned and balanced. Her work is perhaps the most generally successful in the exhibit.
The intent of the exhibit and its venue allowed these artists to show off a disparate group of artworks to library patrons who perhaps wouldn’t have been familiar with the medium. The variety of styles and techniques are appropriate for an introduction to art quilts.