Updated Fri, May 24, 2013 9:46 am
Quilt National, the biennial juried exhibition of contemporary quilts, returns to the Dairy Barn Arts Center for the 18th time beginning this weekend.
The exhibition — featuring never before seen works from fiber artist representing 27 states and seven foreign countries — opens to the public on Saturday and will run through Sept. 2.
Jurors Linda Colsh of Everberg, Belgium; Judith Content of Palo Alto, Calif.; and Penny McMorris of Bowling Green studied images of over 850 works by artists around the world and narrowed down the selections to 85 artists.
Jane Forrest Redfern said the furthest submission is from Australia. An opening reception for the show will be held Friday evening in which 69 of the artists will be present. Forrest Redfern said the winners of the competitive exhibition will be announced during the opening.
“We’re really excited about all the quilters being here,” she said.
Forrest Redfern said that more than 6,000 visitors are expected from all over the world to see Quilt National ’13.
The Dairy Barn Arts Center was originally a barn used by the Athens Lunatic Asylum. The barn was slated for demolition in 1978, but a group of locals convinced the state to save the structure and it was repurposed as an art gallery. Quilt National was the very first exhibit showcased at the arts center.
The concept for Quilt National came from Nancy Crow. While living in Athens in the mid 1970s, Crow said she began doing contemporary quilting. She said she was approached by Harriet Anderson — one of the people who saved the Dairy Barn from demolition — about teaching a contemporary quilting class.
Crow said she told Anderson that what contemporary quilters really needed was a venue to showcase their work, and so the exhibition was born. Although the show is called Quilt National, Crow said the exhibit has always featured works from international artists.
According to Crow, contemporary quilt making emerged in the 1970s as women with fine arts degrees taught themselves the art form.
“This wasn’t something that was passed down through generations,” she said.
Crow said the group had no money for the first Quilt National, but was able to find just enough funding to create a poster to put a call out for submissions. She recalled that the quilts at the first exhibit were hung above milking stands in the barn and there were flies everywhere.
Crow still teaches contemporary quilting plus many other forms of art at her 100-acre farm north of Lancaster. For information about Crow’s work, visit www.nancycrow.com.
Quilt National ’13 can be seen at the Dairy Barn Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12-5 p.m. General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Forrest Redfern said that the Dairy Barn will also be offering free admission to the exhibit during Community Thursdays, which begin June 20. Tours of the exhibit will be scheduled throughout the summer.
The Dairy Barn will also be open on Memorial Day from 12-5 p.m.