Growing up on a small farm in Eastern Nebraska, my art supplies included dirt and mud, leaves from cottonwood trees and paper grocery bags. A fresh sheet of white paper was a treasure inviting me to draw on it. Farmers use what they have and out of that lifestyle comes my veneration of practical materials, ordinary landscapes and family.
My grandmother Carrie Belle Kilmer was one of my inspirations. Losing her eyesight to untreated cataracts, she still managed to make a scrap quilt for my doll, a quilt which unfortunately now exists only in my memory. My mother sewed clothes for me and I learned basic sewing skills from 4-H teachers, while eschewing the simple patterns my mother chose for Vogue patterns which were way beyond my own skill level and hers.
Although I continued to sew over many years, I didn't take up quilting again (after my maiden voyage into quilting in high school, becoming a UFO which my mother finally finished - of course, not to my satisfaction) until I was pregnant with my son. The lone star wall quilt for his nursery got me started on my quest again and Thimbleberries books taught me basics of construction in quilting. I enjoyed so much the feel of fabrics and the delight of colors and pattern in the quilting fabrics and I was hooked. Fabric became my medium.
I didn't begin making art quilts until 2015 when I took a class with David Taylor. Since then, I have taken classes, taught classes and developed my own style which I call Narrative Realism. I work almost exclusively from my own photographs. If there isn't something hidden that needs to be interpreted in an image, I don't see the value of making an art quilt from it. One exception is working from vintage photographs, such as the j1950's era photograph which is the inspiration for Navajo Boy With Truck. For me, creativity is an ultimate value.
My work has been shown in national and international shows, including Quilt National 21 and The Festival of Quilts in the United Kingdom in 2021. In Road to California 2019 I won the award for Outstanding Artistry and two of my quilts have been inducted into the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame.
The realism I achieve in my work comes from a collage style of placing bits of fabric from templates drawn onto freezer paper, as well as improvisational cutting and pinning. I combine raw edge and turned edge applique techniques, as well as trapunto and thread painting. Although I do some painting of fabric, I turn first to fabric as my medium and the painting and printing by third parties is kept to a minimum. I do use the inspiration photographs as just that, inspiration, but there is always some degree of interpretation in the piece as it grows into itself.
Today, I think if a project doesn't look impossible to do, why bother? Each art quilt I undertake is undertaken because there is some aspect to it I am compelled to explore, if not master. Generally I get part of the way there which I am almost satisfied with. There are always new hills to climb and as long as I can, I will strive toward that mastery.
Never pray for tasks equal to your power - pray for power equal to your tasks. Then doing your work will be no miracle - YOU will be the miracle.
- Phillips Brooks
Exhibited textile artwork and awards received
Virginia City Miner: 2021 Art Quilts XXVI: Stitching Stories, Chandler, AZ; 2020 Arizona Quilt Guild Quilt Show, Mesa, Az., 1st Place, Pictorial Quilts; 2019 Pennsylvania Quilt Festival, 2nd Place, Innovative Quilts; 2019 exhibited in American Quilters Society shows in Daytona Beach, Fla., Lancaster, Pa., Paducah, Ky.; 2019 Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, Ca.; 2018 Best of Show and People’s Choice, San Diego Quilt Show, San Diego, Ca.
Missouri Barn: 2020 Outstanding Artistry award, Road to California, Ontario, Ca.; 2019 International Quilt Festival, Houston, Tx.
The Musicians: 2019 Special Award, Induction into Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame; 2019 San Diego Quilt Show, 2nd Place, Art Quilts, San Diego, Ca.; Arizona Quilt Guild Quilt Show, Honorable Mention, Mesa, Az.; 2018 American Quilters Society shows in Daytona Beach, Fla., Lancaster, Pa., Paducah, Ky.; 2018 Road to California, 3rd Place, Human Images, Ontario, Ca.; 2018 Pacific International Quilt Festival
Mr. Lim: 2018 Road to California, Ontario, Ca.
Lakeside Bridge: 2019 Arizona Quilt Guild Quilt Show, 3rd Place, Innovative Category, Mesa, Ca.; Sacred Threads Exhibition, Herndon, Va.; Northwest Quilters Expo, Portland, Ore.
Nebraska Rooster: 2018 Rim Country Round-Up, Honorable Mention, Payson, Az.
Mr. Lizard: 2018 Northwest Quilting Expo, Portland, Ore.; Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival; 2017 American Quilters Society, Des Moines, Ia.; Arizona Quilters Guild Quilt Show, Mesa, Az.