Umbrellas and quilts and art, oh my
There are familiar things, shown in a new way, in two exhibitions opening Friday at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in downtown Sarnia.
They include more than 40 quilts in Kaleidoscope, a celebration of the Sarnia Quilters Guild’s 40th anniversary, and two dozen lighted umbrellas automated to open and close to the “breathing” sounds of motor-driven accordions in Flying School, an installation by Quebec City artist Diane Landry.
“It was a perfect partnership between the two works,” curator-manager Lisa Daniels said about exhibitions running through March 31.
Members of the quilter’s guild approached the gallery three years ago about an exhibition for its anniversary. In discussions that followed, it developed into a curated show of guild member’s quilts inspired by history, art and colour.
Guild president Leigh Hathaway said the group holds a show every three years for members to display their work.
“This was totally different,” she said.
There were 65 pieces made and submitted by guild members to a curatorial selection team for the gallery exhibition.
“And, they weren’t accepted based on the quilting – how well their stitches were,” Hathaway said.
The selection were based on art.
Hathaway said seeing the pieces mounted in the gallery felt very different seeing them at traditional quilt shows.
“They are art,” she said.
At the guild’s show, the quilts are often displayed on racks and “you see them as bed quilts,” she said.
“When you see them in here, you’re like, ‘wow, that could hang on the wall.’ It’s just amazing.”
The guild currently has 170 members ranging in age from late 30s up to 96, Hathaway said.
Daniels said the guild members told her they hoped an exhibition in the public art gallery would inspire a new generation of quilters and “shatter people’s idea of what a quilt can be.”
Landry’s piece, Knight of Infinite Resignation, was shown at the gallery in 2016 and Daniels she has been eager to bring the artists earlier Flying School installation to Sarnia.
The new installation required a temporary dropped ceiling in the gallery, which was a challenge, but Daniels said Thursday they expected to have it ironed out by the opening.
She said that when a viewer encounters Flying School, “you can’t help but sort of slow down and breath, and enjoy the melancholic melody and the dancing shadows.”
Landry said she created the installation in 2000 and it has been shown more than 20 times in locations around the world.
She said she likes to work with existing items.
“I didn’t transform the umbrella, just make it alive,” she said.
“And, you see it in a different way.”
Both exhibitions will open to the public Friday at 6 p.m., as part of February’s First Friday events downtown.
The gallery has arranged workshops and lectures during the exhibition and the public will be encouraged to participate in a “collaborative quilt.”
Paul Morden, Windsor Star
Thursday, January 31, 2019