Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Amanda Bulger, interim gallery director for UW-Eau Claire’s Ruth Foster Art Gallery. She speaks about the upcoming exhibit “Quilting as Art,” which opens Thursday at the gallery in the university’s Haas Fine Arts Center. An opening reception will be at 6 p.m. Thursday.
What is the “Quilting as Art” exhibit?
This exhibit is pulled from three quilting groups (Clear Water Quilters, Sew Complete Sewing Club and the American Sewing Guild Organization).
It was curated by Li-Ying Bao, a (UW-Eau Claire) art and design professor, and Simei Tong, a mathematics professor. She is an avid quilter in the community and also teaches a math course that incorporates quilting into the course.
Tong had idea to reach out to the quilting community, ask them to display their quilts and how they relate to art and design.
Who are the artists in this show?
It’s a mix of community work and then also examples of student work from Tong’s mathematics class.
The student work is some sketches but then there are sewn fabric parts. They aren’t actually quilted, don’t have backing to them, but they would be what those of us who are not part of quilting community would think of as quilts — the pieces of fabric that create the design.
How many artists are highlighted?
Including students, I believe we have over 50 participants.
What do you enjoy about this exhibit?
I have really enjoyed being able to work with community members.
Very often in the gallery you work with the curator and occasionally have interaction with artists as well. With community members, six are helping to organize the show.
I’m also learning a little bit more about quilting, which I wasn’t very familiar with. And I like seeing the diverse creativity that has come into the gallery.
Why important to highlight that connection between quilting and math?
It’s not just mathematics in quilting but math in art and design.
It’s really important to highlight how art plays a role in various disciplines. It has a place in math, science and English. This highlights that relationship and brings it in to the picture for others as well.
What do you hope people take away from this?
First, I hope they notice the immense amount of creativity that exists just within our community in the Chippewa Valley. Hopefully they’re also inspired to maybe take up quilting or find some artistic discipline they’d like to partake in.
Was there anything about the pieces that surprised you?
We have a wide example of what quilting is.
I was very surprised to see round pieces. I oftentimes don’t think of quilts as being round. I was also surprised to see some pieces that had almost been pushed beyond what you would think of as a blanket or quilted item. They’re stretched on canvas so they’re quilted but also artwork that is meant to be hung on a wall.
— Katy Macek