ALTON – Illinois Quiltscape will be on display Sept. 28 to Oct. 10 at the Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway.
Quilting has become a rich medium of artistic expression from its humble beginnings as a utilitarian craft. Illinois Quiltscape was organized by McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington and exhibited there earlier this summer. Quilters from across Illinois were invited to exhibit a quilt of original design.
Contemporary Quilts, a solo show by fiber artist Mary Jo Bowers, was on view at MCAC during the same period. The Jacoby Arts Center has combined the two exhibits in its Main Gallery.
Funding for the exhibit was provided by Norton & Rain Insurance Inc.
Through the original designs of 20 invited artists, Illinois Quiltscape reflects and celebrates the complexity and diversity in contemporary quilt-making across Illinois. The exhibit highlights how traditional and contemporary quilting designs and techniques are used to best tell each quilt’s unique story.
Fiber artist Mary Jo Bowers
Fabric design elements in Mary Jo Bowers’ art quilts are cut freehand and improvisationally arranged. Her designs balance on the line between non-representational expressions of color and shape and imagery that asks to be interpreted. Her flat, organically pieced quilts often suggest aerial landscapes. Other thinly stripped and pieced quilts mimic the pattern and play of light, fog, or water. All of her work reflects her preoccupation with the emotive effects of color.
Bowers describes her working process: “Freeform organic images are randomly cut and grouped on the design board until they begin to express the mood I am seeking. I continue to work intuitively, allowing each piece to determine its own path and direction.”
She uses a wide variety of materials including, “artist-dyed and commercial over-dyed fabrics, painted fabrics, and scraps from sari shops, thrift stores, upholstery shops, and friends’ used garments.”
Her creations are machine-quilted and hand-embroidered.
Bowers resides in Chicago. A quilter for decades, she learned techniques by attending quilting classes and workshops during her careers in family counseling and real estate. Now retired, she focuses on her family and quilting. She exhibits widely and her fiber art has been published in several books.